Step Up Your Salad Game: Paleo-Friendly Salad Dressing Recipes for Your Salad Combos
If the idea of a salad leaves you a little ho-hum, chances are you’re thinking of the typical, boring version consisting of iceberg lettuce, some mushy tomatoes, a lemon wedge, and perhaps a bit of shredded carrot. This combo is OK in a pinch and better than not eating any veggies at all, yes, but hardly something to get excited about. But who ever said salad had to stop there?
My version of a salad does include lettuce, or other leaves of some description, but that’s only the beginning. Think color! Think taste! Think texture! Most importantly, think way outside the box as any protein, fat, vegetable and a bit of low glycemic fruit is fair game when you’re creating your crisp concoction in the kitchen.
Not only are salads a great way to go at this time of year when the weather is warming up and a cold, crisp, refreshing meal sounds more appealing, they lend themselves to being prepared in as little as a matter of minutes.
The key is to not go too low mixing up the greens with protein and fat; remember, we’re talking about making a meal here, so a plate of lettuce with lemon juice isn’t going to provide nearly enough calories to sustain you until the next time you eat.
Now to the fun part- what type of salad should you make? You can go traditional: a salad you know and love, such as my Paleoista Signature Cobb Salad, as featured on Dr. Oz’s blog, can be easily made Paleo friendly simply by omitting the blue cheese and going with olive oil instead of dressing.
On a similar note, a Nicoise Salad is also an option simply by swapping out the green beans for asparagus and the white potatoes for a little bit of extra added veggies, such as chilled, steamed cauliflower.
Or, start from scratch and build your own! This approach is my personal favorite and it was from this type of thinking that I came up with my Paleoista Signature Raw Kale Salad, the recipe for which was published in The Paleo Diet Cookbook. I started making this salad a good 10 years ago, long before kale was all the rage and I doubt I’ll ever get tired of it.
5 Steps to Build Your Own Paleo Salad
- CHOOSE YOUR LEAVES
Wild arugula, mesclun greens or baby kale are three of my personal faves. Go organic; delicate, tender lettuces are one produce item that should only be eaten from an organic source, if possible. Don’t forget to use your salad spinner one or two times to make sure the lettuce is thoroughly washed, even if the package claims it’s ready to eat, as is.
- PICK YOUR PROTEINS
What was caught locally and is being sold fresh at the fish store? Or, what cut of grass-fed beef can you find at the butcher? Rather than having your heart set on a wild salmon when it’s not the right season, or feeling as though you must have pork loin when there’s no pasture-raised pork available limits your options much more than being open minded and going with what is available in your neck of the woods.
- ADD MORE VEGGIES
Leftover grilled asparagus can be chopped up and tossed into the salad, as can some broccoli florets, which can quickly be steamed and shocked in an ice bath. Don’t forget to sprinkle on some dried Nori, too. Seaweed is a great source of dietary iodine, key to balance out all the sulfur we get from those cruciferous veggies to help promote healthy thyroid function.
- PICK YOUR FAT(S)
Avocado, olive oil, raw nuts…which is best? How about a little of each? While we don’t want to over do the nuts, due to their high Omega 6 content, throwing a handful of raw walnuts on top of a salad provides that little bit of crunch you might be missing now that you’ve nixed the croutons. Out of stock? Order some up from my friends at Thrive Market.
- MIX IT UP AND SERVE!
In order to keep it fresh, wait until right before you eat your salad to toss and dress it, lest you end up with a wilted pile of greens. Fresh and crisp is definitely best when it comes to salads, so portion out what you’re going to eat now, douse it with EVOO and save the rest in a glass container in the fridge for later. It’s so easy to make, you may as well prepare enough for two meals, or more!
Now, what about dressings? If you’re feeling a little less than jazzed about olive oil and lemon juice, check out my recipe for Cilantro Pesto Dressing!