ways to make your salad awesome (so your kids will love it).

i'm big into salads as the main course in this house.  a whopping bowl of salad with lots of stuff really can be called a main course, right?  right.  luckily (and really, luckily, because i think i'd be driven to insanity otherwise) my kids like their salads.  william and lindsey in particular.  they will take a huge plate of salad and eat it no problem.  i don't always serve it as the main course, but it often comes before the main course.  growing up in my home, there was never a spaghetti night (or anything, really) that didn't start with a big salad first.  it was to be expected.  so, i guess i've inherited that (although, sometimes i'll cheat and skip the salad).  my kids have come along, quite graciously, for the ride.  i started william and lindsey young on the salad front--three and five--so this probably lends itself to them being so good about eating it.  nathaniel and jordan are a little less into the salad (or at least more vocal about it) but they take some anyway.  

so, here's my ways to spice up an ordinary salad thus making it a main meal and making it awesome so your kids will like it.

bbq chicken salad: inspired by a cheesecake factory salad, i make this with romaine, spinach, and to make the kids especially happy, a head of chopped up iceberg as well (but not only iceberg cause, let's be honest, there's not much goin' on there in the way of nutrition).  then add a can of drained black beans, corn, shredded cheddar, and bbq chicken.  to get the bbq chicken i boil some chicken breasts, let them cool, then shred them (i like the 'pulled chicken' consistency here) and then toss them with trader joes bbq sauce... some bbq sauces are seriously stocked with high fructose corn syrup so check the ingredients if you're trying to make it especially healthy!  toss it all together with some annie's ranch (again, most ranch dressings are full of msg, so check ya labels!).  it is delicious and the kids love it.  also, i haven't done this but i think it'd be good: hard boiled eggs on that baby as well.

taco salad: another keeper.  to get taco salad, start with the same stuff as the previous salad--romaine, spinach, and iceberg.  a note: i use baby spinach leaves always--the big adult spinach is a bit tougher and i'm not the hugest fan.  then cook up a pound (or two) of ground beef.  add a little seasoning to this if you like: chili pepper, cumin... you know the drill.  then shredded cheddar, corn, beans (any kind of bean, really.  pinto or white kidney beans would work well here too).  cilantro, a couple big scoops of salsa... and then at the end, some sour cream and crushed up corn chips as well.  i find that this one doesn't even need dressing cause there's enough wet stuff on the salad already.

*always go easy on the dressing and, in my opinion, skip the creamy ones.  they're usually pretty nasty ingredients-wise.  a little bit of dressing goes a long way and when the salad really calls for creamy, go with annie's (or another good, msg-free brand).

what about you?  any fancy salad recipes to share with me??  gimme 'em!


  1. I like a good buffalo chicken salad - I usually use the baby greens mix or any mix that doesn't have spinach (my husband is allergic), grilled chicken breast, carrots, celery, buffalo wing sauce, and a vinaigrette. The vinaigrette is SO much better tasting than ranch or blue cheese on this salad, even though ranch or blue cheese is traditional for wings.

  2. i LOVE salads and while i don't have any kids, i can never really get a good salad at home.. for whatever reason, i just never like the salads i come up with. gonna give some bbq chicken salad a try though! :)

  3. i'm totally hooked on shredded salads these days. bed of spinach, then "slawed" carrots, raw beet (it's good! i didn't know either!), broccoli, whatever is crunchy and small. for dressing, i love my immersion blender. plop some mustard, vinegar (apple cider for health bennies!), garlic clove, salt, pepp, herbage, and duh, the oil (throw some flax oil in for good measure). finish with sesame seeds and a hard-boiled egg. holy crap i love salad.

  4. oh! (i know: shut up, bp, right?) but, i just remembered that i think i discovered the key to making homemade dressing taste "ranchy." i use a yogurt base, herbs, lemon juice. but then, the kicker: smashed up roasted garlic. that's what all those chemicals are trying to copy! Hidden Valley, my ass!

  5. We use virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar with some herbs as a sald dressing, easy and effective and also great for dipping bread in.

  6. I’m a huge fan of salads as well, but I agree it can be tricky keeping it healthy once you add on a creamy dressing. I discovered an amazing trick- I use nonfat greek yogurt mixed with a hot sauce and other spices to make it like a creamy buffalo ranch dressing. The absolute best mixer is called Hank Sauce (the cilantro kind)– I think you can only order it online, but its all organic and locally sourced from my home town of Cape May, and its like a hot sauce with less hot and more spice, so you can use it alone as a salad dressing or mix it up with greek yogurt like I do for a creamy consistency. Amazing!

  7. Oh I'm SOOO in this one with you. When I meal plan, one night each week is Salad for the main course, and we have greens tossed in oil & vinegar as a side with just about everything. Nothing else in there, just a mix of greens and the dressing. You REALLY should get this cookbook- http://www.keepingupcookbook.com/. It's a Utah favorite, and I love it most for it's salads. I make a lot from there. I made a Cobb two nights ago that Tate devoured. We didn't want creamy dressing either, so I used a vinegarette on that too, and it was fabulous. Have you tried TJ's Champagne Pear Vinegarette? It's divine. Alright I'll stop there. Check out that cookbook though- I KNOW you'll love it. You'd be hard pressed to find a mormon blogger who doesn't swear by it:))

  8. I always love a good taco salad. I also like salads with flavorful greens like arugula, or kale (shredded, slightly marinated ahead of time in salt and lemon juice). And I'm totally with you on the dressing, I like to use a little bit, as I find a big dollop of the creamy ones really hides all the other ingredients!!

  9. Yay for loving salad! However, the only difference of opinion I have with you on this front is the bottled dressing. Do you ever make your own? My husband and I gave up on bottled dressing years ago because homemade tastes so much better, is easier, healthier... you get my drift! I've got plenty to share if you want some :)

    Oh, and before I was pregnant, my "Kale Caesar" (pun intended) was my absolute favorite salad. I guess that's an FYI.

  10. These sound so good! I love a big salad with tuna, cucumbers, croutons, and oil and balsamic vinegar.

  11. we are a big fan of autumn salads in our house. topings include any variation of the following

    apples, dried cranberries, pears, pistachios or walnuts, blue or goat cheese, and usually something warm like roasted sqeet potato or grilled chicken

    sometimes we even go crazy and add hard boiled egg or bacon!

    dressing is typically balsamic vinegar.

    in the summer time, we usually substitute in crunchy blanched green beans, sprouts, avocado, and chickpeas with fresh squeezed lime and a touch of evoo for dressing.

  12. I make an avocado salsa that is amazing with chips, on top of grilled chicken,taco salad or anything. Its incredible and a staple at our house
    mix together:
    2 md. tomatoes, diced;
    1 can of drained sweet corn or kernals from 3 or 4 cobs;
    1 can of drained black beans;
    5 or 6 sliced green onions;
    15-20 sprigs of cilantro coarsely chopped;
    Stir in one package of Good Seasons Italian dressing made per directions but with half the oil. (I use olive or healthy oil)
    Gently stir in 2 md. diced avocados
    It is one of those things you start eating and don't want to stop. Good thing it is healthy.
    I also love Good Seasons on sandwiches.

  13. Like you, I'm cautious on the dressings. Also, watch out for "low fat" versions. They often have high fructose corn syrup in them even though the full fat versions don't! So sneaky! My favorite thing to do though, is to take a dollop of hummus, any flavor will do, and dip my salad veggies in it. Lots of flavor, extra protein, and low in fat!

  14. I LOVE these ideas for salads. For bbq chicken, I always use the crockpot. If you put some water in there with a ton of bbq sauce it's super tender and easy to shred. :)

  15. I just e-mailed you my "Leftovers Salads" - not too exciting but always delicious!


  16. My mom makes the best salads, mostly because they are packed with stuff. Start with a mixed green base, add sliced avocado chunks, pomegranate seeds, sliced or slivered almonds, sliced strawberries, apples or raspberries, jicama for crunch, a chunky cheese (like goat or blue depending on rest of ingredients), and a homemade lemony-olive oil-pepper viniagrette. It is delicious!

  17. BBQ chicken salads are seriously the bomb.

    If I'm craving thicker dressing, I cream an avocado into equal parts rice vinegar, Balsamic, olive oil and honey/agave. Fresh...and crappy-preservatives-free! :)

  18. So this reminds me of a salad we served when I waited tables in Boston...it was called something fancy like The Waldorf, but I don't remember the recipe. All I remember was I was the one who had to cut all the flipping grapes in half for it.

    So put some grapes in your salad.

    And make Parker chop them.

  19. LOVE me a salad. I took a french cooking class last semester, and my favorite thing we cooked (besides salmon that we steamed with braised leeks and carrots-SHUT THE FRONT DOOR) was a bib and romaine salad with a dressing made out of 2 parts oil, 1 parts vinegar, 1 garlic clove or shallot chopped, and a tablespoon of mustard. It's pretty plain, and more of a before the meal the salad, but hubs and I have it at least 3x a week.

  20. i need to step up my salad game...

    winter = food boredom for me always!!

    but spring's springing and i'm inspired!!


  21. Great salad ideas, thanks for sharing! There is a really good chopped BBQ Salad at BJ's Restaurant Brewhouse that I get so I will have to try your suggestion.I am your newest follower :) GREAT blog!
    XOXO Ginny


talk to me.

(also! if you have a question, check back as i usually answer it here!)