One of the main hallmarks of the healthy nutritarian lifestyle is a salad. Done the right way the salad can be delicious, satisfying and health promoting. Done the wrong way and you can easily get bored or add unhealthy dressings that do more harm than good.
If you haven’t heard of a nutritarian diet, it a whole food plant based diet, focused on getting more nutrients per calorie to lose weight and prevent or reverse chronic disease. Like your grandmother said – “Eat your veggies!”
Related reading – Top 7 Superfoods for Super Immunity
As a nutritarian it is really important to eat raw veggies everyday and that usually means a salad or salad wrap or veggies in a healthy dip like this no-oil hummus.
There are so many different choices to make a salad and I like to keep many ingredients prepped and ready to go so that I can mix things up every day. Although I do tend to have my favorites, variety is important!
Tip: Use a large bowl! I like to use a medium-large size mixing bowl. The salad is the main course and you want to shoot for about a pound of veggies each day. Done right, you shouldn’t be hungry before dinner if you eat your salad at lunch time.
Nutritarian Salad Basics Categories
- Green leafy vegetable base
- Additional colorful veggies and/or fruits
- Beans or lentils
- Healthy fats
- No-Oil, low-sodium dressing
- Optional – whole grains
Let’s look at all the options for these categories.
1. Nutritarian Salad – Green Leaf Base
This sounds simple enough. Every salad I know of has a green leaf base. But did you know of all the choices you have? BTW, iceberg should not be one of them. It has the least amount of nutrients. Instead, should for dark green leaves. Here are some ideas:
I fill my bowl about half way with either 1 or a mix of green leafy vegetables. I like to also tear them into small pieces so it’s easier to eat and mix with the other ingredients.
- Bok Choy
- Boston Bib Lettuce
- Swiss Chard
- Green Leaf Lettuce
- Red Leaf Lettuce
- Green Cabbage
- Red Cabbage
- Spring Mix
- Collard Greens, Turnip Green, Mustard Greens
Normally, I have a mix of bagged salads and some that I buy in bulk and prepare myself. Spinach and spring mix I usually buy in the bags. But kale and romaine is much fresher and cheaper bought in bulk and prepared yourself.
Kale is only about $1 per bunch and will last days longer than bagged. Plus with the bags of kale you get a lot of the “ribs” and they are bitter. Kale is easy to prepare by washing in a colander under running water and then tear the leaves away from the spine or rib. I just throw the large chunks of leaves in a gallon ziplock bag to store in the fridge.
Romaine also is better to buy in bulk instead of bagged. I wash under water, dry a little with paper towels or clean dish towels, and tear into large pieces. Store in a large storage container in refrigerator – if you place a couple layers of paper towels at the bottom of the container it will soak up extra moisture and help it to last days longer.
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2. Nutritarian Salad Basics – Additional Colorful Vegetables &/or Fruits
This is where you basic salad can have LOT of variety. There are just so many options it’s endless!
I do try to incorporate chopped onions into all my salads and sometimes sautéed mushrooms as Dr. Fuhrman recommends. Some studies have show toxic effects of raw mushrooms so it’s always best to cook them to be on the safe side.
Fresh fruit is a great way to change up the flavor of your salad. Berries pineapple, apple, and pomegranate arils are all great choices.
This list is not at all comprehensive, but hopefully will give you some inspiration!
- Red, orange, yellow bell peppers
- Green bell peppers
- Chopped onions – sweet, white, yellow, purple, or green (chives)
- Chopped mushrooms – any variety (need to be cooked; some raw mushrooms can have toxic properties)
- Shredded carrots or baby carrots
- Raw broccoli florets
- Raw cauliflower florets
- Brussel Spouts
- Grape or cherry tomatoes
- sun-dried tomatoes (not in oil)
- roasted peppers (not in oil)
- Bean sprouts
- Snap peas
- Corn kernels
- Roasted veggies – zucchini, squash, eggplant
- Pomegranate Arils
- Orange slices
- Apple chunks
- Dried fruit – raisins, dried cranberries, dried cherries, dates
3. Nutritarian Salad Basics – Beans or lentils
I almost always have some sort of beans or lentils added to my salad or salad wrap everyday. Beans are high in fiber, high in protein and can really help satisfy you for much longer. Beans give you long term sustained energy, doesn’t raise blood sugar and help keep you regular. Every one should be eating beans everyday but especially those with diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and dieters. It can help you lose weight and help improve or reverse many chronic conditions.
You can soak your own beans, but I like to save time and just buy canned beans. However, make sure you buy low-sodium or no-salt added versions. No need to even warm them up – just rinse, drain, and add to your salad.
Add at least 1/2 cup of beans to your salad each day.
- Black beans
- Chick peas (garbanzo beans)
- Red kidney beans
- White northern beans
- Edamame (can buy frozen and steam in bag)
- Dry roasted soybeans (check salt content)
- Black eye peas
- Green peas (frozen kind, not canned)
- Tofu chunks
Sometimes I like to use my no-oil hummus (made from chick peas) to add to my salad or salad wrap. Delicious!
4. Nutritarian Salad Basics – Healthy Fats
If you have read any of Dr. Fuhrman’s books, you know that he recommends you eat 1 ounce of nuts or seeds daily. Nuts and seeds have lots of healthy vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients. They contain healthy fats and fiber that helps keep you satiated. Nuts and seeds have also been linked to lowering the risk of atrial fibrillation – an irregular heartbeat that can be fatal.
Walnuts also have high levels of omega-3 fats!
If you are trying to lose weight, you do want to include healthy fats, but don’t overdo it, because that could lead to excess calories that can blunt weight loss. Limit to 1 ounce per day. This also includes avocados – limit to 1/2 an avocado a day if trying to lose weight.
Always choose raw and unsalted whenever possible. You can toast the nuts yourself to change up the flavor – toast in the oven at 200º for about 10 minutes.
- Sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Pine nuts
- Pumpkin seeds
- Brazil nuts
- Macadamia nuts
5. Nutritarian Salad Basics – No-Oil Dressing
The most important part of a nutritarian salad is to not ruin all your work with an oily dressing. Newsflash! Olive oil is still 100% oil and is a processed food. It is NOT a health food and will thwart your attempts to lose weight. From lips to hips!
Instead use a fat-free, low-sodium dressing. Or you can use your nuts & seeds or avocado to create a nut-based dressing. Healthy fats can help you absorb more of the vitamins from the raw vegetables. Here are some options:
- Balsamic vinegar
- Other flavored vinegars like Pomegranate, Fig, or Red Wine
- Fat-free vinaigrette dressing like Maple Grove
- Low-sodium salsa
- Fresh squeezed lemon or lime juice
- Walden Farms zero calorie dressings
- Dr. Fuhrman’s dressings
- No-oil hummus
Optional Whole Grains
You can also add whole grains to your salad or you may want to create a salad wrap to mix things up. Always choose whole grains instead of white flour or white rice.
- Bulgar wheat
- Brown rice
- Wild rice
- Black rice (higher antioxidants than blueberries!)
- Whole grain tortilla
- Whole grain pita pocket
With all these options you could have thousands of combinations of salad! To save time, pick one day a week and prep all your veggies for the week. You can even go a step farther and make your salad minus the dressing and store in an air-tight container so you have them ready to go for lunch in the mornings!