The Health-Conscious Cookbook: Salads That Pack Flavor and Nutrition

Warmer weather makes you want to turn off your stovetop and prepare produce-packed meals, instead. Not only are salads a healthy lunch or dinner option, they’re also fast and easy to make. 

Step out of your salad routine and try one of these three creative recipes, featuring colorful veggies, flavorful herbs, vitamin-packed fruits, filling proteins, and delicious, homemade dressings. 

Tip: Shop at your local farmers market to support your community farmers and make your salads sustainable. Buying local, organic, and GMO-free ingredients ensures you’re packing the most nutritional value into every meal. 

Kale and Cabbage Salad with Almond-Lime-Shallot Dressing

This flavorful salad is packed with vitamins, minerals, and fiber. And it creates a colorful work of art on your plate. 

Salad Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch of lacinato kale, chopped into very small pieces
  • 1 1/2 cups red cabbage, also chopped into small slivers
  • 2 medium-sized carrots, shredded or julienned
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 2 green onions, diced
  • 3 Persian cucumbers, half-circled
  • A handful of grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup raw pepita seeds
  • 3 ripe avocados, sliced or cubed
  • Optional: Seared wild salmon on top

 Dressing Ingredients: 

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 cup almond butter
  • 3 shallot cloves, peeled
  • Juice from 1 lime, or 1 lime peeled and tossed into blender
  • 2 tablespoons raw honey
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Sea salt to taste 

Directions: 

De-stem and slice kale leaves into small pieces. Chop cabbage. Sprinkle kale and cabbage with sea salt and olive oil, massaging into leaves. Set aside, this will soften the leaves until you’re ready to combine with other ingredients. Chop and prep all other vegetables, per instructions above. 

Make dressing in a separate bowl, combining all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Puree. 

Combine kale, cabbage, and other ingredients, and toss the salad with your homemade dressing. Top with avocado and eat promptly. 

Arugula and Quinoa Salad with Citrus Cilantro Dressing

This salad is crisp, light, and refreshing to taste, but still manages to keep you full for hours.

Salad Ingredients: 

  • 1/2 pound of arugula
  • 2 large beets, roasted and sliced
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 3 ripe avocados
  • A handful of grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup garbanzo beans, rinsed
  • 4 Mandarin oranges, peeled and sliced

Dressing Ingredients: 

  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • Juice from one lime or half lemon
  • 1 1/2 cups cilantro leaves, de-stemmed
  • 1 1/2 cups flat parsley, de-stemmed
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • Optional: Shaved parmesan to taste
  • Sea salt to taste 

Directions: 

Start by prepping ingredients that need to be cooked: Cover beets in foil and roast in oven on 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until beets are tender; Cook quinoa. 

While those are cooking, wash and prep arugula and tomatoes. 

Make dressing in a separate bowl, combining all ingredients into a blender or food processor. Puree. 

Once beets are roasted, peel and slice. Add cooked quinoa with all other ingredients in a bowl; top with avocado and toss with dressing. 

Strawberry Spinach Salad with Goat Cheese Dressing 

Sweet, nourishing, but also decadent, this is a great recipe for spring and summer. 

Salad Ingredients: 

  • 1 pound baby spinach
  • 1 pint chopped strawberries
  • Sliced jicama
  • 1/2 cup toasted almonds or pine nuts
  • 4 hard-boiled organic, free-range eggs
  • 3 ripe avocado, sliced
  • 2 Portobello mushrooms, grilled or sautéed 

Dressing Ingredients: 

If you’re vegan or avoiding dairy, you can use the almond-lime-shallot dressing from the first recipe, which tastes great on this salad, too. 

  • 1-2 tablespoons goat cheese (depending on how thick you want it)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Sea salt to taste 

Directions: 

Hard-boil eggs and cook mushrooms. Once cool, cut both into thin slices and set aside for top of salad. Lightly toast nuts over stovetop. 

Chop strawberries and jicama; combine with spinach and other ingredients into salad. 

To prepare dressing, combine goat cheese and balsamic vinegar in a separate bowl and whisk, “melting” the goat cheese to create a thicker dressing. Add other ingredients and whisk all together. 

Dress salad and add avocado to top it off. Enjoy! 

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About the Author
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Melissa Eisler

Certified Leadership & Career Coach, Yoga & Meditation Instructor, Author
Melissa is the Senior Content Strategist at the Chopra Center. Also an ICF Certified Leadership and Career Coach (ACC) and certified meditation and yoga instructor, she is passionate about motivating people to live a healthy, balanced, and purposeful life. You can learn more about Melissa’s coaching practice at MelissaEisler.com . Melissa is also the author of The Type A's Guide to Mindfulness: Meditation for Busy Minds and Busy People , a practical guide for new meditators in the modern world, and the creator of mindfulminutes.com , a...Read more