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Help me become a salad maker please!

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Old 05-10-2011, 11:19 AM   #1
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Default Help me become a salad maker please!

I am NOT a natural in the kitchen!

I have found that I enjoy eating a McDonalds or Wendy's salad for lunch and they do satisfy me for the afternoon well.

I'm sure I can make a better, healthier, cheaper salad at home.

I can buy lettuce and chop it up, where I'm feeling a bit lost is figuring out how much lettuce to buy at at time, what kind, how do I store it, what do I put it in to take to work, how far ahead can I prepare it...etc, etc,

I want to stick to pretty basic simple salad to get the hang of this. I'd like to include some meat (what kind do I buy?). What other easy extras are there? (hold the tomatoes )

If you make salads to bring to work for lunch can you help me out with the nuts and bolts basics that this non-foodie lacks?

Thanks!
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Old 05-10-2011, 11:28 AM   #2
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I buy the pre-cut stuff in the bag! I use half of a bag per salad, so decide how many salads you're going to eat each week and plan accordingly.

I also add: Grilled Chicken, green pepper, red onion, carrots. Yes, this is very basic! I know other people add nuts, dried or fresh fruits, croutons. It really is just up to your taste.

I bring my salad in a tupperware container. I bring salad dressing in the bottle and put that in the fridge as well. I haven't come up with a good way to transport salad dressing in small amounts!
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Old 05-10-2011, 11:39 AM   #3
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I have a salad spinner that I bought for $10 and it's one of my favorite kitchen tools. You can buy bagged lettuce, but I find that buying heads of romaine or red leaf or green leaf lettuce stays fresher longer and is easier to work with.

I do recommend never chopping lettuce. That makes it wilt faster. I tear it.

As for proteins, I will buy regular chicken breasts and cut them up into small pieces and grill them. I also really like deli turkey in my salads, so I will pack it separately and then tear it up when I'm ready to eat it.

That's another thing: I found everything stays freshest when packed separately. For instance, I will have a little baggie of my grape tomatoes, a baggie for my meat, and then a bag for my lettuce/shredded red cabbage. I also have a separate container for dressing (or just leave a bottle in the work fridge).

It seems like a lot of work, but it takes about 5 minutes to prep it in the morning and then a minute to throw it all in a bowl at lunch. I will tear up a head of lettuce and wash it and then seal it in a gallon sized ziplock bag. That will keep it fresh for several days as long as it's not too wet.
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Old 05-10-2011, 11:41 AM   #4
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For transporting small amts of salad dressing:

Tupperware Midgets
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Old 05-10-2011, 11:51 AM   #5
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I love salad! It's easy and versatile. You can throw just about any thing together, call it a salad and and it works.

You know I started typing out all the different things I use in salads, but I'm kind of a foodie, and I think I'd probably just intimidate you.

Lettuce guidelines: the darker the leaf, the more nutritious it is, but you're probably most used to iceburg. Don't buy too much at once as it goes bad quickly. Wrapping it in paper towel and then it a non-airtight plastic bag works well for storage. You can't prepare it too far in advance.

Veggies: grated carrot, sliced cucumber, bell peppers, raw broccoli. Olives. If there's any veggie you like raw, throw it in.

Meat: Deli turkey works well. They sell pre-cooked grilled chicken strips in the meat department, and they work well too. Or you can cook your own chicken or steak as a topper, but that might be getting into territory you're not ready for. A little cheese goes a long way in a salad too.
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Old 05-10-2011, 12:23 PM   #6
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I buy a big bag of Romaine lettuce heads from Costco and it stays fresh for close to two weeks.

Sometimes I made a ceasar salad with leftover chicken, cucumbers, tomato (for me, none for you), parmesan cheese, and Bolthouse Farms yogurt based ceasar dressing.

My most favorite salad currently is romaine with strawberries, blackberries, pineapple (whatever fruit you have), goat cheese, a 1/2 T of sunflower seeds or pecans, with Bolthouse Farms Raspberry Merlot dressing or a poppyseed dressing. LOVE IT!

I make a fried chicken salad too, a leftover chicken tender strip, cheddar cheese, romaine, and some reduced fat/calorie ranch....throw in a couple tortillas and make wraps when you tired of just salads, and you will get tired of just salads LOL
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Old 05-10-2011, 01:47 PM   #7
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Great suggestions! Thanks!
I got all the good fresh green's a couple weeks ago, but then got scared of the preparation part. LOL. At least DH and the kids enjoyed them and they didn't go to waste.

I'll try again though. I went looking for a salad spinner but the only one I found was $30 so I gave up, I'll try again at different stores. I'll check out the deli turkey too, I hadn't thought of that. I'm not sure I'm up to grilling ahead of time yet....baby steps. =)
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Old 05-10-2011, 02:15 PM   #8
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Wal-Mart has cheapie plastic salad spinners for less than $10. Love my salad spinner - also great for drying kale when I'm making kale chips!
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Old 05-10-2011, 02:19 PM   #9
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Everyone else has already given you great suggestions/ideas!

Just wanted to add this tidbit- I like putting cottage cheese on my salads when I don't have or want meat, it has a ton of protein for a 1/2 cup serving. Sometimes I put in a bit of balsamic vinegar or vinaigrette and cracked black pepper in the cottage cheese to give it more flavor and no need for additional salad dressing that way!

You could do the same with beans/legumes for more fiber and protein (southwestern salad with some tortilla chips/strips, black beans and salsa along with a dollop of sour cream comes to mind.)
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Old 05-10-2011, 10:52 PM   #10
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Salad is my "I'm too lazy to put anything in a frying pan or boil water" go-to. Mine are extremely bare-bones but nutritious.

I prefer raw spinach to be my "vehicle" - it feels much more satisfying than eating lettuce. I wash the leaves and cut them into small pieces with a knife. Then I throw in some chicken (cooked in a frying pan - easy easy), some mini tomatoes, maybe some chopped up cucumber, and use lemon pepper seasoning and a small amount of sesame or olive oil as dressing.

Additional possible add-ins: cheese, beans, nuts, raw tofu, cut up fruit, other veggies...really the possibilities are endless.
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Old 05-11-2011, 01:43 PM   #11
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I eat a big salad every day.
I don't buy lettuce though (only ocassionally, I buy a Romaine but I always combine it with spinach), lettuce has a lot less nutrients than spinach. (Baby bok choy is also excellent).

I usually add:
- a chopped up bell pepper
- chopped celery stalk or two
- a handful of grape tomatoes
- chopped up cucumber
Sometimes, I add some coarsely grated carrot. However, I also often mix fruit with veggies and it is not unusual to find in my salad strawberries or chopped up pineapple on top all those veggies (in that case, the dressing of my choice would be raspberry vinaigrette).

I usually don't bother transporting the salad dressing in a separate container, I put it on top of my salad in the mornng and I mix it up before I eat it around lunch time.
I ALWAYS add some protein - usually canned tuna or a hard boiled egg.
Right now, radishes are plentiful - I like to have my salads very colourful.
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Old 05-11-2011, 07:24 PM   #12
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I love salad and eat it every day. Large, mixing bowl size salads

I buy the giant 1 pound tubs of organic spring mix from Sams Club for $3.98. I store it in a Kenetic Go Green Premium container which keeps veggies fresh much, much longer than any other type of storage.

I add lots of other vegetables to make it as colorful as possible. My favorite additions are roasted red pepper strips, sliced raw "mini sweet" peppers, grape tomatoes, sweet onions. Sometimes i add a quarter cup of cooked brown rice. It's a great way to use up leftover rice and makes the salad more filling. It also reminds me of cheese in the salad for some reason.

Sometimes I go in the other direction and add chopped apples and a smidgen of blue cheese.

Dressings: Usually I sprinkle with a very good, very old thick sweet balsamic vinegar. For bottled dressings, I love Newmans Own Light Balsamic Vinaigrette and their Light Raspberry Walnut dressing. My newest fave bottled dressing is Walnut Grove Farms Strawberry Balsamic Dressing.
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:08 PM   #13
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I could eat this entire thread
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Old 05-11-2011, 09:31 PM   #14
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BASIC to get the hang of it:
Already prepared lettuce that appeals to you (romaine, Italian mix, spring greens). Start by buying one or two packages. If it's in a ~10 oz. package, it will make about 2 meal size salads. Buy 2-4 other vegetables that you like. Start by picking vegetables that you like raw.

The night before, put about 5 oz. of the lettuce in a container that you can take to work. This can be a plastic tub (like a Glad, Ziploc or Tupperware bowl with a lid) or a gallon zipper bag. Cut up 2-4 vegetables in bite size pieces to make about a cup of cut vegetables. Add them to the container.

Protein: grilled chicken, grilled steak, leftover roast beef, cottage cheese, drained canned tuna, hard boiled eggs, sandwich meat, chilled grocery store roasted chicken, canned beans (legumes) like chickpeas, kidney beans, black beans - whatever you like already cut, chopped, torn into bite size pieces. Add to the container. About 4 oz. 1/4 - 1/2 cup.

A treat: Add a small amount of a treat item - something with big flavor: olives, nuts, sharp cheese, peppers, capers.

Salad dressing. Can keep separate or add to the salad mixture.

If salad is in a gallon bag, add dressing to the bag, seal, shake it up until the salad is dressed, pour the salad in a bowl or on a plate.
If it's in a bowl, put the dressing on top, toss with your fork and you're ready to eat.

After you've used up the greens and veggies and feel successful making salads that you enjoy eating, think about expanding the choices of vegetables and range of greens. Fundamentally, make salads you like to eat.
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