Easy and Healthy Salad Recipe
This healthy salad recipe combines unique ingredients to make a meal that keeps you full of superfoods and satisfied. Plus, you’ll get a homemade salad dressing that you can use to make any other salad delightful to eat!
Some of these ingredients may come across as strange to you, so I’m going to tell you now that you have to trust me! I was really skeptical of this combination too, but it was all I had in my fridge at the time. So keep an open mind, and let’s get to it!
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The Healthy Salad to End All Salads
A while back, I went on a bit of a superfood kick and tried to eat as many of them as possible. One day, when I was running low on food, all I had was some salad greens and a few random ingredients. I thought “those don’t sound horrible on a salad,” and the rest was history!
These ingredients sound super weird at first, and some of them are even hated by a lot of people. But I promise you that these foods combined will make an amazing lunch for you. It’s the perfect combination of sweet, crunchy, and sour that keeps your mouth entertained.
You would never think that you’re eating a regular old salad! The dressing, among the unique toppings, is what really makes this salad as great as it is. Spoiler alert: I’ve already given you the recipe! I included it in a post that had 3 homemade salad dressings that anyone can make.
Let me tell you, I have no shame in saying that I am one of those people that hates salads. I used to go through phases where I would force myself to eat them, then I would get sick of them and eat all of the bad foods for the next two weeks. It was leftover from an old yo-yo dieting mentality I had.
I’m happy to say that I’ve since kicked that mentality to the curb, and I’ve found several healthy foods that I can eat happily without falling off the band wagon. My biggest hope for you is that this healthy salad becomes something you’ll enjoy too, and open up your mind to a more versatile diet.
Now that I’ve talked up these weird ingredients in this superfood salad, what exactly are they? I think I’ve tortured you all enough.
What’s So Great About These Unique Ingredients
When I talk about the ingredients for this healthy salad, you’ll notice that I’ll call almost all of them superfoods. What are superfoods, exactly? It’s a term that has really taken off in recent years in the nutrition industry.
A food is considered “super” if it is nutrient dense and promises great health benefits. This includes foods like quinoa, blueberries, avocado, and salmon (source). While it’s great that people try to eat as many superfoods as possible, I learned that as long as you’re eating clean, unprocessed foods, you’re still doing great.
The Superfoods in this Healthy Salad
One of the most hated of these “super foods” is cottage cheese. Please don’t click away just yet! For me personally, I know very few people who love this curdled cheese. I was one of those exceptions. I grew up loving cottage cheese as a late night snack to get me to bed. But it’s a great source of protein. And there are so many other flavors going on in this salad, you won’t taste it at all.
Dried cranberries is another ingredient that may come up as questionable to some people. I won’t deny it, dried cranberries are loaded with sugar. But there are ways around this! Try to find a brand that has reduced sugar, or even sugar free. These vitamin-rich berries are in this salad for added sweetness, so you can adjust this as much as you want.
Quinoa is next is this healthy salad, and it shouldn’t come as any surprise. This grain has made its mark in the nutrition world as a vitamin and fiber rich food. I love to use it as a replacement for rice! It takes out the worry of eating too much carbs while giving you some extra vitamins and keeping you full until the next meal.
Lastly, pecans have graced this salad with their presence because they offer so many benefits! I’m talking skin, hair, and nail health, gut health, and bone strength (source). I was the most apprehensive to put this in my salad because I thought pecans got a bad rap for being in pecan pie, which is one of the least healthiest pies out there. Turns out pecans on their own are very good for you!
Now that we’ve got all of those weird but delicious foods out in the open, here’s how I make my superfood salad down below. I promise you they will work well together for your next lunch!
My Superfood Salad Recipe
For the salad, you will need:
- Your favorite salad greens, as much as you want!
- 4 tablespoons cottage cheese
- 1/4 cup dried cranberries
- 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
- 1/2 cup roasted pecans
For the dressing, you will need:
- 2 tablespoons sunflower oil, or your favorite nut oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Optional—1 squirt of lemon juice
- Cook your quinoa. The general rule of thumb is to put twice as much water as the amount of quinoa in your pot. So one cup of quinoa needs two cups of water. Bring water and quinoa to a boil, then reduce to low heat and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Measure half a cup of the cooked quinoa and set aside to cool.
- Measure your pecans and throw them onto a frying pan set to medium heat. Roast until fragrant, then flip the nuts over until each side is evenly roasted. Set aside for a few minutes to cool.
- Prepare your favorite salad greens and place in a big bowl. Top with some spoonfuls of cottage cheese, the cranberries, quinoa and roasted pecans. Drizzle your dressing over everything and enjoy!
How to Make the Honey Mustard Dressing:
- Combine all of your ingredients and whisk together in a small bowl with a fork. That’s it! It may look like the oil, honey, and sunflower oil won’t mix, but just give it a little extra stir time.
Harness the Power of Meal Prep! And Some Extra Tips and Tricks
I absolutely love to pack this salad ahead of time for the workweek! I just make a few servings of quinoa and roasted pecans Sunday night and I’m good to go. I’ll throw everything in a container before I head out the door, and that’s it.
I’ll usually pack a snack or two along with this salad to take with me to work. Because, come on, no one can be full for an entire work day on a salad. If you can, you seriously need to teach me your ways! If you need some healthy snack inspiration, I’ve got a great list of 30 healthy lunches to pack instead of a sandwich. There are lots of great healthy snack and dessert options on there!
While I do have measurements for all of the salad toppings above, they are completely relative to what you may or may not like! You may find that you prefer to have more pecans, or less cranberries, it will really depend on your own personal preferences.
I personally like to go somewhat heavy on the dressing and cottage cheese, and lighter on the cranberries. But hey, that’s just me. I won’t judge you on your salad preferences! So go ahead and play around with what you like. You may end up surprising yourself.
Final Thoughts on this Healthy Salad
While the ingredients in this superfood salad recipe may not sound the greatest, it’s the best combination of sweet and sour with the right amount of crunch. I love to make this salad when I’m in a lunch rut and I have a huge desire to eat processed foods.
The sweetness of the dressing and dried cranberries satisfies my sweet-tooth cravings like no other. Plus, the roasted flavor of the pecans with the protein of the cottage cheese make the taste and texture very enjoyable. And the fiber and nutrients from the quinoa? It’s a no-brainer.
So keep an open mind and give this salad a try! You can customize the amount of toppings to your liking, and use my measurements as a starting point. And feel free to use your favorite kind of salad greens! I personally love to use the Baby Spring Mix you can find at most grocery stores. The iceberg lettuce varieties usually don’t have much nutritional value, so I’d stay away from those if you can.
If you want to start eating healthier, start giving recipes like this a try and work from there. This healthy salad in particular made me love salads, which was nearly impossible a year ago. You’ll find your favorite healthy dishes in no time, I promise! Just keep working and searching, and you can take me along the journey!
Would you eat this healthy salad? Let me know in the comments below!
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