I’m always surprised when clients dismiss salads as as "diet food". While a simple salad is always a lovely addition to any meal, it doesn’t take much more effort to re-invent your everyday salad into a colorful and delicious harvest bowl.
Here are some simple prep tips to help you quickly assemble your own harvest bowl bursting with flavors:
Leafy greens should fill at least ½ your bowl. Supermarkets have caught on, and today it is easy to find a 4-5 oz bucket or bag of pre-washed greens like spring mixes, baby kale, spinach and chard, pea greens. Each green adds its own unique flavor to the dish. Challenge yourself to select a new variety each week!
Aim to "eat the rainbow" in your salads for nutrient supercharge. Fresh veggies like grape tomatoes, slivered red cabbage, sliced cucumbers add a refreshing crunch. Did you ever try roasted vegetables in your salad? Roasting transforms familiar flavors into another flavor altogether - nutty, smokey, savory. Never tried it before? Here’s how to do it:
Purchase 2-3 of your favorite veggies like carrots, red peppers, florets of broccoli, cauliflower (purchase store-prepped for a time saver). Cut into 1 inch pieces, toss with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, add spices to taste. Spread evenly over a lined sheet pan and roast in a pre-heated oven at 400° F for 25-30 minutes until tender. Cool and store in clear containers. Add to harvest bowls all week.
Fresh fruit like sliced apples or pears, slivers of citrus, fresh berries give salads a burst of sweet/tart flavor.
If you haven’t tried quinoa or wild rice before, a harvest bowl is a great place to start. Quinoa, which is actually a seed, and a complete plant protein, and wild rice (an aquatic grass) are two lower starch, nutrient dense options. Either can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator and added to harvest bowls all week. Quinoa can be found pre-cooked in your freezer section. If weight control is a concern, stick to the serving sizes recommended for grains [about 1/4 – 1/2 cup cooked].
Protein is essential for for helping you feel satisfied until your next meal. Leftovers fit perfectly here. When making dinner, cook enough for leftovers and portion for lunch the next day. Protein choices include hard-boiled eggs, chicken, and turkey and delicious plant proteins like quinoa, canned beans, tofu, and shelled edamame (look for in freezer aisle). Serving size for protein = about 4 oz. Serving size for quinoa/grain, beans, tofu, edamame = ½ cup.
Add-ins: Nuts, Seeds, Avocado
Fat plays an important role in keeping you full, providing texture to a meal. Keep your favorite nuts and seeds stocked in your pantry. Be careful to control amounts here as the calories add up quickly. The perfect serving size for nuts is what fits in the palm of your hand – everyone’s serving size will differ.
Dress it up
Pass on the store-bought dressing and make your own at home!
Start with a basic dressing recipe:
3 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons of vinegar [white balsamic is delicious here]
1/2 small crushed clove of garlic
1/2 teaspoon maple syrup
Add to a Mason jar and shake it well. Double the recipe for dressing to use all week. Serving size = 2 tablespoons. For a variations, swap in a tart fruit juice [like lemon, tart cherry or orange] for the vinegar, or add 1 teaspoon of mustard or probiotic rich miso paste [found here tofu products are sold in your supermarket]. Try this delicious Chicken and Wild Rice Harvest Bowl to get you started. This recipe, which has 5 servings, was designed for batch cooking, so cook once, and enjoy harvest bowls all week long.