Why should our salads be bland and boring? I have often wondered if salads could be mouth-watering, tasty, and crunchy, that would make all of us more salad friendly. My struggle with eating salads often starts with the question of “what salad do I make”? The next question is about the ingredients – Do I have the right ingredients? Some salad recipes are too light on the stomach and we don’t feel that we had enough food. And, by the time I have decided, I realize that I don’t have the right ingredients.
I have created a mix n match cheat sheet for our readers that showcases 7 salads with 5 layers of ingredients in each salad, which will give you at least 25+ combinations of salads, if not more. I call this a 7X5 salad cheat sheet, that can be printed and stuck on your kitchen walls or refrigerator. Never run out of ideas for great-tasting and filling salads. The number of variations you can create with the “7X5 Salad cheat sheet” will ensure that your salads are not repeated for few weeks even if you try a new variation each day. The “7X5 salad cheat sheet” will help you to get prepared well in advance and you can carry it on your phone when you go shopping for your grocery.
My definition of a great Salad is that it should have multiple textures, tastes, colors, filling and also be appealing. A great salad should help bring out the natural tastes of its ingredients while enhancing the flavor with some dressings. Salads need to be eaten fresh to enjoy the full range of textures and tastes. I also prefer my salads to be filling and rich in dietary fibers without adding any unhealthy or saturated fats. I am not a big fan of store-bought dressings as they are either too salty, sugary, oily, or are stuffed with preservatives, which defeats the whole purpose of eating a healthy salad.
I have created this salad cheat sheet with vegetarians in mind. If you are a non-vegetarian, please feel free to add non-vegetarian toppings. The cheat sheet is a way to present the salad ideas that can be mix-n-matched to create your own combinations. As I started by saying that salads need not be boring, here you go – get creative and open your taste buds to numerous combinations that will take you on a long salad journey.
The 7X5 salad cheat sheet offers ideas for 7 salads, one for each day of the week. Each salad idea has 5 layers. Let me start by describing what each layer of salad consists of:
- Leafy Greens: A bed of leafy greens gives a fresh appeal to salads while the greens offer a myriad of health benefits. The greens also add an earthy taste and crispy texture to the salads. Most green vegetables are low in calories. Leafy Greens are low in fat, high in dietary fiber, and rich in folic acid, potassium, magnesium, vitamin C, and phytochemicals. These nutrients are critical for every cell function and hence, prevent the aging process and help us look youthful. A diet dominant in leafy greens protects the eyes from macular degeneration and cataracts in adults.
- Vegetarian Proteins: Plant-based proteins are the new craze everywhere. Proteins act as muscle builders that you need to repair tissue after a workout. Proteins also help balance fluids, bolster your immune system, create hormones and enzymes. Eating high-protein foods has many fitness benefits, including speeding recovery after exercise and/or injury, reducing muscle loss, building lean muscle, maintain a healthy weight, and curbing hunger. I believe that the biggest advantage of Protein in our diet is that they keep us full longer, which means you don’t feel the urge to eat as often. This helps keep weight down while fueling our cells with the right nutrients they need.
- Vegetables/fruits: Vegetables and fruits add a different taste and texture to any salad. Fruit and vegetables are a good source of vitamins and minerals, including folate, vitamin C, and potassium. They’re an excellent source of dietary fiber, which can help to maintain a healthy gut and prevent constipation and other digestion problems.
- Dressing: Salad dressings help bring out the taste of different greens and vegetables while the added fats and oils help absorb the essential nutrients. The dressings with some form of fat aid in the absorption of carotenoids, the fat-soluble compounds in vegetables that are linked to a reduced risk of diseases like cancer. Dressings are a critical part of any salad as they help create a balance of tastes based on all the ingredients we have used. Adding dressings to our salads develop all 5 types of tastes – Sour, Sweet, Salty, Bitter, and Umami (meaty or savory taste).
- Crunchy toppings: I like my salads to have a layer of crunchy toppings in the form of toasted seeds or nuts, croutons, fried noodles, or dried fruits. I consider the toppings as “icing on the cake” as they add a complimentary taste while providing more nutrients. Also, nuts and seeds are rich in fiber and hence keep us full for a longer time.
Optional additions: I have provided a list of optional ingredients at the bottom of the cheat sheet, that can make your salads even more interesting.
Please click the below image to download the cheat sheets :
The 7X5 Salad cheat sheet provides you with enough ideas for many variations of salads. I have avoided giving specific instructions or recipes for the main salad assembly and left that to the readers’ creativity. However, the dressings have some detailed ingredients list with quantities as the proportions do matter in ensuring that you get the right consistency. Feel free to try different ratios. You may surprise yourself with better tasting salads and hope you come back and share with me.
Looking forward to your feedback and suggestions. Thank you for reading my article.