Healthy Salads 101
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

How to build simple, healthy salads that are not boring!


bowl filled with chicken, avocado, carrots and red peppers sitting on a white wooden table and white tea towelEver wonder how people can eat salads for a meal and feel satisfied? Or how on earth does one ‘dress up’ a vegetable and make it worth eating in the first place? Feel a bit like a rabbit and bored when you eat salad? If you feel this way, this article is for you as I’m on a mission to help you learn to love salads.

Here is how to make a salad interesting, delicious and keep you coming back for more.

5 Simple steps for creating an interesting side salad


There are 5 steps to make a great side salad for ANY meal. You need to add 2 more easy additions if you are going to make it a complete and balanced meal.


1) Start with greens : no surprise this greens are the foundation of your salad. Try adding one or more of the following:

  • Romaine lettuce
  • iceberg lettuce
  • spinach
  • mixed spring greens
  • cabbage
  • arugula
  • kale


2) Add more fruit and vegetables : this adds extra flavour, texture, added nutrients and flare to your salad. Choose items that are based on what is seasonally available.

Some fruit to add:

  • apple
  • pear
  • berries
  • mango
  • peach or nectarine
  • grapes
  • sliced fresh figs
  • chopped dried fruit: apricots, dried cranberries, figs, dates, raisins

Some veggies to add:

  • bell pepper
  • red onion or green onion
  • tomato – cherry or diced
  • cucumber – sliced or spiralized
  • radishes
  • grated carrot
  • grated beets
  • microgreens


This is also where you can add some extra flavour by adding fresh herbs such as basil, parsley, dill or cilantro.


3) Include a creamy texture: this is often a fat of some kind.

  • avocado
  • cheese: feta, goat, asiago, parmesan, grated cheddar, blue, grilled halloumi
  • green or black olives


4) Add a crunchy texture: this also can be a type of fat or protein or just provides a varied hard crunch texture to the salad.

  • nuts: walnuts, slivered almonds, pecans, macadamia nuts, cashews, pine nut
  • seeds: pumpkin seed, sunflower seeds, flax seeds
  • hemp hearts
  • coconut flakes
  • buckwheat
  • roasted chickpeas


5) Finish with a dressing: this is where people can get stuck with salads. I often get questions like ‘should I skip the dressing? Should it be on the side? Are creamy dressings bad for you?’ and more. I believe dressings are important for a salad and help round out the flavours of what you have added.

If you want to use store bought dressing that is okay but I want to teach you how to make some simple dressings that are

A) using whole and natural ingredients
B) are very easy to put together and
C) taste delicious.


Add below ingredients to a jar or well sealed container, shake until combined, taste and adjust based on your preference (more acidic, sweet, etc.). Check out one of our previous blog posts on How to Make a Vinaigrette in Less Than a Minute and use the following ideas for 3 of my favourites:


  • Simple vinaigrette:
    • Olive oil for your base (plain or flavoured olive oils)
    • Vinegar of choice (white, red, balsamic, apple cider, other flavoured vinegar) or lemon juice
    • Dijon mustard for some added flavour and creaminess
    • Maple syrup, honey or a dash of white sugar for a little sweetness that balances the vinegar
    • Salt and pepper
    • Garlic for some extra oomph


  • Mexican vinaigrette:
    • Olive oil for your base
    • Lime juice and lime zest
    • Cumin, garlic powder, chilli powder, paprika
    • Salt and pepper
    • Honey to sweeten if required


  • Asian vinaigrette:
    • Olive oil
    • Sesame oil
    • Rice vinegar
    • Honey
    • Soy sauce
    • Garlic
    • Ginger
    • Salt and pepper
    • Optional, add peanut butter and make it a peanut satay


When you make salads like this you are adding fibre, vitamins and minerals to your diet that not only taste good but are good for you. If you stopped right here you would have made one heck of a side salad. If you wish to continue on to make this a whole meal you would need to add 2 more elements.


Add these final steps to create a meal sized salad

layered salads in mason jar

6) Protein: this can be any left over meat from the night before, hard or soft boiled egg, canned tuna, canned beans or lentils or sliced or cubed tofu.


7) Carbohydrate/Starch: this could be roasted potato or sweet potato/yam from a night prior. Also try leftover rice, quinoa, barley, bulgur, couscous or buckwheat. You could also try vermicelli noodles, ramen noodles or leftover pasta. Alternatively you could eat your salad in a wrap or pita or enjoy it with crackers or garlic toast on the side.



I hope that after reading this you will be excited to try a few new healthy salad ideas. Salads don’t need to be boring! Challenge yourself to have something a little different to add diverse flavour, texture and taste each time. What’s your favourite salad? Let me know in the comments!

Need more support for how to meal prep and improve your eating habits?


Contact our Calgary Nutritionist / Online Dietitian team for help
As Registered Dietitians that specialize in meal planning, weight concerns, emotional eating, eating disorders, digestive health, heart health, diabetes, and sports nutrition we can see you in our local Calgary Nutritionist office or as an Online Dietitian by phone or video conferencing for virtual nutrition counseling. Find out more about our Dietitian Nutrition Counseling Programs here.

Join the waiting list for our next Online Nutrition Course The Pursuit of Healthiness.


As university trained Registered Dietitians, you can count on us for credible advice and practical meal planning so you don’t have to stress about food anymore. You can achieve a healthy and joyous relationship with food and your body. Let’s talk about what this can look like for you. CONTACT US.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email

As seen in


Success stories

"I am a psychologist in private practice and it is very important to me that my clients have the best care with other health care professionals. For that reason Health Stand Nutrition is my only source for exceptional Dietitians. Andrea and her team provide highly knowledgeable, compassionate, and real world support to my clients who require assistance with food lifestyle. I trust my clients to them and you would be in excellent hands making them part of your health care team."
Adele Fox, Psychologist
“This is the first time I feel satisfied; my cravings have diminished dramatically and I have a whole new relationship with food. I am eating guilt-free for the first time in my life. My energy has also dramatically increased and I feel great!
Rhonda Jenkins, Nutrition Counseling Client
“The Dieticians at Health Stand Nutrition help you to take action on the science behind eating well by making it practical, understandable, and fun. Their office is cozy and not at all clinical or intimidating. I felt like I was sitting down with a really smart, caring friend who wanted to help me make the best choices for my lifestyle and food preferences. They really are the best in the business.”
Marty Avery, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I have come to think of the program as a one stop shopping excursion for everything one needs to know about creating a joyous relationship with food and our bodies. In a single word, the course has gifted me with freedom from the punishing rigidity of disordered eating, old stories that never were true, and body dysmorphia that did nothing but make me lose sight of a body that has done everything I've asked, despite my careless dismissal of her needs. Now when I look in the mirror I find myself shifting from harsh criticism to gentle gratitude.”
Lynn Haley, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“I spent 3 hours when first diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. I learned more from my Dietitian about food in those 3 hours than I had learned in all the years of my life. I also love the newsletter, there is always something to learn.”
Peter Whitehead, Nutrition Counseling Client
“I didn’t realize how strong my “diet mentality” was, and all the rules I had in my head about food. I was in a cycle of reward/punish/binge/cringe. I booked with your business very reluctantly, on the repeated advice of my doctor, to get my slowly rising cholesterol levels in check. I thought I knew everything about food, and my behaviour with food, but I was definitely re-schooled. My weight is creeping down, I feel good about my diet, exercise, body image, and lifestyle.”
Amy Floyd, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Thanks Andrea for an amazing presentation, I have heard all positive remarks from attendees and the evaluations show the same sentiment. It is really gratifying when a speaker does their “homework” and weaves in our profession’s day to day challenges within their content, you did an awesome job of this! You truly took the “die” out of Dietician! Your information on healthy eating and simplifying how we can work towards this as we are all so busy really hit the mark. Andrea connects very well with her audience; she is energetic, funny, and very approachable.”
Carole Ann LaGrange, Transfusion Medicine Safety Officer

Event Planner for Laboratory Diagnostic Imaging Annual Event

I am a family physician who sees patients with a myriad of eating concerns – from wanting to know how to plan healthy meals for active families, to weight loss, to eating disorders, and so on. I cannot recommend the Health Stand team highly enough. I have worked with (and been to!) other Dieticians in the past and too often find that they just ask for food logs and make suggestions that are easily obtained online or in books. The Dieticians at Health Stand offer much more than just telling clients what they “should be eating.” In contrast, the team really does more of a counselling practice, and they work hard to help their clients learn more about why their eating habits may be off track and not optimal for them, as well as helping people to effect change at a deep level that, most importantly, is sustainable for lifetime health.”
Dr. Deb Putnam, Family Physician

Nutrition Counseling Client & Referring Physician

“I am a busy mom, with kids in high level sports, working full-time downtown, and running our home acreage outside the City. I now have the knowledge and tools I need to plan for and manage the chaos of meal planning.”
Gillian Gray, Pursuit of Healthiness Online Course Participant
“As a construction company, we select speakers who can relate to our industry and its employees. Andrea’s message was delivered with humor and empathy. She makes people feel as though they can make changes without leaving behind every favorite food. Andrea focused her presentation on healthy eating as a way to keep energy high throughout the day. This message and the way it was delivered resonated with our predominantly male, blue collar culture. I would highly recommend Andrea as a speaker for groups such as ours. She will get your message across without alienating anyone in your audience – which is a huge hurdle when trying to introduce a wellness program in the workplace!”
Stephanie Wood, HR and Safety Manager

Fisher Construction Group, Burlington, WA

I found my Dietitian warm, funny, and skilled at teaching nutrition concepts without the overwhelm. The general approach of each session was to mix science with emotion, which was exceedingly effective in helping me shift my perspective on food from one of anxiety to one of joy and curiosity.”
Erin Kronstedt, Nutrition Counseling Client
“Excellent presentation! What a refreshing change to have a speaker inspire rather than “lecture” about nutrition. Your captivating stories, tips and overall approach to healthy eating uplifts and puts people at ease. It was great to hear we don’t need to strive to be perfect eaters, and that small changes really can make a difference in how we feel and in our health. Thanks to Andrea, we have solutions to our everyday nutrition challenges that can actually work in real life!”
Tina Tamagi, Human Resources

ARC Resources Ltd.

“Had I not joined this course I would have struggled with no focus, low energy, and mindless eating. Excellent teaching and motivation. This is not just a course, it is a nutrition club with mentorship, support, and connections with other people with similar situations.”
Lorri Lawrence, Pursuit of Healthiness online course participant

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This