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7 Healthy Salad Recipes That Even Meat Eaters Like Me Can Love

Creative salad recipes that use leafy greens, whole grains, fruit, and other nutrient-dense yet calorie-light ingredients have been a staple in my meal planning for quite a while now simply because they’re a delicious way to get some fiber and a few servings of veggies every day.

Although fancy salad recipes tend to have long lists of ingredients, the basic steps can’t get any easier: cut up a few tasty morsels, mix it all together, and drizzle the whole thing with dressing. That’s how I like to do it.

Next time you catch yourself thinking that “clean” eating has to be complicated, pull out this list, and prep a bunch of the key ingredients so you’ll be prepared when hunger strikes.


Grilled Kale with Spicy Lentils


Picture courtesy of Chic Vegan

The “superfood” that’s on everyone’s mind these days is kale, and for good reason: just one cup has an entire day’s worth of vitamins A, C, and K, plus a lot of antioxidants and fiber. But it’s easy to grow tired of a simple green salad with carrots, cabbage, and croutons.

Try this new take on kale with this recipe from Salad Samurai: 100 Cutting-Edge, Ultra-Hearty, Easy-to-Make Salads You Don’t Have to Be Vegan to Lovewhere you’ll find plenty more equally creative and tasty.


Serves 6


1 lb. lacinto (Tuscan) kale, stems trimmed 1”

1 bunch scallions, roots trimmed

1 cup reduced-fat coconut milk

2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice

Pinch of salt

1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar

2 Tbsp. Sriracha

1 1/2 cups cooked lentils, rinsed

1 red onion, diced

1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

1/4 cup almonds, chopped and toasted

Lime wedges for garnish


1. Slice the kale lengthwise into 3-inch sections, and add to a bowl with scallions. Pour the coconut milk and lime juice over the top, and sprinkle with salt. Gently massage the dressing into the kale and scallions. Keep the dressing in the bowl as you grill the greens.

2. Preheat a cast-iron grill pan over high heat, or prepare a gas or charcoal grill, in which case it’s recommended to use a grill-specific skillet.

3. Grill kale for less than a minute, flipping it halfway through at about 15 or 20 seconds. The kale is finished when it’s slightly charred. Set aside as you grill the scallions for 1 to 2 minutes. Cool them slightly, and slice the scallions into half-inch pieces.

4. Add vinegar and Sriracha to the bowl of coconut-lime dressing. Whisk together. Then add lentils, onion, tomatoes, and almonds and toss well.

5. To serve, place 1/6 of the lentil mixture on a plate, and top with grilled kale and scallions. Repeat for each serving, and serve with lime wedges.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 344

Protein: 17 grams

Carbs: 45 grams

Fat: 12 grams

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Pickled Strawberry and Roasted Beet on Ricotta


Picture courtesy of foodiecrush

With fresh ricotta cheese, this salad is a new spin on strawberries and cream. There’s a lot more going on here than in summer strawberry shortcake, and it’s a lot healthier too.

There are still elements of dessert like cinnamon, honey, and champagne (in the form of vinegar), but this dish is made richer both in nutrients and flavor by beets, fruity olive oil, and Marcona almonds.

Serves 2


4 small beets

16 strawberries

1 cup Israeli couscous

1 cup ricotta cheese

2 tsp. honey

2 cups arugula

1/2 cup champagne vinegar

1/3 cup honey

1 star anise

1 cinnamon stick

2 Tbsp. fresh mint, divided

Dash of Kosher salt

1/4 cup fruity olive oil

1 Tbsp. reserved strawberry pickling vinegar

1/4 cup Marcona almonds, halved


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Prepare to roast beets by laying them out on a piece of aluminum foil. Coat with olive oil and salt, and seal beets in the foil. Place in the oven for 20–25 minutes, and when tender, allow to cool before removing the skin and slicing.

2. To pickle the strawberries, boil the vinegar and one tablespoon honey in a small saucepan. Add star anise and cinnamon, and cook for 3 minutes. Let cool completely, add strawberries, and leave to marinate for an hour, or 20 minutes minimum. Transfer strawberries to a plate, slice, and set aside.

3. In a separate pan, boil 3 cups water with a dash of salt. Cook couscous according to package directions, rinse under cold water, and drain.

4. Make the salad dressing by whisking together olive oil, a teaspoon of honey, and one tablespoon of the strawberry pickling liquid. Toss arugula in the dressing.

5. In a small bowl, mix the ricotta with one teaspoon honey. Spread on a plate, top with dressed arugula, and layer on the pickled strawberries, couscous, and beets. Garnish with almonds and fresh mint.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 462

Protein: 16 grams

Carbs: 78 grams

Fat: 10 grams


10-Layer Roasted Vegetable Salad


Picture courtesy of Jaymi Heimbuch

When you’re making a big salad for a BBQ or cookout, it’s a great opportunity to sneak in a bunch of healthy ingredients to balance out the greasy burgers, fatty potato salad, and fruit pie.

The dressing has neutral flavors – lemon, cilantro, garlic, and cumin – that go with any vegetable under the sun. Try adding in whatever produce you’ve found in season.

Serves 8



2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

2 medium ears of corn, kernels shaved off

1 red onion, sliced in rings

1 medium zucchini, sliced on an angle

1 large red or yellow bell pepper, sliced in rings

10–15 spears of asparagus

1 can black beans, rinsed and drained

1 head romaine lettuce, chopped

2 ripe avocados, diced and sprinkled with lemon juice

1 cup crumbled feta

1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds


6 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

Zest of one lemon

1 tsp. honey

2 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro

1 clove garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

Salt and pepper to taste


1. Preheat the oven to 425°F. Lin a two large baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Combine zucchini, red onion, bell pepper, and asparagus in a large bowl. Drizzle with a tablespoon or two of olive oil, and season with salt and pepper. Toss to coat, and spread out evenly on both baking sheets. Roast for 10–15 minutes. Flip the veggies, and rotate the pans. Roast for 10–15 more minutes until lightly browned and tender.

3. As the veggies roast in the oven, the corn will be roasted in a skillet. Heat a heavy skillet over high heat, and cook corn for 3–4 minutes without stirring. Turn the kernels to brown the other side for 3–4 minutes. Remove from the pan, and set aside.

4. Make the dressing by whisking remaining olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, honey, cilantro, crushed garlic, cumin, coriander, salt, and pepper. Then in a small bowl, mix a couple tablespoons of the dressing with the black beans.

5. Assemble the salad by layering lettuce first, roasted peppers second, followed by corn, onions, zucchini, and asparagus. Add avocado, black beans, feta, and slivered almonds. Immediately before serving, drizzle lightly with dressing, and toss.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 496

Protein: 15 grams

Carbs: 29 grams

Fat: 34 grams


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Broccoli Salad with Blueberries and Walnuts


Picture courtesy of Julia Mueller

Since the base for most salads is a leafy green, why not substitute broccoli for the usual lettuce, arugula, spinach, or kale?

There are enough other delicious bits like blueberries, cranberries, lemon, and walnuts that even kids will forget their aversion to the little edible trees.

Serves 4



2 broccoli heads, chopped (about 7 cups)

1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

4.5 oz. fresh blueberries

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2/3 cups plain whole milk yogurt

Zest of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

2 Tbsp. honey

1 tsp. kosher salt

Honey-Toasted Walnuts:

2/3 cup raw walnut pieces

2 tsp. olive oil

1.5 Tbsp. honey

1/2 tsp. kosher salt


1. Place a small skillet over medium heat to first prepare the walnuts. Add walnut pieces, olive oil, honey, and a couple pinches of salt. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon as the mixture begins to bubble and caramelize. The walnuts will be finished in 5 to 8 minutes. Set aside, and chop when fully cooled.

2. Chop the heads of broccoli into small florets, and chop the stems into one-inch pieces. Add to a large salad bowl, and set aside.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, lemon zest, lemon juice, honey, and one teaspoon salt. Pour dressing over the salad, and toss to coat.

4. Add red onion, blueberries, dried cranberries, and honey-toasted walnuts to the salad bowl, and toss. Serve immediately.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 314

Protein: 12 grams

Carbs: 38 grams

Fat: 17 grams


Frutti di Mare


Picture courtesy of Simply Recipes

The meat that comes to mind when planning a salad is chicken – which can, by the way, be added to any of the vegetarian salads in this grouping. But it doesn’t take much extra work to create a seafood salad instead.

This is a very healthy pescatarian dish, and yet it’s the kind of thing that will disappear in minutes at a potluck.

Serves 6


Poaching Broth:

4 cups water

1 cup white wine (or chicken stock)

2 tsp. salt

3 bay leaves

1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper

1 small onion, roughly chopped


2 celery stalks

1 large yellow or orange bell pepper

1 lb. tomatoes

1/2 cup chives

1 lb. small cocktail shrimp, pre-cooked

1 lb. small clams in shell

1/2 lb. bay scallops

1/2 lb. calamari, sliced into rings

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Juice of 1 lemon (more to taste)

Salt and black pepper


1. In a large stockpot, mix the water, white wine, salt, bay leaves, black pepper, and chopped onion. Bring to a boil, and then turn off the heat, leaving the pot on the stove.

2. Complete all the prep as the poaching broth steeps. Juice the lemons. Deseed and dice the bell pepper and tomatoes, thinly slice the celery stalks, and chop the chives. Place the bell pepper, tomatoes, celery, chives, and pre-cleaned and pre-cooked shrimp into a large bowl. Set aside.

3. Turn the stove back on to bring the liquid back to a boil. Cook the clams for 3–4 minutes, and as they open up, remove them to a plate. Pry out the clam meat, and add it to the bowl of shrimp and veggies.

4. Now it’s the calamari’s turn to be cooked in the boiling broth. They’ll finish quickly in just 30 second to a minute. Strain the liquid broth from the pot, and transfer the calamari rings to the salad bowl. (Whether you reserve the broth or toss it is up to you.)

5. To the reserved ingredients, add olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt, and half the lemon juice. Mix well, and add more olive oil, lemon juice, and salt to taste. Mix in the chives, and if possible chill for a few hours before serving.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 328

Protein: 36 grams

Carbs: 13 grams

Fat: 12 grams


Quinoa Almond Fruit Salad


Picture courtesy of oh she glows

Hosting a brunch before a big race, hike, or game? Fuel up on fruit, nuts, and quinoa to get plenty of energy to burn at the start and as you push through to the finish line. Or, serve this in smaller portions as a delicious side at a summer picnic.

Serves 4


3/4 cup dry quinoa

1 pint sliced strawberries

16 oz. fresh blueberries

1 cup cherries, pitted and sliced

2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup

1 tsp. balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp. fresh lime juice

Pinch of salt

1/2 cup almonds, chopped


1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil, and cook quinoa covered according to package directions. Fluff with a fork when finished.

2. Slice the strawberries and cherries, and place in a large bowl with the blueberries. Set aside.

3. In a small bowl, make the dressing by whisking together maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, lime juice, and a pinch of salt.

4. Add the fluffed quinoa to the fruit bowl, and mix to combine. Pour the dressing over the top, and toss to combine. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 459

Protein: 8 grams

Carbs: 90 grams

Fat: 8 grams


Moroccan Grated Carrot and Beet Salad


Picture courtesy of Simply Recipes

Like a slaw, this simple carrot and beet salad has depth of flavor that will surprise you. It’s spiced with sweet paprika, cumin, cinnamon, and cayenne. Fresh mint leaves provide a light crisp element, and golden raisins and honey bring out the earthy sweetness of the carotene-rich beets and carrots.

Serves 4


3 carrots, grated (about 2 cups)

1 medium-sized beet, peeled and grated

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 tsp. sweet paprika

1/4 tsp. ground cumin

1/4 tsp. cinnamon

Pinch of salt

Pinch of cayenne

2 Tbsp. lemon juice

2 tsp. honey

2–3 Tbsp. sliced fresh mint leaves


1. Grate the beets, and place in a strainer to rinse with cold water. Pat dry with a paper towel, and then add to a serving bowl with the golden raisins and grated carrots. Mix gently.

2. Make the dressing in a small bowl by first combining the spices: paprika, cumin, cinnamon, cayenne, and salt. Add lemon juice and honey, and whisk until well combined.

3. Drizzle the dressing over the carrots and beets, and fold together to evenly coat. Let sit for an hour so the flavors come together and the glaze is absorbed by the veggies.

4. Immediately before serving, stir some of the fresh mint into the salad. Use the remainder for garnish, and dig in.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving)

Calories: 99

Protein: 2 grams

Carbs: 25 grams

Fat: < 1 gram


What do you think of these healthy salad recipes? Have anything else to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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