Nutrition by Brooke

How To Build a Plant-Based Salad Bowl

Eating salad is a great way to pack lots of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, enzymes, and fiber into your diet. But salad can be a very broad term. Salads aren’t always healthy — especially if you add processed dressing and drown it in sugar.

Salads can also have too few calories and leave you hungry. Don’t go easy on your salad ingredients- fill yourself up. If your salad consists of iceberg lettuce, cucumbers, tomatoes, lemon juice and that’s it…then please keep reading.

Here’s my favorite seven-step formula for creating salad bowls that are flavorful, nourishing, and satisfying.

Bed of leafy greens

Start with green leafy veggies as a base. Use one or any combination of:

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Chard
  • Dandelion greens
  • Romain lettuce
  • Baby mixed greens
  • Watercress
  • Arugula
  • Shredded cabbage

Raw vegetables

Add any raw veggies you’d like; these are great additions:

  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumbers
  • Beetroot (grated and marinated in lemon juice)
  • Cauliflower
  • Grated carrot
  • Zucchini
  • Jicama
  • Bell pepper
  • Sprouts
  • Avocado

Lightly cooked vegetables

You can skip this step if you want to make a raw salad. I sometimes like to add some cooked veggies, especially in the colder months of the year.

Steamed broccoli and pumpkin is my favorite combination. But you can also choose from steamed, boiled, or baked:

  • Sweet potato
  • Mushrooms
  • Cauliflower
  • Zucchini
  • Brussels sprouts


Adding beans or lentils to a salad bowl makes your dish more filling and nourishing, as legumes are rich in protein, iron, and fiber.

Consider adding:

  • Red kidney beans
  • Black beans
  • Lima beans
  • Mung beans
  • Chickpeas/Hummus
  • Lentils

Tip: Soak beans overnight before cooking. This reduces the amount of enzyme inhibitors in beans, which makes them more digestible and you less gassy! It also makes it easier for you to absorb their nutrients.

Seeds or nuts

If you want to boost nutrient content and really like something crunchy, add some raw:

  • Sunflower seeds
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Almonds
  • Walnuts
  • Pecans


If you add a lot of different ingredients and hummus to your salad bowl, you can simply use some lemon or lime juice as your dressing.

Or mix up some homemade dressing:


Avocado-Cesar Salad Dressing
  • 1 ripe avocado, pitted (about 1/2 cup mashed)
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon raw apple cider vinegar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast


Combine all of the dressing ingredients in a high-speed blender, and blend until completely smooth. Pour over chopped Romaine lettuce, and toss well to coat.

Avoid most store-bought dressings, as they usually contain preservatives and other crappy ingredients. However, I have found a company that does make very healthy, paleo based salad dressings! This company makes their salad dressings with whole foods free of preservatives, additives and artificial ingredients. No dairy, gluten, GMOs and soy in sight. Paleo friendly and primal approved!

If you have a Thrive Market membership, you can buy the Primal Kitchen salad dressings for much cheaper! Learn more about Thrive Market here.


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