Plain lettuce salads really bore me. Iceberg lettuce, some shredded carrots… blah! I have no motivation to eat them, especially when Iceberg lettuce has less vitamins in it than many other leafy greens. So, right off, I always choose a spinach salad if I want to get more of a benefit than to just fill me up. But that alone is not enough to make a salad exciting!
Years ago, when my son was a tiny-pup (he’s 16 now), we used to watch a show that was fun, weird, entertaining and sometimes educational… it was Pee-wee’s Playhouse. Where Herman may not personally be my first choice of a role model, he sure was very entertaining!
You may know Pee-wee Herman – he’s that nerdy-looking guy who always wears a gray suit and speaks in a funny voice (“I know you are, but what am I!). He rides his bicycle everywhere (always a healthy choice!) and was even in a movie called, “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure.” Well, in one Playhouse episode, Pee-wee makes his own salad bar on his kitchen counter, where he had many veggies he and his Playhouse characters could choose from to create the salad they wanted. This customization also makes it a little more fun.
So, after seeing that, to get my son to want to eat more vegetables, every now and then I would say, “Hey, how about we make “Pee-wee Salads” for dinner tonight?!” Then I would take him to the grocery store and let him pick out ingredients he’d want in his salads.
We haven’t done that in a while, so last week we decided to have “Pee-wee Salads” for old-time’s sake. I bought a bunch of different veggies and we enjoyed creating our own. See the photos in this post for what we put into them.
That gave me the idea to give you inspiration to possibly make a healthy salad at home that pumps up the vitamins, adds protein and fills you up as a true meal. You just choose the ingredients you want and voila! Below are some ideas to start with for making your own “Pee-wee Salads.”
- Baby leaf spinach (Popeye is gonna’ love you!). This is the base. You can also use any other leafy green you like.
- Pre-cooked, grilled chicken strips (you can buy small bags at the grocery store, where you just pour some into a dish and heat in the microwave).
- Seared Ahi Tuna or Salmon
- Marinated artichoke hearts
- Marinated, grilled asparagus
- Any colored sweet peppers… red, orange, yellow… whatever floats your boat!
- Broccoli Slaw Mix (I also use this alone as a salad base, once in awhile. I just use a low fat dressing instead of mayo).
- Low fat cheese. Fresh mozzarella and feta are both tasty.
- Nuts (cashews and walnuts are good choices)
- Dried cranberries (Craisins are my favorite. I use them often in other things too)
- Red onion
- Chinese noodles or sesame sticks
- Dressing (I like fat free balsamic myself, but choose any low fat option to keep it healthy)
- Garbanzo beans (more protein!)
- Chopped, fresh avocado (the healthy fat)
- Sliced apples, pears or strawberries
- A squeeze of lemon or lime juice
If you cannot find some tasty and interesting combinations from the above list, then Pee-wee Herman would be disappointed!
Let me know what ingredients YOU use to make your salads into a real meal.