For me, variations of this “salad” are a staple, and my secret weapon for a healthy lifestyle.  I eat it almost every day, never get tired of it and always look forward to it.   Probably the single best advice for a healthy diet is: “Eat a salad every day the size of your head.”   I believe that this simple bit of advice, by itself, is the closest thing there is to the secret of weight loss and achieving health goals.   I see so many people struggling with their weight, trying to control food cravings . . . just because they’re not eating this every day.  It’s not that hard, people!  Most of these ingredients are super-foods: the more you eat, the more weight you *lose*!

I believe the dressing has to be oil-free to get the health benefits.  There are many variations to the dressing below.  If you made the salad very tasty with a variety of ingredients, the only dressing you may need is a little balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.  Usually, the basic dressing is (balsamic) vinegar and a smaller amount of tamari or soy sauce, with a ratio of about 3 to 1 or 4 to 1.  Common optional additions are garlic, prepared mustard (not too much) and/or tahini.    Tahini is high in fat of course, but it’s a minimally processed food: just ground sesame seeds, far healthier than oil.  And it’s very flavorful so you don’t need much. 

BTW, another category of delicious food that allows people to achieve their health goals is soup.  Studies have shown that a salad OR soup before the rest of your meal, causes people to eat less and lose weight.  Unlike a glass of water, the water in soup or veggies comes with fiber so it’s satisfying and fills you up.   The salad, soup or both might end up as your whole meal if you like.

I fear that the word “salad” may sound boring, but this dish is so versatile it’s more like a “bowl” or a “stir-fry” (without the frying), or “a heaping pile of delicious food.”   In some variations it resembles “salsa” which you can have over, or with, potatoes, beans, beans & rice, etc.

Some of the ingredients below are optional, like bell peppers, and maybe cucumber.  But IMO, I would not want to omit the carrots, tomatoes or purple onions.  And a variety of ingredients tends to make dishes better. 

The high-fat ingredients, (nuts or avocado) make this very rich and delicious.  You probably don’t need both.  If you find that the plain version isn’t exciting enough, either avocado or nuts transform this into “amazing.”   Unlike oils, these contain healthy fats, but go easy if you’re trying to lose weight since all fats are loaded with calories.  Having a small amount of fat with a salad or veggies may help to absorb some of their nutrients.  If you’re looking to get omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts are one of the best sources;  a half-handful of walnuts a day is more than enough.  You can store walnuts in the freezer to help you avoid snacking (and to keep them fresh).  If you tend to snack on nuts, it’s probably better not to keep them in your house.   You can add the nuts just to the portion being consumed so they stay crunchy.

INGREDIENTS:   (veggies should be coarsely chopped:  not too small)

Cucumber  (about half of one cucumber)
Tomato      (about three)
Purple Onion (about one, coarsely chopped)
Bell pepper   (about one)   (OPTIONAL)
Carrots     (about three large)
Large handful of chopped fresh parsley
Cut-up black olives    (about one third cup)
Walnut pieces  (about a quarter cup or less) 
OPTIONAL:  Black pepper to taste (about ¼ - ½ teaspoon)
OPTIONAL:  Dried dill weed (one or more TBSP)  (or a small pile of chopped fresh dill)
AND/OR Dried thyme to taste
Nuts (such as walnut pieces)
OPTIONAL:  Cut up avocado. 
(See “Optional Add-Ins” below)

(Note: quantities are arbitrary and way more than you would need for one salad)

3 – 4 TBSP of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice (preferably fresh)
1 TBSP of tamari or soy sauce
STOP RIGHT THERE – the other ingredients are optional.  But if you want . . .
OPTIONAL:  Several garlic cloves processed through a garlic press
OPTIONAL: Several TBSP of tahini
OPTIONAL: small amount of prepared dijon mustared
OPTIONAL:  Totally unnecessary, but a small amount of grated or diced raw ginger can be interesting.  (Don’t add too much!!)
NOTE:  Some people add something sweet to dressings, like agave (or sugar), but I don’t; not needed!


  • Cut up the salad ingredients EXCEPT THE WALNUTS and toss.  (Add the walnuts to the portion being consumed so they stay crunchy).
  • Mix the Dressing ingredients separately, only to the portion being consumed!  Mix in a little at a time; don’t over-do it, save the rest of the dressing for later.


  • Cooked beans
  • Apple or pear pieces or blueberries
  • Sliced mushrooms dry-fried in a non-stick pan, with a little vinegar, and a splash of tamari or soy sauce at the end.  Note that, if using mushrooms, olives are not needed.
  • Cooked tofu pieces (pressed and cut-up tofu dry-fried in a non-stick pan until crispy). 
  • Cooked corn
  • Pepperoncini
  • Roasted sweet-potato pieces (cubed raw sweet potato baked in oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes)
  • Salad greens: lettuce, or healthier greens like cabbage or arugula.  (Personally, I usually do not add the healthiest greens, like kale or collards, which are more bitter; I get these into my diet in other ways, especially by adding to soups).  
  • Cooked whole-wheat macaroni (not the healthiest ingredient, but not bad and can add flavor or variety)


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published this page in Salads and Dressings 2016-04-09 13:13:25 -0400