Take my Main Course Salad Challenge and lighten up your menu for spring ~ join me and eat a hearty healthy salad for dinner once a week during the month of March!
Does a nice crisp salad sound good to you all of a sudden? Your body is trying to tell you something, so listen up…
What’s my main course salad challenge?
It’s simple ~ I’m kicking off the start of spring this month by subbing out one dinner a week for a gorgeous main course salad, and I’m asking you to join me. You choose the day, I’ll supply you with all the inspo you’ll need to eat lightly and deliciously. You might just find yourself sticking with this plan month after month.
I’ll be sharing a new main course salad recipe every Wednesday during March. Be sure to subscribe to my email list because I’ll also be posting a sneak peek at the grocery list for new recipe in my Sunday emails. You can grab what you need to be ready to rock and roll during the week. These salads will do double duty as working lunches, too.
We’re craving lighter, healthier fresher foods that will flush our system and revive us after the long winter. It’s our instinctive way of balancing out the heavier winter diet and getting ready for spring.
How is a main course salad different from a regular salad?
I define a main course salad as something that can stand in for a meal, specifically dinner. And that means a main course salad has some sort of protein component. This can be meat, fish, eggs, beans, tofu, or grains.
The myth of the complete protein
There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to protein. Like the longstanding myth that some proteins are complete (animal proteins) while others (plant proteins) are not, and that you need to combine different plant proteins together, like grains and beans, for instance, in a meal to equal the quality of animal protein. But here’s the thing, complete and incomplete is not a useful way of looking at proteins, and it tends to devalue plant based foods over animal based foods at a time when we should be doing the opposite.
What is true: there are essential amino acids that make up all protein that the human body can use, and some foods, like meat and eggs, contain all of them, while other foods, like lentils and whole wheat, contain some but not all of them. Whether you get these amino acids from steak or tofu, these building blocks are the same. If you don’t eat any animal products (vegan) then you need to eat a variety of plant foods, including grains, nuts, seeds and legumes to assure you’re getting all the essential amino acids in your diet. It’s that simple.
What is a myth: that plant proteins are somehow of lesser quality, and aren’t usable by the body unless you combine them in certain combinations together in one meal. In the course of normal eating you will get all of the essential amino acids you need, and therefore all the protein you need, even if you eat a plant based diet, and there is no need to combine certain foods in any given meal.
In other words: hummus is the equal of filet mignon when it comes to protein (and in many ways a whole lot better for you.)
*read more about this interesting issue here.
If you’re interested, here are the classic plant based pairings that combine to include all the essential amino acids. You can eat them together in a meal, or just include them in your daily diet. (via verywellfit):
Grains and legumes:
- Black beans and rice
- Pasta and peas
- Whole wheat bread and peanut butter
- Bean soup and crackers
Nuts and seeds plus legumes:
- Roasted nuts, seeds, and peanuts
- Hummus (chickpeas and tahini)
- Lentils and almonds
And there are some plant based foods that actually do contain all the essential amino acids, so they’re good to know about if you’re trying to eat less meat.
- soy (milk, beans, or tofu)
- amaranth (an ancient grain)
~ this is the classic main course salad, with protein galore! It’s filling and satisfying without weighing you down.
~ produce starts to take on a whole new freshness in the grocery store this month, so it’s a great time to make a super colorful salad for dinner. Look for red ‘greens’ like radicchio, red endive, and red leaf lettuce to perk things up.
~ This salad redefines the notion of steak for dinner. A little meat goes a long way so you can splurge on the good stuff. Use your sharpest knife and slice the steak across the grain for super thin, tender slices.
~ this classic main course salad is always a winner in my book. Treat yourself to some good oil packed tuna, and don’t forget the capers!
~ use black rice, black lentils, or red quinoa if you can’t get your hands on wild rice, but don’t substitute anything for the watercress, it’s to die for.
~ this salad was a huge hit with me, I could have gone on eating it for days. The satisfying combination of flavors was just wonderful. Most supermarkets sell packs of husked/trimmed ears, and that will stand in just fine until we can enjoy this with high season corn :)
~ Even without the addition of some great canned tuna, this chopped asparagus salad could be a main course because the beans provide great protein.
~ this is another personal favorite of mine. I’m always a little bit disappointed in the Chinese chicken salads in restaurants, so I took it upon myself to create the ultimate version. Definitely take the extra minute to make those fried wontons strips, they’re amazing.
~ this is a regular in our house, with different types of fish and greens on rotation. You can poach, pan fry, grill or bake your fish and lay it right on your salad, the combination of cool and warm is lovely.