Salads Even in Winter (perhaps, especially in winter)

Last year I wrote an ebook about eating meal sized salads. I published that ebook at the height of summer. Definitely salad season. In my salad e-book I share how our family has been eating salads for lunch for quite some time, at first sporadically and then more regularly.

A friend asked me recently if we still eat salads in the winter.

Yep. We do.

This is one area where my food philosophy diverges from the local food movement. Through study and my own personal experience I believe my body needs fresh greens and vegetables, and lots of them, all year round.

I happen to live in a cold winter climate but I need lots of fresh vegetables, even in winter. (We also eat tons of soups, stews and roots. The foundation of our winter supper menu.)

I have made an uneasy peace with buying bags and bags of grocery store (who knows where it's grown) produce in the winter. That is my confession.

But I don't think my friend was asking the question, do you still eat salads in winter, from a "where does your food come from?" philosophy, rather "do salads really satisfy you in the cold weather?"

And the answer to that is yes, they do.

I find this a little hard to believe, even after eating this way for almost two years. That a plant-based salad, not topped with croutons, eggs and cold cuts can be a meal.

But like I say in my book, a meal sized salad is more than lettuce and tomatoes. It’s a salad full of leafy greens, vegetables, beans, nuts and seeds. It’s a real meal.

The beans, nuts and seeds part is crucial for making a plant-based salad a meal, and not just a side dish. I don't remember the last time I prepared a "side salad" for my family.

I make one pot dinners so salad is never served on the side for supper, except at Christmas and when hosting potlucks. And our lunch salads are the meal. No side salads around here.

For people new to this idea it takes some getting used to, that a salad can satisfy you.

So, I'll share a little secret with you. Our body wants nutrition more than calories.

We eat calories to get this nutrition but what our body really wants is the life building materials found in those calories. If our calories don't deliver those nutrients (most of the calories people eat fall under this category) our body will keep asking for more nutrients which we often mistakenly try to satisfy with more calories.

Overeating and eating the wrong type of foods to meet our body's needs are huge problems that lead to obesity and many diseases. If we want to live with vitality, health and longevity, i.e.: living well into old age, we need to shift the focus of our diet to high nutrient foods.

This is where meal salads with whole food dressings really shine. And it's why they satisfy your hunger. A meal salad with a whole food dressing is meeting your body's actual nutrition needs.

And the whole food dressing part - it's important. Because instead of using a refined oil based dressing - which is high calorie, low nutrition (in terms of nutrient per calorie) you're using whole nuts and seeds which are super loaded with micro nutrients as well as fat and protein.

Here's the other thing about making meal salads once a day - it's easy.

Again, I didn't believe this at first, and I suppose comparing it to slapping together bread and pb&j, it's not. But in terms of thinking and planning your food on a weekly basis - scheduling one meal a day as a salad simplifies your menu planning. It has for me.

Lunch is salad. We use the same ingredients each week and just change the dressings (we still use all the dressings from my ebook as our standards). I never have to wonder, "what's for lunch?" All I have to do is make it and with three sous-chefs we can whip up a good salad, with a homemade dressing, in a half an hour.

I haven't marketed Eat This: Meal Salads & Whole Food Dressings much. I have so much else to write about that "selling" what I've got is not high on the list. (I told you I wasn't much of a business woman.) But I'm trying to do better on this front since the sales of these ebooks support our family. And not for the extras but for you know, groceries. Not to mention I really believe it's a helpful book. That's why I wrote it.

I think my ebook is a great resource to kick start a year of better health. A lot of people try to get a new start on life in the New Year. By now you may already be discouraged about your progress in this regard.

If you are looking for a way to...

  • eat healthier now and make real changes to your long term health
  • get more veggies in your diet
  • lose weight (If you replaced just one meal a day with a plant based salad and a whole food dressing you would help your body in this regard.)
  • simplify menu planning and meal prep (At first, chopping veggies might be more work but not having to plan 1/3 of your weekly menu is a definite time saver for sure.)

consider my book Eat This: Meal Salads & Whole Food Dressings.

I am so honored that Heather recently reviewed it on her blog. And for this week only my ebook is included in the Easy Meals Bundle ebook bundle.

If you buy it here you'll get 5 easy food books for only $7.40., 5 eBooks for $7.40!

I'm fairly certain none of the other books in the bundle offer a plant-based nutrition perspective. But I know the reality is that most people in North America don't eat the way we do, so I think this bundle will appeal to a lot of households, which is why I'm really pleased to be included. And hey, you don't have to be vegan to eat more salads!

Oh, I almost forgot. Next week I'm sharing with newsletter subscribers a veggie dip recipe. It's a recipe we created by adapting one of the dressing recipes from Eat This. I wanted to give you a heads up in case you aren't subscribed to my newsletter yet. In which case, just sign up below.


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  • Charity Johnson

    Charity Johnson on Jan. 23, 2013, 6:16 p.m.

    Thank you so much for sharing this, Renee. We have been "talking" about altering our diet once again because of some possible allergies. But, honestly, I thought, "Can a salad really fill my growing, always active children?" But I am also seeing an addiction to bread in my house. I make my own bread, but I still feel uneasy about the kids always wanting some sort of bread (with everything), and I have found that I crave it too. So, we are off to try salads for lunch, and I am hopeful. My kiddos love veggies (although they are not too fond of dressings). So, my next question for you is: "are you going to now do an e-book on your one pot dinner meals?"


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 24, 2013, 12:37 p.m.

      One pot meals - soup, stew, (those two can be one in the same), curry or stirfry with rice, roasted veggies, bean and veggie chilis (kind of like stew), grain and bean salads - there you go! (smile)


  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on Jan. 23, 2013, 6:37 p.m.

    I looked at this before on your site. I hesitate because of the glossary of ingredients having a lot of soy- braggs, miso, etc. If one was intolerant to soy would it be optional or would it change things too much to not include the soy based ingredients?

    I feel uneasy about buying the winter produce at the store, too. especially where I live, like you, its not much for options in winter. I have been trying to sprout more beans and things to add to our salads, and that way its fairly cheap, fresh, organic, I know how it sprouted, etc. I just do it in jars for now as otherwise sprouters are pricey. But i wish there was a way to do it more larger scale at home on a budget to have a salad just sprouts as the greens part.


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 24, 2013, 12:52 p.m.

      You're right, almost every recipe has a soy ingredient, of course we're talking small amounts here (Tbsps), but still.  I have no idea what the recipes taste like without soy. I've never tried them so I can't vouch for them. However, if you are used to having no soy in your diet then you probably wouldn't miss that particular taste in the dressings.  Here's what I would do to eliminate the soy from the recipes, but retain the flavor, if I needed to.

      Increase the salt or herbamare. The soy products are there for a certain flavor but also for the sodium to enhance the flavor of the other ingredients, straight salt will do that. 

      Look for Raw Coconut Aminos to replace the Braggs. This is a soy-free alternative.

      As for the miso, there are soy free options for that also! South River makes a Chickpea Barley and South River also makes a soy-free miso. There is only one dresssing recipe with miso specifically.


      • Anonymous

        Anonymous on Jan. 25, 2013, 1:36 a.m.

        Okay thank you! Do you know where these types of things are available (I am in rural Canada, not anywhere near big health stores, and it looks like does not have these things). I guess I could stock up when I go to the city, but that happens 1-2 times a year.

        I just recently got herbamare and really like it. I found it at our regular store. Perhaps if I look our regular store might have these other things. They do have a natural section.


  • Sherah

    Sherah on Jan. 23, 2013, 9:20 p.m.

    I was really happy when I saw that your e-book was one of the books in the bundle this week. We have been moving more and more toward eating a salad meal in the past year or so. My last pregnancy brought on some really difficult issues that caused me to totally rethink my diet. So we have been working on adding more and more meals made up of more and more vegetables and the next step that I feel we should make is to eat more meals made up of a salad during the week. Right now we do it here and there, but not often.


  • Rachael

    Rachael on Jan. 24, 2013, 2:09 a.m.

    Thank you! I need to keep my time in the kitchen simple, which lately has resulted in my making the same things again and again and again. This, I think I can do....


    • renee

      renee on Jan. 24, 2013, 12:42 p.m.

      Rachel, I make pretty much the same suppers again and again and again. Well the ingredients are all the same - how it all comes together might taste a little different. I rotate through 5 or so meals each week. Something I've come to terms with over the past few years is there is nothing wrong with simple. If simple is tasty (our tastes buds have learned to adapt to simple fare) and healthy, it's good enough. And good enough is good! This has brought me a lot of freedom in the kitchen from the expectation to be gourmet vegan cook extraordinaire - totally not my gig. And salad for lunch each day makes the kitchen routine that much easier.


  • abby

    abby on Jan. 24, 2013, 1:19 p.m.

    We do main dish salads in the winter with kale (rubbed with some lemon juice and sea salt to soften) or cabbage (chopped and lightly sautéed), since they're more seasonal. Probably not something for everyday, but could be part of the rotation?


  • Nicole

    Nicole on Jan. 24, 2013, 2:29 p.m.

    I bought your book when it came out, and two of the dressings have become weekly staples. I even use one for a sauce on chicken and rice, so they're versatile to non-vegans! :)

    It's funny with climate - right now is when we can grow lettuces and greens, too hot in the summer. So from October to April I can go out and pick my fresh greens or get them from the farmer's market, but during the summer is when I have to buy the bags from the store. I am buying spinach now because we got a refurbished Vitamix for Christmas and are using a lot of spinach in green smoothies; next fall/winter I will have to plant a lot more of that! Also, I wasn't sure I'd like smoothies in the winter, either, but I am loving them!


  • Sara @ GaijinMom

    Sara @ GaijinMom on Jan. 26, 2013, 7:02 a.m.

    "Our body wants nutrition more than calories." Another Aha! moment. This has been playing in my mind all week. We've been looking for ways to increase the nutrition, but it's been mostly talk without deliberate action, so I finally purchased the book. Thanks!


  • Anonymous

    Anonymous on Jan. 27, 2013, 12:39 p.m.

    I just bought the bundle, it looks great. I'm glad to see your no soy tips. I had to go no dairy/no soy for my breastfeeding daughter and it was quite a shock for me to find out how much soy was in everything. I've been making my own dressings with olive oil since the diet change, but haven't given up on salad yet, I love it too much!


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