How to Make a Delicious "Epic" Salad


One of my favorite keto meals is simply an epic, fatty, textured salad. My husband and I eat these all the time. In fact, he often outdoes my salad creations - he’s annoyingly good at most things. Anyway, this is the perfect dinner when you’ve had a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants day and just need to whip something up. People give cold dinner options a bad wrap but trust me, these salads are very satisfying.

Follow the below step-by-step guide to create some masterpiece “epic” salads as I like to call them.

  1. Select Your Base Greens

Ok, ok, so even this step is becoming overwhelming because there are so many types of greens at the grocery stores these days. But, wholeheartedly, the greens variation and choice paradox in the grocery store is a fantastic thing! Having many options allows you to continue to make salads a staple meal in your routine without getting incredibly boring. Additionally, it’s actually good for your body to get some variation within the types of cruciferous veggies you are consuming (otherwise your digestion, well, can get a little complacent).

Some of you reading this are already aware of the plethora of greens options out there, but as someone who grew up eating the same salad my whole life, I want to list some of the preferred options. We all struggle with this from time to time, but the older we get, the more time we should be spending in the produce aisle and out of the “center” of the store, where they sell sweets, processed foods, chips and snacks.

Also, remember the standard bags of romaine, red cabbage, and skinny carrots that everyone used to eat? Why is that all they sold in the 90s?

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Some greens variations include:

  • Romaine

  • Kale (regular or darker, sturdier “Luciano” Kale)

  • Arugula (aka: “Rocket” in some places)

  • Spinach

  • Spring Greens/Spring Mix (generally a tri-color leafy lettuce combo)

  • Chard

  • Butter Lettuce

  • Iceberg Lettuce

And so many more, but I think this covers the basics. Here in Washington, some grocery stores have more variation than others, but on the whole, selections are getting better. I would much rather that our grocery stores start to carry more natural nutrition rather than processed foods!

My standard go-to lettuce is arugula. Some people think that’s weird, but it works for me. I find it the right level of flavor, nutrient, and versatility. Arugula can go on a sandwich, salad, burger, green shake. It can go on a pizza. You can mix it in with zoodles and Alfredo sauce. There is no end to what you can do with arugula. Within the last year, I was visiting my parents and my Dad asked if there’s anything I needed from the store. I asked him to get me some arugula, I’d pair it with my breakfast (we usually do big brunches with eggs, cheese, ketchup, the whole deal). He ran into a friend l at the grocery store, and after catching up with her, he asked her, “Can you tell me what arugula is?” Hah, I’ll convert him at some point.

2. Add 2-3 Dollops of Fatty Dressing

Because I am currently on the keto diet, I take eating a salad as an opportunity to consume some fats, including avocado but also some fatty dressing. I always make sure to select a dressing that is as close to no-sugar as possible, so I stay away from vinaigrettes or other sweet dressings and stick with fatty ones like blue cheese dressing (I know, I know, I don’t need to put cheese on everything…). But, this guilty pleasure actually helps me achieve my macros and make sure that I’m eating enough fat each day to remain in ketosis.

Of course, if you are not doing the ketogenic diet, then go crazy! Or really, don’t go crazy, but feel free to eat any dressing of your choice in moderation. One dressing that I always loved and miss since starting the keto diet is Trader Joe’s Champagne Pear Vinaigrette. Notice, I am not making a dime by sharing that td bit, I just really like that dressing. Also, about moderation: if you are not doing the high-fat, low-carb, no-sugar keto diet, then go easy if you do select a fatty dressing like blue cheese or ranch dressing. Turn those 2-3 dollops into 1 sensible portion. Boo.

3. Garnish, Garnish, Garnish

This is where the fun really begins. For a keto-friendly salad, I recommend adding other fats besides the dressing. For both on-and-off keto, nuts/seeds and other vegetables can provide a wonderful variation of flavors and textures to your salad. And finally, for those of you who are not vegan/vegetarian, might I suggest topping of your creation with your preferred cheese and/or protein. Here are some of my favorite options within each category for those of you who are interested!

  • Fats:

    • Avocado

    • Egg

    • Olive oil

    • Sour cream

  • Nuts:

    • Macadamia nuts

      • This recommendation is my gift to you. I really wish they weren’t so expensive, but they are also so amazing on a salad. If you haven’t added macadamia nuts to a salad, please try it! You will feel elegant and tropical and healthy at the same time. Try not to think of the price when enjoying your delicious salad with that extra “crunch”.

    • Skinned marcona almonds

    • Pecans

    • Walnuts

    • Sunflower seeds

    • Pumpkin seeds

    • Pine nuts

  • Vegetables:

    • Tomatoes (tough for keto, so use them sparingly)

    • Endive

    • Radicchio

    • Red cabbage

    • Cooked mushrooms

    • Micro greens

      • This one sounds odd, but just do it! There are some people who swear by the health benefits of micro-greens; for example, it is legitimately a topic that Joe Rogan feels strongly about.

  • Cheese

    • Blue Cheese

    • Gorgonzola

    • Parmesan/asiago

    • Shredded cheddar/mozzarella

    • Goat cheese

    • Barrata

    • Feta

  • Protein

    • Salami

    • Chicken

    • Ground beef, pork, or chicken (similar to the Thai dish, larb, or even a taco bowl)

    • Salmon/Tuna/Whitefish

    • Steak

    • Hamburger

Here is one of my recent creations:

I love these big salad bowls. I only have 4, and now that they’re no longer available, I’m freaking out - why didn’t I buy more?

I love these big salad bowls. I only have 4, and now that they’re no longer available, I’m freaking out - why didn’t I buy more?

The “epic salad” is basically my go-to, especially on busy week nights. Give the formula a try and don’t forget to mix things up so keep you excited! You won’t believe it, but if you get into these, you will find yourself excited to go to the grocery store to pick out ingredients for your next salad creation. Additionally, the best part to eating salads is that they can make you feel proud of yourself for taking care of your body. You deserve that feeling. Enjoy!

Heather DagleyComment