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This is one of my favorite things to eat...

I have a love/hate relationship with chopped salads, which might sound weird, but let me explain…

First, I love popular salad spots like Sweetgreen, Chopt, Mad Greens, etc. It’s a quick and easy lunch, leaves you feeling satiated and like you're putting nothing but good stuff in your body. I also love how they change the menu with the seasons to keep things interesting AND this was probably my go-to lunch choice when I worked in an office (as I know many of you can relate to!)

So what's the issue? Where’s the hate for these salads coming from?

I’ll take you back to the day when I was tracking my salad from Sweetgreen in MyFitnessPal and realized it had more calories (mostly from fat) than my burrito bowl from Chipotle the day prior. Like, WHAT??

So I dug a little deeper and realized quickly where those calories were adding up. Even though the calorie count on the Sweetgreen menu was low, most of those calories were coming from the fat in the dressing, nuts, and cheese. This didn’t seem like much when I was ordering it, but it added up very quickly.

So what’s the deal then? You want a salad for lunch but you want to keep it reasonable with the toppings so you don’t basically create a Sweetgreen version of a burrito. But how?


Even though they take an extra minute or two to make, homemade salads are SO good, and you can easily recreate what you love from your local salad chain while keeping the calories under control and easily adjusting to fit your daily needs.

And that’s what it’s all about, right? Upgrading our habits, one at a time! It’s an added bonus that you can save a lot of money in the process!

You don’t have to use anything elaborate for these salads – get a mix of your favorite ingredients (using your fav salad order for inspiration) and make sure the ingredients are fresh.

Here are some ideas:

● Fresh dark leafy greens

● Carrots, celery, colorful bell peppers

● Cucumber

● Tomatoes

● Cooked uncured bacon (or turkey bacon!)

● Fruit (apples and berries are great additions)

● Fresh grilled chicken

● Almonds, pecans or walnuts (be mindful of the serving size!)

● Avocado

● Goat cheese (lower in fat, and goes great with salads)

And if you want to keep things interesting, pumpkin seeds, sweet potato and roasted butternut squash are also great this time of year

Before you assemble the salad, make sure your produce has been cleaned and then thoroughly dried. Chopping can make them more watery than usual, which can affect your salad’s texture. No one likes a sad, soupy, salad.

Toss all your ingredients except avocado into a salad bowl … and then dump it back out onto a chopping board.

Using a large, sharp knife, chop your ingredients into bite-sized pieces. When your salad has reached the perfect consistency, put it back in the bowl, drizzle it with your favorite dressing and top with avocado if you’re using them.

My favorite salad dressing is a homemade olive oil & lemon juice combo with salt and fresh pepper. You can limit the fat content with this dressing because you do NOT need a lot of it since the lemon juice has such a powerful flavor.

It’s really easy to make. So if you’re making 1 serving, put 1 tbsp of olive oil and the juice from half a lemon into a mason jar or other covered container and shake it till its combined. Taste and adjust the lemon juice and salt/pepper if you want more. Mix it into the salad and it’s time to eat!

This is a really fast and easy salad that you’ll actually look forward to. Try it and let me know what you think.

If you love healthy recipes, check out this great dessert recipe for Banana pudding, you won’t regret it!

Want to know how you can take your nutrition to the next level so your eating habits are helping you to reach your fitness goals? I’m here to make your life easier (and healthier!). Shoot me an email at and let me know what you’re struggling with!

Nutritional guidance and building healthy habits are a huge part of my daily work with clients. If you’re ready to jump onboard head over to check out my programs.

Have a great day,

Ryan Stec, True Grit Strength