If you are looking for a simple salad to quick throw together for dinner, look no further than this no-fuss, easy summer green salad!
I’m always looking for easy meals during the summer months that don’t require turning on the oven.
I also love being outside during the summer which makes it essential to have some fast, throw together meal ideas!
A mixed green salad with some toppings is definitely high on my summer meal list, especially with berries!
Another big winner for me is that this meal is easy to deconstruct for little ones that are doing baby led weaning (more on that in a minute).
So if you are looking for a meal with common ingredients that’s super simple and quick to make, then try this easy summer green salad!
Are Green Salads Healthy?
Most people think salads are the epitome of a healthy meal.
Some people also equate eating salads with weight loss.
I would make a case that salads CAN be healthy, but they aren’t ALWAYS healthy.
Consider a salad made with iceberg lettuce, breaded and fried chicken, shredded carrot, a few grape tomatoes, croutons, and drenched in low fat Kraft dressing.
Not only is this salad lacking nutrition, but also contains inflammatory ingredients like GMO wheat, rancid oils, and sugar.
And for the summer season, add some strawberries on top.
Did you know conventionally grown strawberries are THE HIGHEST pesticide laden fruit?
This is NOT a healthy meal!
Now start over with a salad with mixed greens including arugula which is a bitter and helps stimulate the digestive system.
Top it with organic produce like blueberries, avocado, free range chicken, and other organic veggies (maybe even ones you grew in your backyard!).
For dressing, you drizzle on avocado oil, lemon juice, and a spritz of balsamic vinegar.
Now THAT is a healthy salad!
The greens, veggies, fruit, proteins, fats, and the dressing you make the salad with are all critical in making a healthy salad!
A salad with no protein or fat isn’t going to keep you full long and you will be reaching in your desk drawer for a snack an hour later.
So make sure you don’t skimp on the healthy proteins and fats for your salad!
And one of the most important things is to use a healthy dressing!
What dressings are healthy?
Let’s talk about it!
What Green Salad Dressings are Healthy?
Did you know that most salad dressings available in your grocery store are made with rancid, inflammatory oils?
Oils can contain saturated fat, monosaturated fat, polyunsaturated fat, and trans fat.
At all costs, you want to avoid polyunsaturated and trans fats.
Trans fats have been linked to cancer and even the FDA agrees that trans fat isn’t good for you!
Polyunsaturated fats can easily oxidize which essentially means they “spoil” and can cause inflammation in your body.
Like we have discussed before, inflammation is the root of all disease so we want to avoid it as much as possible!
So what oils have high levels of polyunsaturated fat according to the USDA food database?
Oils with High Polyunsaturated Fats
- Grapeseed oil
- Flaxseed oil
- Sunflower oil
- Walnut oil
- Soybean oil
- Corn oil
- Cottonseed oil
- Sesame oil
- Peanut oil
- Canola oil
I don’t know if you have looked at the ingredient list of dressing lately, but these are the oils used in a lot of mainstream and even “healthy” dressings!
- Hidden Valley Ranch dressing = soybean and/or canola oil
- Kraft Thousand Island dressing = soybean oil
- Wishbone Italian dressing = soybean oil
And don’t think you are off the hook if you buy organic dressing!
Just because it has the word organic does not mean it is healthy!!
Check out the oil used in these organic dressings:
- Tessemae’s Organic Honey Poppyseed dressing = sunflower oil
- Brianna’s Organic Real French Vinaigrette dressing = canola oil
- Simple Truth Organic dressing = soybean oil
- 365 Organic Ranch = soybean oil
So what oils can you use?
Oils with Low Polyunsaturated Fats
- Macadamia Nut oil
- Palm oil (please make sure you choose one that is responsibly harvested!)
- Hazelnut oil
- Olive oil
- Safflower oil
- Avocado oil
- Almond oil
So what dressing can you use on your salad that won’t cause inflammation in the body?
Personally, the only salad dressing we buy is the Primal Kitchen brand since it is made with avocado oil.
I am allergic to tree nuts, making most of the “good” oils still inflammatory ingredients for my body.
But you don’t even have to buy a pre-made salad dressing to enjoy a summer green salad!
Our summer favorite is to use a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, drizzle on avocado oil, and add a splash of balsamic vinegar!
Are Green Salads Keto?
Choosing the right toppings is critical in making a balanced keto salad.
When making a keto salad, you are going to want to load up on proteins and some fats!
Keeping fruits and even some of the vegetables to a minimum is going to be important.
You honestly don’t even need that many greens either!
You could make an entire keto salad without the mixed greens even!
If you need ideas on what toppings are keto friendly, check out the toppings marked as keto in the mega list of salad toppings below!
And the salad listed in the recipe is also keto friendly!
How To Make Easy Summer Green Salad
There’s really nothing to making this salad except having the ingredients on hand!
But I will say that the trick to having this salad ready in a flash is to already have your toppings ready to go.
And I say toppings vaguely since the salad toppings are SUPER flexible (lots of ideas in a minute)!
But if you are following the recipe as written, the main thing that you want to have ready ahead of time is the shredded chicken.
Of course keep in mind that there are lots of protein substitutes below, so you don’t have to use shredded chicken!
That’s just what our family likes!
So if you want to make this salad to take to work for lunch the next day, cook your chicken the night before in the instant pot.
If you want it for a quick dinner, you can cook the chicken in the instant pot when you get home or you could cook it in a crockpot while you are gone.
But as long as you already have the chicken cooked and shredded, then this salad is pretty much a throw together!
Put your greens in a bowl, wash your produce, cube up an avocado, top with chicken, add a salad dressing, and there you go!
Dinner is served!
So the real value of this recipe is in the value of being able to literally use whatever you have in your fridge, so check out the list further down of what other toppings you could use!
How to Make Your Easy Summer Green Salad Kid Friendly!
Do you have little kiddos like we do?
One of the best things about this recipe is that it is VERY EASY to share this meal with even your youngest kids!
And it’s also a great way to get them to start liking the taste of fruits and veggies at an early age!
If you have never heard of baby led weaning (BLW), the concept is that you skip baby purées and jump straight to solids at 6 months old.
We did this with our first born and LOVED IT!
But there are tons of salad toppings that are baby, toddler, and kid friendly!
In the list of salad toppings down below, I marked all of the toppings that are BLW friendly (which is pretty much all of them except the nuts and dried fruit).
And if you are making the salad as laid out in the recipe card, then check out the picture below of this salad deconstructed for an older toddler.
PLEASE NOTE that the fruit sizes pictured below are NOT appropriate for really small ones that are just starting their BLW journey!
And feel free to offer some of the greens to your little one!
I just know that mine isn’t a fan, so I don’t load her plate with them anymore.
Also, I want to quick make a plug for how GREAT the Avanchy bamboo suction plates are for a non-plastic tray option!
Easy Green Salad Toppings
Honestly I should title this post more like “whatever you have in your fridge” salad.
Or maybe “make your own salad”.
But I don’t think google would know what to do with a recipe with those names!
Hence why I had to pick one salad to photograph and title the post with.
But my main goal here is to inspire you and remind you that salads can be very healthy and don’t have to be hard to make.
So this post is an ode to the simple salad that is fresh, healthy, and something your whole family will eat!
Part of my goal in making wholesome recipes is to make delicious meals that your family can enjoy together at the family dinner table.
So this salad is a simple one that is easy to customize so that even your kids will eat it!
I love to make salad all summer long (actually my husband would probably say all year long lol!).
How do we keep from getting salad “burnout”?
I try to keep switching up the toppings so that we don’t get bored with them.
The photos and recipe below show one of our favorite salad “versions”.
But green salads literally have endless combinations!
So if you want to spice up your salad routine or need some inspiration for other salad toppings, check out the lists below!
And if you are looking for toppings for a certain diet, follow these designations:
- K = Keto
- P = Paleo
- W30 = Whole30
- AIP = AIP
- V = Vegan
- BLW =Baby Led Weaning
- BLW* = These baby led weaning foods require extra cutting to make sure they are not a choking hazard
- Steak (K, P, W30, AIP, BLW)
- Ground beef, pork, or turkey (K, P, W30, AIP, BLW)
- Taco meat (K, P, W30, AIP, BLW)
- Chicken, shredded or cubed (K, P, W30, AIP, BLW)
- Chicken fajitas (K, P, W30, AIP, BLW)
- Bacon, cooked and diced (K, P, W30, AIP, BLW)
- Diced ham (K, P, W30, AIP, BLW)
- Lunchmeat, diced (K, P, W30, AIP, BLW)
- Salmon (K, P, W30, AIP, BLW)
- Tuna (K, P, W30, AIP, BLW)
- Sardines (K, P, W30, AIP, BLW)
- Hard boiled egg (K, P, W30, BLW)
- Shredded cheese (K, BLW)
- Parmesan cheese, grated (K, BLW)
*NOTE: To help keep inflammatory ingredients to a minimum, keep fruit to a limited amount. And for the keto diet, keep even the keto friendly fruits to a minimum.
- Blueberries (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW*)
- Strawberries (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Raspberries (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Blackberries (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW*)
- Cranberries (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Pomegranate arils (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Cherries, pitted and halved (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Peach, chopped (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Apple, diced (P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Apple chips (P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Grapes (P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Mandarin orange slices (P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Pear, diced (P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Pineapple, chopped (P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Dried fruit (raisins, dried cranberries, apricot, etc.) (P, W30, AIP, V)
- Plantain Chips, crushed (P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Tomato, diced (K, P, W30, V, BLW)
- Grape tomatoes (K, P, W30, V, BLW*)
- Carrot, chopped or shredded (P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Celery, chopped (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Cucumber, slices or diced (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Bell pepper, half slices or diced (K, P, W30, V, BLW)
- Onion, diced (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Asparagus, snapped into 1-2″ pieces (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Radishes, sliced (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Broccoli, chopped into small florets (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Cauliflower, chopped into small florets(K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Mushrooms, sliced (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Pumpkin, roasted and cubed (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Butternut squash, roasted and cubed (P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Sweet Potato, roasted and cubed (P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Beets, roasted, spiralized, or shredded raw (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Tigernuts, peeled (P, W30, AIP, V)
- Pecans (K, P, W30, V)
- Walnuts (K, P, W30, V)
- Macadamia Nuts (K, P, W30, V)
- Pine Nuts (K, P, W30, V)
- Hazelnuts (K, P, W30, V)
- Almonds (K, P, W30, V)
- Pistachios (P, W30, V)
- Cashews (P, W30, V)
*Note: Flax and Chia seeds are not recommended due to their phytoestrogen content.
- Sunflower seeds (K, P, W30, V)
- Pumpkin seeds (K, P, W30, V)
- Hemp seeds (K, P, W30, V)
- Sesame seeds (K, P, W30, V)
- Any homemade roasted seeds (K, P, W30, V)
- Avocado, cubed or thinly sliced (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Guacamole (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW)
- Olives (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW*)
- Peanuts (K, V)
- Peas (P, W30, V, BLW)
- Corn (V, BLW)
- Salsa (K, P, W30, V, BLW*)
- Siete Chips, crushed (K, P, W30, AIP, V, BLW*)
Looking for an easy dinner that doesn’t require turning on the oven or even special ingredients? Throw together an easy summer green salad that your whole family can enjoy!
A green salad can have a host of different toppings so please check out the list above for more ideas, but these are the ingredients to make the salad as pictured!
- 4 cups 50/50 salad mix
- Optional: 1 pound shredded chicken
- 16 grape tomatoes
- 1/2 cup blueberries
- 1/2 cup blackberries
- 2 avocados
- Salad dressing of choice (see above for options!)
- Grab 4 bowls. Put 1 cup of salad mix in each bowl.
- Evenly divide the shredded chicken among the salads, if using, or sub for other protein options.
- Put 4 grape tomatoes, 2 Tablespoons Blueberries, 2 Tablespoons Blackberries, and 1/2 an avocado on each salad.
- Top with your choice of salad dressing. Our summer favorite is a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, 2 Tablespoons avocado oil, and 1/2 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar!