Even if you’re staring down a menu full of options at Sweetgreen, sometimes it’s just easier to go with your tried-and-true add-ons.
But if you’re feeling like you’re in a leafy green rut—or are just looking to up your salad game—it’s time for a little inspiration. Cue your all-star wellness team; from your favorite trainer to the natural beauty expert you follow on Instagram, we polled the buzziest healthy influencers to tell us what they’re loading up their kale, spinach, and arugula with.
Grab a pen: You might want to jot a few of these salads down for your next lunch run.
Read on to find out what inspired ingredient combos these 14 wellness power players put in their salads.
1. Lisa Niren, instructor at The P.E. Club and CityRow
“My go-to salad is grilled salmon, avocados, tomatoes, roasted beets, and quinoa. I mix in some baby bella mushrooms over arugula and spinach mix,” says the New York City-based instructor. For dressing, she just combines lemon juice, sea salt, and cracked black pepper for a bright, clean flavor boost.
2. Karen Ballou, founder of Immunocologie
“Since what you put into your body is directly tied to how your skin looks, [I] make a conscious decision daily to eat clean,” says beauty guru Ballou. And that’s not all: “Everything I put on my salad has a purpose. Lemons balance pH levels, salmon contains healthy fatty acids, and grapes, radishes, and kale are antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial.”
3. Robin Arzon, senior instructor at Peloton Cycle
4. Candice Kumai, chef and author of Clean Green Eats
Kumai wrote a whole book on healthy greens—so yes, she really, really loves salad. “I start with dark, leafy greens, like organic arugula and lacinato kale—chopped and massaged—and add broccoli rabe (shaved with a vegetable peeler) and baby spinach,” she tells Well+Good. “Then I add in avocado—I eat one a day to get my fiber—a protein like cannellini beans, hemp seed to get an earthy flavor and healthy fats, radish for flavor, color, and texture, and fresh fruit.” Bonus points if you make your own dressing, like Kumai—who swears by the simple combo of red wine vinegar, extra virgin olive oil, and salt.
5. Roshini Raj, MD, gastroenterologist and founder of probiotics beauty brand Tula
“Fueling your body with the right ingredients is one of the most important things that you can do to stay balanced, both physically and mentally. I make sure to have a power-packed lunch to sustain my energy levels throughout the day,” says Raj. What does that look like? “I love a spinach-based salad with roasted tomatoes, raw walnuts, fresh black beans, and grilled tofu.”
6. Keri Glassman, MS, RD, CDN and founder of The Nutrition School
Glassman whips up a salad roughly four times a week, so she’s always coming up with inventive combos to combat boredom: “I use chopped kale or baby spinach and two or three additional veggies—either raw or cooked— such as broccoli rabe, red peppers, asparagus, or red cabbage,” the nutritionist explains. “I always add in one or two healthy fats too, like toasted walnuts, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds, or avocado. For a protein, I usually use chickpeas, salmon, or chicken.” For an unexpected kick, she likes to top things off with jalapeno, kimchi, or pepperoncini.
7. May El Calamawy, COO of Shadowbox
El Calamawy relies on her salads to keep her fueled in between boxing bouts at Shadowbox. Where does she like to get hers? Whole Foods! “The salad is packed and not as expensive as Sweetgreen, which would be my second go-to salad bar,” she tells us. So, what are her green bowl must-haves? “Chicken, avocado, squash, and cilantro. Occasionally I’ll throw in goji berries.”
8. Annie Jackson, VP of merchandising and planning at Credo Beauty
Jackson’s favorite spot to fuel up on greens is San Fransisco’s La Boulangerie (3898 24th St.). “My go-to is the chicken mixed green salad, which is a delightful blend of protein and citrus that keeps my energy high all day and tastes amazing,” she tells us. Want to make it yourself? Go for greens, chopped chicken breast, toasted walnuts, cherry tomatoes, a pinch of chives, and avocado, all topped with lemon vinaigrette.
9. Emily Burkhardt, instructor at Flywheel
Burkhardt relies on a protein-rich lunch to power her through multiple rounds of energizing a whole room of cyclers. She tells us she loads up on antioxidant-rich kale, adds chicken for some much-needed protein, sweet potato for fiber, and beets for an extra boost of energy. As for the crumbled goat cheese? “I could eat goat cheese with everything!” she says.
10. Billy De La Rosa, director of operations at CrossFit
What helps fuel a CrossFit workout? If you’re De La Rosa, it’s a seriously energizing salad. In his top five: “Avocado, nuts (preferably walnuts or pecans), fruit (I used watermelon this time, but any juice fruit will do), tomato, and cucumber.” He forgoes dressing, opting instead to add a drizzle of omega-3-rich olive oil for just a hint of flavor.
11. Brook Harvey-Taylor, founder of Pacifica
What’s better than a salad? “A salad packed inside a tortilla,” says Harvey-Taylor. “[It’s] perfect for me because I can hold it in my hand as I run out the door.” As for what goes inside of it, she’s landed on a go-to recipe (with a little help from her family). “My husband came up with this delish combo: kale, romaine, avocado, mango, pumpkin seeds, carrots, roasted jalapeños, cabbage, and cilantro. I love the mix of savory, sweet, and spicy.”
12. Debra Strougo Frohlich, co-founder of Row House NYC
Strougo Frohlich has a sneaky little secret when it comes to avoiding salad fatigue: crunch—with a kick. “I start with romaine because it’s so crunchy and has lots of nutrients. Then, I add in avocado because its packed with good-for-you fats that help keep you full and energized. I also throw in eggs or egg whites for protein, cucumber of extra hydration, and sometimes jalapeños.”
13. Daphne Cheng, executive chef at Mother of Pearl and Ladybird
Cheng is a creative force in the kitchen, so it’s no surprise that day-to-day her salads are rarely the same. “I’m the kind of person who always likes to mix it up and doesn’t stick to a routine,” she says. But if she had to pick just five go-to ingredients, she’d go with avocado, cashew ricotta, fresh basil, Sriracha, and chia seeds.” How’s that for innovative?
14. Jessica Richards, founder of Shen Beauty
Of course Richards, owner of the Brooklyn beauty spot, would know how to make a salad that’s got some complexion-enhancing bona fides. “It’s a tossed recipe for glowing skin! Beets for purifying and detoxing, kale for a collagen boost, walnuts for omega-3 fatty acids, and yogurt for a dose of probiotics.” It’s, as she puts, it, “beauty support from the inside out.”
New salad ideas are awesome, but if you’re trying to figure out when you’ll have time to actually meal prep, check out these weekday cooking hacks. And when you’re done mixing your greens, you’ll definitely want to see these three simple salad dressings with major wow factor.
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