If we’re going to identify some super healthy salads, we’re going to need to have some criteria. First of all, we’re not talking about appetizers or side salads here; this is a list of meal-worthy salads. As in all healthy meals, we’re looking for balance. We want a nice balance between veggies, protein, healthy fat, and carbohydrates.
Veggies: We’re looking for a variety of colors, which will ensure that we are getting a diverse array of nutrients. Extra points are given for locally-sourced ingredients. Not only are locally-sourced ingredients likely to be more fresh, they support the maintenance of our local farmlands, which means a healthier environment for all.
Protein: Lean meat, fish, and plant-based options all work.
Healthy fat: We’re talking about monounsaturated fats like avocados, nuts, and EVOO or sources of Omega-3’s like fatty fish, flaxseeds, and chia seeds.
Carbohydrates: Yes, we want a source of carbohydrates on our salad. Getting enough carbohydrates will help us replenish our blood sugar so we can return to our day with energy and focus.
Let’s not forget that taste is an important component too. If your salad is not delicious and exciting to eat, than how can it be called healthy? After all, health is about more than just collecting nutrients; it’s about enjoying life! So, without further ado, here are our picks for super healthy (and tasty) salads being served in the Greater Boston area.
The ROASTED BEET from Rail Trail Flatbread Co. (pictured above)
Ingredients: fire roasted beets, quinoa, pumpkin seeds, radicchio, endive, roasted red peppers, goat cheese, olive oil breadcrumbs, sherry vinaigrette
This is the only salad on the list not being served in Boston-proper. Rail Trail Flatbread Co. is located in Hudson, MA and they are serving a super healthy beet salad that is worthy of making the list. The Roasted Beet salad puts the focus on, well... beets. And for good reason! Loaded with folic acid and fiber, beets are a great choice. The pepitas bring healthy minerals and fat to the party. The addition of quinoa and goat cheese makes this salad a meal.
The cheese is a locally-made capri chevre sourced from Mullahy’s Cheese (also from Hudson, MA). While this salad is loaded with healthy ingredients, it is also full of flavor! The olive oil breadcrumbs and crunchy endive provide texture, while the sherry vinaigrette gives great acidity. Highly recommended!
33 Main St., Hudson, 978-293-3552, railtrailflatbread.com
The SPICY SABZI from Sweetgreen
Ingredients: organic baby spinach, shredded kale, spicy broccoli, raw beets, organic carrots, bean sprouts, spicy quinoa, basil, roasted sesame tofu, hot sauce, carrot chili vinaigrette
While Sweetgreen’s menu is loaded with healthy options, the Spicy Sabzi stands out amongst the pack for its balance. This salad is packed with vibrant veggies, including a generous helping of dark, leafy greens. Tofu and quinoa act as both plant-based protein source and hearty carbohydrate source. The carrot chili vinaigrette provides healthy fat and tons of flavor.
I love the addition of fresh basil, which is locally-sourced from Happy Valley Organics in South Deerfield, MA. For those that can take the heat, this is the salad for you. If you’re not a huge fan of the spice, try it without the hot sauce for a more muted heat.
659 Boylston St., Boston, 617-936-3464. Additional locations around Boston, Chestnut Hill, and Cambridge, sweetgreen.com
The WARRIOR from Life Alive
Ingredients: red lentil hummus, tofu and/or sprouted legumes, pepitas, carrots, sun-sprouts, spring greens, velvety Miso sauce
The Warrior at Life Alive is a plant-based protein powerhouse, featuring sprouted legumes, tofu, and a lentil hummus. The protein-packed legumes also provide tons of fiber, which means this salad will keep you feeling satisfied for hours after eating. Unlike protein from chicken or fish, these plant-based protein sources also provide carbohydrates, which helps to balance this meal. While The Warrior’s array of veggies are loaded with nutrients, the pepitas stand out as they are loaded with minerals (like iron, magnesium, and zinc) and healthy fat.
Bonus: Life Alive has been sourcing their sprouted legumes from Life Force Growers in Somerville for over ten years!
765 Mass Ave., Cambridge, 617-354-5433. Additional locations in the Greater Boston-area, lifealive.com
The NATURAL BOWL from Beat Brasserie
Ingredients: multigrain farro pilaf, beets, kale, radishes, cara cara oranges, parmesan, citrus vinaigrette (protein options include: seared Norwegian salmon, roasted free range chicken, sautéed shrimp, and roasted veggie falafel)
The Natural bowl from Beat Brasserie is indeed a super healthy salad whose ingredients vary seasonally. The current recipe features a colorful mix of healthy veggies. Deep reds (beets), greens (kale), and oranges (cara caras) ensure that this salad is loaded with beneficial nutrients. The multi-grain farro pilaf is a great, high-fiber choice for carbohydrates.
Opt for the seared Norwegian salmon to get the benefits of Omega-3 fatty acids and plenty of protein. The Natural Bowl is as delicious as it is balanced!
13 Brattle St., Cambridge, 617-499-0001, beatbrasserie.com
MEZZE PLATTER from Clover
The Mezze platter from Clover (Food Lab) is actually not a specific salad, but rather a collection of three, constantly changing “salads of the day,” always served with hummus and a mix of tomatoes and cucumbers.
Clover deserves a shout out here for their never-ending creativity and their focus on featuring healthy, locally-sourced produce. At the time of writing this, Clover’s Mezze Platter is featuring their:
Broccoli, Smoked Cheddar, Pecan Salad - raw broccoli, smoked Grafton cheddar, pecans, apricots in a creamy black pepper dressing.
Black Bean, Poblano Salad - sweet potatoes, poblano peppers, black beans, caramelized onions, safflower oil, white wine vinegar, lime juice, honey, cumin, dijon mustard, paprika, salt, garlic
Potato Tempeh Salad - potato, red onions, celery, smoky tempeh, yellow peppers, red peppers, Just Mayo, salt, pepper, vinegar, sugar, mustard, aleppo pepper
You’ll notice that each salad contains a vegetarian protein source. The reliable side of hummus with olive oil provides carbohydrates and healthy fat. Tons of Clover’s ingredients are sourced locally, like the black beans and sweet potatoes in the “Black Bean, Poblano Salad,” which were grown in Western Mass.
What I love most about Clover’s Mezze Platter are the constantly changing flavors. It’s easy to choose healthy, balanced meals when they are fresh and exciting. In the words of Clover, “the Mezze is a chance to eat something completely different each day.”
1326 Mass Ave., Cambridge, 617-395-0240. Additional locations around Cambridge, Boston, Brookline, and Burlington, cloverfoodlab.com