Monika’s Molecular Meals: Hot & Cold Whole30 Salads (No Lettuce Necessary!)

Monika Knapp By Monika Knapp | 17 November 2019 1437 views
whole 30 salads

Tired of Lettuce? Try These Delicious, Lettuce-Free, Whole30 Salad Recipes

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Alright, so you’re doing Whole30.

I’ve been there… and I know how much of a struggle it can be.

Especially when it comes to salads the first time I tried doing Whole30, by day 15, even the thought of a piece of lettuce made me want to vomit.

(It’s hard to eat the same thing every day… Trust me, I know!!)

And that caused me to fall into one of the classic Whole30 traps:

Snacking too much and relying on the few indulgences allowed (i.e., nut butter).

That kind of self-sabotage not only defeats the entire purpose of Whole30 in the first place… but it can really kill your confidence once you step on the scale and realize all of the effort you’re putting in is not working one bit.

(After all, you’re not cutting out all grains, legumes, dairy, added sugar, and alcohol (and many more foods) just for the fun of it! Avoiding all of those foods and then not losing weight – or even gaining weight – can be one of the worst feelings.)

So I want to share with you some of the recipes that got me through my first successful round of Whole30… specifically, salads.

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While you don’t have to put lettuce in these salads, they’d be perfectly fine with it and while each of them is vegetarian, you can also customize them for the meat-eaters in your family too!

That’s the key to making good food choices on Whole30… when your body is craving variety, that doesn’t mean you need to feed it junk food.

It means you need to get more creative with the healthy foods that make up the core of Whole30!

Try experimenting with these salads, and I promise your stomach (and the scale!) will thank you. 🙂

FTH’s Customizable Crispy Brussels Sprouts Salad With A Smoky Citrus Vinaigrette (Whole30 Compliant)

Equipment Needed: Knife, whisk, oven/toaster oven, foil or parchment paper, small saucepan, grater or zester

Recipe Time: 1 hour

Serves: 2-4, depending on additional greens/protein added

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups Brussels sprouts, halved, washed, and trimmed
  • 1 cup grapes, washed and halved
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and lightly crushed
  • 1 orange, zested and juiced
  • 1 lemon, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 2 tsp Whole30-compliant Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp + 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar

Directions:

1) Quick pickle the grapes and golden raisins.

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.

In a small mason jar, combine half of the grapes and all of the golden raisins.

In a saucepan, combine the apple cider vinegar and 1/2 cup water, then turn the heat to medium and add the coriander seeds, 3/4 tsp salt, and cinnamon stick.

When it starts to boil, turn the heat off and pour over the grapes and raisins (no need to strain). Let sit.

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2) Roast the sprouts and grapes.

Place the prepared Brussels sprouts and the other half of the grapes on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil. (Keep the Brussels sprouts and grapes separated you’ll understand why in a sec.)

Drizzle them with olive oil (you may want to toss them in a bowl beforehand to make sure they’re coated) and then throw them in the oven.

Roast until the grapes begin to brown and release liquid and the sprouts are dark brown and crispy in spots about 10-15 minutes for the grapes, and 45 minutes for the sprouts (that’s why you want to keep them separated).

Flip the sprouts once halfway through cooking for maximum browning.

3) Make the vinaigrette.

In a small bowl or glass measuring cup, combine the garlic, orange zest and juice, lemon zest and juice, smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp salt, and Dijon. Whisk to combine, and then, while whisking, slowly drizzle in the olive oil.

Continue to drizzle until the dressing emulsifies (this may require less than 1/2 cup of oil), then season to taste with salt.

4) Toss everything together and enjoy!

When the grapes and Brussels finish roasting, let them cool slightly, then combine them with the walnuts.

Add as many pickled grapes/raisins you want, depending on how you’re serving it (see Recipe Notes), drizzle with vinaigrette, adjust for salt, and dig in!

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Recipe Notes

  • You can serve this salad a number of ways with grilled chicken or salmon, tossed with arugula, or on its own so you’ll want to adjust the amount of pickles you add accordingly. The key is to keep the Brussels sprouts crispy, so if you’re eating it on its own, you may not need too many pickles before it gets wet enough.
  • It’s important to tackle the pickles first in this recipe for two reasons: 1) The longer you let the coriander seeds sit, the tastier and more mellow they become. (Yes, you can eat them!) 2) With quick pickles like these, your health and digestion will benefit a lot more if you let them sit out. That’s because when you let pickles sit, they take on probiotic properties that can not only keep you healthy, but can help you lose weight too!
  • If you don’t like Brussels sprouts, try leaving the grapes out and make this salad with roasted carrots (a deliciously sweet treat while doing Whole30!), golden raisins, and a little garam masala.

FTH’s 15-Minute Smashed Cucumber & Kimchi Salad (Whole30 Compliant & Probiotic!)

Equipment Needed: Knife, colander

Recipe Time: 15 minutes

Serves: 2 as an appetizer, 1 as a light lunch

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole cucumber, washed and peeled if the skin is thick (see Recipe Notes)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp black sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp sesame oil (optional)
  • 2 tsp liquid from jar of Kimchi (homemade or store-bought just make sure it’s probiotic and has no sugar added!)
  • Salt to taste
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Directions:

1) Smash the cucumber.

Cut the cucumber in half and, using the back of a large knife or bottom of a small pan, firmly but gently smash the cucumber on a cutting board. It should begin to split but not splatter everywhere.

Scoop out the seeds, cut into bite-sized pieces, and throw into a colander. Sprinkle with salt and let sit for 10 minutes.

2) Prepare the salad.

Transfer the cucumber into a bowl and add the rest of the ingredients. Season to taste with salt and/or more kimchi liquid.

The most important thing is that you eat this salad right away – it WILL get soggy if you let it sit in the fridge.

Recipe Notes

  • You can keep the skin on some cucumbers if it’s thin enough namely on English cucumbers. But if you aren’t sure, go ahead and peel it.
  • The kimchi liquid adds a nice brightness, funkiness, and “je ne sais quoi” to this recipe (unlike a lot of other boring cucumber salads), which makes it a crucial ingredient. Try not to skip it.

3 Easy Ways to Make These Salads Meat-Eater Friendly…

While both of these salads are vegetarian… you can easily add meat for extra protein (or to satisfy the carnivores in your family).

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Here are a few ideas:

  • Punch up the Brussels sprouts salad with some smoked salmon or grilled chicken (like I mentioned above)…
  • Or if you have access to Whole30 bacon, fry up some bacon, chop it up, and toss it with the Brussels sprouts and some arugula for an extra tasty treat!
  • The cucumber salad would go exceptionally well with some poached shrimp (just make sure to prepare the shrimp before the salad)…
  • You could also grill some beef and serve that with the cucumber salad and some cauliflower rice on the side. (In fact, you could even prepare a marinade for the beef using the same ingredients as are in the salad.)

Ultimately, these salads are versatile enough to provide the variety your body craves while doing Whole30… without falling off the wagon.

And that’s the key to successfully doing Whole30: finding variety and enjoying the foods you’re allowed to eat. It helps you not miss those “banned” foods so much!

And the best part of these recipes is you’ll have plenty of vinaigrette and pickles left over to not only snack on, but to cook with, too.

I found this was especially important for my personal journey on Whole30 not only did having pickles like this around help curb my cravings…

But these pickles have special properties that can boost fat burn while you’re doing Whole30, and make crossing the finish line a hell of a lot easier.

And if I can do something as simple as snack on a pickle (which I love doing anyway) and have it boost my fat burn… I’m going to do it!

Here’s what I mean:

whole 30 salads

The Real Reason Pickles Are The Secret To Whole30 Success…

So like I said, eating pickles while doing Whole30 will make losing weight and crossing the finish line (successfully) a hell of a lot easier…

But why?

Well, pickles are crunchy, they’re sour, naturally sweet sometimes, and low-calorie… (so they’re a delightful snack or meal addition)…

But that’s not why they’re so good for you.

They’re good for you because certain pickles are probiotic which means they contain beneficial gut bacteria that can improve digestion, lower your appetite, and ultimately control your cravings on your Whole30 journey.

(That’s how I got through it on my own!)

HOWEVER… store-bought pickles made with vinegar often lack the bacteria that actually help with weight loss.

You could make your own pickles at home to get these beneficial gut bacteria… but there’s a much easier (and faster) way to get these good bacteria into your body

That’s actually been proven by science and backed up by medical doctors’ research.

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[Note: This post was updated by Fit Trim Happy on November 17, 2019.]