Suuure, soups are “on trend” for fall but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a seasonal salad, too!
Balanced, healthy salads make for a great weekday lunch, even during the cooler months.
I’m a simple gal when it comes to lunch, but that does not mean I don’t want my meals to lack texture, flavor, or nutrition. Cue this healthy & festive fall salad!
As specific ingredients come into season, I like to get creative with my usual recipes. Nearly every day, I have a big salad for lunch so this experiment made it’s way into my October-November rotation!
Over a bed of greens, I added roasted butternut squash, toasted pecans, diced green apple, goat cheese crumbles, and grilled chicken. For a kick, I whipped an easy maple mustard vinaigrette that took less than 5 minutes to create.
There are tons of ingredient swaps for this recipe:
- Instead of butternut squash, toss in a roasted sweet potato.
- Swap pecans for toasty walnuts.
- A fresh, sliced pear would be a subtle alternative to the green apple.
- Feta or blue cheese crumbles (especially with pear!) are acceptable swaps for goat cheese. However, this recipe is still delicious if you are dairy-free!
- Smoked turkey would be a flavorful source of protein, but you could always double up on nuts for vegan or vegetarian eaters!
- Honey goes will in the dressing if you don’t have pure maple syrup on hand
I’d recommend not mixing your dressing into the salad until you’re about to eat it, otherwise the leaves and pecans get soggy. I’ve made this mistake when I meal prep salads and it’s gross! Trust me, it’s worth the extra step (& dishes) to store the dressing in it’s own air tight container.
Also, I live that #apartmentlife & don’t have a grill, so I bought my grilled chicken in the Publix deli section. Yep, it’s an upcharge! Next time, I’d slow cook chicken in advance, shred it, and mix it into the salad to save a few bucks.
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Festive Fall Salad
- 2 grilled chicken breasts
- 3/4th cup roasted butternut squash, diced
- 1/2-1 tbsp avocado or coconut oil
- 5 ounces of greens (I used a spring mix)
- 1/3 cup green apple, diced
- 1/4th cup pecans, halved
- 1/4th cup goat cheese crumbles
Maple Mustard Vinaigrette:
- 1/2 cup EVOO
- 1/4th cup dijon mustard
- 1/4th cup apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 1/2 fresh lemon juice
- 1/2 tsp salt
- In advance, grill chicken.
- Pre-heat oven to 425’F. Dice butternut squash and toss in cooking oil of choice (avocado or coconut oil work best). Sprinkle salt to taste. Roast on a single layer baking sheet for 25-30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, set a skillet on a low-medium temperature burner. Add a touch of cooking spray or olive oil. Add in pecans and let toast, about 3-5 minutes.
- Assemble remained salad ingredients.
- In a food processor or high-powered blender, combine all of the vinaigrette ingredients until creamy.
- Drizzle over salad and enjoy!
Boom! Perfect combo of macros, micros, and flavvaaaaa!!!
If you make this salad- or any variation- flaunt your healthy masterpiece on Instagram! Follow & tag us @nutrition.awareness so we can ooh & ahh at your work.
Kait Richardson is a registered dietitian nutritionist in Orlando, FL. She is a partner at a private practice, Nutrition Awareness, where she helps frustrated yo-yo dieters reach their health goals using 1:1 nutrition coaching. She is the co-host of the Nutrition Awareness Podcast.