Anatomy of a Salad {Frito Salad}

People, we need to talk salad.

We’re all seen those “Eat this, not that” postings that show salads (especially the restaurant varieties) with as many or more calories as a Big Mac but this can totally happen at home, too.  Why?  Because of all the toppings.

Now I love toppings as much as the next person, but it’s all about moderation.  Here’s my recipe for the perfect salad.

1.      Pick a bowl (I usually choose a standard cereal bowl, but sometimes I go larger)
2.    Fill the bowl nearly to the top with your lettuce of choice (my favorite is nutrient-rich spinach).  Don’t worry about there being room for toppings, the lettuce will squish down.
3.    Add protein (beans, beef, chicken, tofu, however you roll).  I like to stick with ¼ cup if it is a fattier protein, like beef.  But if I am using 2 forms of protein (beef and beans) or a leaner protein, I’ll add up to ½ cup
4.    Add additional vegetables.  Add as much as you want, but I usually stick with ¼ cup of each veggie so none of them overwhelm the salad.
5.     Now here’s the tricky part: fats.  You have to be selective with your fats.  When it comes to cheese and dressing, I try to do no more than 1 tablespoon of each (and really, there’s plenty of other flavors are play here, you don’t need that much fatty dressing).  And personally, I’d rather have more avocado (healthy fat) than dressing.  Adjust accordingly.
6.    Crunch.  In the salad below the crunch comes from corn chips, but typically this is croutons.  I’m a big time crouton lover – this is another reason I use less dressing.  Check the back of your croutons.  I can almost guarantee that ¼ cup (4tbsp) croutons has far less calories than 4 tbsp of dressing or cheese.

So there you have it!  The recipe for the perfect salad!  While you’re at it, try out the recipe with the Frito Salad below.  Make adjustments as you see fit, but try to keep the veggies high and the fats low!

Frito Salad
Adapted from The Meaning of Pie

1 lb lean ground beef
1 tsp chile powder
¼ tsp salt
Dash of cayenne pepper
12 oz spinach or lettuce, chopped
1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 ears of corn
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 large avocado, sliced
Shredded cheese
Fritos corn chips
Chipotle Sour Cream Dip

Fill each bowl nearly to the top with lettuce or spinach.  Add ¼ cup ground beef, ¼ cup beans, ¼ cup corn, handful of tomatoes, ¼ avocado, 1 tbsp cheese, ¼ cup fritos, 1 tbsp sour cream dip.

Stir together and enjoy!

Makes at least 6 main dish salads


  1. This looks wonderful! Thanks for sharing at Must Try Monday!

  2. This looks so good and refreshing!

  3. Yum! This looks delicious! We're big salad eaters in this house. I'm pinning this for later.

  4. Yum you could also use Salsa on this instead of dressing which I would guess is lower in calories as well, Thanks for sharing this at Miss Informations I freakin Did it Friday I can't wait to try it

  5. Just gorgeous! And looks so appealing! I am pining this awesome salad:)
    Thank you for sharing at Freedom Fridays.

  6. We love salad - even my kiddos. We usually do spinach salads with almonds. Sometimes we do cheese, carrots, maybe dressing. I love the way you explained an ideal salad. I also love the frito salad - yum!


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