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3 Main-Course Salads

All-in-One Meals for the Family

Quinoa Spinach Salad

4 cups fresh baby spinach, chopped
1-1/2 cups cooked quinoa (cooked according to package directions)
3/4 cup butternut squash, chopped
1 medium apple, peeled and chopped
1/3 cup pepitas (pumpkin seeds) or pecans
3 tablespoons dried cranberries

Tahini Apple Cider Vinegar Dressing

2 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons low sodium tamari or aminos
4 tablespoons nutritional yeast
2 teaspoons minced garlic (2 cloves of garlic)
2 teaspoons maple syrup

Prepare the squash by peeling it, cutting it in half, and scraping out the seeds. Cut the squash into bite-size cubes, place on a lightly oiled baking sheet, and roast at 400 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes, turning once or twice, until all the pieces are tender and have a few small brown spots.

If the pepitas or pecans are raw, you can toast them in the oven with the roasting squash. Spread seeds/nuts on a separate baking sheet and add to the oven with the butternut squash for 5 to 10 minutes or until the seeds/nuts are golden and crunchy, then remove from the pan to cool. Be sure to watch the seeds/nuts carefully because they can burn quickly. The pepitas will take less time to toast than the pecans because they’re smaller.

While roasting the squash, toss together spinach, cooked quinoa, apple, and cranberries in a large salad bowl. Add cooled pepitas (or pecans) once they’ve been toasted. Prepare dressing by placing all remaining ingredients (tahini through maple syrup) in a blender and blend until smooth.

Once the butternut squash is done roasting, allow it to cool and then place into the salad bowl with the other ingredients. Pour the dressing over the salad and toss to coat. Serves 2.

Kale Caesar Salad with Grilled Lemon Pepper Shrimp

1 bunch curly kale, chopped (about 12 cups)
1 avocado, sliced

Sweet Potato Croutons

2 cups chunked sweet potatoes, about ¼-inch chunks
2 teaspoons avocado or coconut oil
Sea salt, to taste

Lemon Pepper Shrimp

1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
2 cloves garlic, minced
Zest and juice from 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons of juice), plus lemon wedges for serving
1 teaspoon coconut oil, melted
1 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Avocado Caesar Dressing

1/3 cup mashed avocado
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tablespoons lemon juice
2 anchovy fillets (or 1 teaspoon anchovy paste, if you prefer)
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 cup shredded or shaved parmesan cheese
3/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
2 tablespoons water
2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Coat sweet potato chunks in 2 teaspoons oil, and sprinkle with sea salt. Spread over a parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 20 minutes. While the sweet potatoes are roasting, mix the garlic, lemon zest, lemon juice, coconut oil, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Add the shrimp and toss to combine. Let shrimp marinate for a few minutes. Place the shrimp on skewers and grill until pink and opaque, about 2 to 3 minutes on each side. 

Prep your dressing by adding all ingredients to a high-powered blender or food processor and blending until smooth. 

To assemble, add chopped kale to a big bowl. Drizzle ½ of the avocado caesar dressing over kale and toss. Taste and add more dressing, if desired (I like the kale well-coated so I use the whole batch of dressing). To serve, add dressed kale into serving bowls and top with sweet potato croutons, grilled shrimp, and avocado slices. Serves 4.

Pear Salad with Walnuts, Avocado, and Grilled Chicken

6 cups spring mix
2 pears (I used red anjou and green Bartlett), sliced or chopped
6 ounces grilled chicken breast
2 slices cooked turkey bacon
1/4 cup goat cheese crumbles
2 tablespoons dried cranberries
2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, raw or toasted
1/2 avocado, sliced or chopped into chunks

Maple Balsamic Dressing

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar (I used white)
1/4 cup olive oil
1 teaspoon maple syrup
1 teaspoon dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon Italian seasoning

Cook turkey bacon and grill chicken if you haven’t already. Prepare dressing by whisking together all ingredients in a small bowl or jar. To prep salad, grab two bowls and add a base of spring mix, pear slices, grilled chicken breast, bacon, goat cheese, dried cranberries, walnuts, and avocado. Drizzle salad with desired amount of balsamic dressing and enjoy. Serves 2.

Photos: Eating Bird Food

Brittany Mullins is a Richmond native, wife, mother, and founder of Eating Bird Food, an online platform focused on real food recipes and lifestyle content. When she’s not in the kitchen cooking you can find Brittany going on long walks around Northside with her husband, daughter and Yorkshire Terrier. Get inspired to live a healthy, balanced life by connecting with Brittany on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest, on her blog at
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