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Zone Living

Collection of Our Zone Newsletter Articles
Written By: Zone Diet Experts

Written by Sue Knorr
on February 01, 2014


Have you ever wished you could quickly put together a delicious, healthy meal without a recipe? Recently I had the pleasure of getting together for an early supper with friends from my yoga class. Everyone brought food and drink to share. The conversation soon turned to the topic of using a recipe as opposed to winging it, basically making your own creation as you go along, adding a little bit of this and a little bit of that. The consensus was to be safe and follow a recipe, but I dance to the beat of a different drum. I don't have time to scour the Web for recipes every day and then track down all the ingredients at the grocery store. As I see it, the foods I like best are already in my kitchen.


Salads are a good place to start if you're new to the idea of meal prep on the fly. You're guaranteed a balanced meal in the Zone when you choose lean protein the size and thickness of your palm and load the rest of your plate with a variety of colorful vegetables plus a dash of healthy monounsaturated fat. Begin by choosing the protein. Then see what's on hand in the fridge, and your salad will evolve from there. A well-stocked refrigerator is the key. I keep a minimum of two or three varieties of lettuce and greens on hand as well as raw vegetables, such as peppers, tomatoes, broccoli and cucumbers. These serve as the base for a limitless variety of salads. Deli-meats, reduced-fat cheeses and canned fish make convenient sources of protein. Leftovers and condiments add interesting twists. Yesterday's dinner can perk up tomorrow night's salad. Don't be afraid to mix and match, even if you don't think things pair well together. Anyone can do this. You'll be surprised by the new favorite combinations you discover.


Here are the ingredients of three meal-sized salads that were enjoyed at my house this past week. Each one is a 4-block meal piled high on a large dinner plate. No amounts are given because they are all one of a kind -- never made the same way twice. Note how some of the ingredients repeat from one salad to the next as the leftovers are used, and that each salad is very different from the previous one.


Salad #1

This salad has no dressing because the ingredients are very flavorful, and the sardines and cheese provide all the fat needed.

  • Greens: romaine lettuce, baby spinach and watercress
  • Wild-caught sardines packed in water
  • Reduced-fat pepper jack cheese
  • Raw yellow peppers
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Leftovers: fresh salsa, chunky salsa with corn and beans (from a jar),
  • Cucumbers marinated in vinegar

Salad #2

In a large bowl I whisked together a dressing of olive oil, white wine vinegar, white balsamic vinegar, oregano and Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute and then added all the rest of the ingredients, tossing to distribute evenly.

  • Greens: Baby spinach, watercress and romaine lettuce
  • Canned tuna packed in water, drained
  • Canned red kidney beans
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Raw broccoli florets
  • Raw green peppers
  • Capers
  • Anchovies
  • Kalamata 4 olives
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper


Salad #3

This salad had a dressing of hot-pepper- flavored olive oil, white wine vinegar and Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute whisked together in a large bowl and then tossed with all the ingredients.

  • Greens: Baby spinach and romaine lettuce
  • Deli-style turkey
  • Raw green peppers
  • Orange, yellow, purple and red cherry tomatoes
  • Leftovers: Steamed broccoli florets, canned red kidney beans,
  • reduced-fat pepper-jack cheese
  • Capers
  • Sea salt
  • Black pepper

Make your next salad from scratch and enjoy!

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