Trust me, a glimpse in the life of an RD is just like a glimpse into your own. Most of the time I spend my weekends just like everyone else. Cutting the grass, visiting the zoo, loads of laundry, enjoying a coffee on the porch and a dinner out with friends or family. Maybe a weekend to the lake or one  just staying inside, away from the St. Louis heat.

This past weekend I did a lot of these things, but the main event for me was one of my favorite ways to spend time – with friends and veggies, hosting a salad swap. Think of it as a cookie swap, except one that is at a dietitian’s house. You know, the kind of party where everyone brings a batch of their favorite treats to sample, make a plate, and enjoy at home for the holiday season? Just like that. But instead the “holiday” is health and the occasion is simple fuel filled meal prep.

I invited some of my very busy loved ones – sisters, cousins, friends – to bring a batch of their favorite summer salad recipe (dressing on the side) and Tupperware to swap to enjoy the rest of the week. We had a blast catching up, sampling and filling our containers with meals. The time shared was the best, but the loads of meals still in my fridge come Wednesday is pretty nice, too. Fun and fuel – who could ask for anything else?

Now you may be thinking “But I don’t fill up on salad. I’ll be hungry after just an hour.” Yes, this can be true. Some salads can be empty, feel like a chore, and leave you feeling dissatisfied, retreating to the vending machine by 2:00pm. But others – the ones we all brought to the table – were fuel-filled, tasty, and satisfying. That’s because we all “built a better salad”. And you can too!

 Build a Better Salad Handout

Don’t have time to prep at home? You can use this handout at the salad bar in your work café – all of the Executive Dining salad bars have bases, mix-ins, lean proteins and healthy fats. Just pick and choose the ones that you like best, using the color coded tongs help you guide you through the best options on the line.

For some inspiration, start with the one I brought to the swap! In this recipe I was able to add a lot of vegetables from a local farmer, Tony. I love any opportunity to meet farmers and enjoy their own passion and work as a part of mine. This past week at the Wellness Week for Watlow Electric Manufacturing Company, I had the joy of connecting with and purchasing from Tony’s Family Farms to use in this salad! Make this your own by adding in your favorites and taking things out that you don’t like.

Summer BBQ Chickpeas with Lemon-Avocado Dressing

This salad is packed with nutrient dense vegetables, fiber and protein filled chickpeas, and has a refreshingly light taste of summer barbeque. Perfect for hot days of summer and loads of seasonal vegetables.

Course Main Course, Salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 10 minutes
Servings 1 hearty meal
Calories 280 kcal


For the Salad

  • 1/3 head romain lettuce washed and chopped
  • 1/3 can chickpeas washed and drained
  • 1/3 cup corn
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 1/3 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1 green onion

For the Dressing (This makes a lot more than one salad amount)

  • 1 avocado
  • 1 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
  • 3 Tbs lemon juice
  • 2 tsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 tsp combination of onion powder, dill, and parsley


For the Salad

  1. In a saucepan over med-low heat, simmer chickpeas in BBQ sauce for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. Meanwhile, chop the romaine, tomatoes, and green onion. Place in a bowl. Add corn and carrots. Toss to combine.

For the Dressing

  1. In a blender or food processor, combine all ingredients and blend until smooth. 

Recipe Notes

Since the dressing recipe is enough for additional portions, feel free to double the salad and use more dressing in the future. Or use as a fun veggie dip or sauce for wraps. Refrigerate extra dressing and use within 3-5 days.

I added an extra source of protein and fat for mine just to make sure it kept me fueled throughout the day. If you want to add a hard boiled egg too, the total calories rounds out to 360 an extra 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat. 


Happy building!