Starting a New Habit in 2014: Eat a Salad a Day

I'd like to commit to having a salad a day this year. Who is with me?

Perhaps I should back up and start with a confession: I'm not a naturally disciplined person. Left to my devices, I will sleep until 10am, lounge about in sweats all day, never work out and order in spicy Thai food until my palate finally forces me to switch to a day of pizza(!). Yes, natural me is an ugly scene. That's the bad news. The good news is I know this about me. And I also know how to create a life I really want, despite my human imperfections. What is the secret? It all comes down to one thing: creating habits that support the life I truly want to live that will circumvent my natural (read: lazier) tendencies. And what better time to start a new habit than now, amidst all the belly-gazing the new year inspires?

Why a salad a day? Why not an apple, as the saying goes? I've already done an apple a day for a year. It was brilliant and I still have an apple most days — proof that habits, even good ones, die hard, which is why it is doubly wise to choose our habits purposefully. Back to our salad, I feel better when I eat raw vegetables. I have more energy, my skin is clearer, my body feels leaner and I feel generally healthier. Committing simply to "eat more raw veggies" in the new year would be to trust my whims to lead me to a crudite plate night after night. As I mentioned before, I know myself. The first week, I would be making a gorgeous platter with elegant zucchini spears, cutely bulbous tiny heirloom tomatoes and mini sweet peppers perfect for scooping up a low-fat yogurt dip. But by the end of the month, I'd be pulling a baby carrot from the leftover dregs of my daughter's lunchbox, mentally checking off the veggie resolution box. Not good.

For this to work for me, there needs to be a lot of veggies and it needs to be a center of an actual meal (a pre-dinner celery snack is easily overlooked, but an actual meal, far less so). So a salad it is.

Here is the fine print: A salad, for purposes of my 2014 plan, is primarily made up of raw vegetables, often of the leafy variety, but not necessarily. My personal preference is to include protein and a reasonable amount of dressing to make it a satisfying meal. Yes, I will pay attention not to include the salads making appearances on those "you won't believe how fattening these salads are" lists that make their way around social media. (Fried mozzarella sticks on baby spinach is out — darn.) But I will spend more of my energy focusing on what is in my salad (a variety of veggies) rather than what is not. And if you think salads have to be boring, think again. Here are 12 salad options to get us started.

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