Very similar to salads, the major portion of any meal should be vegetables that are high in water content and less dense (75% of your plate).  These healthy, whole foods are not only nutritious, but they digest quickly, and because they are high in water content, they naturally hydrate the cells and tissues of our bodies.  The remaining 25% should be composed of denser vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, and seeds.

The right combination of the right foods...

When it comes to making any meal, whether it is a salad or an entree, keep this very important point in mind:
The lighter your meal, the lighter and brighter you'll feel.  
Eat heavy, be heavy, feel heavy
High in water content
(Lighter, less dense foods)
Low in water content
(Heavier, more dense foods)

Raw Veggies

Think salad veggies such as mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumber, onions, zucchini, jicama, tri-colored bell peppers, and sweet corn, etc.
Cooked Veggies
Choose those that are high in water content such as yellow or green zucchini, eggplant, peas, carrots, green beans, sweet corn, bell peppers, and onions.  Lightly cook to retain as many nutrients as possible (antioxidants are easily destroyed in high heat).
Choose 1-2
  • Avocado
  • Root veggies (potatoes, beets, yams, parsnips, turnips)
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Winter Squash (butternut, acorn)
  • Legumes (beans, peas, lentils)
  • Grains (rice, wheat berries)
  • Pseudo grains (quinoa, buckwheat, amaranth)
  • Animal products* (meat, eggs, dairy)

Avoid preparing meals that include a combination of too many of the heavier foods.  If possible, choose only one heavier ingredient to have with your veggies.  Meals filled with complex combinations of heavy foods take much longer for our bodies to digest, draining us of energy and robbing us of a clear, sharp, and focused mind.  No wonder we feel like taking a nap after a Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner!

A word about sauces & oils...

When it comes to sauces, watch out for packaged marinades and condiments which are often full of artificial and highly processed ingredients, especially chemical flavorings, colorings, processed sugar, and unpronounceables.  All ingredients should be those sourced from whole foods, seasonings, and natural preservatives.  See anything else?  Ditch it.
Consider making your own sauces and dressings.  Experiment with the following combinations of ingredients:
  • Citrus juice and/or rind (lemon, lime, orange...)
  • Herbs & Seasonings (sea salt, cracked pepper, oregano, thyme, tarragon, rosemary, sage, turmeric...)
  • Vinegar (balsamic, white, apple cider, red wine...)
  • Natural sweeteners (honey, coconut sugar, sucanat...)
  • Garlic / onion / shallots
  • Tomato paste
  • Ginger
  • Mustard
  • Nutritional yeast (for a cheese flavor)
  • Liquid oils* (olive, avocado, grapeseed, coconut, walnut, pecan...)
*  If you choose to use liquid oils, always choose a high quality unrefined (or cold pressed) nut or seed-based oil and use in very small quantities.  Examples include olive, avocado, walnut, coconut, pecan, pistachio, etc. 

Always make your veggies al dente!...

The less you cook your veggies the better.  Except for root veggies, aim to cook "al dente" which means your veggies are still a little firm and crunchy.  This way, you will retain a far greater quantity of nutrients.  
Always avoid burning or charring food which creates toxic and carcinogenic by-products that have been conclusively linked to cancer.  It is especially important to avoid eating charred meats which denatures the animal fat and protein content.
A Word About Animal Products

If you include animal products in your diet, always choose organic and pasture-raised, and limit portions to 2-3 times a week at most.  By choosing organic and pasture-raised, you help make sure that you avoid purchasing any "factory-farmed" meat.  If you are not familiar with what factory-farmed meat is and why you should stay away from it, read the following two articles:

Exciting Entrees

When it comes to the meals you make, there are so many different ways to make your veggie base more exciting.  Not only that, but the veggies you prepare can also make for creating beautiful presentations on your plate.  Experiment with these ideas and try using a variety of herbs and spices.  Don't be afraid to try some bizarre flavor combinations - I may have a few catastrophes under my belt but that's also how I've discovered my favorite meals!