A Guide To Building A Satisfying Salad
Learn how to build a salad that is both delicious and filling!
If your salads leave you feeling hungry and unsatisfied, try building a more satisfying salad. Lettuce and tomatoes aren't the only veggies to make salads out of. Think about incorporating all of the macronutrients to add a mix of texture, color, flavor and better satiety. Start with a base of fiber-filled leafy greens then layer over your choice of protein and whole grains. Get creative and top your salads off with heart-healthy and crunchy fats like nuts along with a drizzle of flavorful oil-based dressing. Take a peek below for breakdown of how to build a salad that will leave your belly feeling full and nourished.
Vary Your Veggies
Paint your salad bowl with colors of the rainbow for a daily dose of your fiber, vitamins and minerals. You can begin by building a base for your salad using one or more leafy greens like kale, spinach, arugula, Romaine lettuce or use a pre-packaged spring green mix. Pack in some more nutrients and color with vibrant veggies like bell peppers, carrots, purple cabbage, cherry tomatoes, broccoli, sweet potatoes or beets. Grilled, roasted or pickled veggies can also be great add-ins for a flavor boost. I like topping my salads with pickled daikon radish for some bright flavor and gut-healthy probiotics.
Pick Your Protein
Adding protein can turn a simple side salad into a satisfying main course. An easy way to pack in some protein is to use up any leftovers in the fridge from a previous dinner like grilled chicken. Protein-rich options like fish, canned tuna, turkey or hard boiled egg are great picks. Topping your salad with some cheese or a Greek yogurt-based dressing can pack on both protein and flavor. You can also consider including plant-based proteins like canned beans, lentils, marinated tofu or tempeh for added nutrition. For a last-minute lunch, I like to toss a can of drained and rinsed chickpeas with any leftover veggies that I have in the fridge.
Toss In Some Grains
Including whole grains in your salads can up the fiber, provide B vitamins and add some texture. Hearty grains that can be perfect picks for salads include whole-wheat pasta, brown rice, barley, wheat berries, farro and quinoa. Ancient grains like amaranth can add a hint of nutty flavor your salad while freekeh can give a touch of smokiness. You can also incorporate some whole grains by topping your salads with whole-wheat bread croutons or crispy baked whole-wheat tortilla strips for some added crunch. Check out one of my favorite simple and delicious quinoa salad recipe!
Don't Forget The Fats
Including healthy fats in your salads can boost satiety and help you absorb fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin A, D, E and K from the veggies. You can decorate your salads with creamy avocado slices for a dose of fats. Sprinkling over nuts and seeds like walnuts, toasted pumpkin seeds, sliced almonds, pistachios and sunflower seeds can be the perfect topping. Selecting vinaigrettes and dressings that are yogurt or avocado based can also provide you with some healthy fats.
Add Some Texture
Including different textures like crunchy, chewy, crispy or creamy can make any salad much more exciting to eat. For a crunch, you can sprinkle over some nuts, croutons, crushed up crackers, toasted chickpeas or fresh apple slices. Adding dried fruit like dates, apricots or figs can add the perfect chewiness. Fresh salsa and citrus fruits like oranges can add some juiciness to your salad. Check into your texture preferences to help you find ingredients that will make your salads more enjoyable and satiating!
Dress It Up
There's nothing like a colorful salad finished with a drizzle of flavor-boosting dressing. Salad dressings that are olive oil and vinegar based are great picks that can provide you with heart-healthy fats. If you prefer creamy dressings, using hummus, yogurt and creamy avocado in homemade dressing mixes can be delicious idea. The recommended serving size is one or two tablespoons of dressings. A simple way to dress your salad is to squeeze some fresh lemon juice and add a sprinkle of fresh or dried herbs.
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