How to Build a Salad that Satisfies
People often think of a salad as an appetizer, diet food or something that won’t fill them up for longer than an hour. This isn’t always the case. With a little planning you can make a nutritious salad that will satisfy your taste buds and keep you feeling full for hours. You don’t even need a recipe! The key to building a meal-sized salad that won’t break the calorie bank is having about three quarters of the salad be fresh vegetables and the other quarter protein and a healthy fat.
Simply choose your favorite greens as a base and top with veggies, a protein and a healthy fat. Here’s a list of items to help you get started creating hearty, healthy and delicious salads:
- Spring mix
Vegetables: (It’s best to choose veggies that are in season)
- Tomatoes, fresh or sun-dried
- Zucchini or other squash
- Yellow, orange, red, or green bell peppers
- Cabbage, sliced
- Beets, roasted or boiled
- Sweet corn
- Sweet potatoes, roasted or steamed
- Artichoke hearts
- Roasted red peppers
- Hearts of palm
- Lean cuts of grilled or baked meat – chicken, turkey pork or beef
- Shrimp, crab meat, scallops or other seafood
- Salmon, tuna or other fish
- Tofu, plain or cooked
- Tempeh, plain or cooked
- Beans - black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans
- Crumbled veggie burger
- Hard boiled eggs
- Cottage cheese
- Low-fat cheese
- Nuts (I like almonds, walnuts and pine nuts)
- Sunflower seeds
- Sesame seeds
- Olive oil based dressings
- Flax seed oil or ground flax seeds
- Hemp seeds
- Olive oil (and vinegar)
- Don’t drench your salad in dressing. If the salad ingredients are fresh and in season they’re often very flavorful on their own.
- Throwing leftovers on salads is the best- leftover grilled and roasted veggies (straight from the fridge) make great salad toppings.
- Complex carbs are a fun addition as well – wheat berries, whole grain cous cous, quinoa or orzo are all great options
- Fruits are also a great addition to salads in the summer time – try adding strawberries, blueberries, pears, and figs.
As for preparing the salad, simply toss the ingredients of your choice into a large bowl (or small bowl for a single salad) and enjoy. You can plan ahead and prep some of the more time consuming items early. For instance you can chop veggies and cook a pot of beans on Sunday evening so weekday lunches or dinners can be thrown together in a flash. Have fun trying out the endless number of salad possibilities!
What's your favorite original salad creation?
Brittany Mullins is the author of a popular healthy living blog, Eating Bird Food. She is also studying to be a holistic health coach. Visit her blog for recipes, healthy living tips and more.