How to Make A Bangin’ Salad You’ll Love
A great meal-sized salad that you’ll keep coming back to has several parts:
- Healthy fats
- Smart carbs
- Dark leafy greens &/or veggies
- That “oooh” factor
On the nutrition side of the equation, your salad should have protein, healthy fat, fibre, and good sources of vitamins/minerals. Food is fuel! Give your body what it needs.
On that “yes please I’ll have that again” side, you want the “oooh” factor. This is the stuff that when you’re reading it on a menu piques your interest. It’s usually a couple ingredients, a finishing touch or a dressing that gets you excited about what you’re about to eat.
It might sound like a pain in the butt to make something with so many ingredients, but building a complete and balanced bowl is actually the most important part to keeping you coming back for more (and it’s easier than you think!).
Why? Feeling satisfied is the real key to healthy eating – it becomes easy to eat healthy when you’re happy and energized by it (and you aren’t eating Second Lunch an hour after First Lunch). Making a meal that checks all the boxes to fuel your body will get you there.
A typical serving size for protein is the size of your palm. Grilled chicken or turkey, hard boiled eggs, shrimp, and pork tenderloin are all great options. If you’re vegetarian/vegan, edamame, tofu, and tempeh are all popular as well.
Protein is an important nutrient for your body to build and repair tissues. Your body does not store protein for later consumption, so it’s important to get enough during your day! Protein also helps you feel full and satisfied, so you’re less likely to reach for something extra only an hour after your meal.
We’re always cutting fat willy-nilly thinking it’s bad for us, but the truth is your body needs fat. “Healthy” fats – the ones that most support healthy functioning of your body, are your mono and polyunsaturated fats (which includes the omegas).
Great sources of these are nuts (these are calorie-rich, so perfect in smaller doses as a salad topper), seeds (I love chia seeds), avocados, hummus, and the vegetable oils you use in your dressing (coconut and olive oil are great options).
Low carb diets are pretty popular, but carbs are an important energy source and there are plenty of carb options that are great for you. Avoid refined and processed carbs and go for starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes, whole grains, beans and lentils, or nutrient rich quinoa or fruit.
Dark Leafy Greens &/or Veggies
Dark leafy greens tend to pack the highest nutrient punch, and if you’re going to add veggies go for a rainbow. Since (depending on your portions) you’re likely getting quite a few calories from the healthy fats, carbs and protein, here you can target lower calorie but high-fibre veggies. Asparagus, beets, tomatoes, radishes, carrots…what tickles your fancy?
And finally, that “OOOH” factor can come from any of the above! For me it can be anything from a perfectly soft-boiled egg to a delicious green goddess dressing to the satisfying texture and taste of a half cup of curried chickpeas.
Need some inspo? Check out these 5 salads that check the boxes below. Note that several are vegetarian or vegan – just add your protein on top!
Cookie and Kate: Greek Farro and Chickpea Salad with Herbed Yogurt
Cotter Crunch: Crock pot bbq taco salad
Avocado Pesto: Thai veggie quinoa bowl
Fit Foodie Finds: Easy Salmon Salad with Greek Yogurt Dill Dressing
Giada de Laurentiis: quinoa roasted eggplant and apple salad with cumin vinaigrette
Foodie Crush: Quinoa and kale protein power salad
Let me know – are you a salad lover?