Eating a big salad at lunch is a great way to get a large dose of veggies (and vitamins, minerals, and fiber) into your day. Often we hear from clients that they love salads but don’t find them to be very filling or satisfying. This can absolutely be the case – especially if your salad is just lettuce and dressing! We’ve put together a list of some yummy additions to help give your salads a little more heft.
Starting with your bed of lettuce, add your other non-starchy vegetables (carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, onions, tomatoes, etc.). For a more interesting twist, feel free to try adding leftover cooked vegetables such as zucchini, green beans, cauliflower, carrots, or eggplant.
Don’t stop there! Adding in a starch will be next. Try a serving of cooked whole grains such as quinoa, faro, barley, or whole grain pasta. Roasted butternut squash and sweet potatoes would be another flavorful starch option. You could also add in a whole grain pita bread on the side if none of those are striking your fancy – we love Joseph’s pita pockets.
A welcome option to add in the summer could be 1/2 cup of fresh fruit – think blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, pomegranate, or diced apples.
Don’t forget the protein! This is what will make your salad the most filling. A few options are grilled chicken, cooked shrimp, canned tuna, cottage cheese, or hard boiled eggs. If you’re looking for vegetarian sources of protein, beans and legumes, edamame, hummus and tofu would be hearty additions.
Walnuts, pumpkin seeds, pecans, almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds can add a nice crunch to your salad. You could also consider diced avocado. These items will provide protein and unsaturated fatty acids. Be careful with the portion sizes though – a little goes a long way!
Top with your favorite salad dressing! One to two tablespoons would be an appropriate portion size to help add some flavor to your salad. Certainly, you can go with a balsamic vinegar mixed with olive oil. However, if a creamy ranch is what’s going to allow you to enjoy the salad, go for it!
No time to assemble your own? Consider trying a bagged salad kit – we love the options from Trader Joes. Each kit comes with their own salad dressing and toppings. Just add a protein!