We all know by now that we need to eat more veggies, and salads make that easier….thowo some veggies in a bowl, add some dressing and BAM: a veggie centric meal. But, problem is, we often end up starving an hour after eating a salad. Here is how to construct the perfect salad that's both filling and healthy.
To make a salad a meal, it needs to be substantial enough to get you full but not too much where it completely wrecks your caloric needs of the day…they key is BALANCE. Of course you start with greens. What if you don’t like greens, you might ask? Well first, try some basic greens like iceberg or romaine. Now I will be the first to tell you that iceberg lettuce is the absolute worst, it literally has no nutritional benefits at all, it is mostly water….but if it can be a stepping stone to try a more nutrients dense version like romaine (which is another great natural tasting green) then I encourage my clients to start with that and use it as kind of a “gateway green” to explore others later.
Ok, so after the greens you need some other nutrient dense veggies or fruit. I like to suggest to my clients to start with what is seasonal. For fall and winter salads, experiment with some different squash; butternut, acorn, delicata, pumpkin, kabocha…all of these are great sources of vitamin A, K, C, fiber potassium and folate and are great on salads. Roast them up in the oven with some salt and pepper and toss on top with a good vinaigrette. For summer, try some seasonal fruits like watermelon (full of Vitamin A, E, fiber and lycopene), strawberries and blackberries (both full of antioxidants) and any other fruits you can find at your local farmers market that are in season. There are also a ton of other veggies that are full of nutrients to you can toss in like radishes, bell peppers, artichokes, zucchini, beets, sprouts, jicama, and so many more! The more colors the better, try to cover the all the colors of the rainbow for a fully nutritious salad!
After the healthy veggies and fruits, look at protein. For meat eaters, organic free range chicken or wild caught fish is perfect. Vegetarian or vegan? Try something like roasted tempeh (full of protein and healthy probiotics) or oven baked tofu (full of protein and vitamin D). You can also look to add in some beans like edamame, lentils or black beans. Not only does this give a healthy portion of protein but it gives a good source of iron and some complex carbs to get you full and keep you satisfied.
The last little bit to balance out the salad is healthy fats. I like to encourage my clients to find most of their fats from sources other than oils (you will get a little of that with the dressing anyway), like avocados and nuts and seeds (like hemp seeds, sunflower seeds, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds, walnuts, almonds, and pecans) , because they have other benefits like omega fatty acids, vitamin E and magnesium. Finish off your salad by topping it off with a homemade dressing, or keep it simple with a squeeze of lemon and drizzle of oil. Keeping a nice balance of protein carbs and fats will keep you full and satisfied!