How To Make A Salad That Doesn’t Suck
Let’s be honest, some salad’s suck. Most of the time they’re made with bland, minimal ingredients with not a lot of nutritional value (romaine, shredded cheese, and ranch dressing go-er’s, I’m looking at you). If you’re one of those people saying “salads suck” or “I’m always hungry after I eat a salad”, it’s most likely because you’re not adding in the correct food to keep you full and satisfied for a longer period of time.
Here’s the truth – salads don’t suck. They can be made to be not only extremely filling and nutritional, but delicious too, if you do it right. I have a salad most days for lunch, and I’m constantly asked, “how can you eat a salad everyday? Aren’t you hungry?” Nah, I’m not. Here’s why:
Base – If you’re big into romaine, try mixing it with spinach or kale (remember to massage with lemon juice & salt). They’re great options for a milder green packed with nutrients. Arugula is another great alternative for a little more flavor and spice. Mixing and matching greens can create a great combination of flavors and textures.
Fat – Fat has about 9 calories per gram, compared to 4 calories per gram in protein. Healthy fats keep you fuller for longer, not to mention the heart, brain, and skin health benefits that come with consuming Omega 3’s. My favorite fats to add to a salad are avocado, nuts, olive oil, and salmon.
Protein – It is a very common misconception that you need to have meat to get protein, or to stay full for a longer period of time. EHH. WRONG. While I’ll sometimes add chicken or salmon for protein on a salad, I’m completely fine skipping meat for the day – you should be too! There are plenty plant-based options that are packed with protein – quinoa, hemp seeds, and pumpkin seeds to name a few.
Fiber – “Eat more fiber” – we’ve all heard it. Fiber is simply a type of carbohydrate found naturally in plant-based foods that is not digestible in humans. Although fiber cannot be digested, it is being moved down the digestive tract as nutrients are being digested, and can do some great things that positively impact our health including aiding in healthy digestion, preventing obesity and diabetes, and lowering cholesterol. A lot of the foods I’ve mentioned above are packed with fiber – kale, avocado, nuts/seeds, and quinoa.
Texture – There’s a reason that croutons are everyone’s favorite part of the salad. Adding crunch in your salad is a great way to switch up the textures throughout. My favorite’s are sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and nuts.
Color / Flavor – Colorful food tastes better – it’s a fact. Adding in tons of bright vegetables will not only make your salad look more appetizing, but actually be more appetizing. Add however many veggies you’d like – tomatoes, red onion, bell peppers, cucumber, beets, corn, radish, or purple cabbage – or all? Never too many veggies! I always add cilantro to my salads because I love the flavor so much. It instantly makes it taste fresher by adding in an herb to your salad.
Health Additions – I always like to add something that has an added health benefit, such as sauerkraut for gut health, or nutritional yeast for B12 vitamins. Nutritional yeast is the same type of yeast that’s used to bake bread and brew beer. This yeast is grown specifically to be used as a food product. The yeast cells are killed during manufacturing and not alive in the final product. It is used a lot of vegan cooking as it has a very cheesy flavor and is a great addition to a salad.
Dressing – This is the part where most people slip up. Healthy salad dressings, while becoming easier to come by, are still a struggle if you’re not reading your labels. Most salad dressings are loaded with sugars, thickeners, and preservatives – making your thoughtfully crafted salad near pointless. My biggest tip for salad dressings: either make your own – here’s my easy homemade balsamic dressing, or READ YOUR LABELS. Look for dressings with whole food ingredients that you can understand. Stay away from ones with vegetable oil bases, as they tend to be an inflammatory. A few of my favorite salad dressing brands are – Tessemaes, Salad Girl, Primal Kitchen, and Trader Joe’s Green Goddess.
My go-to superfood salad is right here, and it’s a weekly staple for me. Keeps me full and satisfied for hours and it’s began to be something my body craves. Whether you’re an avid salad eater, or if this is your first one, I hope you’ve learned something and been inspired to add something new to your salad next time around.
What are your favorite salad toppings? Let me know in the comments below.