Building a Salad that's a Meal (& that you want to eat!)

I used to avoid eating salads for lunch for several different reasons, including:

  • the flavors were boring

  • they were annoying to eat

  • they didn't fill me up

  • I'd be hungry again an hour later

  • they were difficult to prep because they went bad

I'm happy to share - problems solved! Now I eat some variation of a salad for lunch most days of the week. It feels good knowing I'm nourishing my body, and by that I mean giving it a variety of both macro & micro nutrients, eating the right foods for strong gut health, eating enough to provide energy AND satisfying my taste buds!


Let's get you building salads that stand as delicious meals, too, with these tips.


Start with a large bowl, and plan on filling it up! Whole plant foods (especially vegetables, and ESPECIALLY leafy greens) are big in volume, low in calories. That means you need to eat a bigger volume to make sure you're meal gives you enough energy. I like to use my medium sized mixing bowl for my salads.


Mix your greens. This can mean changing up the kinds you buy/use, or using more than one kind at once. This helps prevent boredom thought flavors and textures, while also increasing nutrient variety. My favorite combo is probably a spring mix of greens tossed with shredded cabbage/coleslaw mix.


Chop veggies into bite sized pieces. It's annoying to fight with lettuce, have things fall off your fork, have to chew your way through a giant pepper... chopped salads are so much easier and more enjoyable to eat. It's easier to get multiple flavors and textures in one bite this way, too! I love using frozen peas in salads along with chopped peppers, carrots, celery, broccoli, or whatever is leftover in the fridge.


Include beans & grains. If salads leave you hungry, there isn't enough substance. You can keep things interesting with different combos:

  • rice & black beans

  • quinoa & tofu

  • farro & chickpeas

Calories are energy. Our brain's preferred source of energy is the calories from carbohydrates. Including good sources of them (ones from whole foods, high in fiber) can help give that energy boost you need though the afternoon!


Include nuts & seeds. Healthy fats help us to absorb the vitamins & minerals in our foods. They're also satisfying in taste & provide lasting energy. It's important that your salad has some kinds of healthy fats. Consider a sprinkle of sunflower seeds, slivered almonds, or pepitas. They're awesome for texture and crunch, too.


Play with dressings & condiments. People always ask, "What's the healthiest dressing?" My short answer: whatever gets you to enjoy eating the most veggies!! Of course, we know drowning our veggies in ranch probably isn't the MOST productive move, so here are a few suggestions:

  • make a dressing with vinegar, lemon juice, and a little extra virgin olive oil

  • do the same, but substitute avocado for the oil and whip it up!

  • use your favorite dressing, working toward decreasing quantity

  • mix a little of your favorite dressing with water, plant milk, lemon juice, vinegar, etc

  • use salsa, guacamole, hummus, and fresh tomatoes for moisture

  • try something new - I'm loving the Green Goddess & Carrot Ginger Miso options from Trader Joe's right now - I want more salads just so I can taste them!

*Almost* prep them. Want to have things done in advance but afraid of wilty greens? Prep all the other stuff: Chop the veggies, cook the grain, mix it all up with the beans and seeds... Keep that mixture in the fridge for a week, scooping it over grains & adding dressing each morning/when you're ready to eat.

 

I hope these tips make it a little easier and more exciting to enjoy salads on a regular basis. There really are so many benefits to our health in eating them, so we want to make it as easy & delicious as possible! Will you give any of these tips a try?


Tag me in all your big salad lunches on Instagram @bewellwithsteph_ so I can see!!


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