People often think of a salad as an appetizer, diet food or something that won’t fill them up for longer than an hour. This isn’t always the case. With a little planning you can make a nutritious salad that will satisfy your taste buds and keep you feeling full for hours. You don’t even need a recipe! The key to building a meal-sized salad that won’t break the calorie bank is having about three quarters of the salad be fresh vegetables and the other quarter protein and a healthy fat.

Simply choose your favorite greens as a base and top with veggies, a protein and a healthy fat. Here’s a list of items to help you get started creating hearty, healthy and delicious salads:
 

Greens:

  • Spinach
  • Arugula
  • Romaine
  • Spring mix
  • Kale

Vegetables: (It’s best to choose veggies that are in season)

  • Tomatoes, fresh or sun-dried
  • Cucumbers
  • Zucchini or other squash
  • Mushrooms
  • Yellow, orange, red, or green bell peppers
  • Cabbage, sliced
  • Carrots
  • Beets, roasted or boiled
  • Radishes
  • Sweet corn
  • Sweet potatoes, roasted or steamed
  • Peas
  • Onion
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Roasted red peppers
  • Hearts of palm

Protein:

  • Lean cuts of grilled or baked meat – chicken, turkey pork or beef
  • Shrimp, crab meat, scallops or other seafood
  • Salmon, tuna or other fish
  • Tofu, plain or cooked
  • Tempeh, plain or cooked
  • Edamame
  • Beans – black beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans
  • Hummus
  • Crumbled veggie burger
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Cottage cheese
  • Low-fat cheese

Healthy Fats:

  • Avocado
  • Nuts (I like almonds, walnuts and pine nuts)
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sesame seeds
  • Olive oil based dressings
  • Flax seed oil or ground flax seeds
  • Hemp seeds
  • Olive oil (and vinegar)
  • Olives

 Other Notes:

  • Don’t drench your salad in dressing. If the salad ingredients are fresh and in season they’re often very flavorful on their own.
  • Throwing leftovers on salads is the best- leftover grilled and roasted veggies (straight from the fridge) make great salad toppings.
  • Complex carbs are a fun addition as well – wheat berries, whole grain cous cous, quinoa or orzo are all great options
  • Fruits are also a great addition to salads in the summer time – try adding strawberries, blueberries, pears, and figs.

As for preparing the salad, simply toss the ingredients of your choice into a large bowl (or small bowl for a single salad) and enjoy. You can plan ahead and prep some of the more time consuming items early. For instance you can chop veggies and cook a pot of beans on Sunday evening so weekday lunches or dinners can be thrown together in a flash. Have fun trying out the endless number of salad possibilities!

Your thoughts…

What’s your favorite original salad creation?

Source: Calorie Count