Do you find salads as meals unsatisfying? Maybe you don't truly enjoy eating them, but feel you have to choke them down because they're "good for you." Or maybe, you eat and enjoy your salad, but then you're starving a short time after.
If this sounds like you, I encourage you to wipe your memory clean of your history with salads and try again from a different perspective: It isn't that salads don't work for you. It's what you're putting in your salad that's not quite right.
Salads are a mix of whole foods. That's it! So really, sky is the limit. That being said, just as salads can be an incredibly nourishing part of a healthy diet, they can also be really unhealthy. It comes down to what you're putting in there.
So, let's jump right in!
Here are some tips to help you build a delicious and nutritious salad that will sustain you through to your next meal:
Include a rainbow of vegetables. Get as many colors via vegetables as possible. This not only excites your taste buds, it also ensures that you are getting a wide range of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and nutrients.
Incorporate different textures (crunchy, creamy, crispy, moist, etc.). For example, avocado and legumes are great creamy additions, while seeds and nuts add a nice crunch.
Include as many of the six tastes as possible. This is another way to ensure that your plate is balanced. If you overdo it with one taste, you can probably bet that you won't be feeling great afterwards. The six tastes are: astringent, bitter, pungent, sour, salty, and sweet.
Top your salad with clean protein (the size of a deck of cards) and healthy fat to help keep you satisfied for 4-5 hours after consuming. Examples of clean protein include quinoa, legumes, wild salmon, organic soy products, and high-quality meat that is grass-fed and organic. Examples of healthy fat include avocado, extra virgin olive oil, nuts, seeds, and flaxseed oil.
Control your portions by keeping meals the size of your cupped hands. Your cupped hands are about 2/3 the size of your stomach, so eating this amount leaves a little bit of space for digestion. Using this guide at each meal is a great way to help yourself feel energized and vibrant after eating, instead of tired, bloated, and foggy.
Make your own dressings, and keep them simple. Vinegar or fresh lemon juice with extra virgin olive oil are always safe and delicious go-to's. I also love adding Dijon Mustard, or blending in some avocado when I am craving something creamier.
If you feel like you need a little more, accompany your salad with seed crackers or a coconut wrap. These two options are high in healthy fat and low in carbohydrates, so your blood sugar won't spike like it would with typical crackers or bread.
That's your starting point! Follow the tips above and see where they take you.
It's also incredibly helpful to have ingredients prepped and ready to go in you refrigerator. Check out this short guide for simple tips on how to prep!