Ever since I was a child, I loved vegetables. My mother used to call me a rabbit, and I would call her lucky. Granted, I was a bit picky in that I only liked my veggies raw, but still, what mother wouldn't be lucky to have her kid love vegetables?
As I've gotten older, salad continues to be a huge part of my diet. Is a matter of fact, most lunches and dinners consist of at least a salad appetizer, if not a salad entree. So, when people complain to me that salad is not very fulfilling, it is hard for me to understand. When I ask them what they put in their salad, however, it becomes clear why they are unsatisfied: Plain and simple, they are not putting enough nutrition and calories in their salad!
Look, salads are a great, healthy food that can be VERY filling and nutritious. But, you have to stop treating salads like diet food and start treating them like meals. Here are some great ways to ensure that your salad leaves your feeling satisfied:
1. Include Protein: Most salads are not fulfilling because they are lacking in protein. Granted, salad by definition focuses on vegetables, but protein is crucial to making you feel fuller, longer. Further, protein boosts your metabolism by ensuring you are maintaining muscle mass, which burns more calories than fat. Here are some ways to get some healthy proteins into your salads:
- Chicken: Opt for white meat that is either baked or grilled. Avoid fried chicken, chicken salad or dark meat. Portion: 3 - 5 oz or an amount similar to the size of a deck of cards
- Salmon: Loaded with Omega 3s, salmon provides you with protein and healthy fats to keep you fulfilled. Portion: 3 - 5 oz or an amount similar to the size of a deck of cards
- Low-Fat Cheese: When possible, opt for low-fat or fat-free cheese. This will help to keep the saturated fats down in your meal. Portion: 1/4 cup
- Nuts: Nuts give your salad an extra crunch and provide you with wonderful fiber, protein and nutrients. Portion: 1/4 cup Find out which nuts are healthiest...
- Beans: Beans are loaded with fiber and protein. Both of which are really important in keeping your tummy satisfied. Portion: 1/2 cup Find out which beans are highest in fiber and protein...
2. Quality of your Vegetables: Throwing some iceberg lettuce into a bowl and calling it salad is like calling a few knock-knock jokes comedy. It just doesn't make the grade. Vegetables are obviously a key ingredient in a salad. They provide tons of vitamins and minerals and are a great source of fiber. Use those vegetables that provide the most nutrients for the punch. Further, the more colorful your salad, the more vitamins and minerals you will be getting. Here are some of the most nutrient dense vegetables:
- Baby Spinach/Dark Leafy Greens: When it comes to lettuces, aim to ditch the romaine and iceberg for more dark, leafy lettuces and greens. Spinach, especially, is filled with nutrients that ward off heart disease, colon cancer and autoimmune diseases such as arthritis and osteoporosis.
- Tomatoes: If you didn't know already, tomatoes are actually a fruit. However, they are often used in salads. Tomatoes are filled with lycopine, which helps to fight cancer. They are also filled with Vitamins A and K, keep blood pressure low and contain free-radical fighters called antioxidants.
- Broccoli: Filled with antioxidants, high in folate, Vitamin C and beta-carotene, and a great immune system booster.
- Carrots: Carrots are filled with antioxidants and Vitamins A and C. They are wonderful for keeping eyes healthy, and skin and hair looking their best.
- Onions: Whether or not you are an onion fan, onions are great at warding off heart disease, diabetes and osteoporosis.
- Bell Peppers: The best part of bell peppers is that they come in a rainbow of colors (there are actually purple bell peppers!) and are filled with tons of nutrients that ward off heart disease and cancer.
- Cucumbers: Cucumbers taste great in salads. It is wonderful for hydrating the body, and helps lower blood pressure.
3. Quantity of Vegetables: It kills me when I see people go to the salad bar and put only a few vegetables in the smallest sized container and call that lunch. No wonder they aren't satisfied! Truth is, it is really hard to overdo the amount of vegetables you eat. The more the better. Veggies are very nutritious, are high in fiber and have very little calories due to their high water content. Further, the more veggies you include, the more likely you are going to fill up and feel satisfied. So go for that large container and fill it to the brim!
When you dress the salad, always use olive oil and vinegar, or if you want a premade dressing, use a vinaigrette. This will help to keep saturated fats, sugar and sodium out of the goodness of your salad.
Try these tips out and see how filling your salad feels. Do you eat salad for a main course? Do you use these tricks? Do you have your own tricks to make them filling and healthy?
- Top Ten Salad Saboteurs
Fatoush Salad Recipe
- How Healthy are Your Nuts?
- How Healthy are Your Beans?
- Vitamin and Mineral Facts
Importance of Protein and other Nutrients
Beans: Beans are loaded with fiber and protein. Both of which are really important in keeping your tummy satisfied.
- Portion: 1/2 cup
- Find out which beans are highest in fiber and protein...