Salads are often recommended as a healthy meal alternative for people who are trying to lose weight or just eat more balanced, nutritious meals. The problem? Many salads don’t fill people up, leaving them wanting more food, which can often have them turning to unhealthy snacks to feed their hunger or, the alternative, loading a salad with unhealthy ingredients like calorie-laden dressings or toppings like too many croutons, cheese and other ingredients. But salads can be satisfying, delicious and filling if you get creative with ingredients. How so? Think color, flavor, texture and temperature! A salad does not just have to be a bowl of lettuce as that will not satiate the average person and fuel energy, said Rose Gleichowski, owner and health coach at Ideal Weight Management, LLC in Gainesville. Let learn how to make sensational salads!
“Some key ingredients to keep you full longer is having protein in the salad like chicken, shrimp, steak, tuna, eggs, beans or tofu,” Gleichowski said. “A second key ingredient is to select some vegetables to ll you up. Consider trading something like lettuce for cabbage, kale or arugula.”
A study published in the Journal of American College Nutrition showed that of the three macronutrients (fat, carbohydrates and protein), protein is by far the most filling and helps you feel full with less food. To add more protein to your salad with less fat, mix in creative ingredients.
“Cottage cheese makes a fantastic dressing and is loaded in protein. A good full-fat Greek yogurt is an excellent mix in as well. Also, you can easily make a salad dressing with creamed cashews for extra protein,” Gleichowski said. One of the biggest fails when people make salads is putting together healthy ingredients only to top it with high-fat and high-calorie salad dressings or other condiments.
“Salad dressings matter. We are often telling clients that a huge part about managing your weight is condiments, especially those that you use often. Many great salads won’t need a dressing at all. You can also easily make a healthy salad dressing with just a few ingredients,” Gleichowski said.
Those with dietary restrictions like vegetarians or vegans can use ingredients like tempeh or tofu as a protein source, and many health food stores or grocery stores like Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods o er dairy-free and gluten-free ingredients that can be used in salads. Vegetarians could also use nuts and edamame for added protein
Keys to Making HEALTHY and FILLING Sensational Salads
1. Colors: Remember to make your salad as close to a rainbow as possible.
- Green: kale, romaine, broccoli, spinach, kiwi, avocado, green apple, celery
- Red: tomato, beets, cherry, watermelon, red apple, cranberry, peppers
- Yellow: corn, honeydew melon, chickpeas, pineapple, bell pepper, squash
- Orange: carrots, papaya, oranges, peaches, figs, apricots
- White: onions, garlic, eggs, mushroom, cauliflower, water chestnuts
2. Textures: When a variety of textures are used in a meal, it helps liven up your palate. Popular textures include crouton (be sure to find low-fat or baked croutons), nuts, seeds, baked crisps, or avocado (high in healthy fats!)
3. Temperatures: Use hot or warm ingredients on a chopped salad. Warm protein on a cold salad can often substitute for a salad dressing. Spice up your salad by using chopped jalapeños!