Building a Better Salad

I don’t think it’s any great secret at this point that I love salad. I’ve shared several favorite recipes from kale, to seasonal salads, such roasted veggies, zucchini noodles and the like. Don't worry I've got plenty more up my sleeve! 

Today, I’d like to discuss another way of looking at salads more of a how to than recipe. What I’m here to show you is how to build a salad that’s meal sized. What does meal sized mean? It means salads that boast enough nutrients and density to serve as an entree.

One of the most common complaints I get from clients is that they’re eating big salads at lunchtime, but that these salads never keep them full and they end up reaching for not so optimal sugary treat to get them through until dinner.  “I’m hungry again by 3 p.m.!” or "I have a huge energy drop after work and need coffee or sugar to keep me going" they exclaim. 

I go on to ask them what their salad is composed of and usually it something like: mixed greens, shredded carrots, cucumbers, lemon juice, and a few nuts, maybe a drizzle of olive oil.

I think, that's it? No wonder you're starving two hours later. What they've described is an awesome base or side salad, but it has little density or sustenance to provide enough energy for our busy days. 

So how can we have a nourishing salad that offers solid nutrition for vitality and satiety? Simply adding density. Salads are wonderful because there are literally an endless variables that you can add to make the final meal. The formula is 2 elements of nutrient density + non starchy veggie base + nourishing dressing. The density element includes foods that are both nutrient dense and energy dense. One might be a healthy fat such as 1/2 an avocado, a hand full of nuts, or a tahini dressing. The other might be protein such as two poached eggs, sardines, wild salmon, beans, hummus, or tempeh. Another option for the density element would include carbs such as sweet potato, plantains, quinoa, rice or even a slice of sourdough gf sourdough bread.

The point is endless possibilities to reach the end goal of eating delicious nourishing meal, without feeling deprived or hungry. Here is are two example of meal sized salads:

1) veggie base of spinach, herbs, radish and roasted mushrooms with olive oil and lemon juice  2) Density 1: Roasted sweet potato fries  3) Density 2: 1/2 an avocado

1) veggie base of spinach, herbs, radish and roasted mushrooms with olive oil and lemon juice

2) Density 1: Roasted sweet potato fries

3) Density 2: 1/2 an avocado

1) Salad base: cauliflower rice with asparagus and carrots; cabbage cilantro slaw  2) Density 1: Avocado and olive oil  3) Density 2: Quinoa with lemon zest

1) Salad base: cauliflower rice with asparagus and carrots; cabbage cilantro slaw

2) Density 1: Avocado and olive oil

3) Density 2: Quinoa with lemon zest

The best thing is to play around with ingredients, and find your favorite combos and what works best for you. And remember whoever said salads were boring just didn't have the imagination or motivation to make one!