Some people don’t think salad can be a main meal. They look at it as an appetizer. And while it can definitely be an appetizer, especially at restaurants where they are highly marketed as an appetizer or side dish, a salad can be a highly satisfying and filling meal. It’s all in how you build it. With summer in full swing and the desire to cook over a hot stove or oven no longer there, a salad for lunch or dinner is not only a healthy meal but also one that keeps you cool in the hot months. Not sure how to make it so that everyone feels full off of their salad? Here are steps to make it a fulfilling meal with most or all of the five food groups (cookingmatters.org):
- Pick your greens and feel free to mix them: Romaine lettuce, leaf lettuce, spinach, kale, arugula, etc.
- Pick your vegetables. Be as creative as you’d like. Carrots, cucumber, onion, radish, tomato, peppers, etc.
- Next you will want protein. This is what will help keep you full long after you finish off the salad. This can be an animal protein, such as sliced or shredded chicken, turkey, or beef; or, a plant-based protein such as beans or tofu. Sliced hard boiled eggs are a great option as well.
- Add fruit. This will add a natural sweetness to it. Apples, pears, or berries all work well, as does dried fruit.
- Then there’s your additional add-on’s: you can add nuts or seeds (such as sunflower seeds or flax seeds), shredded cheese, sliced olives, or croutons.
- And then just add your salad dressing. Just watch out for sodium and sugar levels. Always read the nutrition facts label to find dressings that are low in these.
All forms (fresh, frozen, or canned) count towards your daily fruit and vegetable consumption, so just go by whatever you prefer or can afford. Happy salad eating!