When people think of dieting, they often think of salads for lunch and boiled chicken breasts for dinner. Although we do not believe in diets (see this post for more detail), we do believe that a salad can be nourishing and, if made right, delicious!
A lot of the time, we tend to neglect energizing foods that add a lot of color, texture and taste to our salads. A bland salad does not awaken the taste buds nor does it provide enough fuel. Here are our top 3 tips for a salad that will leave you feeling satisfied.
Tip #1: Think long lasting energy
Having a mid afternoon energy downer is never fun - luckily, the foods we eat can have a positive impact on our energy levels, no matter the time of day.
Incorporating protein rich foods in salads is one way to avoid midday lows, as it provides a source of energy that is lasting. If you have a tendency to neglect this food group, you will most likely notice that adding in a source of protein has huge impacts on your energy levels as well as your feelings of satiety after a meal.
Our favorite (and quick!) protein-rich additions include:
- Adding in a can of tuna or salmon
- Preparing hard boiled eggs ahead of time
- Microwaving frozen edamame to add into the salad
- Adding a handful of nuts
- Incorporating legumes such as canned lentils, chickpeas or black beans
Tip #2: Fuel up on carbs
Although many people claim that consuming carbohydrates can lead to weight gain, we believe that this food group is essential in creating a balanced meal. Carbohydrates provide energy in the form of sugar or starches. When we digest these foods, they enter the bloodstream as sugar and will quickly give you the energy you need to go about your day (Harvard, 2014). Although these foods give you immediate energy, another type of carbohydrate that we do not digest, called fiber, will help regulate your appetite. It’s health benefits are also extremely interesting, which makes incorporating it into your salad an added bonus (see this post to learn more).
Here are our favorite tricks for adding carbohydrates into your salad:
- Placing a whole wheat pita in the toaster to make quick homemade croutons
- Cooking a large batch of barley, brown rice or quinoa to add into your salads for the week
- Adding whole wheat croutons into your salad
- Having a whole wheat bread roll on the side
Tip #3: Experiment with textures
Now that your salad contains a carbohydrate and a protein source, the next step is to start playing around with flavors and textures. This is the essential part that brings your salad from functional to tasty, with little to no added effort. Let your imagination run wild and top your salad as your heart desires!
Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Slice half of a ripe avocado to top your salad
- Add a spoonful of hummus in the middle of your salad and scoop it up with a pita
- Add cranberries and seeds for an added sweetness and crunch
- Play around with your dressing, such as this creamy yogurt dressing or this delicious tahini dressing
We hope that these tips have given you some ideas in creating a tasty salad. Remember, when it comes to salad options, the sky is the limit!
Stéphanie Leduc, RD
Équipe Nutrition Préventive Johanne Vézina