Salad is one of those meals that if you are just sticking to lettuce leaves, cucumber, carrot and capsicum, then I bet you get sick of them pretty quickly and don’t find them satisfying at all. But salads don’t need to be boring, nor do they need to leave you feeling absolutely ravenous an hour later. I absolutely love salads. Whether it’s in the summer or winter you can make one to suit your season. Salads are also one of those meals that can easily go from being super healthy to super unhealthy if you are adding the wrong ingredients. However a healthy salad doesn’t need to be boring and there are all sorts of delicious healthy things you can add. So if you are sick of the boring lettuce leaf, let me give you a few tips on how you can pimp your salad to not only taste great, but fill you up and still be super healthy.
1. Add a good protein
It’s so important to have protein with your salad as a meal, especially if you are doing intensive exercise. This will help fill you up and allow your body to recover post gym session. If I’m adding meat to my salad then I like adding in grilled chicken or salmon with some lemon. If you are vegetarian or vegan then adding in things like chickpeas, beans and lentils are another great source of protein and good carbs.
2. Add some roasted vegetables
This is great for both summer and winter salads. I love roasting up some vegetables in the oven with some coconut oil and then tossing it through my salad. Some of my favourite is roasting pumpkin, sweet potato, carrots and cauliflower. Or for a Mediterranean style salad roast zucchini, eggplant, capsicum and mushroom, all taste amazing. You can even add some extra flavor to the roast veges by using herbs and spices for different flavours. By adding in roasted vegetables you add some good carbs, extra nutrients and also make your salads a lot more filling, so they sustain you a lot longer.
3. Add nuts and seeds
Adding good nuts and seeds is a great way to add some protein and good fat into your salad. It will keep you going for longer too. Always try and add raw nuts and seeds (so they haven’t been cooked in bad vegetable oil and added salt). Some of my favourite nuts and seeds to add to salads are walnuts, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, pinenuts or for a real treat I add some cashews. Make sure you don’t go too heavy handed on them though, as even though they are good for you, it’s easy to over do it and add too much fat into the salad.
4. Make your own healthy creamy salad dressing
We all love salads that have a creamy dressing on them. Unfortunately this is what can take your salad from being a healthy meal to a not so healthy meal. Creamy salad dressings can be made from hydrogenated vegetable oils, sour cream and heavy, not so healthy mayo. If you love a creamy salad dressing then you can make your own with things like avocado, full fat Greek yoghurt, cottage cheese or tahini to give it that creamy flavour. Though instead of adding the bad fat, you are adding the good kind and they will make the salad taste great.
5. Add fresh fruit
I know some people may think adding fruit to a salad is weird, but I assure it’s not. Just be sure it’s not dried fruit though, as this is just filled with sugar and can be empty calories. I like adding in things like fresh berries, or an apple or pear if I want some extra crunch. Pomegranate seeds are another nutrition powerhouse fruit to add that also tastes amazing. Fruit can a great healthy addition to any salad and can seriously make the flavours in your salad really pop. Just be sure to stick to one serve and not overdo it.
6. Add your favourite healthy dips
Add a spoonful or two of your favourite healthy dips to your salads. My favourite is to either add homemade hummus, organic salsa, guacamole or ajvar relish. I’ve got some great homemade dip recipes on the blog here, if you need some ideas.
7. Carb it up
If you need some extra energy for the day or for your workout then don’t be afraid to add some good carbs into your salad. Things like buckwheat, quinoa and brown rice make great warm or cold salads. They are low GI meaning they will give you sustained energy and fill you up. If you are one of those people who thinks carbs are bad, then have a read of my blog post here on why carbs aren't your enemy and can actually help you burn more fat.
Remember salads don’t need to be boring and unsatisfying, so get experimenting in the kitchen with some of these ideas and see what awesome meals you can create. If you want more health and fitness advice like this, be sure to sign up to my weekly newsletter.