How often do we get to dinner time and realise we haven't eaten a single vegetable all day..? (guilty!)
We know we are supposed to eat five serves of veg per day. So eating a few vegies at dinner time just isn't going to get the job done.
A great way to get more vegies into us is to have a salad for lunch. But if we're going to do this, it has to be filling, right? Otherwise, it's not going to help us lose weight if we spend all afternoon snacking.
So here are some tips to craft a perfectly balanced, filling and delicious salad, that you can eat by itself as a whole meal.
1. Add protein
For those of us trying to lose weight, adding protein at every meal is helpful because it keep us feeling full for longer, therefore reducing the desire to snack between meals. A good quality protein component in a salad is what really makes the difference between it being a complete meal or just a side-salad.
- Roast, grilled or poached chicken
- Tinned tuna or salmon
- Boiled egg
- Nuts (my faves are flaked almonds, lightly toasted pine nuts, walnuts)
- Seeds (eg sesame seeds, chia seeds)
- High protein grain (eg quinoa)
And as you can see, there are plenty of non-animal options for vegetarians and vegans.
2. Add good fats
Unsaturated fats give us energy (hooray!) and help the body absorb the nutrients that are in the salad vegetables. Omega fatty acids are so important for warding off nasty health conditions, and of course, making us feel fuller for longer.
My number one fatty favourite is... the humble avocado. Avocados not only pack a nutritional punch, they are also loaded with fibre (making you feel full), antioxidants for immune support, help lower cholesterol and assist with weight loss, and can even help to prevent cancer. They taste delicious and provide a softer element to balance out the crunchy parts of the salad. What's not to love..?
My next fave is a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. This can be combined with herbs like basil and oregano and maybe even a squirt of lemon juice, to make a healthy dressing.
And of course, nuts and oily fish are great sources of good fats, and they provide protein as well, so it's a win win!
So when I'm crafting a lunch salad, this is what I do:
- I start with leafy greens as the base eg spinach, rocket etc
- I add some salad vegetables eg capsicum, cherry tomatoes, cucumber etc
- Then I add protein eg roast chicken
- Next I add my good fats - always avocado!
- Then I add a crunchy element eg walnuts or flaked almonds, which adds another element of both protein and good fats
- Then the dressing (a drizzle of olive oil and some dried oregano and basil)
- Stir and enjoy!
This will keep me full for two or three hours and then I have an afternoon snack (eg yoghurt, carrot and hommus, crackers and dip etc), and I'm all set until dinner time!
The other great thing about having a salad for lunch is that the vegetables contain naturally-occurring sugars, so it gives you plenty of energy to get through the afternoon without that 3pm slump. And it doesn't sit heavily or make you feel sleepy while you digest it, or give you a bloated tummy all afternoon, like some bread-based lunches can do.
Hope this helps you perfect your salad-creation skills. Drop a comment below and let me know how you go, or if you have any more suggestions we'd love to hear them!