Do you think salads are bowls of ‘rabbit food’ and that they won’t satisfy your lunch-time hunger? Do you feel hungry minutes after finishing a salad? Have you even got this far, or did you see the word ‘salad’ in the heading and stop reading right there?!
If I’ve still got your attention… please read on and let me show you how to make yourself a salad that packs such nutritional punch it’ll have you powering through your afternoon. So much so that your boss will give you a promotion, a pay-rise and take you out to dinner*
(*this bit about the boss may not actually happen, but you get my point).
When I started coaching clients on healthy eating in my clinic, I’d get such forlorn faces looking back at me whenever I suggested a salad for lunch instead of the sandwich, burger or noodle box they grabbed from the café near the office.
I couldn’t understand it. I LOVE salads and just didn’t see why they thought I was depriving them of a yummy lunch. Salads are powerhouses of yumminess!
Then, one day I asked one of my clients what she thought I meant by ‘salad’. She rolled her eyes and replied, “you know, cos lettuce, tomato and cucumber”.
That’s NOT a salad, people. That’s a garnish!
I could now see though why so many people have no respect for salad. So, here it is….
How to turn your Lunchtime Salads from ‘boring-bland’ to ‘nutrient-rich delish’ in 5 simple steps!
1. Choose your GREENS
Green leafy veggies are the ‘base’ of your salad. They are SO much more than that, though. Green leafies provide you with magnesium which will help increase your energy levels, lower your stress levels and keep your blood sugar nice and stable for the day (no more 3pm sugar cravings).
GREENS to choose from: Baby Spinach leaves, Rocket, Kale (steam or pan-fry this first if you have low thyroid), watercress, endive, boo choy… really, the list is endless.
2. Choose your MIN 3 VEGGIES
We all need to get more vegetables into our diets. They’re packed full of vitamins and phytochemicals (plant chemicals) that help our body cope with the stresses of modern-day living. I always tell my clients to ‘eat like a rainbow’ so go for different coloured vegetables in order to get a wide range of nutrients.
MIN 3 VEGGIES to choose from: This list could go on for days. Really, it is only limited by your imagination (and what is in season or leftover from dinner the night before!) Some of my favourites include: Roast pumpkin, Roast sweet potato, Green beans (raw or steamed), tomato, cherry tomatoes, snow peas, capsicum, mushroom, beetroot, squash, steamed broccoli, onion, peas, fennel, carrots….
3. Choose your PROTEIN
Protein is the key to a salad that satisfies. It keeps you feeling full through the afternoon, aids weight loss, stops those sugar cravings etc etc.
PROTEIN to choose from: Salmon or Tuna (try to get sustainably fished sources if you’re going with tins), Chicken, Beef, Lamb, 2 hard boiled eggs, Lentils, Quinoa, Chickpeas, Tempeh, feta cheese, cottage cheese…
4. Choose your FATS
To really satisfy your hunger, you need to include some good healthy fats. These fuel your brain and help your nervous system cope with the rest of the day. We are too scared of fats these days… but our bodies are designed to eat it. Choose the right fats from the list below and you’ll be sweet (not fat!).
FATS to choose from: Avocado, sunflower seeds, pepitas, pine nuts, crushed walnuts, any other fave nuts, cheese, organic butter…
5. Choose your HOMEMADE DRESSING
Learning a few simple homemade dressings can really put some delicious flavour into your salads and tie them together. Store bought dressings tend to be really high in preservatives, sugar and industrialised oils (in there to prolong shelf life, but not your life!)
- Simple Oil & Vinegar Dressing: 1 dessert spoon olive oil, capful of apple cider or balsamic vinegar (or fresh lemon juice), sea salt, black pepper
- Tahini dressing: 1 tablespoon tahini, juice of half a lemon, sea salt, black pepper
- Yoghurt dressing: 1 tablespoon yoghurt, juice of half a lemon, sea salt, black pepper, chopped mint to taste
SALAD UPGRADES: add in these healthy starchy carbs if you feel you need a little more energy to get you through the afternoon (if you’re trying to lose weight, best to leave these out for the moment).
- Chickpeas and other legumes
- Root veggies like carrot, sweet potato, pumpkin
- Slice of sourdough or gluten-free toast (or your bread of choice)
- Rice cakes with tahini or hommus spread
Well, there you have it.
How could anyone now say salads are just rabbit food?
They are a MEAL, and a damn healthy, delicious and satisfying one too! Happy salad-ing! Be sure to share your favourite salad combo in the comments below. And if you have any dressings you love, please share these too!