The warm weather is here, and that brings us lots of delicious raw produce perfect for salads! But salads don’t have to be just an appetizer or side; they can be a whole meal. Read on to find out how to make a salad that will leave you satisfied.
Salads: Not Just A Side
Salads can be an entire filling meal if you get creative with it! The USDA recommends that each of our meals subscribes to the following guidelines:
- Half of our plate is filled with fruits and vegetables. These fruits and vegetables should be a variety of colors.
- About a quarter of our plate should be filled with grains. Aim to make half your grains whole grains (for more information on whole grains, click here).
- About a quarter of our plate should be filled with protein. Choose lean proteins, such as lean cuts of meat and poultry, fish, beans, lentils, and seeds.
- Choose low-fat dairy products, such as milk and yogurt.
This is all possible to achieve with a salad! A salad can contain all five food groups. Here’s an example: a bed of greens, cut up vegetables, some berries or sliced apples, brown rice, a few chickpeas, and some low-fat cheese on top… DING DING DING! We have an entire meal that meets all of the MyPlate dietary guidelines.
Keep reading for more specific ideas about how to make your salad a yummy, satisfying meal!
Top Tips to Spruce Up Your Salad
- Make your own dressing.
Homemade salad dressings are super simple to make! And they are generally much healthier than the ones found in grocery stores. Find a few dressing recipes you love! Looking for ideas? Check out our Italian, Balsamic, Caesar, Ranch, and Vinaigrette dressing recipes from the Kitchen.
- Mix up your greens.
Think beyond romaine and iceberg. Try spinach, kale, arugula, and others.See if you can find a new favorite, and feel free to mix and match!
- Add whole grains.
Adding whole grains to your salad will give you a variety in texture and taste.Plus whole grains contain lots of fiber, which will help keep you fuller for a longer period of time.
- Add beans and lentils.
Like grains, beans and lentils in salad provide an added texture and flavor. They are sources of both lean protein and fiber, so they will also help you stay satiated after eating your salad.
- Think beyond “raw.”
Try adding some roasted veggies to mix up the flavors and textures. This is a great way to use up leftover roasted veggies you might have from other meals, too!
- Indulge your sweet tooth.
Salads can be both sweet and savory. Try adding some fresh or dried fruit to add some sweetness. Some great salad fruits include strawberries, blueberries, apples, pears, oranges, and dried cranberries.
- Give it a crunch!
Crunchy foods tend to leave us feeling more satisfied. Add some nuts, seeds, whole grain croutons, or savory granola to satisfy that need for crunch. Plus, these ingredients will often give you added fiber and protein!
- Dress it before you plate it.
Even a salad that follows all the previous tips can be underwhelming if it’s not dressed properly. Mix the dressing with your salad in a large bowl rather than on your plate. This will give you lots of extra room to toss all the good stuff in there around in the dressing so that it is evenly distributed. THEN put it on your plate. And be careful not to overdress; the recommended salad dressing serving size is 2 Tbsp. (for one serving of salad).
Now that you have the tools to make your salads a delicious meal, get creative with your salads this season!