How to Make Your Salad a Satisfying, Filling Meal (And "Salad" Doesn't Always Mean Lettuce!)

Posted by:Lindsay S. Nixon Category: Advice

Ever eat a big salad for lunch or dinner and feel stuffed — then wonder why you are hungry an hour or two later?Yes? Me too. Now think about that salad. Was it a big bowl of veggies only? If so, it's because your big bowl of veggies was probably only about 200 calories... a snack, nota meal. I love salads all year round, but summer means that I've got salads on the brain (even more than usual). And I'm out to prove that salads canbe satisfying meals and are notboring!

Rediscover the versatility of salads! A salad doesn't alwaysmean lettuce. Consider pasta salad, potato salad, quinoa salad, and bean salads — either atop your fave salad greens, or as an alternative to the traditional salad. Additions like grains and starches will really help your salads stick with you for more than a few hours. And being creative with salads can really help give you some healthy, plant-based options when you're out to eat.

Beans:Add chickpeas (I love them with BBQ sauce), black beans, or whatever bean you think sounds good with your veggies to round out the salad. Maybe even some veg chili?!

Grains:Whole grains like brown rice, quinoa, lentils (technically a grain legume), couscous, or farro make salads more filling. 

Jazz it Up! Why not jazz up your salad (and add some bulk!) with HH Bacon Bits (HHC, page 137; HHA, page 246) or Tofu Feta (HHA, page 203)? How about some tofu? My Editorial Manager Nichelle loves sliced baked tofu on her salads — she buys pre-baked tofu (from Soyboy, if you're on the East coast), but you could always marinate and bake your own.

Dressings: Try out some new and interesting dressings. Something as simple as adding some hummus or salsa can transform your salad from ordinary to extraordinary, plus keep you feeling full for more than an hour. 

Starches: I love potatoes. I love sweet potatoes, yellow potatoes, and red potatoes on top of my salads with my fruits and veggies. Somehow potatoes got a reputation for having no nutrition — when they're actually overloaded with nutrients! In fact, potatoes have more potassium than a banana! And don't forget about healthy potato salads, which are great as a side or on top of some greens (see where to find HH potato salad recipes in the list below).

Fruits: Make a fruit salad! Throw it on top of some greens or some vegan yogurt. Or add strawberries, mandarin oranges, pears, apples, grapes, or whatever fits the bill to your greens and veggies. 

Pasta: If you're not feeling lettuce, make a pasta salad! Many veggie and dressing combos are great mixed with whole-wheat pasta (or a GF sub like brown rice pasta). Make sure you're heavy-handed with the veggies and you've got a healthy and filling meal... or your own creation to share at picnics and potlucks!

Try your hand at combining a few of those suggestions to fit your mood and really make your salad filling. Feel like Mexican food? Add some brown rice, black beans, potatoes, corn, and salsa to your salad already packed full of veggies. You'll satisfy your craving andyour appetite healthfully. 

If you're like me and can't get enough summer salads, be sure to check out this week's meal plan for Italian Pasta Salad, Peach Basil Quinoa Salad, Margarita Salad, Beet & Sweet Potato Salad, Mexican Salad, and more! 

Here's a list of the salads in the HH cookbooks for some inspiration:

Aztec Corn Salad 

Cajun Potato Salad — EHH, page 237

Cherry Quinoa Salad — EHH, page 122

Curried Quinoa Salad — EHH, page 121

Eggless Salad — EHH, page 74

German Potato Salad — HHA, page 63

Low-Country Cucumber Salad — HHC, page 186

Insalata Fantasia — HHA, page 111

Pear & Arugula Salad — EHH, page 118

Potato Salad — HHC, page 189

Salty Dog Salad — HHC, page 181

Southwest Chop Salad — EHH, page 124

Southwestern Macaroni Salad — HHC, page 183

Strawberry & Spinach Salad — EHH, page 126

“Tuna” Salad — HHC, page 113

Winter Confetti Salad — HHA, page 267

Need more salad recipes and ideas? Check out this week's meal plan -- it's overflowing with our best salads -- all fan faves! 

What's your favorite way to make a unique meal of your salads?

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