The word “salad” does not denote “healthiness” or a lack of kilojoules (in fact, they can be worse for you than burgers). Nevertheless, something about the word implies a scarcity. Packing a salad for lunch seems to doom one to an afternoon of hunger pains or emergency vending machine runs, but no more. We’re going to tell you how to build a salad that will leave you full, satisfied, and happy.
A salad is one of those things that can truly be whatever you want it to be. There are salads made of greens, fruits, potatoes and even soda. They’re really just a pile of food that have been dressed in some way and can be eaten cold, preferably with a fork. I’ve always viewed “healthfulness” as a bonus, but you’ll definitely get more mileage out of a balanced, nutritious, plant-based salad than a congealed one. Here are some tips for making sure yours will help you go the distance.
Grains keep you going
Yes, there are grain salads, where you swap leaves for farro or whatever, but I’m here to tell you that you can — and should — have both. Adding a cup of millet, quinoa, farro, or even rice to your salad will give it bulk and fibre, and keep you feeling full.
A little protein goes a long way, and including some can help stave off that 2-pm peanut M&M break. Actual meat, such as roasted chicken, leftover steak, or tuna are all great here, but there are other, animal-free options such as grilled tofu, seitan, soy curls, and beans and legumes. Oh, and eggs. Eggs make a salad sing.
Fat feels good
Beyond doing amazing things in the flavour department, fat has real staying power. Avocados, cheese, nuts, olives, and (once again) meat and eggs not only prevent hangriness, they make your salad taste better, which means you’re more likely to actually eat it. (Things marinated in fat work too: I top my salads with an olive oil-marinated portobello that has inspired me to eat bowl after bowl of greens.)
Satisfy your senses
Eating is the surest way to not be hungry, so make sure your salad is something you want to eat. Your mid-day meal is not the time to experiment and see if a raw carrot and celery slaw will “be enough.” (You have work to do, damn it.) Choose things you know you enjoy and will finish and, if you need tips on how to make your perfect salad, check out our guide here.
This article has been updated since its original publication.