The health benefits associated with eating salads for lunch and dinner are plentiful, with top reasons being reduced calories, powerful antioxidants, smart fats and high fiber. Salads can also be super fast to prepare, meaning more time for you. Perhaps you can squeeze that walk in before dinner after all?
While salads are colourful, flavoursome and fast, for some they’re just not satiating enough. Tasty at the time, some tummies may start grumbling before bed. But this doesn’t have to be the case.
A salad that doesn’t fill you up is a salad not containing the right ingredients. Fine if it’s sitting on the side of a steak or chicken breast, but if it’s supposed to be your main meal, you’ll need to be a bit choosier with your ingredients.
A delicious and hearty salad doesn’t have to contain an endless supply of ingredients. If you want a simple green salad, that’s doable – it’s just a case of finding a good addition to bulk it up. You can of course do this with shredded chicken, (half a cup of skinless chicken breast is low in fat but high in satiating protein) but if you fancy a meat-free night, you’ll need to think outside of the box.
Hard boiled eggs take no time or effort to cook and are great kept in the fridge as a healthy snack. Add to a wild green salad and drizzle with a little mustard dressing and you’ve got yourself a very easy lunch or dinner.
A salad containing butter beans, black beans, chick peas or white beans may taste light, but the beans will help to fill your tummy well into the night. Beans are nutritional powerhouses packed with fiber, protein, B vitamins, iron and potassium and are also low in fat. Try a very simple white bean and parsley salad or consider a black bean and avocado salad with feta cheese. Just one cup of black beans contain half your daily dose of hunger-crushing fiber and studies have shown that those who eat black beans weigh less than those who don’t.
Tuna is a great source of lean protein and is packed to the gills with vitamins, calcium, iron and all-important omega-3 fatty acids. For a really hearty and delicious salad, try creating a tuna pasta salad, with hard-boiled eggs to make it even more filling.
100 percent whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa contain lots of fiber, making them great “fill me up” additions for salads. Try adding the lesser-known grain, black rice, and create a black rice salad with lemon vinaigrette. Black rice is low in carbs and you’ll get a hefty dose of fiber and antioxidants.
Two cups of watermelon contains less than 100 calories, yet the combination of fiber and water makes it a filling addition for your summer salad. Take a leaf out of Nigella Lawson’s book and combine watermelon with feta and black olives to create and savoury and refreshing lunch.
Spooning some hummus onto your salad will increase the taste of some vegetables and will also help fill your tummy for longer. Try creating a hummus salad dressing by adding a splash of white wine vinegar, a tablespoon of honey, olive oil and a splash of sesame oil.
Whole-wheat pasta contains high levels of both protein and fiber, which help you build leaner muscle and satisfy your hunger. For a healthy pasta salad, try creating a black pepper pasta salad with prosciutto, asparagus and romano.
Sweet potatoes are hugely nutritious, containing high levels of vitamins B6, C and D, iron, potassium and magnesium. Sweet potatoes have natural sugars that are slow releasing, helping to ensure a balanced and regular source of energy. Try this Southwestern grilled sweet potato salad from husband and wife team Two Peas & Their Pod, which looks is beautifully colourful, packed with sweet potatoes, sweet corn, black beans, red pepper, green onions, avocado, coriander and lime. So refreshing and it contains nearly half your daily intake of fiber!
Avocados are sorely misunderstood, often being thought of as “too fatty”. While avocados do contain fat, they contain good fats (monounsaturated fatty acids) and protein that keeps you feeling full. They even help flatten your tummy! As well as adding loose to salads, try making a lemon avocado dressing by mashing avocado with lemon juice, olive oil, honey and water.
Like avocados, almonds are rich in monounsaturated fatty acids and protein and just one scoop of almonds will suppress your appetite for a long time. Almonds help lower bad cholesterol, help build stronger bones and teeth and taste great.