Salads are often considered rabbit food and not very filling. I’m here to tell you they don’t have to be! I like to pack my salads with lots of different ingredients for flavor and texture to get the biggest bang for my nutritional buck. So let’s break down what’s inside a perfect salad that’ll give you maximum power and protein!
Anatomy of a Perfect Salad
Greens: Did you know that spinach contains more nutrients per calorie than any other food in the world? Spinach is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It’s also a great source of Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Other great options are romaine, arugala, and escarole.
Healthy Fats: Avocados are a great source of healthy fats and contain around 4 grams of protein per whole avocado. They’re loaded with fiber, vitamins and minerals, and are low in sugar. Other healthy fats include: olives, tahini, cheese, and nuts (pecans, cashews).
Cheese: Goat cheese, made from goat’s milk, is high in calcium and protein and contains probiotics. It’s also said that those who are lactose intolerant can tolerate goat cheese because it’s not made from cow’s milk. Blue and feta cheese are also delicious on salads.
Protein: At just 78 calories per large egg, eggs are dense with Omega 3 Fatty Acids, B Vitamins, and many other vitamins and minerals. They also contain 6 grams of protein. Grilled meat (chicken or steak), nuts, seeds (pumpkin, flax, sunflower), and beans are other forms of protein that are great on salads.
Beans: Garbanzo beans are an excellent choice for additional protein and fiber. Commonly called chickpeas, Garbanzo Beans can be purchased canned or dry. Other great salad beans include pinto, kidney, or black.
Grains: As a whole grain, Brown Rice is high in antioxidants, fiber, and many different vitamins and minerals. Brown rice also adds texture and lots of nutritional value. Make sure to try quiona and bulgur as well!
Fruits: Juicy red tomatoes are a good source of vitamins A, C, K, folate, and potassium. Even as a fruit, tomatoes are naturally low in sugar, sodium, saturated fats, and calories. Other amazing fruits include chopped apples and pears, dried cranberries (in moderation), and clementines!
Vegetables: Crisp bell peppers add great texture to a salad. Bell peppers are an excellent source of carotenoids (prevents cancer) and contain A TON of Vitamin C (157% daily value of Vitamin C in one cup). Other awesome veggies to add: cucumbers, beets, carrots, red onion, and sugar snap peas.
Now let’s put it all together for an excellent protein-filled, power salad!
Vegetarian Power Salad
For the Salad
- 2 handfuls of baby spinach
- ½ avocado
- 1 hard boiled egg
- ¼ cup brown rice (cooked)
- 6 grape tomatoes
- 1 oz. goat cheese
- ¼ cup garbanzo beans (canned)
For the Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette
- ½ tablespoon olive oil
- ½ tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- salt and pepper (to taste)
- Begin by prepping ingredients. Rinse spinach, tomatoes, and garbanzo beans. Then pat dry. Slice avocado and peel and slice hard boiled egg. Portion out brown rice, garbanzo beans, and goat cheese.
- Next, prepare Balsamic Vinaigrette. In a small bowl, whisk together ½ tablespoon olive oill, ½ tablespoon or balsamic vinegar, and a pinch of salt and pepper.
- In a large salad bowl, place 2 handfuls of baby spinach. Then, ensemble the rest of your salad on top. Pour on dressing and eat!
Nutritional Information (without dressing): 356 calories | 17g fat | 33g carbs | 2.5g sugar | 18g protein | 6g fiber