Salads should not taste bland! They should be vibrant and full of life, plus leave you satisfied! This post covers how to build a healthy yet tasty, balanced salad that will actually keep you full. Plus I rounded up all my favorite HH healthy summer salad recipes!
Salads are my summer JAM! I love uncooked vegetables, so I enjoy them regularly. My Hungry Hobby RD clients always seem a little confused on what makes a good salad.
Often times they think that a good salad means chicken, lettuce, and vinegar otherwise why bother? That sounds like pure undeserved torture/starvation to me. Trust me, if you want to get that summer body, the chicken and lettuce are a good start but you’ll need more than that to get your metabolism humming.
How To Build A Healthy Salad
The advice I’m giving today is going to center around balancing your macros on your salad including protein, fat, and carbs. Very similar to the posts I wrote about building a healthy filling smoothie and the adult lunchable.
The idea here is to hit every category in the appropriate quantities.
Step 1: Add Your Veggies
Basically, any type of veggie you want except peas, corn, and potatoes. Hold off on those, for now, they go in another category.
You can go conventional and opt for dark green leafy vegetables or skip the leafy greens and do something more like my chop chop Mediterranean salad which has no leafy greens.
Step 2: Add Your Protein
Of course, the possibilities of protein sources are endless:
- Eggs – the egg white is the protein portion
- cooked sausage
- lunch meat
Most women should aim for 4-6 ounces or 15-30 grams of protein per meal, while men should aim for 6-8 ounces or 20-40 grams of protein per meal. Curious on how to get enough protein? Check out this post.
Step 3: Add A Healthy Fat
Here is where most people get tripped up. They either have not enough healthy fats or way too much on their salad. Not enough will leave you hungry and depressed about your salad (or at least it would me.) Too much may sway the calorie count too far, preventing you from losing weight.
Healthy Fat Options Include:
- Nuts and Seeds – 1/4 cup
- Oil-based salad dressings – 2 tablespoons
- Oil – 2 tablespoons
- Cheese – 1 ounce
- Avocado – 1/2 small
- Eggs – 2-3 egg yolks is the fat portion
Each bullet listed above supplies an average of 150 to 250 calories. So, as you can see if you start stacking those things one on top of another you could end up piling on the calories. You will be full and satisfied, but you might not get the results you want.
I’m not much of a calorie counter anymore, so I just try to pick on a place to have my healthy fat on a salad. If I’m not making my salad I might tell the waiter to put the dressing on the side or hold the cheese. Whatever I can do to balance it out a bit.
Step 4: Complex Carbs
Focus on high-quality carbs when it comes to most meals, especially your salad. They will be more satisfying and provide more fiber! Here are some of my favorite options:
- cooked quinoa – 1/2 cup
- cooked brown rice – 1/2 cup
- canned or cooked beans – 1/2 cup*
- cooked sweet potato – 1/2 cup chopped
- fresh fruit – 1/2 cup to 1 cup chopped
- high sugar salad dressings – 1-2 tablespoons
*Note – beans are a high protein source, however, they have about 6 grams of protein and 30 grams of carbs per serving. It’s easy to count beans as a protein and then add another carb source, thereby doubling you on your carbs and shorting you on your protein.
Step 5: Salad Dressings
You’ll notice that some of the categories above contain salad dressings. Be sure to count higher calorie salad dressings in the appropriate category. However, low-calorie options such as vinegar add flavor without changing the macro or calorie content of the meal, so if you use those don’t even count them!
Summer Salad Recipe Round-Up
Now, here are a few ideas to get you started! No more chicken, lettuce, and vinegar. You are worth more than that!
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Paleo Taco Salad with Plantain Chips
Craving Mexican food? This paleo ground beef taco salad is a healthy and delicious way to give in! Ready in 20 minutes and perfect for an easy meal prep! Click here for the recipe!
Salmon & Bacon Salad
Salmon & Bacon Salad is the perfect throw together salad full of savory bacon, salmon, & walnuts paired with the tart dried cherries & creamy goat cheese. Gluten Free, Grain Free, Low Carb
Grilled Ranch Pork Chops with Cucumber Tomato Salad
Grilled Ranch Pork Chops are marinated in rich buttermilk and ranch spices, then grilled to perfection. Serve with Cucumber Tomato Salad with a Greek Yogurt Feta Ranch!
My Twist On A Wedge Salad
My twist on the traditional wedge salad uses romaine hearts, and Greek yogurt feta ranch for a slightly healthier tailgating win!
Chicken Shawarma Mediterranean Salad
Chicken Shawarma Mediterranean Salad – flavorful juicy chicken, grilled to perfection on top a crunchy super chopped salad for flavor in every single bite! Gluten Free
Gluten Free Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad (Tabouli) “parsley & quinoa salad” is a refreshing vegetarian side dish, dip, or addition to another recipe!
Carne Asada Flank Steak Salad
Carne Asada Flank Steak Salad is a flavorful way to enjoy the bold flavors of the grill and the cool crisp refreshing feeling of a chopped salad.
Berry Bacon Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette
This is the perfect lighter option for any cookout this summer! Bursting with red, white, and blue goodies, plus the most American food ever – BACON!
Antipasto salad is the easiest most delicious salad to throw together to serve up or bring to a potluck. Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Paleo
Pulled Pork Salad
Pulled pork salad is the perfect way to take your salad from boring to fantastic. Pair this savory salty meat with the best sweeter foods like carrots, cranberries, and apples. Move over diet food it is time for real food that tastes real good!
Make Ahead Chop Chop Salad
This Mediterranean delight doesn’t use any leafy greens, so it can be made way ahead of time with zero wilting! Gluten Free
Don’t forget to pin this healthy salad recipe roundup for later and follow @hungryhobby for more healthy recipes, nutrition tips, and workouts!
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