Diet & Nutrition

A step-by-step guide to making a salad that’s actually satisfying

You can say goodbye to lacklustre lettuce and hello to a satisfying salad that’ll keep you full for hours by following dietitian Melissa Meier’s handy salad guide.

With spring in the air, stodgy, hearty lunches are on their way out, and lighter fare is on it’s way in. I, for one, live for salads – but I know many people don’t find them all that appealing, conjuring up thoughts of lacklustre lettuce leaves and serious hunger pangs.

Truth is, however, salads can be delicious and satisfying, you just need to know where to start. So, say goodbye to boring bowls of crunchy raw veg and hello to hunger-busting, satisfying salads with my five-step satisfying salad guide.

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1. Start with non-starchy veggies

A salad wouldn’t be a salad without a base of veggies – so obviously, they’re a good place to start. The key, however, is to think beyond the boring trio of lettuce, tomato and cucumber you probably grew up on, and include a variety of colourful veg, instead. My game-changer is roasting veggies like pumpkin, capsicum and asparagus in a little olive oil, salt and pepper for a real flavour-punch.

2. Add lean protein

Protein is super satisfying and an important part of any balanced meal – and salads are no exception. Opt for a small portion of lean meat, like skinless chicken breast or lean steak, or seafood in the form of a tin of tuna or salmon (perfect for work lunches). A couple of hard-boiled eggs or some grilled tofu also go down a treat in the protein department. Legumes (beans, chickpeas and lentils) provide plant-based protein as well as carbohydrates, so tick the next box as well…

3. Don’t forget carbs

All carbohydrates are not unhealthy. I repeat: carbs are not bad for you! They’re actually key in keeping you feeling full and provide the energy you need to get through the afternoon. Starchy veggies, like corn, potatoes and legumes are good sources of quality carbs, as are wholegrains like quinoa, brown rice and even wholemeal pasta. As a rule of thumb, aim for your salad to be roughly 25 per cent carbs.

4. Add some extras

Now for the exciting salad additions… I’d suggest you choose one ‘yum’ factor to help you really enjoy your healthy meal. That could be a sprinkle of toasted nuts or seeds for some crunch, a quarter of an avocado for a dose of heart-healthy fats, or a sprinkle of feta or goats cheese for a creamy boost of flavour. Delish.

5. Dress to impress

Throw out those store-bought salad dressings you’ve had sitting in your fridge door forever, and start making your own salad dressings at home. Not only will it taste better, but it will be better for you because you can control exactly what goes in it. And, it’s a cinch.

Every good salad dressing starts with a top quality extra virgin olive oil and some acidity in the form of lemon juice or vinegar (think: balsamic, white wine or red wine). To keep things interesting, you can then build in flavour with a little honey and mustard, or dried herbs and spices. Trust me, your tastebuds will thank you for it.

Melissa Meier is a Sydney-based accredited practising dietitian. You can connect with her on Instagram @honest_nutrition.