Salads are the quintessential healthy lunch, but let’s be real, they aren’t always satisfying. You may start your day with the best intentions, having a healthy smoothie or protein bar for breakfast and your meal-prepped greens for lunch, only to find yourself digging around your snack drawer an hour later. Sound familiar? But make yourself a high-protein salad and you’ll be satisfied until dinner.
According to F-Factor founder and fiber queen Tanya Zuckerbrot, the reason why some people don’t find salads filling is because they’re missing two key ingredients: lean protein and non-starchy veggies. Yes, fiber-rich greens are important, but without the protein, it just isn’t going to be all that satiating. To drive this point home, she posted a four-step salad building guide to Instagram.
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“Protein is essential for building new and maintaining lean muscle mass, which helps keep metabolism going strong,” Zuckerbrot says. “It also repairs muscle after exercise and helps to fill us up and keep us feeling full, especially when combined with fiber. The fuller you feel, the less likely you’ll be to snack unnecessarily or overeat at the next meal.”
Besides lean protein, which includes grilled chicken, turkey, tuna, and tofu, Zuckerbrot emphasizes the importance of including some non-starchy veggies like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, or beets, too. “Non-starchy vegetables are great because they add bulk to salads for minimal calories,” she says. “They can also be a great source of fiber, especially cruciferous vegetables, like broccoli and cauliflower. Fiber revs metabolism and keeps us feeling full for hours.”
Even a high-protein salad can taste pretty bland without a yummy dressing to top it off, but creamy dressings are also often a hidden source of sugars and other additives. This brings us to Zuckerbrot’s fourth salad-building rule: capping your dressing at two tablespoons, which ensures getting the flavor without coating your healthy ingredients in something not-so good for you. Or, in leu of dressing, she recommends using simple lemon juice or vinegar to add zest.
Building your salad with these four tips in mind—using greens as a base, adding non-starchy vegetables, including lean protein, and topping it off with two tablespoons of dressing, will ensure your salad is both yummy and filling. Your snack drawer is sure going to feel neglected.