Salads are delicious. A big bowl of fresh greens with a zippy salad dressing is always a great choice, but sometimes eating just a salad can leave us feeling a bit unsatisfied. That doesn’t mean you have to eat a sandwich or a big plate of food to stay full until your next meal. Salads can be a whole lot more than just lettuce and tomatoes. Take a look at Think Salads are Just Lettuce? Here are 10 Summer Salads That Will Make You Think Again and 15 Salads That Are Hearty Enough to Be the Main Course for hearty salad ideas.
Adding protein to your salad is the perfect way to have a meal that’s light yet satisfying. The good news is there are many foods that pack a lot of protein so there are many ways we can add that protein and still make a variety of salads, so we don’t get bored. Here are 10 ways to add protein to your salads.
Lentils have tons of protein – one cup of lentils has about 18 grams of protein. You can make a salad with lentils as the main star like this Green Lentil Salad, or the lentils can be a yummy addition. Try this Warm Lentil Apple Walnut Salad, Green Lentil Salad with Spiced Carrots, and this Roasted Balsamic Beet, Sausage, and Lentil Salad Bowl.
Chickpeas could fall under beans, but we love them so much, they deserve their own category. Each cup of garbanzo beans provides 12 grams of protein. Chickpeas are not only delicious but versatile. We can enjoy them as they are or in the form of hummus or falafel. Get spicy with this Buffalo Chickpea Salad and Lebanese Spiced Roasted Cauliflower Chickpea Salad or try this Classic BLT Salad with Creamy Ranch and Chickpea Croutons. Try adding a scoop of Edamame Pistachio Hummus to your salad or top it with a few of these Chickpea and Pistachio Falafel.
Beans are another excellent source of protein. The beans that have the most protein are soybeans, navy beans, black beans, and pinto beans. Beans are perfect for making a salad hearty and satisfying. Try this Orange Bean and Beet Salad, Tamari Walnut Salad with Black Beans, Spicy Kale and Quinoa Black Bean Salad, and this Spicy Raw Thai Salad.
Since tofu is made from soybeans, it makes sense that it contains a good amount of protein. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), half a cup of tofu has about 10 grams of protein. When tofu is prepared properly, it can be a delicious and filling addition to a salad. This Orange Maple Butternut Squash and Tofu Salad is a pretty and flavorful choice. Also, try this Warm Salad with Marinated Tofu, Potatoes and Hazelnuts, Tofu-Tomato Salad, and this Herb Tofu Caesar Salad with Spicy Pepitas.
If tofu has a good amount of protein, tempeh has even more. According to the USDA, one cup of tempeh has 31 grams of protein. Wow! You’ll love this Marinated Tempeh Salad, Buffalo Tempeh Quinoa Salad, and this Buttery Spinach Salad With Crumbled Tempeh and Crispy Shallots.
Mushrooms are meaty, earthy, and so good. One-half cup of raw mushrooms has about one gram of protein. But you don’t have to add raw mushrooms to your salad though that’s yummy also. They can be marinated, grilled, sauteed or cooked any way you like. This Super Protein Kale Caesar Salad has marinated mushrooms while the mushrooms are sauteed in this Kale and Enoki Mushroom Salad.
7. Greens and Veggies
Using greens in a salad may seem like a given but instead of just using lettuce, try using dark leafy greens and green veggies that have more protein. One cup of raw broccoli has nearly three grams of protein. When cooked, a cup of spinach or collard greens yields more than five grams of protein while a cup of Brussels sprouts has four grams. One cup of kale has about two and a half grams of protein. Greens and veggies also have a lot of fiber, so they are definitely satisfying.
Try this Crunchy Fresh Broccoli Salad, Roasted Turmeric Cauliflower and Kale Salad, Beetroot, Brussels Sprouts and Bourgal Salad with Maple-Orange Dressing, Kimchi Kale Salad, and this Roasted Veggies with Buttery Garlic and Spinach Salad.
8. Ancient Grains
Ancient grains are superfoods. They make any dish more filling and add tons of nutrients including protein. We all know quinoa is a great source of protein, but there’s also a lot of protein in barley, buckwheat, amaranth and freekeh to name just a few. Learn more about ancient grains in 35 Brand Spanking New Recipes Featuring Trendy Ancient Grains. Some delicious examples of salads with ancient grains include this Simple Barley Salad, Spelt Berry Salad with Cinnamon Balsamic Vinaigrette, Green Bean and Wild Rice Salad, Hearty Buckwheat Salad, Thai Peanut Quinoa Salad, and Forbidden Rice and Mango Salad.
9. Nuts and Seeds
Nuts and seeds add taste, texture, and protein to dishes. Seeds have even more protein than nuts do. Pumpkin seeds, for instance, have more protein than chia or flax with five grams per ounce. One quarter-cup of hemp seeds has over 13 grams of protein. Learn more about the protein content in different seeds in Top 5 Seeds to Pair With Greens for a High Protein Meal. Nuts are still good sources of protein with almonds and pistachios offering six grams per ounce, cashews with five grams per ounce and hazelnuts with over four grams of protein per ounce.
Delicious recipes to try include this Beet Salad with Kale and Toasted Hazelnuts, Sesame Crunch Salad, Spicy Papaya Salad with Smokey Roasted Peanuts, Happy Summer Salad with Roasted, Sesame Crusted Avocado, and Wild Rice Salad with Orange, Sweet Potatoes, Cherries, and Pecans. Nuts and seeds can also be used in different forms. Sunflower seeds are delicious in tahini as in this Kale and Cranberry Dressing with Lemon Tahini Dressing and in the form of sprouts like this Spring Greens with Creamy Walnut Pesto and Sunflower Sprouts over Pasta.
Seaweed is another superfood. Sea veggies are a great source of iodine, vitamins A, C, E, and B vitamins. Sea veggies are also rich in protein, calcium, magnesium, and fiber. One cup of seaweed has almost two grams of protein. To learn even more about the health benefits of sea veggies, see Seaweed Decoded: Why It’s Essential on a Vegan Diet and Cooking With Sea Veggies Can Transform Your Meals (and Health)! Here’s How to Do it the Right Way. Try this Chinese Seaweed Salad and this Seaweed Salad with Toasted Sesame Dressing. Sea veggies can also be used in dressings like in this Caesar Salad Nouveau.
It’s easy to make salads that are healthy, filling, and delicious. With ingredients that add protein, a salad can be a satisfying meal that will fuel you for your longest day.
Lead image source: Roasted Balsamic Beet, Sausage, and Lentil Salad Bowl