Salads filled with a variety of dark leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and romaine offer a plenty of health benefits to take advantage of. The high amounts of vitamin K found in your greens help protect your liver and your heart and their abundance of Vitamin A and Vitamin C help combat inflammation. Dark leaves also boost energy to encourage activity throughout the day, and they ensure optimal bone health thanks to their abundance of calcium. Dark leafy greens even fight off certain cancers including those of the stomach and lungs.
Luckily, it’s easy to enjoy lots of fresh greens on a daily basis – they are great when blended in smoothies, they make tasty toppings for sandwiches and wraps, and of course they provide a perfect base for salads. But if you’re like most people, you probably find that your green salads don’t always keep you full until it’s time for your next meal. This doesn’t have to be the case!
Here are five fabulous ingredients that will turn your “side” salads into a filling meal that keeps you satisfied for hours:
Lentils are full of fiber and protein, so they do a good job of filling the belly and creating a hardy texture in salads. Most types of lentils can be cooked in just a few minutes and they hold up well in the fridge, so it’s easy to throw a handful of them into your salads as you make them. Lentils can also be sprouted if you’d prefer to keep your salads completely raw.
Consider blending cooked or sprouted lentils to make spreads for your salads. Just add spices like cumin, curry, or even mint to create luxurious flavor profiles that make your salads come to life. Or, try this delicious Green Lentil Salad Recipe.
Tahini is made by grounding sesame seeds into a buttery consistency. It makes a great replacement for peanut and other nut butters, and it’s also an effective way to add flavor and hardiness to your salads. Full of healthy fats and fiber, tahini is easy to digest without sacrificing a satisfied appetite.
Tahini also happens to be a rich source of minerals that your body depends on to stay healthy. Turn your tahini into titillating sauces for your salads, blend it in with your favorite premade dressings to thicken them up, or simply put a dollop right on top of your greens to enjoy.
Cucumbers are so filling because they are filled with water and fiber, and their bulk tends to take up quite a bit of capacity. They’re a perfect salad option for those trying to keep their fat intake to a minimum, and they are an awesome way to really bulk salads up to make them look and feel hardier. Keep things simple by slicing your cucumbers up and tossing them with your greens. Your cucumbers can also be spiralized or peeled to create fun noodles for the base of a salad. Try them out in this Baked Falafel and Cucumber Noodle Salad with Mint-Tahini Dressing to combine cucumber and tahini all in one dish!
Made from cultured soybeans, tempeh features an abundance of vitamins and minerals for your body to take advantage of. It has a unique texture that soaks up flavors well when marinated. Tempeh is full of fiber too, so when added to your salads you can be sure that you’ll stay satisfied until your next meal.
Cut tempeh into strips and marinade it in soy sauce, ginger, and a splash of sesame oil to create an Asian “chicken” salad. Tempeh also makes a great taco salad by roughly chopping it and seasoning it with cumin or fajita spices. Or, give this Gingery Maple Glazed Tempeh on Baby Green Salad a try; it’s sure to satisfy your cravings and give you a great dose of greens too.
Surprisingly, delicate sunflower seeds are full of protein, and therefore they are effective at bulking up salads and satisfying bellies for hours. These beautiful sprouts also happen to be packed with nutrition. Make sprouted sunflower seed milk to add to your salad dressings, or make things easy on yourself and pile them up on top of your greens. Give our Freekah Kale Salad a try that includes sunflower seeds, or use our Raw Vegan Caesar Dressing that’s made with sunflower seeds and cashews instead of store bought dressings.
With the help of these five fabulous ingredients, you don’t have to worry about your salads satisfying your hunger ever again! Also try out these 7 Ingredients that Will Turn Your Salad from a Bore to a Score for more useful tips and recipes. For more filling salad ideas, check out our recipe section and try out some new ideas.
Lead Image Source: Baked Falafel Salad