How to Make Salad a Main Dish

Nutritionists consider salad as the perfect weight loss dish. Salad vegetables are very low in calories. Eating them raw eliminates the problem of losing nutrients during the cooking process so that you can exact the maximum benefit out of the vegetables. However, because salad vegetables have little energy value and do not have the same richness in taste as higher calorie foods, eating salads has earned the unpleasant nickname of “chewing on grass.”

To avoid the blandness in taste, people quite often make the mistake of soaking the veggies in rich creamy salad dressings, which totally defeats the weight-loss purpose. The idea that salads can only be considered an appetizer or side dish is a misconception. A salad of suitable portion size that contains well-balanced nutrition can be a perfectly healthy and satisfying main dish.

1. Pick High Quality Vegetables

If you want a delicious and filling entrée salad, you have to use lots of high quality vegetables. Be generous on quantity and use as much vegetables as you need, since they make little caloric difference. Use all varieties of vegetables, especially those that have high fiber, vitamin and mineral contents. Use romaine and Boston lettuce instead of iceberg, because they are higher in fiber and chlorophyll.  Add in dark leafy greens including:

  • Baby spinach and arugula
  • Shredded carrots
  • Tomato
  • Cucumber
  • Celery
  • Bell pepper
  • Mushroom
  • Broccoli

The more colorful your salad is, the better it becomes in nutrition and health value. These brilliantly colored veggies are also much more filling than plain lettuce, so that you won’t feel unsatisfied after your meal. You can also consider using sweet fruits like apples, pears, pineapples and berries in your salad. Fruits not only make the salad taste better, they also add lots of complex carbohydrates and antioxidants to your meal.

2. Add Lots of Proteins

Proteins make your salad taste good. They are also an indispensable part of your daily nutritional requirement. Deli meats like grilled chicken breast, turkey, ham or roast beef can add a considerable amount of proteins into your salad. They are also relatively low calorie. For example, you can eat a 3-ounce fillet of grilled chicken breast for just 100 calories. Avoid using bacon. Bacon has too much saturated fat and cholesterol and can significantly raise the calorie count of your salad.

The downside of using deli meats is that they are too salty. Even the reduced sodium ones can have as much as 500 milligrams per serving. Using grilled salmon or tuna is a much better choice. Fish have even more proteins than meats, and they provide you with lots of good fats, vitamins and minerals. Canned salmon or tuna make versatile alternatives if grilling fish is too much trouble. You can also use crab meat, cocktail shrimp or hard-boiled eggs for the extra proteins. If you’re a vegan, tofu chunks, avocado, cooked edamame, sweet peas or corn are all great protein sources for your entrée salad.

3. Dont Forget to Add Good Fats

Never make your salad completely fat free. Without fat, you won’t be able to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins and antioxidants in the vegetables, meats or fish. You can use the Greek-style olive oil and balsamic vinegar mixture to emulsify your salad, or use the more Asian-flavored peanut butter and sesame oil mixture. Tossing in a handful of toasted walnuts, almonds or sunflower seeds is also a great way to add cholesterol-dissolving healthy fats to your salad.

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