I know your thinking “How hard can it be to make a salad for lunch?” but the key is getting the combinations of fats, proteins, carbs right so that you have a healthy, nutritious and filling lunch instead of a high fat, high calorie big mac equivalent or the opposite.. a tiny, no carb snack that sends you on the hunt for chocolate at 3pm because you’re starving. So, lets get started. Grab and large container because you are going to need it…..
3 cups Low Carb Salad Vegetables
This can be where many salads go wrong, not enough salad ingredients to keep you feeling full. This is where you will get your fibre, vitamins; antioxidants without the calories so don’t be scared about the quantity. The more the better.
Salad bags from the supermarket are great here if you are time poor – I love rainbow mix, dry slaw mix, kale mix, and even 1 min stir-fry mix as a base and add extra tomato, cucumber etc. Think seasonal, colour and variety.
½ Cup Sprouts
Sprouts are nature’s super food. They are so rich in enzymes, vitamins and minerals so keep them in your fridge or sprout your own so you have a constant super food supply. I love alfalfa, mung bean, radish but any sprout is a good sprout!
½ cup Fresh Herbs
Herbs add flavour and phytonutrients so either grow a little patch in your garden or keep a ready supply on the kitchen bench or fridge. Coriander, parsley and chives are just a few of my go to salad herbs.
100 – 150g Protein
Protein spread throughout the day will keep your blood sugar stable to stop sugar cravings and are essential for muscle repair and recovery if you are exercising. Tinned tuna, salmon, eggs, lean beef, ham, chicken, and for the vegetarian, marinated tofu or tempeh.
½ – 1 Cup Carbohydrates
Carbs are essential to any salad but I see them left out time and time again but all that does is send you looking for a high fat and high refined sugar fit at a few hours later so put in those good high fibre/ nutrient rich carbs such as. Brown rice, Quinoa, Rice Noddles, Roast Potato, Sweet potato, Buckwheat noodles, Lentils, Legumes, 5 bean Mix. Pre cooked brown rice and quinoa are great go to pantry carb options but you can cook up a batch and keep in the fridge for 3-4 days if you prefer. All these options are gluten free but you could also use a wheat based pasta or couscous if you prefer.
Seeds give any salad a textural crunch and from a nutrition perspective are great sources of monounsaturated fats. Remember just because a little is good a lot is not necessarily better. Think about your daily energy expenditure. A marathon runner will need greater quantities per day than someone who sits down most of the day.
1-2 Tablespoons Add Ons:
This is where a little can go a long way remember it’s a tablespoon of one not all
- Cottage Cheese
- Parmesan cheese/Feta Cheese
- Kelp/dulse flakes
Dressing – any Combination of
Lemon, lime, garlic, balsamic vinegar, chilli, olive oil
And there you have it. Remember to change it up every few days to stop boredom and to get a variety of nutrients. These combinations can be made into a Greek salad, Thai beef salad or Asian chicken salad or any combination that you like so get adventurous.