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10 Hacks to Make Your Salads More Filling

Rely on salads to keep your weight in check but often feel unsatisfied and hungry shortly afterward? With a few simple tips, salads can be very filling, easy, delicious and still healthy for those watching their weight.

Salads are a familiar fave for people who are trying to eat healthily and watch their weight. But sometimes salads can leave you hungry and unsatisfied, especially if you are not putting in the right stuff. Read on to see how to make your salads more filling, flavorful, and full of beneficial nutrients.

Bulk Up the Base

Rather than iceberg lettuce—which is basically nothing more than crunchy water—select heartier greens for the base of your salad. Spinach, spring mix, Romaine, or kale all house more nutrients—including fiber—that will keep you fuller for longer and are much more flavorful than boring iceberg.

Load Up on Fiber-Filled Veggies

Don’t let your lettuce get lonely—fill your salad bowl up with tons of crunchy vegetables, such as bell peppers, snap peas, carrots, radishes, jicama—the possibilities are endless! What is great about vegetables is that you can eat a huge amount of them for hardly any calories. Additionally, vegetables are fibrous, meaning they’ll take longer to chew. This slows down your eating, helping you stop once your stomach has had enough time to tell your brain that you’re full.

Power Up with Lean Protein

Don’t skimp on protein in your salads or you’ll be reaching for a snack shortly after your meal. Be sure to include lean sources of protein, including grilled chicken or roasted turkey. Or, try seared flank steak. Yes, you can have red meat! In fact, flank steak is lean and provides you with a hefty amount of iron, which will help fight fatigue. Hard-boiled eggs are another quick, tasty, affordable protein option. I suggest including one whole egg (the yolk provides key nutrients) and several egg whites.

Go Fish

Fish, including both fin-fish and shellfish, supply you with filling protein to keep hunger at bay and while sending your energy levels soaring. Health experts now recommend you eat at least two servings of fish per week (preferably replacing two servings of red meat or processed meat with fish). Look for species that are environmentally friendly here:

Fill Up on Healthy Fats

If your salad is too low in fat, you won’t be able to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Include a few slices of avocado, some olives, or a handful of nuts or seeds.

Pick the Right Dressing

Many people think that drizzling fat-free dressing over their salad with help keep weight off, but oftentimes fat-free dressings are loaded with extra sugar or sodium that is added to replace the flavor and mouthfeel that fat usually provides. Instead of fat-free dressing, choose one that is light or reduced-fat. Yogurt-based dressings are a great option, such as the kind of Bolthouse Farms.

Banish Belly Growling with Beans

You do not have to eat meat to get a filling shot of protein. In fact, it would benefit not only the environment but your waistline as well, if you opted for more plant-based proteins. Drained and rinsed canned beans are convenient or cook a big batch from dry. Another bean option? For a different texture, try roasted chickpeas or roasted soybeans, which are sometimes referred to as soy nuts even though they are not nuts.

Nuts and Seeds: The Nuts & Bolts of a Filling Salad

Sprinkle your salad with your favorite roasted nuts or seeds to provide tantalizing texture as well as hunger-squelching nutrients, including protein, fiber, and healthy fats—all necessary to fill you up and keep you full for a long time. Nuts and seeds also provide trace minerals that most people fall short on and are hard to find in today’s diet high in processed foods. Housed inside tiny nutrient-powerhouses like nuts and seeds are the trace minerals zinc, magnesium, selenium, and copper, as well as numerous phytochemicals and plant sterols, which can boost energy.

Healthy Crunch

Salads need some type of crunch but forego the nutrient-void crunchy staples like croutons, tortilla chips, or wonton chips. Top your salads with crispy caramelized onion slices, such as the ones from the brand dang®. Go for a half serving on top of your salad for 70 calories and 2 grams of fiber.

Not a fan of onions or worried about onion breath ruining your office reputation? Top your salad with oven-roasted peas instead. Make them yourself, or buy them already prepared. A 30-gram serving provides 120 calories, 5 grams of filling fiber, and an impressive 8 grams of protein.

Add Apples

Apples contain both soluble fiber and pectin, two substances that help you feel full. Additionally, they contain a significant amount of water, which helps hydrate you and keeps you from overeating. Apples have also been shown to keep your blood sugar levels stable, preventing overeating later in the day.

[Image via Shutterstock]

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