10 Ways To Make Your Salad More Satisfying

by | Jul 18, 2012
Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad

One of my favorite things about the arrival of summer is all the beautiful, crisp salad greens at the farmers market. I absolutely love to eat salads, but how can you turn a salad into a full meal that is truly satisfying?

The trick is to make sure you add enough protein, fat and carbohydrates to your salad so it is still a perfectly balanced meal.

There are dozens of healthy additions you can use to make your salad more filling and delicious. Here are 10 of my favorites.

10 Ways To Make Your Salad More Satisfying

  • Warm ingredients Grilled or sauteed onions, peppers, mushrooms and meats wilt salad greens and make them slightly warm, adding depth and character to an otherwise boring salad.
  • Brown rice Adding 1/2 cup of warm rice to a salad makes it more satisfying to eat and keeps you full for longer. Use single serving rice balls and this simple addition will add less than 2 minutes to your salad prep time.
  • Nuts Walnuts and sliced almonds are my favorite, but feel free to try pecans, cashews, peanuts, pumpkin seeds or anything else that sounds interesting.
  • Beans Chickpeas, black beans, edamame and other legumes are inexpensive and delicious sources of protein and fiber to add some substance to a salad.
  • Avocado Half an avocado is sometimes exactly what a salad needs to take it to the next level.
  • Smoked salmon For a slightly more upscale salad experience top your greens with a few slices of smoked salmon.
  • Quinoa Mix in a small amount of quinoa as an accent or make it the base of a salad by adding cooked or raw veggies and greens. See my Mexican-style quinoa salad recipe.
  • Grilled meats Your salad is a great place for summertime BBQ leftovers.
  • Egg Boiled, fried or poached, an egg is a wonderful way to make your salad more substantial. See my Summer salad with poached egg recipe.
  • Sardines Canned fish is one of the easiest ways to get extra protein and omega-3 oils in your salad. Here are 6 reasons to eat more sardines.

How do you make your salads more hearty?

This article was originally published June 8, 2009.

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42 Responses to “10 Ways To Make Your Salad More Satisfying”

  1. Travis says:

    As usual, great post. I’m glad you put avocados on the list – a salad of traditional veggies often feels me a little unsatisfied, no matter how much salad I eat. A few slices of avocado is all it takes to feel like I’ve had an actual meal.


  2. Jennifer says:

    i like to add dried fruits or mandarin oranges to my salads. just a hint of sweet can ward off my craving for sugar.

  3. Amy says:

    How about a variation on beans: ‘ve been enjoying the green, crunchy goodness of bean sprouts. Garbanzos, mungs and lentils. And I’ve found it convenient and space-efficient using a nut milk/sprouting bag (rather than a jar). Only bummer is you have to wait a day or two; I keep a jar of ’em in my fridge.

  4. Katie says:

    I’ve never heard of wheat berries; where do you get yours, I think I’ll go pick some up and try them out now. And great article!

    • Darya Pino says:

      I think you can get them anywhere, but especially health food stores like Whole Foods, Rainbow Grocery or Mother’s. You can also use bulgur, which is cracked wheat.

  5. Geosomin says:

    I’m big on sunflower and punpkin seeds and some cheese and either tuna or chicken with salads. Without some protein I’m hungry right away 🙂
    I’m interested in the rice ball idea. That sounds yummy…

  6. A homemade dressing with tahini or avocado or orange juice and ginger…I love it bc it makes a salad really really yummy instead of just ok 🙂

  7. Jan says:

    Great tips! My favorite ones are the ones that include fish, other meats and egg. At Whole Foods the other Day I got myself a small salad. It was just simple spring greens and roasted salmon drizzled with olive oil and red wine vinegar! It was so delicious…and only $1.67! 🙂

  8. Great suggestions! I was just in search for a better farmer’s market than the one we normally go to and someone on Twitter gave me a recommendation. Can’t wait to go see what they have to offer.

    I love to add beans to my salads! Garbanzo are my favorite along with black beans. Yum!

  9. Heather says:

    Great tips as usual Darya:) grilled lobster with a hint of butter and lots of lime on top of my salads is one of my favorites during the summer. Also sautéd pears in a small amount of walnut oil, toasted walnuts with a little cheese on top of my salad= dessert salad.

  10. I love salads. Frozen peas (defrosted), cheese, apples or pears or even peaches. Cottage cheese or dollops of ricotta. Chopped basil for flavor.

  11. GrowingRaw says:

    You mention beans, but I also like adding bean sprouts. They’re super high in protein and if you harvest mung bean sprouts early while their tails are short they taste sweet.

    I also like sunflower seeds when the dressings are creamy. One trick is to grind seeds or nuts so that they cover all your salad ingredients with a nutty flavour.

  12. Marcia says:

    And don’t forget fresh, chopped garlic in your salad … delicious!

  13. blipton says:

    My Atomic Salad Recipe:

    Red Leaf Lettuce
    Braggs Apple Cider Vinaigrette (use generously)
    Common Basil (use generously.. thinking of switching to Tulsi Basil)
    Artichoke Hearts
    2 Tablespoons Hummus
    Cucumber Slices or Whole Pickle
    Red Peppers
    Turkey Breast
    Broccoli Sprouts
    Black Lava Salt
    Hard Boiled Egg
    Shiitake Mushroom

  14. Albert says:

    Hi, there. It’s an interesting and informative article. While preparing salad, I sometimes add grilled chicken or fish to it. Protein is satisfactory and keeps you fuller for longer time. The salad tastes delicious as well.

  15. Vanda says:

    Sardines Canned fish is one of the easiest, healthiest ways to get extra protein and omega-3 oils in your salad.

  16. Maggie Rose says:

    I like to add pickled vegetables of various sorts!

  17. Sandy says:

    I couldn’t get past the “whole sardines with bones” no matter how hard I tried, so I was thrilled to find skinless and boneless sardines canned in water which I buy in bulk from Amazon. Problem solved! They don’t taste like chicken or tuna, but are their very own flavor and are now my go-to protein addition for summer salads along with basics of shredded carrots, celery, colored peppers and tomatoes when they are in season locally and none before their time.

  18. Karen B. says:

    I think some finely shredded cheese makes the salad more of a meal and rounds out the flavor of the dressing. I just put in a handful for a large salad bowl that would serve 4-5 people. Nobody even knows it’s in there but everyone always loves my salads.

  19. claypotclub says:

    Braised artichokes in oil and fresh herbs (usually mashed into an avocado based “dressing” with garlic, salt, and pepper).

  20. Natalie says:

    Hemp seeds are also a nice addition to salads.
    Freshly pressed lemon juice.
    I also love fresh mint, it is very refreshing, especially with cucumbers.
    It is amazing to see how a few ingredients can completely change the taste and texture of a salad! I usually eat a salad for lunch and it never tastes the same.

  21. Nicole says:

    Yum! I will try these! Salads are great for summer!

  22. RC says:

    I love using the seeds from a papaya I have just cut up. The seeds are nothing like the fruit, they have a nice peppery taste which pairs well in salads. Also, for a crunch, the Crunchmaster brand crackers are really good broken up and sprinkled on top. I’m sure other crunchy crackers would work too, but I like Crunchmaster.

  23. Katarina says:

    Darya, you still read comments, right?

    Do you think you’d be up to making a comprehensive post on making salads more INTERESTING (beyond making salads just more “satisfying”). I know that technically you can chop up anything and call it a salad, but I’d love some inspiration beyond sliced radishes and sesame seeds. To make your salads interesting, do you divide ingredients into “sweet, bitter, spicy?”

    This would be so great! Thank you!!

  24. I love to throw all kinds of things in my salads, but when I really want to jazz it up, I add olives. My favorite: Kalamata olives.

  25. Dee says:

    Good tips Darya, would definitely try some of them. For me salad day is an easy for food prep….

    Well, sometimes it’s great to follow a salad recipe or theme….

    But what I do mostly is go with a seven layer salad using raw veggies for every color of the rainbow – white, red, orange, yellow,green, blue etc and colors in between… To make substantial I deliberately try to add calories to my salad – use nuts or vinegarette, or shrimp or ready made bottled salad topper (sunflower seeds, bacon bits etc.) or chick peas.

  26. MsB says:

    Baked Halloumi cheese. A slice of it toasted in the oven and then diced is incredible! If you toss in cherry tomatoes that have been warmed in the oven along with freshly made croutons. So good. that was dinner tonight

  27. Scott says:

    My wife loves salad and never miss to have it for dinner every other day. But she loves it more with grilled chicken or tuna and of course some eggs too.

  28. Tayllar Gardner says:

    I love to have something crunchy in my salad besides nuts because I already put those in there.. Any suggestions?

  29. Kerstin says:

    I came across your blog trying to find good lunch salad recepies, I’m naturally inclined towards a vegetarian diet although I fade fast without some meat in my daily meals.

    The mandarin chicken salad, the summer berry salad, apple pecan salad, and the beet goat cheese salad are all supermega rockstars in my book.
    I love fruit period. But it also works as a nice contrast to most meats as a jelly would back in the old day.

    Besides above mentioned salads I’m positively stumped.
    I should mention I never was much interested in food, it always was “eat to live”, not “live to eat” for me, I for the same reason don’t like that tired soggy heavy feeling one gets, I’m built to move! Not saying I don’t have favorite meals, but they’re mostly veggies or fruit.

    Here’s is my challenge, besides chickpeas which I love,
    I abhor most beans. The only way I can get one of those kidney beans down is if I ate it with a handful of strawberries. I really like nuts and often crunch on walnuts and sunflower seeds.
    I ultimately want to get away from meats for conscientious reasons.
    Do you have any good suggestions to expand my menu?
    I just got a brand spanking new “Lunchblox” (Rubbermai and would like to learn how to utilize it the best, ideally I’d eat salad for lunch 6 days a week now when I can keep it fresh and crisp up until time of consumption.
    Thanks and kind regards, Kerstin

    • Darya Rose says:

      Have you ever tried dried beans or lentils and cooked them yourself? Both the flavor and texture are totally different than canned, and completely divine. I soak my dry beans over night to get the digestive upsetters out, then cook in a pressure cooker with broth (I like beef broth, but you can use veggie). If they’re still too bean-y for you, you can cook them in onions, garlic, celery, bell peppers, etc. They absorb flavor well.

      Alternatively you can use frozen shelled edamame (soy beans) or petite peas. They can defrost really quickly in the microwave.

  30. laki says:

    i always go with bagged iceberg salad mix. i then add some sort of meat (turkey, chicken, steak, bacon ect), mandarin oranges, croutons, raisins, shredded colby jack cheese, bacon bits, cucumber or pickles, and catalina dressing. healthy and very filling.

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