... That won't leave you starving by 3pm!
I've seen so many women in my practice who are trying to be 'healthy' and so pack a teenie-tiny salad for lunch, which leaves them STARVING through the afternoon, and reaching for coffee/chocolate/etc. The typical 'healthy' homemade salad would be:
-leafy greens, e.g. cos lettuce, rocket, salad mix (not many calories there...)
-some tomato, cucumber, carrot, onion (still not many calories...)
-a small tin of tuna, or some leftover meat, or a small tin of chickpeas (some calories - maybe 100 at most - but still not enough calories and carbohydrates to keep you going through the afternoon!)
So, we've identified the problem - too few calories and carbohydrates, and not enough vegetables to bulk it out - so let's get the solution.
To make a salad a balanced meal, you need:
-1/4 of the plate Protein (from plant-based sources, of course), e.g.
- lentils or legumes (e.g. chickpeas, cannellini beans, 4-bean mix), 3/4 cup or half a large tin (drained)
- tofu or tempeh, 100g
- edamame, 1/2 a cup
-1/4 of the plate Whole grains or Starchy Vegetables, e.g.
- sweet potato or potato, about the size of your fist as a starting point
- brown, red or wild rice, 1/2 a cup cooked as a starting point
- gluten-containing grains e.g. freekah, 1/2 a cup cooked as a starting point
- gluten-free grains e.g. millet, quinoa, amaranth etc. The grains can be cooked or sprouted. 3/4 to 1 cup cooked as a starting point (they tend to be less dense than cooked rice)
-1/2 the plate Low-Starch Vegetables, e.g.
- baked pumpkin, carrot, green peas, fennel, squash, zucchini, broccoli, red cabbage, onion, tomatoes, cucumber etc. Aim for lots of bright colours to load up on antioxidants, fibre and phytonutrients. Aim for 2-3 cups, or 1/2 the plate
-A small quantity of Healthy Fats, e.g.
- Avocado- start with an 1/8th of an avocado and add more depending on your energy needs
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts etc), seeds (pepitas, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds etc), a small handful or about 20g
- Tahini dressing - whisk together the following with a fork and add a little water at a time until a creamy white dressing forms: 1 tb tahini, juice of half a lemon, a small pinch of salt (optional)
-Some added Excitement e.g. dulse flakes (a great source of iodine), arame (another sea vegetable which is a great source of iodine. You need to soak it in cool water for 5-10 minutes before adding to your salad), red chilli flakes, tamari, lemon juice, lime juice, sweet chilli sauce, salt & pepper, nutritional yeast (packed with B vitamins) etc
You'll notice that I've written 'as a starting point' for the quantities of Whole Grain and Starchy Carbohydrates, as people have vastly different energy needs, so if you're sitting at a desk all day and don't do any exercise, start with a small quantity and build up from there if you find you're still hungry through the afternoon. Let your appetite be the guide here - starch should the basis of all our meals, as our bodies are fuelled by glucose. The same goes for the Healthy Fats - start with the recommended quantities and increase the amount if you have high energy needs or are trying to gain weight.
Happy salad-making! Enjoy. x