Key ingredients to build a loaded meal salad that keeps you full all day


It seems like every health or diet magazine has a cliche picture of a woman eating a cute little salad on the front. A salad that consists of… lettuce.

Yeah, you know the one I’m talking about.


My question: How long does that keep you full? 15 minutes? Riiiight.

No wonder we all think that to be healthy and fit we have to “eat like a bird.”

While a little bowl of lettuce and veggies are great for a side, it certainly does not pack enough nutrients to keep your body operating properly nor keep you full.

A salad can be much more fun than that! Yes, I said fun.

Learning to build a big meal salad that covers all your bases can help in a couple ways:

  • They are exploding with flavor (like sushi, but different)

  • You can realistically get most, if not all, of your veggies in one sitting

  • You will be extremely satisfied

  • All of the fresh ingredients make it nutritious and, therefore, energizing

So, let’s talk about how to beef up your salad so you get all of the above!


Key meal salad ingredients

It all comes down to incorporating some key ingredients that, in combination, give you lasting energy AND taste amazing so it feels less like you’re eating a boring salad.

The goal of this salad is to throw 1-2 items from each category below into a large bowl and mix together. I personally like to use my handy dandy salad chopper to chop everything down into little pieces. It also ensure the flavors are spread out evenly ;)

Leafy greens

The base of your salad should be a nice pile of greens. Don’t measure, just eyeball and go. These pack very few calories but tons of fiber and nutrients to keep you full.

Examples: Spinach, Mixed Greens, Romaine, Kale, Arugula, Broccoli, Cabbage.


Add about 1/4-3/4 cup (depending on your size, hunger, and activity level) carbs to give it some texture and start to beef up the salad a bit. Carbs are the energy your brain needs and, when combined with protein, keep you full so much longer than carbs by themselves.

Examples: Quinoa, brown rice, roasted sweet potato, roasted redskin potato, pasta noodles.


Next, throw in your choice of protein. I like to use the palm of my hand as reference for how much protein to use. There are so many different kinds, including plant-based. Gone are the days of just plain ‘ol chicken salads (unless that’s your style, of course).

Examples: Lean meats, poultry, fish, legumes (chickpeas, black beans), hard boiled egg.


Gimme the good fats! Fat has more calories per gram than any other macronutrient, so they bring the “fullness” factor way up while adding a ton of amazing nutrients. These are usually good as salad toppings to add a burst of flavor or texture.

Examples: Avocado, nuts, seeds, olive oil, egg.

Other Veggies

Go crazy here. Veggies add a ton of fiber and nutrients without packing on a ton of unnecessary calories (but who’s counting) so add as many as you want.

My favorites: cucumbers, grape tomatoes, onions, bell pepper,


There are many dressings out there, from store-bought to homemade. A good dressing will have very few ingredients, contain healthy fats (monounsaturated or polyunsaturated) and be lower in sugar & sodium.

Homemade salad dressings

My store-bought favorite: Bolthouse yogurt based dressings.


I thought it would be fun to share my go-to salad ingredients to get your wheels turning! It may sound totally unappetizing to you, but at least it proves that there are SO many ways to do salad.

Here goes:

  • Spinach, romaine, and (sometimes) kale

  • Roasted sweet potatoes with cinnamon and chili powder

  • Roasted chickpeas with same spices as above

  • Onions, red bell pepper, grape tomatoes, and (sometimes) brussel sprouts

  • Avocado and sunflower seeds

  • Dressing: Bolthouse Avocado Cilantro dressing


At the end of the day, salad can be MUCH more fun, and delicious, than diet magazines lead it on to be.

By adding a little from each category above, you’ll be a master salad crafter in no time.

Tell me - What crazy combination is first on your list?

Keep Moving XX,


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Hey! I’m Nicole.

I help women become their strongest self through functional strength and simple, habit-based nutrition.

Learn More.