How to Make a Filling Salad

How to make a filling salad that tastes good. Here are a registered dietitian’s tips to make a satisfying salad that you’ll actually love and that will keep you full for hours.

salad with tofu in bowls

Salads have a reputation of being boring diet food. Most of us have had bad experiences eating sad salads that lack flavor and satisfying ingredients, just to feel hungry shortly after. Salads don’t have to be light and boring.

Instead, you can create filling, satisfying and delicious salads that you WANT to eat.

These tips will help you create a filling salad that can work as a main dish (or as a big part of your meal). If your salad is simply a side dish, you don’t need to make it hearty and balanced (I would just encourage you to make it taste good to you). But if you want a filling salad as a main dish, these tips can help get you started.

Note that as a vegan dietitian, these tips are focused on making filling vegan salads. You can use also use these tips as inspiration to make filling salads as an omnivore.

Tips to Make a Filling Salad

Listen to Your Cravings

Feeling physically full after a meal is not always equivalent to feeling satisfied. You can feel physically full from eating enough food, while feeling dissatisfied and craving more. This happens when you ignore your cravings and eat foods that you don’t enjoy. To feel full and satisfied, it’s important to eat enough and to eat the foods that you want in that moment.

That being said, if you don’t feel like eating a salad, don’t force yourself to do so just because it’s “healthy”. You can eat another nutritious meal that will get you the nutrients that you need. But if you do want a salad, go for it! Think about what would taste and feel good to you in that moment and find a way to make it work. Do you crave a hearty salad? Maybe add some roasted vegetables and grains. Do you crave a lighter salad? Focus on the fresh vegetables and add a bright vinaigrette. Our hunger and cravings will change from one day to the next. Adjust accordingly.

Don’t Focus on Making it Low Calorie

We need calories for energy. Focusing on making your salads as low in calories as possible will only leave you unsatisfied and will likely increase your hunger and cravings later in the day. Instead, try to focus on what you can add to your salad to make it more satisfying and filling, while getting the energy and nutrients that you need. The tips below can help get you started.

Don’t Skip the Salad Dressing

Adding fat to your salad will help you absorb the fat soluble vitamins from your vegetables. Don’t skip the fats! Salad dressing is a simple way to add fats to your salads, while making it more flavorful (and less dry). use store-bought salad dressings for a convenient option or make a simple dressing or vinaigrette at home. You can also add avocados, nuts or seeds for additional healthy fats.

Add Protein

Protein helps us feel satisfied and full after our meals. If the salad is your main dish, make sure that it includes protein. You can add protein by using beans, lentils, tofu, tempeh, nuts, seeds or vegan “meat” alternatives.

Include Carbs

Carbs are important for energy and satiety. You can add carbs to your salads by adding croutons or serving it with a side of crackers or bread. You can also make a delicious warm and cold salad with rice, roasted potatoes, sweet potatoes and/or quinoa.

Add Different Textures

Make your salad interesting and satisfying by adding a variety of ingredients and textures. Don’t stick with just lettuce. Add crunchy vegetables, such as shredded carrots, sliced cucumbers, diced bell peppers, etc. Nuts and seeds will also add a good crunch. For a delicious creaminess, add avocadoes and a creamy dressing.

Make it Flavorful

Add flavor to your salads with a delicious salad dressing. You can also add fruit (fresh or dried) for a combination of sweet and salty flavors. Roasted nuts or seeds, spiced chickpeas, beans, tofu or tempeh, nutritional yeast and fresh herbs are other ways to add flavor to your salads.

Eat Enough

And finally, make sure that you’re eating enough to feel full and satisfied. I don’t mean a large volume of a low calorie salad, which will only fill you up temporarily. I mean, eat enough to feel satisfied and to meet your energy and nutrient needs at the end of the day.

roasted potato pesto salad in a plate
lentil quinoa salad in a bowl - filling salad

Filling Salad Recipes: 18 Easy Satisfying Vegan Salad Recipes.

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This information is intended for educational purposes only and is not meant to replace individualized nutrition or medical advice.


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Nourished by Caroline

I’m Caroline, a registered dietitian located in Kelowna, British Columbia. I focus on plant-based nutrition and intuitive eating. I believe in living a balanced life, while eating the food you love. Learn more about my practice here or book an appointment today!


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