How to Build a Meal Sized Salad
May 5, 2010

I don’t think it’s any great secret at this point that I love salad. I’ve shared countless favorite recipes with you here at CR, which fall into numerous categories. There are the kale salads, ranging from my basic massaged kale salad, to the Gena Divine (inspired by Sun in Bloom‘s Bella Divine) and the newly concocted Surf n’ Turf salad. There are the seasonal salads, such as my avocado, fennel, and cherry tomato salad (summer), my root vegetable salad (autumn), and my cabbage and fennel slaw (winter). (Clearly, I need to get cracking on a spring salad). And then, there are my specialty salads, such as the spicy thai, the cucumber and coconut, or the butter lettuce, cherry tomato, and corn medley.

Today, I’d like to discuss another category of salads. This isn’t so much a recipe post as a how-to. What I’m here to show you is how to build a salad that’s meal sized. What does meal sized mean? It means salads that boast enough nutrients and density to serve as an entree.

One of the most common complaints I get from clients is that they’re eating big salads at lunchtime, but that these salads never keep them full. “I’m starving by 3 p.m.!” they exclaim. When a client tells me such a thing, a familiar dialog always begins:

Me: “So. What’s in your lunchtime salad?”

Client: “Wellll. Some romaine, or baby greens, with some shredded carrots or cucumber or tomato, and half an avocado.

Let’s see: lettuce, shredded carrots, cucumber, and half an avocado. (Sometimes, a client will add that she dresses it with lemon and stevia; no oil, of course.)

That’s lunch?

No wonder my client is starving to death by 3! Lettuce and veggies (which, though nutrient-packed powerhouses, are mostly water, after all) +  half an avocado do not a satiating meal make. If you try to take all of the oomph out of your lunchtime salad, relegating yourself to veggies and more veggies, you’re more likely to crash and burn in the afternoon–or to resort to grazing to fill up the hunger void.

So the idea behind today’s post is this: how can we put together lunchtime (or dinnertime) salads that are offer us solid nutrition?

You all know by now that I am not a fan of calorie counting. But with that said and understood, I’ll also say that there are moments in life when I believe counting can be useful. It’s useful for people who are extremely overweight and looking to lose a significant amount. It’s useful for women who are very underweight, and need to get the scale moving into higher ranges. It can be useful for athletes in training (though I know many athletes who perform beautifully without it). It can be a useful tool for people who have virtually no familiarity with nutrition, who are trying to learn the values of various foods.

And sometimes, it can be useful for women who are perpetually starving to do brief, approximate experiments with calorie awareness, only so that they can figure out whether or not they might be eating far too little to fuel their bodies. So let’s take that client’s salad. Lettuce, and a handful or two of chopped veggies, coupled with half an avocado? Probably someplace between 180 and 220 calories, give or take. Now, if an average woman is eating (as most average women do) between 1600 and 2400 calories each day, then the truth becomes painfully obvious: that lunchtime salad was snack-sized.

Bear with me. I don’t like this numbers game any more than you do. I believe it’s absolutely possible to have certain meals (or even certain days) that are low, calorically speaking, as long as there are other days that are higher than usual, too. If balance is present, then meals or snacks that are exceptionally dense or light don’t matter; the point is that you’re eating enough from day to day, week to week, and so on, not that you get every single plate of food “right” according to a numeric standard. But if you’re finding that salad after salad leaves you ravenous, I think it’s time for you to face the obvious: your salads are probably too light to keep you full. And it’s time for you to rethink your salad formula.

What’s my salad formula? Simple! I like to add at least two or three sources of density to my salads if they’re going to serve as meals. What’s density? Well, I do mean a source of caloric density, but what I really mean is a source of nutritional heft and satiety. This might be a starch, like sweet potatoes or grains; it might be a fat source, like a tahini dressing or avocado; it might legumes or tempeh or tofu for protein. The idea is that I like for at least two of these things to join forces, affording me a filling and nutritionally rich meal.

Rather than go on about this methodology, I thought I’d show you what I mean. Over the last few weeks, I snapped photos of salads at home and at work, trying to give you a sense of what a nutrient rich salad looks like. All of these salads, by my own very loose estimates, fall into the 400-650 calorie range, which is about meal sized by typical standards. Again, it’s not the number that really counts: what I want you all to internalize is the idea of building upon your veggies to form a real meal. Let the slideshow begin:

Salad with sweet potatoes? Almost there.

Salad with sweet potatoes, avocados, and my zucchini dressing? Lunch.

Romaine lettuce and veggies? Sad.

Salad with romaine lettuce, veggies, and white bean and spinach dip? Better.

Salad with romaine lettuce and veggies, white bean dip, zucchini dressing and Lydia’s crackers? Yum!

Greens and lentils? Barren.

Greens, lentils, olive oil, lemon, agave, and avocado? That’s more like it!

Spinach, cabbage, and carrots? Grumble, grumble.

Spinach, cabbage, carrots, pumpkin seeds, and raisins? Kind of.

Spinach, cabbage, carrots, raisins, pumpkin seeds, vinaigrette, and a Prana bar? Lunch is served!

Spinach and ruby kraut? A good start.

Spinach, ruby kraut, half a cup of leftover quinoa? You’re getting closer…

Spinach, ruby kraut, quinoa, and leftover kabocha? Almost there!

Spinach, ruby kraut, quinoa, leftover kabocha, and zucchini dressing? We have a winner!!

Spinach and broc? Not.

Spinach and broc, seeds and figs? Better.

Spinach, broc, seeds + figs, zucchini dressing and zucchini slices with walnut-lentil pate? Genius!

Olive-oil massaged kale salad with veggies? An auspicious start.

Massaged kale salad with marinated veggies and Lydia’s crackers? Nom nom.

Vinaigrette + baby romaine? Lame.

Vinaigrette, baby romaine, and pistachios? Better.

Vinaigrette, baby romaine, pistachios and figs? Almost!

Vinaigrette, baby romaine, pistachios, figs, and carrots + walnut butter? Bon appetit!

Veggie medley? Nice, but no cigar.

Veggie medley + raw nori bites? Let the games begin.

Veggie medley, raw nori bites, drizzle of flax oil + lemon, and a side of raw almonds? She shoots, she scores!

Kale salad? Step 1.

Kale salad + sea veggies? Step 2.

Kale salad + sea veggies + marinated portobello + hempesan? Bingo!

Veggies galore? Needs more.

Veggies galore, vinaigrette, and crumbled Larabar? Score!

Need other ideas?

How about a big spicy thai salad:

Or a bed of spinach, dressed and topped with my Middle Eastern cauliflower “rice”?

Or dark greens, topped with juice pulp crackers and a giant bed of broccoli hummus?

A picture’s worth a thousand words.

I hope this little gallery has given you a sense of the rich, nourishing, and filling world of salads, guys! If you’ve been sitting at your desk or table scratching your head as to why a salad simply can’t seem to keep you full, fear not: you are not alone. You are, however, in a position to mix things up. Begin layering your salad with sources of nutrient rich foods, and sources of density. You’ll be amazed at how your perception of “a salad” begins to evolve — and your bodies and bellies will be thanking you in the meantime.

Have a great day!

xo

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    175 Comments
  1. How to Build a Meal Sized Salad If balance is present, then meals or snacks that are exceptionally dense or light don’t matter; the point is that you’re eating enough from day to day, week to week, and so on, not that you get every single plate of food “right” according to a numeric standard

  2. You may have noticed page-views rocketing up for this post, as I keep coming back to check what you did, to improve my own salads. A great post – thank-you! Really inspiring; I was in a salad rut.

  3. I love salads and have run into the problem of being hungry a few hours after having my salad for a meal, so I look forward to trying your suggestions. I also would like to add that I try to get raddichio into every salad I eat, a certified superfood it is packed full or nutrients and its slightly bitter flavor plays of the creamy avocado I have in my salad perfectly. Thanks again for your suggestions!

  4. […] Beef it up: just not with beef (well for me). If you tend to think of those wimpy side salads served at restaurants think again – a salad can easily be a satisfying meal in and of itself. Add in roasted sweet potato, beans, quinoa or brown rice, nuts, fruits and mega veggies to give your salad some life and staying power. Check out Gena’s post on how to make a meal sized salad. […]

  5. […] Beef it up: just not with beef (well for me). If you tend to think of those wimpy side salads served at restaurants think again – a salad can easily be a satisfying meal in and of itself. Add in roasted sweet potato, beans, quinoa or brown rice, nuts, fruits and mega veggies to give your salad some life and staying power. Check out Gena’s post on how to make a meal sized salad. […]

  6. […] that I think are incredibly helpful for making filling salads for a meal are Gena’s “How To Build a Meal Sized Salad” and Katie’s “The Anatomy of a Salad.”  Both gals are quick to point out […]

  7. […] I always prepare my food the night before and put everything in the fridge, so that I just have to grab my boxes in the morning. Breakfast is always some kind of sandwich, often paired with cucumber sticks or cherry tomatoes. Lunch is usually either leftovers from the night before or a big, filling salad (here are some great tips on how to build a meal-sized salad). […]

  8. these all look fabulous I agree a veggie salad just dosent do it for me, I am excited to try out some of your ideas!

  9. This post is so awesome and was so cute with all of the descriptions! This gave me so many great ideas – thank you so much for writing and posting this! I’m a fairly new reader to your blog and it has made me really excited about eating more raw foods. I already notice that it feels better to eat more raw foods. I really like the way I can get to a point of feeling really full (which I like to feel), the food digests quickly so I don’t feel really full for a long time, I feel energetic afterwards, and it sustains my energy levels for a long time. I eat a lot of beans with the raw food though because I love beans. I was wondering, do you not feature sprouted beans, such as chickpeas, on your blog much because they are hard to digest, especially for someone who used to have IBS? I am intrigued by sprouted beans but they don’t seem popular among people who eat a lot of raw food, I’m guessing because of toxins and digestibility issues? If you have the time, I would love to hear any advice you have on the subject. If you’re too busy with a new semester though, it’s no big deal. I am really glad I found your blog! 🙂 (Through Susan’s Fat Free Vegan Kitchen!)

  10. What great salad ideas!
    A few questions maybe you can answer for me…

    Q1: What is the approximate volume of your average salad?
    I ride my bike to work then school, and pack 3 meals daily into a large but compact 3-tier bento/tiffin. Each of the 3-levels holds 4 cups. Is 4 cups adequate room for an entree salad? I have enough stuff to tote around all day, so I’d rather not need to bring a larger salad bowl too.

    Q2: I teach at a nut-free preschool (includes coconut too!). Do you have any suggestions for ways to bulk up my salads without sending any of my students to the emergency room?

    Thanks!
    -A tiffin totin’, salad lovin’, hungry teacher 🙂

  11. I have a hard time creating a meal sized salad. You should create a flexible guideline for salads.
    For example: 2 different types of proteins, 3-5 different types of veggies, 1-2 different types of fruit, etc.
    I’m the kinda girl who likes guidelines and I’m sure there are other people out there like me.

  12. Yay, finally found this! I read it when it originally came out, then had trouble finding it again through the search bar for some reason. It only took me several months to find again. 🙂

  13. Hey Gena,
    I’m a new reader (maybe the past month or so) and I just wanted to tell you that this post got me through my finals period feeling awake and alert and full. I had been trying for ages to figure out what to eat before a test; finally something that works!
    Thanks so much!

  14. These salads look very small, like a side salad. What is a good amount of lettuce for a salad that is an entree?

  15. I’ve probably come back to this post 6 times since you published, for inspiration/guidance on planning satisfying and appropriate salads. Thank you!

  16. GENA YOU G-D GENIUS. i just started the crazy sexy diet cleanse and i’m using your recipes almost exclusively. i am so crazy impressed with your skills. this post alone might keep me on the cleanse. seriously, shoulda been in the book.

    xoxo

  17. […] I have been alive for eighteen years now and there is one thing that I have learned about women. With women (not all, but many) there is some sort of taboo about eating. Why is it that men get to chow down while were stuck eating salads. (Although nothing is wrong with salads, especially if they are like Gena’s!) […]

  18. […] Now that the Choosing Raw epithalamium is compelete, it’s time to get back to our main interest: food. With only a few exceptions, I haven’t prepared much of anything in the last two days that isn’t a salad or doesn’t come in a plastic bag labeled “Food for Life” (i.e., Ezekiel sprouted grain products). Boring. After a long weekend with not enough sleep, I did replenish myself with my nutrient dense salad of the week: […]

  19. I’m sitting here eating your sweet potato, avacado salad and seriously IM IN LOVE…. so good. It’s so nice to have a salad with some character and I know I’m going to be full. Thank you so much for this AMAZING post. I had no idea about any of the densities! THANKS SO MUCH AGAIN!

    NO BACK TO MY DELISH LUNCH.

  20. Thank you so much for this post. Getting excited about salads has been so hard for me. I only think of SAD salads drenched in greasy dressing or boring iceberg lettuce w/nothing on it. You really offered some great ideas for nutrient dense and delicious raw salads. I am seriously salivating..and I just don’t get that excited over salads. You should consider doing a cook book or e-book on raw salads. Again thank you so much for this excellent and helpful post. The pictures were really the “icing on the cake”!

  21. Gena this an awesome post!!! I am one of those people who could never put together a whole and satisfying salad!! You have made it so easy and simple with the just the yummiest suggestions!!

    Thank you for a great post!!

  22. […] So, week one of summer insanity is officially over, and another is about to start. Phew! It’s hectic, but so far, so good. It was a joy to come home a little earlier than expected on Friday, and have time to throw together a freshly made, nutrient-dense salad of the week: […]

  23. love this! I am always looking for new & interesting salad combinations to fill me up. I think I am usually pretty good at adding some fats and proteins to bulk it up!

  24. I’m so sorry it has taken me so long to comment on this! i totally read it a while back when you first wrote it…but life has been madness.

    <3 you and this is def helping me bulk up my salads…cause mine are soooooo tiny and err…bland. bah!

  25. Freaking LOVED this post. I love ALL of the photos and explanations and the “nope..not yet….almost there…BAM – full salad” I totally agree about beefing up your salads and have really been working on this the past few months. I haven’t bought pre-made salad dressing in about 8 months and always make a fresh 1 serving dressing for each salad I make. Right now I’m hooking on hemp oil + apple cider vin + balsamic + salt + pepper. YUM. Thanks for your balanced and healthy approach to eating. Inspirational!

  26. Your salads are all so beautiful, creative, and delicious-looking! I always have the same salad of some beans and hemp seeds with mixed greens, veggies. I have it almost every day… I find this keeps me full, but I’m happy to see all the variety that you show here- so many great new ideas! Thanks, Gena.

  27. Oh, so hungry! I am a missionary on an island, and I have been missing the great variety of greens (and veggies for that matter) from the States. 🙁 I’m doing good to get Romaine lettuce here, and our tomatoes are pathetic. This post gives me ideas that hopefully will help me to spruce up our salads, although I still wish I had more variety! The veggies we do get here are incredibly expensive and I don’t trust local produce due to germs, etc. We eat vegan all the time, but not raw.

  28. Gena, you couldn’t have explained it better or made it more simple to make a salads a real meal with just a few simple ingredients. Thank you for the inspiration. Happy Lunching (or Dining)!!!

  29. wow!
    i totally agree, wish I could post a picture in this comment area; with my last week’s succes of leftovers:
    watercress, falafel, roasted orange peppers, cilantro, roasted almonds, greek yoghurt, thai red hot sauce, mango and a big blob of humus.
    thanks for all the nice suggestions! enough inspiration to build more salads!!

  30. Gena, this is one of the best blog posts I’ve ever read. Thanks so much for sharing – sometimes it just takes a little inspiration to get a lot of people going.

  31. Thanks so much, Gena! I’ve been really stepping up on my raw lunches, and this how-to will really help me out. I’m guilty of making very green, leafy salads that are huge and colorful and filling at the time, but that don’t stick with me through the end of the day. So thanks so much for being so generous with your knowledge, once again!

  32. Holy moly do i love this post. I love love love my leafy greenies and this post is right up my alley. 🙂 Wonderful suggestions!

  33. Awesome post!! I think I have been making my dinner salads way too small, which is probably why I always want some sort of dessert after my dinner. Thanks for the post!

  34. Beautiful ideas – you can always be counted upon to prove that salads don’t have to be the standard, anemic American iceberg lettuce let-down. I think it’s interesting that in many places across the world, meals aren’t broken down into individual components- throw everything in a bowl – salad, stew, soup, what-have-you, mix it up and be nourished. That’s one of the things I like most about vegetarian, vegan and creative cooking in general – moving away from the protein/starch/veg combo can create unusually delicious magic in the kitchen.

  35. As someone above said – it is like you are inside my head! Thank you for this amazing, informative, supportive, fantastic post. I feel incredibly lucky to have found you/your blog as the most valuable resource. Two little questions… portion size? At least for the veggie part, does it really not matter? And, isn’t it ok to get hungry around 3/3:30pm and have a snack (fruit or some nuts)? I am about 95% raw, and tend to eat about 5 times a day (green smoothie for breakfast, another mid-morning, lunch(big salad, maybe a raw soup), mid-afternoon snack(apple or cup of berries), and dinner(big salad). Is it better to only eat 3 times a day? thank you!!

  36. I’m basically echoing the rest but… GREAT POST! Over the past few years, and especially the past few months, i’ve really been so mean to myself with food — especially concerning salads. I FORCE myself to eat a little salad before dinner, and it’s always disappointing to me because I don’t take a little time to make it delicious! Your ideas are great — simple, whole, nutritious food. And now that the weather is nice and warm, wow… I’m craving salads all the time thanks to checking out the salad pictures! <3

  37. I love this post!!! I absolutely love eating salads for lunch, but I always seem to skimp on my mix-ins & dressings. These are going on the menu for my work lunches next week!!

  38. Thank you SO much for this post Gena! I’ve been having this problem for awhile now. I’ve got to try some of your recommendations! 🙂

  39. This is , hands down, the BEST post ever!!!! Practical,useful,full of pictures and inspiring.
    Am having a glorious salad for lunch as I type and peruse blogs

  40. I’ve shared this post with my detox crew – everyone is on day 12 of 21 and doing fab, but many aren’t eating enough of the wonderfully delicious foods they could be! Your post is exactly what I’ve been trying to tell them 🙂

  41. Hi ,
    Rhodeygirltests referred me to your page. I love this blog about salads. In January my healthy lifestyle started with joining a gym and eating right. 4 months later and 20 lbs lighter I am experimenting and trying new ways to stay healthy and eat well. I have been craving salads I guess since spring has sprung and any new way to spice up a salad I am in. There are some items you mentioned that I nevered tried before, however, I definitely love trying new things especially when so many people rave about it.

    Where is a good place in Philadelphia to purchase these raw items?

    • I’m not sure! But most Whole Foods will have the basics you see here — the only real “specialty” item is the nori bites, which were a gift to me from a client, so I’ve no idea where they’re found! The rest — hummus, Larabars, kraut — can be found all over.

  42. Gena, thank you so much for this! I am a big fan of nutrient-dense salads, but I tend to make the same varieties and use the same dressings, so this was great. I love everything about this post and will be sharing with all my friends! You couldn’t have made the information more simple and easy for people. Big shout out!

  43. Loved this post. Gave me lots of ideas on how I can bulk up my next salad.

    Happened to wonder over here from another blog and thought I would check things out. Like what I see so now I’m following you. Look forward to reading your blog in the future.

    If you get a chance swing by my blog and say hello.

  44. I love this post! I am trying to start craving salads more by eating them more, and this is a perfect way to make them more of a craving.

  45. I love your humor. You drove the point home well, and I found myself chuckling as I read it. You rock.

  46. Love, love, love this! Thanks Gena! Just what I needed, great inspiration, great writing and great photos! Now, all I need is some yummy dressing recipes without vinegar or lemon, hm…

  47. Thank you for talking about calorie awareness, and explaining there is a place for it. I recently started re-learning my ways of eating, and I’ve been looking into calories and portion sizing NOT so I can starve myself or obsess over numbers (as I have in that past and been miserable about) but so I can understand more about the foods I’m eating. So instead of eating a huge bowl of lettuce and tomatoes then feeling like a failure, a pig later because I’m ravenous, I can realize that what looked big wasn’t in fact *dense*. I felt guilty having to add steamed squash or lentils to my salad in order to sustain myself all afternoon; now I can better appreciate what goes into a salad to make is filling and nutrient-dense. Thank you for this post and your wonderful photos!

    • My pleasure, Nicole. I do think it has a place for women who don’t end to eat enough when left to their own devices.

  48. LOVE this. your approach of “two or more dense sources” has already been put to use tonight. I usually tend to be on the lazy side and just down a whole avocado with greens with a light apple cider vinegar and stevia vinegrette… your colourful toppings put my salads to shame. Thanks for this, Gena!

  49. such a helpful and wonderful post! i was JUST thinking about this and how i wanted to eat more salad meals, but was feeling uninspired in terms of combos. i can’t wait to try some of these and riff on them in the future!!

  50. Its true salads do need some substance to make a solid meal time option. My favorite from the local restaurant just doesn’t have enough on it.

  51. Great post! I love a huge salad at lunch and I tend to repeat the same ingredients. I’m looking forward to trying some new combos.

  52. Love all the salad pics! We love a HUGE salad as well!!!! We have been enjoying a large salad almost every night here and loving it 🙂 We put all the extra toppers on top too! Especially our kraut!

  53. My lunch meal must have these elements – carbs, protein, vegetables and some fats. REcently, I’ve been using homemade sprouts as my choice of proteins. They’re crunchy and tasty. Yum yum!

  54. Wow, I LOVE this post! Thanks for sharing so many wonderful ideas…all those salads look tantalizing. A thoughtful and informative post.

  55. Great post! I have long since discovered the wonders of “beefing” up a salad with nutrient and Calorie dense foods. All your combinations look amazing!

  56. It was my discovery of your monster kale salads back in August of 2009 that led me to try the high raw vegan path for myself. And today, to be honest, well – I don’t think the quality of my life would be the same without that. So thank you.

    :-)Aletheia

  57. This post is SO GOOD!!! Oh my gosh-when I have more time on my hands (still in school) I will try to make salads like this! I already do usually, but I don’t have big enough containers for the volume! haha.

  58. thank you thank you thank you! that really helped with perspective, and i am such a visual person, pictures really are the way to go! can’t thank you enough!

  59. I. Love. Salads. They all looked SO delicious, and I am now hungry after eating a lovely oatmeal for lunch haha!

  60. This is one of the biggest switches I made when I started eating raw. Salad went from a tiny thing to a huge thing! It took me awhile to get how to expand it enough into a meal. My hubby add cooked quinoa to his salads all the time and whatever cooked veggie he might have. My dad even does this. He eats a large salad and puts hummus and veggies and pickles on top. I thought it was weird as a kid but now I am more like that myself. Salad with pickles–mmm!

  61. Gena, I have not eaten a salad as a meal for YEARS. You know why? Because I’ve been that person, who ate a salad for every meal, during my ED days. And yeah, my salads was just a bunch of veggies and fat-free dressing, for sure. no wonder I’m burned out on salads!!! Even now when I heard the word “Salad”, I think a bunch of puny raw, cold veggies that taste bitter in the mouth, and leaves you craving something else. And now I’m refusing to eat salads because it reminds me of my eating disordered ways, and I have that bias that salad = diet food = weight loss= ED.

    But now, reading this post…ooh la la. I’m getting a HUGE craving for salads. And not the stupid side salads I’ve been eating. Yours look like the perfect balance, and omg, I can’t believe I’m drooling over salads!

  62. Oh my goodness…yum!! Thank you for all the awesome ideas!!! I was actually thinking about squash with my salad today…glad my salad would be in good company!

  63. This was fun. 🙂 I totally got a kick out of your inner salad monologue there!

    Definitely glad for warmer weather arriving because it has reignited some mad kale salad cravings. I am going through like 3 bunches per week between that and juicing!

  64. Wow Gena,
    All of these salads look amazing, and a crumbled Larabar on top. Brilliant as I love adding dried fruit to any salad. My dad used to always add raisins to his salad which I thought was so gross, but now I love it.

    Def. digging the sweet tater plus avo. combo as well. Oh, the fun I could have in your kitchen. 🙂

  65. Fantastic post. I love salads and you made them even more beautiful and tantalizing.

    Thanks for the wonderful pics!

    Daphne

    p.s. just retweeted your post

  66. Beautiful salads! This post made me think of one time that my son I stayed with my in-laws. My mother-in-law made us a green salad(romaine,tomato, cucumber,zucchini-maybe). This was served with a small russet potato, for dinner. Keaton looks at me like, “this is it?” Within 2 hours later we were starving! She’s better now when we visit.

    I don’t worry about calories, I just want to make sure I get some good stuff in my salad when I’m having it as a main meal.

  67. now these are all real salads – and ones i definitely need to make in the near future. i can never understand how so many girls have a salad for lunch with just a few veggies – these would definitely keep me full for longer than an hour. great post gena.

  68. Yay for big salads! And healthy fats. I never know what to advise people on the calorie front. I don’t really count myself anymore but the truth is, I kept running tallies in my head for so long that I can probably eyeball the calories in anything and not be off by more than 5. I think my awareness of the nutrient density of various foods probably serves to guide me in making sure my salads are both filling and nutritious. Maybe it would be truer to say that even if I can’t quite help counting (or being aware?), I’ve stopped worrying when the numbers run up. And they do! Sometimes when I’m putting together one of my own big salads I think if there were any truth to the calorie theory, I wouldn’t fit through my door.

    • Same here!

      And I too have a general calorie awareness, but it’s just not something I ever pay attention to, unless I’m trying to figure something out for a client. I think in terms of nutrients.

  69. Great post. I should mention your post on working lunches (which was mainly salads like this one) was SUPER helpful in motivating me to bring salads to work again, instead of just making smoothies and bringing those with me. This post is just renewing my motivation.

  70. I have been reading your blog for a while, but I have never left a comment. I wanted to comment today, though, to let you know what a wonderful post this is. I eat a lot of salads and veggies–and this post really helps me in figuring out what to do. Thanks for all the wonderful ideas.

  71. Gena you are so cute! Your sayings with the salad pictures made me laugh! Thanks for such an uplifting post with pretty pictures of yum yum salad!!!! 🙂 XO

  72. ahhh love all the salad ideas! I only wish avocados didn’t give me stomach aches =(( but I totally agree, lettuce isn’t going to satisfy anyone!

  73. Seriously, I’ll never understand how you seem to just enter my brain and write a post on whatever is concerning or interesting me at the moment. Since transitioning to veganism, I’ve been on a pretty steady diet that makes me quite happy, but recently I wondered if I was getting *enough* food so I started to do a few caloric calculations (estimations, really, I don’t have actual knowledge of how many calories are in a serving on bell pepper…) and decided I wasn’t eating enough, so I upped the veggie and fat content.

    I’ve been reading your blog for several months now and I really feel as though I have learned SO much from you about how to eat in a healthy and satisfying way. Thank you so much.

  74. This post RAWKS!!! Thank you so much for sharing. I dabble in raw, but my salads are always getting loaded up and posted on facebook. I eat them out of a giant bowl and it takes forever but it looks as if I have a lot to learn. I am a HUGE fan of crunchy and chewy to go along w/the greens and veggies.

  75. Good job getting all those pictures! I’m exhausted just thinking about taking that many… Haha. 😉

    Great post! Such useful info for building a satisfying, healthy, and filling meal-sized salad!

  76. All those pictures look so delicious! I love adding sweet potato and avocado to my salads! I work on W. 72nd…you should stop by with some of your famous salads to show my weight-loss clients how fabulous a salad can be…and leave them for me to eat of course. 😉

  77. I love this post! SO many great options! Now that my nausea is going away I’ve been having kale salads just about everyday for lunch again. I love adding in new stuff everyday! Another good add-in is a crumbled Sunshine Burger! Mmm! 🙂

  78. By far one of your best posts ever — As I was reading I was screaming “yes! yes! yes!”

    I have always preferred a salad at lunch and it wasn’t until the inclusion of beans, or some cooked grains, that I didn’t want to chow down on my own arm a few hours later. It was… is… mind blowing to look at this huge leafy green salad and think “oh you are really just the calorie equivalent to a snack” It seems like it’s so much food, but it’s mostly water – not food. These things are so important to know and understand and I’m thankful there is a voice ringing true out and in a compassionate way — we are all better with you in our lives.

    I also agree that it’s important to know how many calories are generally in things (so you appreciate why a tomato is better than a jujube or a salad of lettuce isn’t as filling as steamed root vegetables) but I do believe meticulous calories counting often leads to unhealthy relationships with food or bad choices… it does have it’s place, but your explanation is simply… brillant.

  79. Aahh thank you for this. I feel like this post was made for me. I need it so much! This, along with all the great suggestions you gave me, is going to help SO much in my quest for a more plant based, raw diet! I am getting my salad on next week 🙂

    xo
    K

  80. it’s funny, i’ve been thinking about writing a post on how a meal is incomplete for me without greens and vegetables, but it cannot be a full meal without additional energy dense foods. you have to have both, and there are far too many people in the world who need that lesson. this post is a wonderful tutorial!

    also, i’m sending this post to my mom.

  81. WOW – amazing and informative post Gena. You know that I am all about salads as of late. This will def come in handy.

    Thanks!

  82. I’m not vegan. But I am glad you point out that these 200 calorie salads don’t cut it. Meals and snacks can always be bulked up with the courage to add, add, add!

  83. Gena,
    This is probably my favourite post ever on Choosing Raw! Great suggestions for meeting nutritional needs and satiation. I think encouraging people to have a source of vitamin C and a fat in with their huge bowl of greens is a great idea since it also supports vitamin and mineral absorption. I’m in NYC now and I’m thinking of grabbing a S&M salad for dinner tonight – that’s a meal salad for sure.

  84. i always find it hard to use a dressing that has seeds or nuts in it on my salads, because i usually love to have avocado.
    I haven’t tried your zuchinni dressing, but i want too. Do you find it upsetting to your stomach when you combine the zuchinni dressing (because of the flax) with your salads that have the quinoa, or squash or avocado?

  85. Salad porn is right! Dang, now I want to savage the kabocha in my fridge. I REALLY like this post, Gena. It’s so useful. Some people, like my mom, always complain that they can never fill up on a lunch time salad. But as you say, it’s all what goes into the salad!

  86. Love this post! I got a nasty comment yesterday on my blog that I posted about today..about someone ripping me for eating “little bowls of salad slaws” and that there’s not much variety in what I eat. Well, it’s all plants, but as you have photographed beautifully, there is variety despite it all being fresh, raw, vegan, green beautiful plants. Well done, Gena! Love it!

  87. This is the most useful thing about salad that I’ve ever read!

    This post is just gorgeous and so spot on. I’ve experienced the 3pm hunger so many times and have had to pack snacks which never really satisfy.

    For a while I’ve been adding some slices of grilled, home made spicy bean sausage to my salads (made seitan-style with pinto beans, wheat gluten, herbs/spices). I also find olives, avocado & quinoa are great for filling the gap. Nuts, seeds &/or nutritional yeast are tasty too 🙂

    Thank you for not making me afraid of putting oil in salad dressings!

    P.s. Great tip about the figs – I just bought some organic dried ones last week and was wondering if I should just eat them on their own or add them to something!

  88. Did you know it is National Salad Month?

    I eat a monster salad every day for lunch, and will be using some of your ingredient suggestions in the future. Thanks!

  89. Thank you so much for another wonderful and informative article! I bring a big salad to work each day, and I have been looking for inspiration to create richer, denser salads to sustain me through the day. All of your creations look beautiful and delicious, and I can’t wait to try them. I don’t comment very often, but I’ve been following Choosing Raw for quite a while and it is my favorite resource for learning about delicious and nourishing foods. I’ve learned so much from you– thanks again!

  90. Thank ou for this Gena. This shall be the Summer of Satiating Salads for me… my mind and body have been missing my raw ways lately.

  91. You know not what you do to me. I’m not hungry in the least, but I’m drooling all over my keyboard and cannot wait for my daily Hugh Jass tomorrow. And uh, my last post was supposed to be birth control, not encouragement. Maybe it’s time to revisit a post about reproductive health? 😉

  92. Thanks so much for posting this. For most of my life, I have been one of those women left hungry only a couple hours after eating a salad, and now I know why. I really like the idea of adding sweet potatoes to salad. It’s not something I’ve ever done before — do you cook them or eat them raw?

    You’ve inspired me to eat a “meal-sized” salad for lunch tomorrow! Am I actually excited to eat a salad?? That might be a first!

  93. LOVE this, Gena! I think you should turn it into a kid’s book, or a raw coffee table novelty, “How do we build a salad?” I can see a new generation shouting, “add FIGS! turn the page… add FIGS!” lol.
    I had this issue last year, especially with avocado salads- I wasn’t sure what to combine into them in the starch category, and beans caused me some trouble. I’ve made some awesome lunch salads this year- seed/nut/dried fruit combos, hummus-avocado-sweet potato, broccoli-raisin-almondaise, etc. Sometimes salads sound too leafy to me, and then I bring smoothies, chopped veggies and dips, lara bars, etc. Recently I’ve been really into chopped salads. Finely chopped zucchini and asparagus mixed with lemon/oil/agave/nooch/curry and avocado was a winner! Also great scooped into a grain tortilla. I’m also not worrying about adding seeds or nuts with avocado or squashes- as long as it’s plant, I’m right on track.
    Tonight I was improvising veggie burgers from scratch and realized that I loved the mix raw as a chopped salad: raw mung beans, zucchini, asparagus, mushroom, sun dried tomato, nooch, jalapeno, cumin, oil, agave, lemon, green onion, avocado, and more I’m sure I’m forgetting. Yum!

  94. This is a GREAT tutorial! I love having salad for lunch, but I often don’t plan far enough in advance to have enough dense ingredients around to pack into my salad in the morning. Seeing how you construct your salad-meals makes a whole lot of sense. Thanks so much for sharing the method to your awesome salads!

  95. I totally agree! My mom has said that salads are “so filling when you eat them” but then a few hours later “you’re starving.” I always put some fat + protein in there (nuts, seeds, whatever is in my fridge…)

    Oh, and when you said ‘CR’ I realized that we have the same blog abbreviation 😀