Next time you go to make a salad, opt for some of these filling lunch salad ideas that require absolutely no meat or cheese whatsoever. Even if you’re not a vegan or vegetarian, lowering your intake of meat and cheese is great for many health benefits, ethical issues aside. Plus, there are so many awesome plant foods that fill you up and have added benefits, along with one thing meat and cheese definitely don’t have- fiber. Fiber is virtually calorie-free, yet it helps you stay full and helps pull fat out of the body instead of storing it for later use. Enjoy these filling lunch salad ideas that have it all- fiber, flavor, and plenty of nutrients to keep you healthy!
Chickpeas are deliciously nutty and filling, so they’re one of my favorite filling lunch salad ideas in terms of the “meat” of the salad, if you will. Chickpeas are also a great source of iron, fiber, B vitamins, and protein. They also have less starch than other legumes, so many people find them easier to digest.
Preparing tofu with a barbecue sauce is a great way to enjoy it in place of meat. If you sear it in a pan and get it nice and crispy, it’s absolutely awesome. Remember, tofu is an ingredient made from soy, so always choose organic and non-GMO brands. Tofu takes on the flavor of whatever you add to it, which makes it a versatile source of protein, iron, and B vitamins.
Edamame are the whole green soybeans and they make fantastic toppings for salads. Full of protein, fiber, and iron, edamame is a great way to get enough protein in a salad-based meal. Again, always choose non-GMO brands. I like Seapoint Farms’ frozen shelled edamame that you can just thaw or steam up before using.
Hemp seeds are a great source of vegan protein, omega 3 fats, iron, and magnesium. They also contain a large dose of B vitamins and potassium. Have three tablespoons on top of a salad as a nice replacement to fish. They’re slightly sweet, nutty, and soft, so they go great with just about anything you add them to.
Lentils may seem boring, but their sweet and nutty taste will win you over in no time. Then there’s their incredible high fiber and protein content, which keeps you full and satisfied. Lentils are also a fantastic source of iron, which is important in a plant-based diet.
Marinated mushrooms have a ton of flavor, they’re very hearty in texture, and they’re an awesome source of B vitamins, Vitamin D, calcium, and fiber. They’re fairly low in calories though, so pair them with another suggestion above so you stay full longer. You can marinate mushrooms in any sauce you like. Some great options include tahini, Bragg’s aminos, or coconut aminos for a zesty, salty flavor.
Sweet potatoes, carrots, beets, butternut squash, and any other variety of winter squash are all fabulous filling lunch salad ideas. They provide the body with B vitamins, potassium, Vitamin C, Vitamin A, magnesium, and fiber. Just roast them whole and scoop the flesh out onto your salad or chop and roast them as another alternative. They provide a filling, creamy factor that’s just incomparable.
Other filling options include quinoa, millet, any type of beans, sunflower seeds, almonds, and walnuts. Remember to start with a bed of leafy greens, then add as many veggies as you can think of, such as broccoli, tomatoes, onions, olives, artichokes, peas, and any of the suggestions above. Load your salad up with as many healthy foods as you can and you’ll enjoy the filling benefits all day long. What salad toppings do you like to stay full that don’t include meat or cheese?