This may come as a shock but not everyone enjoys a green, leafy salad. A lot of people grudgingly include greens in their diet for health purposes, putting up with the taste. That’s why chicken and tuna are commonly accommodated in many salad recipes, to give you something on your plate to look forward to (and to complete the balanced meal with a boost of protein).
But even those two ingredients can get tiresome after a while, and you’ll look for alternatives to keep your salad fresh. If you’re bored with the standard chicken & tuna combo, these are salad toppers that’ll add a different flavour to your salad, while maintaining the balance of the dish.
Don’t let their miniature size fool you – these little guys pack a serious protein punch. A full can packed in spring water provides 17 grams of protein, as well as a quarter of your daily recommended calcium intake. Oh, and they’re a great source of omega-3 fatty acids, which are linked to heart and brain health, anti-inflammatory benefits, and healthy skin and hair.
You can throw them right on your salad and they’ll hold their own, or throw some sundried tomato pesto on top for a nice 1-2 combo. If you can’t deal with them straight from the can, grill or bake them before adding to your salad.
A large egg carries six grams of protein, or 3.5 grams if you avoid the yolks.
The best part about eggs in a salad is their versatility. They can pair with other proteins – the classic Cobb salad comes to mind – or you can get creative and add hummus, guacamole, or seasoned tahini. They’re also flavourful enough to ride solo on your salad.
Extra-Lean Ground Turkey
Ground turkey is a regular super-sub for ground beef in burgers, meatballs, or meatloaf recipes. But they also fit right in with salads, either warm or chilled. Four ounces of raw 93% lean turkey provides a robust 15 grams of protein.
Need an idea to kick-start your turkey and salad? Try this combo of extra-lean ground turkey (in the recommended serving size above) with a classy avocado sauce. Puree a quarter of an avocado with:
- 1 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp. chopped basil
- ½ tsp. minced garlic
- 1/4 tsp. fresh grated ginger
- 1/8 tsp. black pepper
For those that prefer to keep their avocados whole rather than a sauce, just chop them up and serve over sautéed ground turkey with the seasonings above. Add some veggie broth (about a quarter cup) and your salad is ready to go. Dig in!
Not a fan of these three salad toppers? There are a couple more you can consider such as lentils or frozen shrimp. Just a half-cup of lentils holds 10 grams of protein (and a bonus six grams of fiber, the value!), along with ample vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. It does it all. Three ounces of frozen shrimp contains only 70 calories, but provides 17 grams of protein, along with a healthy dose of key nutrients: selenium, vitamin B12, choline, copper, and zinc.