The 5 Best Protein-Packed Salads
There are two kinds of people in this world: those who run away from salad and those who can’t get enough of them. It doesn’t matter which one of them you are, salads are a big part of a balanced and healthy diet, and they also make up for the perfect quick meal that contains all the main food groups. If you’re particularly interested in having a protein-packed meal because you’re training harder and want to build muscle, or you’re just about maintaining a lean body, check out the best salads with high amounts of protein.
Caesar-crusted chicken salad
You’ve all heard of the classic Caesar salad and its amazing flavor, but have you ever thought of deconstructing this salad to make it even healthier? The Caesar-crusted chicken salad begins with whole lettuce leaves or romaine hearts, instead of high-carb croutons you can use crisp Panko crust (hence, the name!). A delicious grilled chicken is heightened by the classic anchovy and Parmesan dressing, used lightly. Not only is chicken a high-protein meat, the anchovy adds a little bit more to the formula.
Preheat broiler to high. In a bowl, combine 1 1/2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard, 3/4 ounce of parmesan cheese, and 1 minced anchovy fillet. Heat a grill pan over medium-high; coat with cooking spray. Sprinkle 6-oz. skinless, boneless chicken breasts with salt and pepper; add to pan, and cook 4 minutes. Turn, brush with mustard mixture, top with 1/4 cup whole-wheat panko, and coat with cooking spray. Put the pan in an oven and broil 7 minutes or until chicken is done. Let it rest for 5 minutes then cut into slices. Return the pan to medium-high. Brush cut sides of lettuce with 1 tablespoon oil. Grill lettuce, 2 halves at a time, for 2 minutes. Place 1 chicken breast and 1/2 lettuce heart on each of 4 plates. Top lettuce evenly with 1 tablespoon oil, 2 teaspoons of fresh lemon juice, and 3 tablespoons cheese.
Roasted sweet potato and chickpea salad
Just because you’re looking for a high-protein salad to bring a hearty meal to your body, it doesn’t mean you have to stuff your mouth with meat! This delicious salad contains no animal-based protein but is still filled with this healthy nutrient. Chickpeas have sky-high amounts of protein, even more so than chicken! Roast a few chickpeas to add some smoky flavor and mix them with sweet potato and a little arugula, all adding up in nutrients.
First preheat the oven to 425 F. Wash 1 sweet potato and slice into 1/2 inch thick rounds. Mix together 1/2 tsp each of salt, cumin, paprika chili powder and garlic powder. Drain and rinse a 15 oz can of chickpeas and mix together with 1 tbsp of olive oil and half of the dry spice mixture. Use the other half of the spice mixture and add 1 tbsp of olive oil and mix it with the sweet potato. Bake the sweet potatoes on a parchment-lined baking pan for 15 minutes. Then flip the sweet potato and add the chickpeas to the same baking pan and bake for another 25 minutes. Wash and chop 3/4 cup each of spinach and arugula and top with the roasted chickpeas and sweet potato. If desired, you can also add on a dressing made by whisking together 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 4 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp honey, 1 minced garlic clove and salt to taste.
Shrimp avocado tomato salad
Sometimes you think that a salad can be either filling or light, and there’s no middle point. Well, this salad is both things! With this mouth-watering and fresh salad you’ll get your daily fix of protein from shrimp, deviled eggs and avocado. If you’re not scared of a little fat with your meal, you can add crumbles of delicious Feta cheese and a lighter-than-air lemon dressing.
In a bowl, combine 1/4 cup chopped red onion, the juice of 2 limes, 1 teaspoon of olive oil and 1/4 tsp salt and pepper to taste. In a separate bowl, add a pound of chopped jumbo shrimp, 1 diced avocado, 1 chopped tomato and 1 diced jalapeño (with seeds removed). Mix all of the ingredients together and top with a little chopped cilantro if desired.
BBQ chicken Cobb salad
You know the popular Cobb salad, right? There’s a way to make this the most healthy and hearty salad you’ve ever tasted. BBQ chicken, hard boiled eggs and a bit of crispy bacon make up for the protein in this salad. As for the rest of the ingredients? Feel free to add corn kennels, black beans and Roma tomatoes. Pour in a spoonful of delicious, homemade Ranch dressing and you’ll have yourself a healthy deliciousness.
Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add 4 slices diced bacon and cook until brown and crispy, about 6-8 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate; set aside. Season 2 boneless, skinless thin-sliced chicken breasts with salt and pepper, to taste. Add to skillet and cook, flipping once, until cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side. Let cool before dicing into bite-size pieces. In a medium bowl, add the chicken and 3 tablespoons BBQ sauce, and gently toss to combine; set aside. Place 2 large eggs in a large saucepan and cover with cold water by 1 inch. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute. Cover eggs with a tight-fitting lid and remove from heat; set aside for 8-10 minutes. Drain well and let cool before peeling and dicing. To assemble the salad, place 6 cups chopped romaine lettuce in a large bowl; top with arranged rows of bacon, BBQ chicken, eggs, 2 diced tomatoes, 1 halved, seeded, peeled and diced avocado, 1 cup canned, drained corn kernels and 1 cup canned, drained beans. Serve immediately with buttermilk ranch dressing.
Salmon and quinoa salad
The best thing about this salad is that it has not only one but 5 different sources of protein. A piece of grilled salmon, a bunch of quinoa, lentils, green beans and Feta cheese are the best proteins you can find. Make this the greenest salad in town with kale, broccoli and parsley; and you can add a zesty touch with some Sriracha and lime juice.
Rinse 4 oz of dried green lentils then place them in a saucepan. Cover with plenty of cold water then bring up to the boil; boil rapidly for 10 minutes then turn down to a simmer and cook for a further 30 minutes or so, until tender but not mushy. Drain well then tip into a large bowl and set aside. Rinse 3/4 cup of quinoa and place it in a pan with 1 ½ cups of vegetable stock, bring up to the boil then turn down to a simmer, cover and cook for about 15 minutes, until all the water has evaporated. Remove from the heat and leave to stand (covered) for a further 10 minutes, until tender. Tip into the bowl with the lentils. Place 5 oz of chopped broccoli, 5 oz chopped kale and 4.5 oz chopped green beans in a pan with a splash of water, bring up to the boil, cover and steam for about 10 minutes, until the vegetables are tender. Drain well and add to the bowl along with 4 finely chopped spring onions. Add 3 crushed garlic cloves, juice of 1 large lemon, 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, handful finely chopped parsley, salt and pepper to taste to the bowl. Toss everything together, then crumble in 7 oz feta and mix again. Fry 4 salmon fillets for a couple of minutes on each side, or until cooked to your liking. Serve with the warm salad.
There you go! Who said salads were all leaves and not filling? With these amazing ideas for protein-filled salads you’ll have the right amount of protein and fresh ingredients in a convenient bowl you can eat anywhere. Which one will you try first?