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When you think of salad, the typical lettuce and chopped vegetable combo may come to mind. I assure you, salads are much more than that. There are endless creative combos to make salads inspiring and delicious. Enjoy them for lunch or dinner. They don’t need to be boring. I hope the high protein vegetarian salads featured in this post inspire you to get creative in the kitchen!
Why Meal Prep is Important for Disabled People
If you’re living with chronic pain and/or fatigue, the last thing you’ll want to do is cook everyday. You likely don’t have the energy for that which is why it is crucial to have healthy meals and snacks cooked in advance to have ready in a pinch, especially on the days you are in pain or are exhausted. Having meals prepped ahead frees up your schedule to focus on other areas of your life, such as your health, career, medical appointments, family, and leisure. I suggest prepping your meals on days when you have energy or you are not in as much pain.
If you have a mobility disability, cooking may take up more time than it would for someone who is able-bodied. It may also be an energy-draining activity or be hard on your back. Meal prep is key here so you don’t have to spend hours everyday preparing meals. You can spend a couple hours once or twice a week preparing meals and snacks and have them ready on hand. It is a huge time and energy saver.
Cooking may be harder for those with limited grip strength or hand mobility. In this case, meal prep salads or one bowl/pot meals are great because they require limited equipment, chopping, and simple ingredients. If cooking is not an option for you, you can still be involved in your meal prep! I recommend choosing the recipes you want each week and making a shopping list (maybe even ordering your groceries online). If you have support workers or family members who usually cook for you, have them prepare the meals you chose! For tips on getting started with meal prep, download my FREE Meal Prep Planner for People with Disabilities here.
How to Build Nutritionally Balanced High Protein Vegetarian Salads
Salads are great summer meal prep recipes. To make it a complete and filling meal, be sure to include a protein source, whole grain carbohydrate, vegetables, lettuce, healthy fats, and a delicious salad dressing. If a salad is low in protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats then it likely won’t keep you full for long and it won’t be satisfying. Note that not all salads need to have lettuce. See below for examples.
- Romaine lettuce
- Spring greens
- Boston lettuce
- Butterhead lettuce
Vegetables (Raw or Cooked)
- Brussels sprouts
- Green onion
- Jackfruit (such as this BBQ jackfruit)
Whole Grain Carbohydrates
- Whole grain pasta (or gluten free version)
- Whole grain spaghetti
- Rice noodles
- Baked whole wheat pita chips
- Sweet potatoes
Vegetarian Protein Sources
- Kidney beans
- Chickpeas (raw or crispy)
- White beans
- Black beans
- Lentil meatballs
- Bean burgers
- Vegetarian meat alternatives (ie. veggie dogs, veggie crumble, plant-based burgers, nuggets, etc.)
- Cheese (feta, goat cheese, parmesan, cheddar, mozzarella)
- Nuts (almonds, walnuts, pecans, pistachios, pine nuts, cashews)
- Seeds (Hemp seeds, sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds)
These are additional items that add extra crunch, flavor, and variety to salads.
- Fruit (apples, berries, etc.)
- Dried fruit (raisins, cranberries, apricots)
- Fresh herbs (basil, cilantro, dill, chives, cilantro, parsley, mint)
- Pita chips
How to Keep Salad Fresh All Week for Meal Prep
No one likes a mushy salad. That’s why I suggest storing salad ingredients in separate containers and mixing them together each day when preparing your meal.
Check out these meal prep containers or these to store your meal prep salads.
Tips for Storing Your Meal Prep Salad
- Keep the grain stored in a separate container without sauce or dressing on it.
- If your salad has cheese, slice the cheese in cubes (or whichever way you like it) and store in an individual container.
- Chop up lettuce (or buy pre-washed, pre-chopped lettuce) and keep dry in a separate container.
- Store chopped vegetables together without sauce or dressing (eg. chopped cucumber, tomato, onion). If adding beans or legumes, you can store them in this container too.
- If adding boiled eggs to your salad, store those with the shell on in an individual container.
- If you plan to add nuts, seeds, or dried fruit, top them on the salad right before you plan to eat it so they stay crispy. Same applies for croutons, pita chips, etc.
- If making a homemade dressing, store in a jar or container and mix it right before you eat the salad. You can also use store bought dressing.
Assembling Your High Protein Vegetarian Salads
- Your lettuce / greens serve as the base so place these at the bottom of the bowl
- Next add your grain
- Then add the chopped vegetables (raw or cooked)
- Now add your protein source(s) such as eggs, cheese, or legumes
- Sprinkle on and nuts, seeds, dried fruit, croutons, or pita chips
- Add in 1-2 tbsp of dressing and mix together before enjoying a delicious meal!
High Protein Vegetarian Salads
Greek Chickpea Salad Meal Prep Bowls from Skinnytaste
Who doesn’t love Greek salad? These bowls are delicious and I love that the chickpeas add extra fiber and plant-based protein. When I make these, I like boiling enough eggs for the week to include one egg in each bowl. You can also add pita chips or whole grain pasta to make it extra filling and to add more fiber.
Vegan Buddha Bowl by Tasty
This recipe has two versions: a tofu bowl and chickpea bowl. I love the variety of ingredients in each version. The chickpea bowl includes sweet potatoes, quinoa, chickpeas (of course!), avocado and pumpkin seeds. Asides from tofu, the tofu bowl has broccoli, edamame, rice, and sesame seeds. Such great flavor combos!
Lentil Feta Salad from Jackie Silver Nutrition
This is my favorite summer meal prep salad. The combination of the lentils, feta, eggs, sunflower seeds, and parsley is super refreshing. This is a simple, quick, one bowl recipe.
Marinated Tofu, Avocado, and Spinach Salad with Creamy Toasted Sesame & Soy Dressing from I Love Vegan
Tofu is an awesome and nutrient-dense plant-based protein to include in your salads. This recipe is high in protein, fiber, and calcium and the dressing is packed with umami flavor.
Tempeh Taco Salad Meal Prep Bowls from Eating Bird Food
Tempeh is a highly underrated vegan protein. It is made from fermented soy beans making it a source of gut friendly probiotics. It is also high in protein and fiber. The spices and tomato sauce used to make this tempeh crumble help mask the plain flavor of tempeh and add spice and punch. These tempeh taco salad bowls are a satiating, nutritionally balanced meal with protein, high-fibre carbohydrates (from the black beans), healthy fats from avocado, and vegetables.
Falafel Salad Meal Prep Bowls by Sweet Peas and Saffron
Falafels don’t only belong in pita! This recipe is made with lots of fresh vegetables, a creamy maple tahini dressing, baked falafel balls, and pita, making it a refreshing, balanced summer salad.
Vegan Sushi Bowls from Running on Real Food
These sushi bowls make a complete meal with protein (from edamame), healthy fats (avocado), and carbohydrates and fiber (rice and sweet potato). Plus it’s topped with nori (seaweed) and a spicy cashew mayo. Edamame are another under-rated plant-based protein that is high in protein and other nutrients.
Roasted Broccoli Sweet Potato Chickpea Salad from Minimalist Baker
This salad is different from your typical recipes because it’s made with roasted vegetables and doesn’t have lettuce. It is very high in fiber and protein and packed with delicious flavor from the garlic dill sauce.
Cold Chopped Quinoa Salad with Eggs from Walder Wellness
This cold, refreshing salad makes a wonderful summer lunch or dinner meal prep dish. Plus it was written by a registered dietitian! It takes less than 30 minutes to make and it is a nutritionally balanced meal with protein (from eggs), whole grains (from quinoa), and vegetables and fruit (pomegranates). It’s also super high in antioxidants from the beautiful pomegranates.
Easy Halloumi Salad with Couscous from Walder Wellness
Halloumi cheese is one of my favorite kinds of cheese – it is delicious grilled or fried. Halloumi pairs well with arugula and couscous. I love that this recipe has beets, strawberries and grapes in it as well. It is filled with lots of different flavors. Plus it is written by a dietitian.
I hope you enjoy these high protein vegetarian salads! Comment below to let me know which ones you plan to make. As always, tag me on Instagram or send me a DM to let me know how they were!
Jackie is a Toronto-based Registered Dietitian with a Masters of Health Science (MHSc) in Nutrition Communications, whose mission is to empower and support people with disabilities to manage their condition, prevent complications, and live active lifestyles through nutrition. Jackie runs a virtual private practice and consulting business and runs her blog which has simple recipes and health information for the disability community.