The summer months often consist of high temps and days packed with activities.  Rather than cooking over a hot stove or turning on the oven, I personally prefer to keep my meals quick, easy and cool!  My go-to meal tends to be some variation of a summer salad using quality, seasonal produce.  That being said, I place a big focus on making sure that my salads are substantial and nutrient dense.  While your typical salad veggies offer a ton of nutrients, they won’t quite fill you up and definitely won’t offer you the nutrient profile found in quality protein and fiber-rich carbohydrates.  If your salad serves as your main meal, make sure it’s going to give you the energy you need by bulking it up with some of the add-ins below!




This is key in any meal, but especially salads!  

  • Chicken
  • Shrimp
  • Fish
  • Tofu
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Crab/lobster
  • Tuna salad
  • Chicken salad
  • Chickpeas 
  • Edamame 
  • Beans 




Adding a carb is a great way to be sure that you’re getting in a good source of energy to get you through the long summer days!

  • Farro
  • Bulgur
  • Quinoa
  • Rice
  • Lentils
  • Sweet potato
  • Corn 
  • Peas



Including fats will ensure that you’re able to absorb all the fat-soluble vitamins you’re getting in your salad!

  • Olive-oil based dressing
  • Nuts (walnuts, almonds, pecans, pistachios, etc.)
  • Seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, hemp, etc.)
  • Avocados
  • Olives 


Burst of flavor.

My goal when making salads is that they’re flavorful enough that I don’t need to rely on dressing! 

  • Berries
  • Mandarins
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Apples
  • Grapes 
  • Peaches
  • Pickled red onions
  • Dried cranberries
  • Sweet potato



If you’re a cheese person, this is important.  I personally prefer goat cheese or fresh mozzarella, but any cheese will do.  Aim for grass-fed and organic, if possible!


Most people season their food with herbs and spices, but don’t think to do the same for their salads.  This can be a game changer flavor-wise!


Adding some type of crunch to salads just feels right.  If you’ve gone down the list, you might have already checked this box.  Things like nuts, seeds, and crisp fruit like apples will do the trick! 

If you’re not a salad person, I would argue that maybe your salads just need a little boost.  So, whether you’re packing lunches for work/camp, or you’re opting for an easy summertime dinner, don’t settle for a skimpy salad!


*Team Active content is not medical advice; it’s inspiration to live actively!


Written by:
Isabel Debnam, a Registered Dietitian supporting the nutritional needs at Active Wellness Centers Petaluma and Napa.

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