Mediterranean Salad & The Macronutrients

By Kelsie White

Mediterranean Salad & The Macronutrients

Nutrition Bites | Week 24

Welcome to Nutrition Bites, Week 24! This week we will be focusing on a refreshing recipe for a Mediterranean Salad. We will also be talking about the three macronutrients as well as how to make salad a complete and balanced meal. Let’s begin!

Mediterranean Salad


Tofu Marinade:

  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon dill
  • ½ teaspoon oregano

Lemon Dressing:

  • 4 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon oregano

Salad Ingredients:

  • Chopped lettuce
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Kalamata olives
  • Cooked quinoa
  • Chickpeas or kidney beans


  • Cook 1 cup quinoa according to package instructions.
  • Prepare tofu: Press tofu for 30 minutes. Combine marinade ingredients and let tofu soak for as long as time allows. Overnight is ideal.
  • Combine dressing ingredients in a small jar and shake well to combine.
  • Prepare remaining salad ingredients.
  • Assemble salad and enjoy!
The Macronutrients

Before we talk about salads as a meal, I first want to review the macronutrients. The first macronutrient is carbohydrates. Carbohydrate-containing foods supply the body and brain with glucose, our preferred type of fuel to make energy. Plant carbohydrate foods also supply fiber, a very important nutrient when it comes to satiety, blood sugar management and dietary interventions for chronic diseases. Some whole food examples include fruits, starchy carbohydrates like potatoes and corn, and whole grains, such as brown rice and quinoa. Check out one of our previous articles for more information on whole grains.

Proteins are the next macronutrients. They are an important nutrient, as they promote growth and repair of our bodies. They also help to curb our blood sugar response to foods and help us feel full. Some whole food plant-based examples include beans, lentils and legumes, nuts and seeds, and avocados.

The third macronutrient is fats. Fats are important at a cellular level because they are incorporated into our cell walls. On a broader level, they also help to keep us feeling full and satiated after eating a meal. Some whole food plant sources of dietary fats include avocados, nuts and seeds and olives. Plant oils and nut butters are also sources; however, these are more processed options.

Remember, a food is not just one single nutrient, but rather a “package” of nutrients. This means that foods can provide multiple nutrients, like nuts and seeds providing both protein and fat. Instead of thinking of your diet in terms of isolated nutrients, think about the overall pattern and aim for a variety of whole plant foods to ensure you get all the nutrients you need.

How to Make Salad a Complete Meal

Salads are the perfect opportunity to have a well-balanced, yet healthy meal. But there are a few things to keep in mind. Your standard side salad at a restaurant probably won’t provide you all the nutrients you need for a complete meal, but with a few extra ingredients, this can be achieved. One of my favorite visuals for making this happen comes from the American College of Lifestyle Medicine (ACLM). The components to always include in a salad are leafy greens, other veggies, protein, fiber-rich carbohydrates, healthy fats, and toppers for extra flavor. Incorporating these 6 categories will ensure a well-rounded meal that will keep you feeling full and satisfied. Check out the handout from ACLM here.

More Salad Recipes

If you are ready to start including more salads in your weekly routine but aren’t sure where to start, I have a few great recipes to get you started. Check out these recipes for a Loaded Kale Salad, Grilled Corn Salad, and a Roasted Squash and Arugula Salad, all from the Minimalist Baker. Also check out her page for “22 Hearty Plant-Based Salads.” So many great options here!

Weekly Challenge 

Like I said before, salads are a great way to get a wide variety of nutrients. This week, I want to challenge you to make a balanced salad for lunch or dinner two times this week. Enjoy!

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