Salad Days

Are your salads boring?  Read our guide to learn how to make them into a truly delicious meal in their own right.

Salads can be a complete meal incorporating all the elements you need – protein, good fats, leafy greens, veggies and grains. And if you’re into meal prepping for work lunches or your evening meal, salads offer the perfect all-in-one solution.  Here’s how to build your perfect salad.

1.   Leafy greens
By definition, salads include leafy greens.  While the humble iceberg is great for crunch, mix up your greens by using a combination for more visual and textural interest. Choose two or more of the following:

  • 2-3 cups of mixed green leaves such as mesclun
  • A cup of shredded kale or cabbage
  • 2-3 cups of another flavour or texture such as rocket or baby spinach.

2.   Vegetables… and fruit?
Some roasted or raw veggies can really lift the nutritional value of your salads and add flavour, colour and texture.  Add at least two of these:

  • sweet potato, tossed in olive oil and a little sea salt and roasted
  • zucchini ribbons (simply shave down the length of a raw zucchini with a potato peeler)
  • grated raw carrot
  • florets of blanched or lightly steamed broccoli or stems of broccolini or asparagus
  • sliced Spanish onions
  • half an avocado

Fruit isn’t something you will find in a traditional salad but the addition of fruit can really give your salads a burst of flavour. Consider:

  •  sliced peach or nectarine
  •   a handful of blueberries
  • thinly sliced grapefruit or orange segments
  • dried fruits such as currants, dates or cranberries, but go easy on these due to their sugar content.

3.   Choose your protein
In order to be filling, a salad should include some protein. Without it you’ll be hungry within an hour or two. If you eat meat, about 60-90g per person of sliced lean meat is a great addition, otherwise some canned or smoked fish, some tofu or pulses will help you increase your daily protein intake.  Choose one of:

  • grilled salmon, smoked salmon or cold smoked salmon
  • canned tuna (ideally in brine)
  • 2 boiled or poached eggs
  • Half a cup of cooked or canned lentils, beans or chickpeas
  • chicken breast
  •  lamb or beef fillet
  • tofu or tempeh

A quarter of a cup of feta, goat’s cheese or mozzarella sprinkled on top of any of these will also boast your protein and add another layer of flavour.

4.   Add some grains
Along with protein, salads benefit from the addition of grains. They will give you energy and help you stay fuller longer.  Add, per person, half a cup of cooked:

  • quinoa
  • brown rice
  • wild rice
  • freekeh
  •  bulgar

5.   Now for the dressing
Avoid creamy mayonnaise and ready-made dressings – this is where you can undo your healthy choices and consume a lot of hidden calories and unhealthy oils. Your healthiest choice is a vinaigrette made with olive oil and balsamic, white or red wine vinegar in the proportion 3:1 - three parts oil to one part vinegar. Add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard for some zing, plus some salt and pepper.

If you like a creamy dressing, another option is a yogurt dressing which uses yogurt in place of oil.  Take a ¼ cup of yoghurt, ¼ cup cider vinegar or lemon juice and a tablespoon of honey and mix together. Add a teaspoon of Dijon mustard and a grind or salt and pepper.

6.   Finally – add crunch
If you’re not allergic to nuts, add some chopped almonds, cashews, or walnuts to your salad. Other sources of crunch are pepitas, oven-roasted chickpeas, or toasted and crumbled tortillas.

So your tasty, healthy, crunchy and protein-filled salad is assembled. We guarantee it will keep your hunger at bay and give you the energy and nutrients you need for a busy day.

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