How to create a healthy salad that tastes great!
Salads are one of the best ways to get lots of minerals, vitamins, antioxidants and other phytochemicals into your diet, that are all important for each process that occurs in your body. They are also low calorie, incredibly tasty and so, so easy to make!
When making your salad, keep in mind that it should take up at least half the size of your plate and be the majority of your meal. Your protein (meat, chicken, fish, legumes) should be the size of a deck of cards (double if you are a very active and athletic person), as should your carbohydrates.
This is a step-by-step guide to help you create a delicious salad with a range of different nutrients to give your health a boost.
Fresh salad with grilled kangaroo steak and sauerkraut
1. Don’t be so radicchio – STEP AWAY from the iceberg lettuce!!
Start with your lettuces – rocket, spinach, radicchio, kale, swiss chard, bok choy, chinese broccoli, red cabbage, endive, wombok, green, red, whatever!
A nice mix of leaves will give you a variety of nutrients, and the more bitter they taste, the more stimulating they are to your digestion. Aim for at least a cup of these.
2. Add at least 3 fresh, raw vegetables
Choose fresh veggies you know that you enjoy and cut them into bite-sized pieces – the more colour the better! Experiment with how you cut your vegies to make them a bit more exciting, such as peeling long thin strips of zucchini or cucumber, grating some carrot or radish, melon balling some avocado or chopping your vegetables into matchsticks.
Cucumber, grated carrot (orange and purple), celery, snow peas, avocado, capsicum (any colour), broccoli, onion (red, spring, shallots, etc), red cabbage, tomato, sprouts (bean, alfalfa, garlic, onion, watercress, etc), orange, apple, pear, grated beetroot, green beans, wombok, kale, grapes, zucchini
My Asian Ribbon Salad with strips of carrot and zucchini, chicken breast and a spicy dressing
3. Add 1-2 tablespoons of seeds and/or chopped raw nuts
Seeds and nuts provide more minerals, good fats, fibre and protein to your salad, and a crunchy texture.
Walnuts, chia seeds, almonds, pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sunflower seeds, flax/linseeds, brazil nuts, sesame seeds, pine nuts, cashews, macadamia, pistachio, hazelnuts
4. Choose your protein
Protein should be a part of every meal, including snacks! Protein is essential for energy and neurotransmitter production (so it keeps you going and keeps you happy!) If you’re mixing this into your salad, don’t forget to chop it into bite-sized chunks.
Egg, mackerel, kangaroo steak, kidney beans, tempeh, tofu, chicken, salmon, turkey, lamb, beef, sardines, quinoa, crab, prawns, chickpeas, tinned or fresh tuna, lentils, smoked trout, smoked salmon, felafel
Don’t forget to add a carbohydrate source (1/2 cup) (buckwheat, quinoa, brown rice, amaranth, barley, lentils, chickpeas, beans, potato, sweet potato) if you choose a vegetarian option, to make sure you provide your body with a complete amino acid profile.
5. Be adventurous
Now add at least 1 ingredient that you’ve either never tried before, wouldn’t usually think of as a salad ingredient, or haven’t eaten in a long time, because you think you don’t like it – you might surprise yourself! By doing this you are exposing your tastebuds to new flavours, and giving yourself more options for nourishing yourself in the future
Sauerkraut, sprouts, tomato, quinoa, cucumber, celery, pear, a new lettuce, radish, buckwheat, red onion, fennel, a new nut/seed/pulse/vegetable/fruit, chia seeds, tinned tuna, burghul wheat, parsley, olives, watermelon, raw zucchini
Tinned tuna gets friendly with avocado and fresh parsley, lemon juice and Australian extra virgin olive oil
6. Get creative with herbs (and spices)
If you still aren’t convinced that your salad is going to be super delicious, play around with herbs, for more flavour (and nutrients) - fresh basil always goes well in a salad, but try something new:
Parsley, oregano, rosemary, coriander, chilli, garlic, marjoram, ginger, cracked pepper, chive, thyme, dill, fennel, horseradish, mint, lemon thyme, lemon, mustard, tumeric, lemongrass
You may like to add these straight into your salad, or spike your salad dressing to carry the flavour through.
7. Dress it up!
Always choose cold-pressed oil, and lightly drizzle with something acidic. You shouldn’t need more than 1Tbl of each.
My favourite combination is extra virgin olive oil (Aussie olive oil is always best!) with a wedge of lemon & cracked pepper.
You could also try:
OILS: chia oil, avocado oil, flax seed oil, walnut oil, grape seed oil, rice bran oil, coconut oil, extra virgin olive oil
ACIDS: apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, verjuice, red wine vinegar, vino cotto, fresh lime, fresh orange, fresh lemon
While enjoying your salad, to chew it up adequately (aim for 20 chews per mouthful) so that you can get as much goodness out of it as possible.
So, start with something you know you like and add new ingredients to create your perfect salad – easy!
Good luck! And don’t forget to let me know how you go, and if you have any questions.