Having said that, the quickest way to be deterred from ever eating another leaf is to be presented with a limp bowl of wilting lettuce and a few wrinkly tomatoes. So that does not happen to you, here are some of my favourite healthy salad recipes.
Luckily wherever you are in the world, ‘Summer’ months are when the fields, orchards, woodlands, and of course our own garden vegetable patches are brimming with tasty offerings at their peak. Even most supermarket produce is local when in season.
My search for interesting salads stems from a personal one. I have a sensitivity to the nightshade group of vegetables which means that tomatoes, peppers, chilli, white potatoes and aubergines (sob, my favourite ) are out, and this has led to some experimenting when it comes to what I make both as a side dish and even as a main meal, to stop me getting bored.
With each trip to the supermarket, buy one fruit, vegetable or salad item (it can be as simple as a fresh herb you’ve never tried) and then at home find something to do with it. You’ll be amazed what you’ve been missing out on!
-The bigger variety of ingredients you use, the broader variety of nutrients you’ll be eating.
-Whilst the Government recommends 5 portions of fruit and veg a day, most nutrition professionals agree this is not enough, and adding variety will encourage you to eat more since you won’t get bored.
-Many of the antioxidants in fresh produce is found in the actual pigment (colour), so eat a variety of brightly coloured foods.
-Similarly, highly flavourful foods like herbs and spices are also high in nutrients, a great reason to make your salad as tasty as possible!
Here are three delicious salads that I most definitely recommend you add to your repertoire this Summer.
Serves 4 as a side dish.
Add some hard boiled eggs to this to turn it into a light meal.
500-600 g cauliflower florets
A red onion, finely chopped
1 tsp. dill
1 tbsp. lemon juice
200g Greek yoghurt
Salt and pepper
Cut the cauliflower into florets and steam until just done, then allow to cool.
Slice the onions.
Mix the remaining ingredients together then stir in the cauliflower and onion.
Think bacon & eggs are for breakfast? Think again! This is a fresh take on that fab combination; packed with protein, fibre and some ‘good’ fats. The perfect balance.
4 rashers lean back bacon
2 heads little gem lettuce
2 carrots, grated
2 tomatoes, sliced
2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp. red wine vinegar
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Chop the bacon into small pieces and dry-fry (or use spray oil) until crispy, then set aside.
Meanwhile place the egg in a saucepan of boiling water, and let simmer for 10 minutes, then remove from the hot water and place in a bowl of cold water to halt the egg cooking and speed up cooling.
Place lettuce in a salad bowl along with the carrot and tomato. Slice the egg and add to the salad with the bacon.
Mix the oil, vinegar, salt and pepper (in a jar is useful as you can screw the lid on and shake well to mix), pour over the salad and toss together until everything is evenly coated in the dressing.
Why don’t people use fruit more in their salads? Fruit shouldn’t be eaten in unlimited quantities as it does contain sugar, and sugar is sugar wherever it comes from (not that sugar is ‘bad’ per se, but we shouldn’t eat it in buckets). Once in a while it really spruces up a dish, especially salty ones like seafood.
400g shelled raw king prawns
4 tbsp. olive oil
Juice of ½ a lemon
4 cloves garlic, crushed
Juice of 1 lime
450 g seeded or seedless watermelon, chopped into bite size pieces
150 g honeydew melon, seeded and chopped into bite size pieces
½ a cucumber, seeded, and chopped into bite size pieces
1 red onion, finely chopped
2 handfuls fresh mint, finely chopped
Preheat the grill to medium-high.
Mix together all the ingredients except the prawns.
Thread the prawns onto skewers, place in a roasting tray, and pour over the liquid mixture.
Place under the hot grill for 10 minutes or until the prawns are thoroughly pink, turning once halfway through. Serve drizzled with liquid from the tin.
While the prawns are cooking make the salad.
Put the melon, cucumber, onion and mint in a bowl, pour over the lime juice and toss together with some freshly ground black pepper. Serve alongside the prawns.
Your Summer dining need never be restricted to burnt sausages and undercooked burgers again!
Do let me know what you think if you try them in the comments below. Or perhaps you have your own healthy salads recipes to share? I’m always looking for new ideas so let me know if there’s one I ‘just have to try’!