These days a salad means so much more than iceberg lettuce with some cucumber and tomato! I used to view a salad as a meal that will never fill me up or truly satisfy me, but how untrue this is now! I often have a salad as a hearty lunch or even a healthy dinner option as there are so many different combinations of ingredients to put together – so you can benefit from a wide variety of nutrients. I want to share with you my favourite additions to a salad in the hope to inspire you to get sassy with a salad sometime soon!!
I always start with a base, normally spinach or some dark leafy greens (higher in nutrients than your average iceberg!) with some cucumber and pepper … and then add …
1. Protein source
I am a carnivore, so naturally I always think of some sort of meat or fish to give my salad a protein punch to help fill me up and give my metabolism something to work on. Salmon is an absolute favourite (great source of omega 3 essential fats), but you can’t beat a succulent steak (great for an iron boost if you’re feeling low!). You can of course get your protein from vegetarian sources too, such as cheese (more on that below), eggs, beans and even grains like quinoa
2. Go nuts!
Nuts are a great addition to any salad. I love pecan nuts on a salad but am also a fan of cashews, and also pine nuts. All of them are a great source of healthy fats, and naturally they are satisfying too. Pecans are particularly high in magnesium and contain plant sterols (compounds that lower cholesterol), Cashews are great for iron and zinc, and pine nuts are also a good source of iron, and magnesium too.
3. Cheese Gromit?
I love cheese. Yes I know “it’s high in fat”, but I don’t worry too much about dairy fats in my diet. But of course, I am mindful of the portion size. I was once told by a chef that the softer the cheese, the less fat there was … which generally seems to hold true! Good that, because my favourite cheeses to have on a salad are mozzarella and feta, nom nom!! They add such a nice texture, and of course taste, and provide a good source of satisfying fats and protein too. On top of this they provide fat-soluble vitamins and a source of calcium.
4. Onion breath.
The worst part about including onion has to be the onion breath … but I just can’t help myself (just be sure to spike your partner’s salad with them too!!). Red onion is up there on the list, plus it is really high in quercetin (a plant pigment / flavanol which has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects), so it’s pretty good for you too! My ultimate has to be spring onions though, which are a great source of vitamin C and a good source of fibre (they also contain quercetin, just not quite as much).
I don’t like that word too much, but I couldn’t decide between avocado and beetroot for my last topping, so I thought I would use the word so I could cover them both !! So, avocados … I have declared my love for the health benefits of avocados in a recent blog, and they go so well in a salad as they add a lovely creamy texture and taste. As for beetroots, if any of you are into fitness then get them down you – they are full of nitrates which are excellent at helping the body utilise oxygen, which research has shown can help improve athletic performance! Admittedly I have to be in the mood for these earthy tasting creatures, but when I am they go down a treat.
So there you have it, Sophie’s spectacular salad ideas! I hope you can now enjoy a satisfying salad sometime soon!