With summer not that far away, our thoughts often turn to salads! In fact, we all tend to eat many more salads when the weather gets warmer than during the winter months. However, if the thought of another plateful of ‘leaves’ fills you with dread, then think again!
Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, shares her top five salad recipes with a difference. You’ll never dread those leaves again! And don’t forget, just because it’s called ‘salad’ it doesn’t always need to contain lettuce!
Delicious Tuna Rice Salad
Depending on how many you want to feed, you’ll need some brown rice, eggs, large tomatoes, a green pepper, olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice and some canned tuna in brine, some mint leaves and black olives. This is a variation on a Tuna Nicoise salad, but it’s quicker to prepare. All you need to do is to cook the rice as per the instructions, hard boil the eggs and chop the vegetables. This recipe is high in protein with the tuna and egg, so you’ll keep fuller for longer, plus the addition of the rice makes it a really sustaining and tasty meal. Brown rice contains so many more B vitamins than white rice, which are great for energy levels, and the salad vegetables, with their lovely dark colours, contain a wealth of nutrients, particularly antioxidants, to keep you looking young!
Spicy Bean Salad
There are so many varieties of beans and all of them provide great health benefits, therefore you can swap them around in this recipe! Beans provide some good protein, so are really popular with vegetarians, as well as good levels of minerals. Even better, they contain phytoestrogens which are especially helpful for women to keep their hormones in good balance.
For this recipe you can use canned mixed beans (otherwise beans need to be soaked before cooking them), a large tomato, some chopped coriander and some green beans which should just be lightly steamed. Then mix all the ingredients together with some soy sauce, salt, lemon juice and olive oil. This makes a great lunch time dish which is easily transportable and will keep your blood sugar levels balanced all afternoon!
‘Interesting’ Green Salad
For those who feel the need for leaves, and let’s face it, there’s plenty of good reasons to eat them, then you just need to be more creative. Think baby spinach, trimmed broccoli florets, shredded white cabbage, sliced cucumber and rocket. For a little twist, you can also crumble some blue cheese over this and maybe some chopped walnuts. This salad works really well with a pesto dressing – use pesto, lemon juice and olive oil – and you’ve created something truly amazing!
As Popeye knows, spinach is a great source of iron but broccoli is a true ‘superfood’. The fact that you’re eating it raw helps to retain more of its nutrient content, particularly the vitamin C, which is so easily destroyed during cooking.
Roasted Vegetable Salad
This dish is really colourful and great to eat all year round. You can either keep it as a mixed roasted vegetable salad or add some rocket to get the ‘green’ hit! The mainstay of this salad is sweet potato; not wishing to denigrate the humble white potato but sweet potatoes contain so many more nutrients, partly due to their deep colours. They are rich in carotenoids which produce vitamin A in the body - great for the skin, eyes and immune system.
Slice the potato and roast in the oven with some red peppers and onions (if desired). Leave to cool and then mix some chopped beetroot, rocket, olive oil, balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper.
Vine Tomato Salad
There’s almost nothing better than the taste of ripe, on-the-vine tomatoes! You can sometimes get the really tasty ones from supermarkets, or otherwise farmer’s markets, at this time of year. Give them a good sniff before you buy them to make sure that scent is just perfect and then they’ll taste wonderful too!
Tomatoes are rich in lycopene which is a powerful antioxidant but they’re also packed full of vitamins and minerals. All you need to do is to slice some tomatoes, add chopped basil and crushed garlic, with some rocket leaves and mix together with some salt, olive oil and pepper. It really is as simple as that but it’s actually all about the taste of the tomatoes. This makes a great accompaniment to more or less anything!
So, get creative with your salad preparation and you’ll never bemoan the word again!