Wednesday, 6 May 2015


A big, nice bowl of salad is the symbol of healthy eating. However, most of the people think salad is boring. And it is if we stuck in the same routine and make the same salad all the time. Here is a small guide to shaking up our salads.

Oh, those healthy greens...

I love making salads. This is a dish when I can be really creative: I can play with flavours, textures, shapes - and colours. It is a play really. 

But even me sometimes run out of ideas. So I have put together a little guide how to build up the perfect salad.

Why should we eat salad?

Here are the main reasons:

1) Salads deliver not just fibre but important trace elements to our body. 
The nutritional benefits of green leafy vegetables are numerous: besides they are a good source of fibre - they are high in folic acid, iron, calcium, potassium and magnesium.  They also provide a variety of phytonutrients like beta-carotene, lutein and Vitamins like vitamins K, C, and E.

2) It does not need any special skills or gadget to make it and it is quick.
A quick salad can be made using only your hands. The result will be rustic: the teared up vegetables and other ingredients are attractive and mouthwatering.

3) Economic: you can use up leftovers in salads
Nearly everything can be used up in salads: raw nuts, seeds, stale bread, leftover pasta, cooked grains, cooked or roasted meat, chicken, fish, tinned vegetables or fish, eggs, cheeses etc. Whatever you can find in your fridge, freezer or cupboard. It does not matter how small that amount is that leftover - you can pair them to make a filling main: for instance chicken with chorizo, ham with eggs, or mix two or more types of cheese... the number of variations are endless.

4) Low in calories - carb free
A whole head of lettuce is 53 calories. Sounds good, isn't it? Perfect in a weight loss diet. Just be careful with the topping and especially with the dressings: high-calorie toppings like bacon or creamy dressings can raise the calorie content dramatically - and actually make the salad less healthy than a bowl of pasta or stew. 

5) You can make your own
You can use your favourites to make it your own. Do not like lettuce? Use Spinach, chard, kale or cabbage as a base. Are you on a low-calorie diet? Just add lean meat or boiled eggs and instead of using dressing just add a tiny bit of olive oil and lemon juice. Do you want to make it festive? Add roasted turkey, chopped cranberries and roasted walnut. 

Healthy eating

6) It is not seasonal
We can enjoy salad in every season and we can add seasonal ingredients. Just a couple of examples wild garlic in spring, fresh courgettes in summer, roasted pumpkin in autumn or citrus fruits in winter. As I said, it is a play. :-)                          

How to make the perfect salad?

The base

Green salad leaves, lettuce, spinach, spring greens, bok-choi, kale, chard, beet leaves, sliced cabbage, blanched green beans, asparagus or sugar snap peas, cooked lentils or beans, sliced fennel, grated courgettes, finely sliced cucumber

Protein topping

Finely sliced roast beef or pork, cooked, grilled or roast chicken, turkey or other poultry, grilled fish like salmon, cod, or basa fillet, cooked prawns, boiled or poached eggs, strips of freshly grilled steak, tofu, paneer, fried halloumi, grated cheddar type cheese, mozzarella or blue cheese pieces

Bulk it up

With grains: quinoa, couscous, pearl barley, bulgur, wild rice, brown rice

Make it exciting

Adding grilled vegetables: red onion, tomatoes, courgettes, aubergine, asparagus,
Fruits: pear, grapefruit, grapes, kiwi, apple

Add a crunch

Crispy chorizo slices, a few tortilla chips, crunchy fruits like pear, crunchy vegetables like carrots, celeriac, radish, asparagus, fennel, nuts: walnut, brazil nuts, almond, seeds: pine nuts, pumpkin seed, flax seed, sunflower seeds


Stay on the light side: avoid ready-made shop dressings and make a quick, light and fresh dressing
Add herbs: parsley, coriander, chives, basil, oregano, fresh or fried sage

Do not forget to thoroughly wash all ingredients - including salad leaves - before using them in your salad.
Some greens (e.g. spinach, kale) contain oxalates which may bind some percentage of the calcium in the greens, so they may be careful eating these all the time.

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