Zhoosh up your salad
Salad…don’t think about the one your aunt used to make with the iceberg lettuce, cucumber and tomato. Don’t think about the one they feature in the diet commercial, with the sad lady eating who is still hungry after eating it.
Think about those beautiful salads you see on Instagram or Pinterest! The ones that look so inviting to eat and are probably tasty and healthy!
Yep. Those salads! Today we’ll dive into how you can also zhoosh up your salad.
People often think that healthy eating and salads have to be boring, leave you hungry and be unsatisfying. However, as a dietician I can tell you that it doesn’t have to be that way! Here are a few easy tricks and tips you can follow to make any salad unforgettable!
1. It’s all about the base
Yes, Megan Trainor knew it first, but lettuce doesn’t always have to be only base of a salad. I enjoy mixing it up with both lettuce and handfuls of baby spinach, however you may even choose to go the route of choosing spiralized zucchini, cucumber, peppers or green beans. Even doing ribbons of carrot might work well and will bring another colour into the mix.
The bottom line:
- Choose any veggie as the base.
- Play with the form in which you put it in the salad (ribbons, julienne, rounds, finely chopped).
- Blanch* veggies like broccoli and green beans before using.
*Boil for 2-3 minutes
2. Focus on fibre
Salads are notorious for not being filling or satisfying and leaving you hungry again in an hour, which does make a bit of sense because it is a lower calorie meal – but in order to break that stigma we need to make sure that enough fibre (and lean proteins – which will be my next point) is added.
Fibre can either come in the form of:
- Healthy complex carbohydrates like couscous, lentils, quinoa, bulgur wheat, barley or brown rice.
- Tasty nuts and seeds (I love to roast mine to give them some extra flavour)
- Avocado (yep, it has a lot of fibre)
And a plus side is that fibre assists in keeping your blood glucose levels controlled, decreases cholesterol and helps keep you regular.
3. Learn to love lean proteins
Salads don’t always have to be a side dish, they can be a main meal if they are bulked up a bit. This is possible when adding lean protein!
Good options are:
- Skinless chicken breast
- Boiled egg
- Fish (tuna, pilchards, hake, salmon)
- Beans (chickpeas, butterbeans, kidney beans)
- Lentils (also good for adding colour)
Any protein option really, there are no specific rules.
4. Dressing is a blessing
Salad dressings really get a bad rap unnecessarily. They can complement your salad immensely if used correctly! Usually they are quite calorie-dense so remember that moderation is key!
Making your own dressing is also very easy and a basic vinaigrette only has few ingredients – oil, vinegar, honey, mustard, salt and pepper! Using high quality ingredients will lead to a tastier dressing.
The ratio is 1:3 for vinegar and oil.
- I tend to go for balsamic vinegar, red wine vinegar or lemon/lime juice instead of vinegar (but each person can choose as they please).
- Also, using different oils with different flavour profiles will influence your dressing. Play around with sesame, peanut, avocado, macadamia, extra virgin olive or even truffle oil.
Experiment by adding herbs, soy sauce etc.
5. Flavour for first place
Flavour is really what sets a salad apart for me and with the dressings already getting us halfway there, these last pointers will get us to full marks.
- Textures: Be sure to incorporate different textures – the crunch of your veggies or nuts, the creamy texture of avocado, the possibilities and combinations are endless.
- Herbs and spices: Adding parsley, paprika, cayenne pepper, rosemary or basil to a salad can improve the taste profile immensely. However, be careful and start off small because incorporating opposing flavours can end up being a flop.
Lastly, enjoy! Now that you realise there are no rules regarding salads there are so many exciting recipes waiting to be discovered!