Nutrition Lab, Lunch, Dinner

The Salad Days of Summer

The Salad Days of Summer

That old saying about always eating your greens wasn’t a bunch of bananas. That bit of homespun wisdom was all fact. There’s nothing but truth in a salad. Its nature’s most honest meal — and one of its most nutritious, too. Consider salads to be a bowl of raw material to run the body.

A single salad a day is a good source of vitamins C, E, B6, and folic acid.

What does that mean?

Well, if those aren’t the building blocks to life, they’re certainly the mortar that holds it all together by promoting a healthy immune system and reducing the risk of obesity, heart disease, and other chronic illnesses.

Think about fitting in two and a half cups of vegetables a day to improve your nutritional intake that give you the benefits of more energy, a more robust immune system, and heightened heart health. Salads, particularly, are a generous source of water-soluble vitamins. And raw vegetables in salads — like broccoli and cabbage — add fibre such as drained canned organic beans and legumes for better digestion, plus antioxidants. A salad without dressing is virtually free of fat and cholesterol, while a good source of calcium, potassium, and protein.

Making a great salad greater

Start with leafy greens. Go for variety to add taste and texture: butter head, Cos, iceberg, lollorosso, collards, spinach or kale. And for the salad that makes the biggest crunch, look for dark green leaves and white spines. The darker the leaf the more antioxidant beta-carotene. All leafy greens are grown locally all summer. Add fun and colour with raw, roasted or cooked carrots, beets, turnips, squash, sprouts, broccoli, peppers, and red cabbage. And to give it that extra kick, try sprinkling on some fresh organic fruit, toasted seeds or nuts, or berries. You can even up the taste with garlic, ginger, mustard, or your favourite herbs. Nowadays fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi are popular too on a plate of salad. And don’t sweat about a little fat in your homemade dressing. Use olive oil, a sprinkle Himalayan rock salt and some freshly squeezed lemon or orange juice with a dash of tamari for the ultimate homemade dressing.

Apparently eating fresh vegetables with a little fat (an oil-based salad dressing) helps the body absorbs those nutrients, such as lycopene and beta-carotene. Eating a salad without any fat may actually deprive the body of these phytochemicals.

Making your salad feel like a wholesome meal and not a chore:

  • A handful of cheddar or Parmesan with peeled boiled eggs can add the protein and add great taste too.
  • Grilled veggies add a smoky, rich taste to greens. Quickly grill slices of aubergine or courgette or even tomatoes for fab flavour.
  • Try strips of smoked salmon, slices of chorizo sausage, or even blackened tofu slices to up the intensity and add protein.
  • Add chick and kidney beans for protein and fibre. They’ll help your stomach feel full.

Buy all your ingredients at your local independent health food store and greengrocer and enjoy the salad days of summer!

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