Salads can be a tasty, nutritious addition to your diet at any time of the year. It’s really simple to build a satisfying salad once you are aware of the key elements to include.
Here is our guide to building a nutritionally balanced salad.
The first thing you need is a protein source to turn your salad into a satisfying dish that will fill you up until your next meal. Hard boiled organic eggs are a great choice. Alongside other animal proteins like fish and meat, they are a complete protein (meaning they contain all nine essential amino acids), with a large egg delivering around seven grams of protein. Other great options are organic meat, fish, seafood or tofu or tempeh.
Fats have many important roles in the body. They are essential for helping us absorb fat soluble nutrients – vitamins A, D, K and E – as well as playing key roles in cell growth and renewal. Don’t make the mistake of avoiding fats for health reasons – just make sure you’re picking the right ones. Fats are also often amongst the tastiest additions to your salad, with avocados, seeds, unroasted nuts and cold pressed oils (particularly olive, rapeseed and flax) amongst the best sources.
Leafy greens make for a great salad base and are rich in beneficial nutrients. But while leafy greens are nutrient dense, they aren’t a particularly substantial base for a meal, so you might want to add to your leaves. Try grated or spiralised veg like carrots and courgettes or leftover roasted vegetables like peppers, butternut squash and red onions. Tomatoes and chilli peppers are a source of antioxidant vitamin C, particularly in the summer as vitamin C helps to protect against UV-induced sun damage.
An optional addition to your salad, choose whole, unrefined carbs that provide vitamins and minerals which white, refined versions are often stripped of. Brown rice, new or sweet potatoes and pulses are all good options. Pulses like beans, lentils and chickpeas are also a great source of fibre for supporting healthy digestive function.
Dressings are an area to be cautious around. Ditch the gloopy, low fat shop-bought dressings and whip up your own instead. Base yours on cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and flavour to your liking with lemon juice, apple cider vinegar, herbs or mustard. Alternatively, you could try a harissa dressing with a little coconut yoghurt, harissa spices and sundried tomato paste. (This works especially well on a salmon salad.)
Want to finish off your healthy salad with a little va-va-voom? Add a tasty, crunchy topping that will score some extra health points such as pomegranate seeds, sprouted seeds, kimchi or sauerkraut. It’s a case of one and not all here, so pick something that complements the flavours in your bowl.