Synonymous with health, salads are a fantastic way to bump up your plant food intake, especially in the warmer months. Fresh, cost effective, and super nutritious – we want to show you today how you can make a healthy salad that is both tasty and filling. It’s a common misconception that salads are basically a big old bowl of green leaves, lacking in flavour and joy…today we’re going to show you how wrong that is!

The first thing to know is that, like any other meal, there’s a winning formula when it comes to preparing a salad that maximises healthy ingredients in balanced proportions. Here are the 5 elements to include:

1. Colour

Of course! This is your vegetable portion of the salad. Yes, green leaves make a fantastic base, but mix it up and try different options for taste and variety of nutrients. Lettuce, spinach, mixed leaves, rocket, beetroot, tomato, cucumber, cabbage, celery, peas, snow peas, broccoli, mushrooms, sprouts, carrots…the list is endless. Why not try adding fruit, too? Think slivered strawberries, a pinch of blueberries, or some shaved green apple or pear! The more types of fruits and veg we include in our diet throughout the week, the better. Aim to fill ½ your bowl with veg.

2. Protein

Protein is going to help balance your blood sugar levels and provide you with sustained energy in the hours after your salad. It also helps you to feel nice and full. You probably don’t need us to tell you that protein provides the building blocks of all our muscles, organs, and other body tissues. It’s super important. Protein sources include eggs, tofu, lentils, beans, chickpeas, chicken, fish or other seafood, lean red meats etc. Aim to fill ¼ your bowl with protein.

3. Carbohydrates

Opt for wholegrain sources of carbohydrates wherever possible to bump up your intake of fibre and micronutrients.  This may be choosing brown rice over white rice, or wholemeal pasta over white pasta. Potato and sweet potato are another nutritious source of carbohydrate that go well in a salad. If you’ve got a little extra time on your hands, you could also try making croutons with sourdough, wholemeal, wholegrain or rye bread using a dash of extra virgin olive oil in the pan. Aim to fill ¼ your bowl with quality carbohydrate sources.

Healthy fats are fantastic at keeping you feeling nice and full after a salad. Like with the protein, they also help to provide you with sustained energy levels. They play a role in producing hormones, support cell structure and function, and help to absorb certain nutrients more effectively. Quality sources of fats include nuts, seeds, avocado, extra virgin olive oil and olives. Add 1-2 thumb sized amounts of healthy fats into your salads. Oily fish is another fantastic source of healthy fats; however, follow the guidelines for protein portion sizes i.e. ¼ of your bowl if this is your main protein source.  

4. Finally, add something tasty…

This is a great way to add flavour and spice up your healthy salad. Examples include grated cheese, crumbled feta, pesto, hummus, guacamole, artichoke hearts, fresh herbs or sundried tomatoes. 

One ingredient to be wary of when it comes to salads is store bought and highly processed salad dressings. Quality and quantity are important here. Pre-made dressings can be high in saturated fats, added salt, and even sugar. If you’re one of those people (we still love you) that will only eat salads with these dressings, minimise the amount you use as much as possible. Better yet, make your own! 

Here are 3 Health and Performance Collective salad recipes we’d love to share with you. Let us know what you think! 

Asian Salad with Chilli, Lemon and Ginger (serves 4)

  • 1 cup red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 lebanese cucumber, sliced
  • 1 stick celery, sliced
  • 1 carrot, sliced
  • 1 handful green beans, sliced
  • 1 cup baby spinach or blanched kale
  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • 1 cup cooked brown rice, cooled in fridge
  • 1cm nub ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 small red chilli, sliced with seeds removed
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbspn Sesame oil

Method:

  1. Combine cabbage, cucumber, celery, carrot, green beans, baby spinach/kale, cashews and rice in a bowl.
  2. In a separate bowl, mix ginger, chilli, lemon juice and sesame oil.
  3. When ready to serve, pour dressing over the rest of the salad.

Suitable for: 

  • Dairy free
  • Gluten Free
  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan

Chickpea and Pomegranate Salad (serves 4)

  • Seeds from 1 pomegranate
  • 2 carrot, grated
  • 1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced
  • 4 cups baby spinach, loosely packed
  • 2 cups red cabbage, shredded
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, cubed and baked
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 cans chickpeas
  • 4 tsp hemp seeds
  • Drizzle extra virgin olive oil

Method:

1. Combine cabbage, cucumber, celery, carrot, green beans, baby spinach/kale, cashews and rice in a bowl.

2. In a separate bowl, mix ginger, chilli, lemon juice and sesame oil.

3. When ready to serve, pour dressing over the rest of the salad.

Suitable for: 

  • Dairy free
  • Gluten Free
  • Vegetarian
  • Vegan

Mediterranean Salad Bowl (serves 2)

  • 1 cup cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • 2/3 cup chickpeas or lentils (canned and rinsed for convenience)
  • 4 slices smoked salmon
  • Drizzle extra virgin olive oil
  • Juice of ½ lemon

Method:

1. Arrange all ingredients in two bowls, splitting evenly between both, then drizzle with olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Suitable for:

  • Pescatarian
  • Wheat free
  • Gluten free
  • Dairy free
  • FODMAP friendly (use brown lentils instead of chickpea)

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