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As we look forward to even more hot, smoky days, I don’t know many people keen to cook up a roast or stew for dinner.
When I’m feeling hot and bothered the easiest thing for me to do is throw together a salad.
Salads can often get boring, so if you’re lacking inspiration, here are some tips on how to whip up something delicious that’s bursting with nutrition and flavour.
Below are some must-have fridge and pantry items for the perfect salad creations.
Staples – these foods form the major component of your salad
Leaves: Baby spinach, rocket, mixed leafy greens, cos, iceberg, oak leaf, watercress, kale
Vegetables: Cucumber, capsicum, snow peas, carrots, sprouts, sweet potato, avocado, asparagus, mushrooms
Cheese: Feta, goats, blue, tasty, parmesan
Lean meat and eggs: Shaved ham, shredded chicken breast, sliced steak, leftover roast meat, tinned tuna or salmon, smoked salmon, boiled eggs
Legumes: 4 or 5 bean mix, lentils, chickpeas, cannellini beans
Whole grains: Wholewheat couscous, quinoa, brown rice
Flavours – These foods will make your salad extra special with a burst of flavour!
Fresh herbs: Chives, coriander, basil, flat-leaf parsley, dill
Citrus: Lemons, limes, orange
Yoghurt: Natural or greek
Fruit: Green or red grapes, watermelon cubes, pomegranate pulp, pear slices, orange slices, apple slices, dried cranberries, raisins
Jarred or canned foods: Sun-dried or semi-dried tomatoes, olives, roast capsicum, artichokes, beetroot
Nuts: Sliced almonds, toasted pine nuts, crushed walnuts, dry-roasted cashews
Oils: Extra-virgin olive oil, grape seed oil, sesame oil
Click HERE for more salad recipe ideas.
Need some more guidance?
Here is my step by step guide to creating the perfect summer salad.
Use fresh ingredients
Wilted baby spinach, floury tomatoes, slimy cucumber or brown iceberg lettuce just doesn’t cut it.
Always use fresh, quality produce and plan to make your salad within the first 2-3 days of buying your ingredients as this is when your ingredients will be at their best.
Pick your leafy base
Salad generally contains some kind of green leafy vegetable. Don’t be boring and just buy iceberg all the time.
Try mesclun, rocket, baby spinach, oak leaf and coral type lettuces as well. In fact, the darker and more purple the leaves the higher the nutritional content.
The darker lettuces and leaves also have much better flavour and are a little more gourmet!
Go for lots of colour
Try yellow capsicum, orange carrots, red cherry tomatoes, purple Spanish (red) onion, green cucumber… you get the idea.
The bigger the range of colour the better it will taste and the more nutrition it will have.
Add some healthy fats
Add some avocado, raw or dry-toasted nuts such as pine nuts, cashews, peanuts or walnuts, sprinkle with flaxseed or chia seeds or drizzle with some extra virgin olive oil.
Using very strong flavoured ingredients are a good way to add flavour but minimise the kilojoule content of the meal because you only need to use a small amount.
Crumble over feta, toss through pitted olives, sprinkle with parmesan, drizzle with lemon juice, lime juice or sweet chilli sauce, add sliced roasted capsicum, baked sweet potato or sun-dried tomatoes.
Add some fibre
Fruit and vegetables are great sources of fibre but if you want to ‘beef’ your salad up a bit try adding some chickpeas, lentils, buckwheat, quinoa or another kind of beans such as butter, kidney or black.
You may not be a ‘fruit in salad’ kind of person. It always used to seem weird to me too until I tried a walnut and red grape salad, a roasted duck and pear salad, and other fruit such as sliced apple or orange.
Just go with what you like and experiment with different flavours. It’s good—I promise!
Add fresh herbs
Herbs are packed full of flavour, antioxidants and contain very little kilojoules.
I love a good salad full of freshly chopped or shredded herbs. Basil, parsley, coriander and chives are a few of my favourites.
Finely chopped fresh herbs are even a great addition to homemade salad dressings.
If you would like some specific guidance on healthy eating for your lifestyle check out The Healthy Eating Hub.