Hello! So the weekend just gone I headed down to the BBC Good Food Show at the NEC in Birmingham to give a talk on the Healthy Kitchen stage. As well as making two delicious recipes using avocado (I made [this avocado salad recipe] and [this healthy chocolate mousse recipe]!), I discussed my top tips (6 steps!) on how to create the ultimate healthy salad.
Eating salad is a great way to incorporate fresh fruit and vegetables into your diet (we are advised to eat at least five 80g portions of fruit, vegetables or salad a day). Nutrients vary by the type of salad leaf, but lettuce can be a source of vitamin A, folate and manganese, and a good source of vitamin K. There is also evidence to suggest that people who eat salads with a meal actually eat fewer calories overall, whilst still feeling satisfied. What better excuse to tuck into a salad!
Salads are not only healthy and quick to prepare, but they are super versatile (a lunch or dinner will never get boring!) and convenient. Add olive oil, avocado and nuts to salad leaves to help aid nutrient absorption. Click the recipe images below to be taken to some of my favourite healthy salad recipes!
So, here are my 6 Steps for creating the perfect Healthy & Delicious Salad:
- Choose your salad base – for example watercress, baby leaf salad, spinach, lambs lettuce, iceberg, herb salad, rocket or pea shoots.
- Add a rainbow of vegetables – such as cherry tomatoes, cucumber, beetroot, radishes, celery, pepper or red onion. We should eat a ‘rainbow’ of foods to ensure that we eat a wide variety of different nutrients.
- Add protein – such as grilled chicken breast, boiled egg, tuna (canned in water), salmon or feta cheese. Protein contains amino acids, which contribute to the growth and maintenance of lean muscle mass.
- Add a slow release starchy carbohydrate – such as brown basmati rice, quinoa, wholemeal pitta bread, sweet potato, granary bread or wholemeal pasta. Carbohydrate supplies our body with energy, needed for the maintenance of normal brain function. TOP TIP: adding beans and pulses such as chickpeas and kidney beans is a way of adding a plant-based protein source and carbohydrate source at the same time!
- Add a light, tasty dressing – such as olive oil & lemon juice, pesto, balsamic vinegar, sweet chilli sauce (check the first ingredient isn’t sugar!), light mayonnaise & black pepper or a light French dressing. I like to make my own salad dressing by mixing 1 part balsamic vinegar to 3 parts olive oil.
- And finally, jazz it up with toppings – such as olives, avocado, flaked almonds, apple pieces, raisins, cashews, pine nuts, toasted walnuts, anchovies or pomegranate seeds. Healthy fats found in olives, avocados, nuts and seeds help us to absorb the fat soluble vitamin (A, D, E and K) and help to keep our hearts healthy (as well as hair, skin and nails in top condition).
I really hope you find this blog post useful.. what are your top tips for the perfect salad?!
P.S. Here are a couple more pictures of me in action with Chris Bavin on stage! I really did have so much fun and it was so lovely to meet everyone afterwards!