By Nutritionist and GoodnessMe Box Health Editor, Melissa Fine.
Forget the mayo, croutons and bottled salad dressings. There are so many other ways to make your salad more exciting, and without compromising on nutrition.
1) Think Colour
Because we eat with our eyes. Plus, the more colour, the more flavour, texture and nutrients. I try to include at least five different veggies in my salad for lunch. Some of my favourites: Grated carrot, cherry tomatoes, rocket, baby spinach and chopped cucumber. I’m also a fan of roast veg like pumpkin, parsnip, eggplant and capsicum, especially in the colder months for a heartier salad.
2) Make a ‘Real Food’ Dressing
In my diet days, I was a low-fat, poppy seed mayo dressing kinda girl. Loaded with vegetable oil and sugar, this kind of defeated the purpose of a healthy salad. Now I prefer to make my own salad dressings, and unlike the bottled stuff, a little goes a long way because it’s full of healthy fats, which means flavour! Some of my make-in-a-minute combos:
- Miso-Almond Dressing: Mix 1 tsp miso paste with ¾ Tbsp almond butter; Add ¼ tsp red wine/apple cider vinegar, a drop of rice malt if you’d like, a little water to thin to desired consistency and voila!
- Tahini + Lemon Dressing: Just combine 1 Tbsp 100% tahini (hulled or unhulled) with the juice of ¼ of a lemon for a creamy, nutty, calcium-rich dressing. Also delish with a little mashed avo mixed through.
- Plain Greek Yoghurt: I love a dollop of this on a roast veg and quinoa/brown rice salad with some lemon zest. Yum!
- Vinaigrette: Simply mix 2 tsp olive oil, 1 tsp balsamic/red wine vinegar and ½ tsp Dijon mustard. Great in a sardine or chicken salad.
3) Switch Up Your Protein
Eating the same tuna salad day in, day out? Apart from this being boring, tuna is also high in mercury, so it’s a good idea to alternate it with other omega-3 rich fish, like canned salmon and sardines, both of which give you a good dose of calcium from their edible bones.
Some other good protein options:
- 2 hard boiled eggs (or soft-boiled if you’re at home – the runny yolk is a nice dressing substitute)
- Japanese or Thai tofu (from health food stores, and in the vego fridge section at the supermarket)
- Grilled chicken breast Lentils or chickpeas
4) Add Some Good Carbs!
I find that when I don’t add some fibre-rich carbohydrate to my salad, I’ll feel like something sweet after. Just half a cup of brown rice/quinoa, a handful of chickpeas or some leftover, low GI roast sweet potato will give you more sustenance - so you’re more satisfied and less likely to go for dessert.
Make your salad more inviting by garnishing it with something pretty and tasty. A sprinkle of sesame or sunflower seeds, dulse (seaweed) flakes or dukkah are some of my favourites – they add a nice depth of flavour too.
Fine Fettle Flecks are also awesome – half vegetables/half seeds and nuts, these dehydrated and marinated trail mixes make every salad awesome. Head to finefettle.com.au to try them for yourself