GUIDE TO: SALADS
Salads are a summer favourite of mine. They’re light, cool, and intuitively feel like the right thing to feed my body when the sun comes out. As we ease into September, the weather can change from cold and wet to dry and warm from week to week. As this happens, I naturally change my meals according to what’s going on outside. I’m happy to see the sun has come back in full force this week, and in turn, so have my salads!
Here’s a step-by-step guide to making the best salad around; and the bragging rights to go with it.
STEP I: CHOOSE YOUR GREENS
1. Mixed greens: This is a mix of mostly different types of lettuce, a little arugula, sometimes a few fragrant herbs and usually a little spinach.
2. Arugula: This is for the adventurous type - those who like a little spice and a little bitter on their plate.
3. Lettuce: Avoid iceberg, it’s not doing much for you. If you're looking for a crunch choose a nice romaine or butter lettuce.
4. Kale: Only choose this if you have awesome digestion and aren't subject to much gas and bloating. Make sure to de-stem and massage the heck out of it with oil and/or lemon juice prior to eating.
5. Sprouts/ Micro-greens: I love sprouts for toppings on any salad of mine. They are such a concentrated source of nutrients. Sunflower sprouts, broccoli sprouts, bean sprouts - the list goes on. Buy them fresh, eat them fresh, and keep them fresh.
STEP II: CHOOSE YOUR CARB
I like a little carbohydrate in my salads to help me feel full and add substance to my meal - sometimes I add more than one of these - just keep your portions in mind!
1. Cooked yams: It's nice to have this done beforehand. I don't think I’ve ever taken the time to cook yams for the sole purpose of salad making - these are usually from last night’s dinner/lunch.
2. Roasted chickpeas: These are nice to have in the fridge already but don't take long to make. Toss some salt, pepper, and additional spices with a little drizzle of olive oil onto organic canned chickpeas (rinsed well) - then throw them in the oven for 15-20 minutes at 350 - DONE!
* Chickpeas have the added bonus of being a great source of plant protein and can be used for both protein and carb sources if you'd like!
3. Hummus: Okay, I know, this is essentially just blended chickpeas with a few added ingredients - but they have the same great benefits with a nice creamy texture. Check out the ingredient list if you’re buying this at the store. Try to stick to one with the most basic ingredients and least preservatives. (It’s also super easy to make at home).
4. Fruit: I’m talking fresh blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, pomegranate seeds, half a chopped apple, slices of pear, a juicy peach.. Get the picture? Bringing in some sweetness to bitter or spicy greens can help ease the intensity of them, and get in some powerful antioxidants at the same time.
5. Veggies: Yes - vegetables are a source of carbohydrates! Not as much as grains or piece of fruit but they do contain carbs, and make a great addition to your salad! Roasted zucchini, sun dried tomato, bell peppers, barbecued corn, shredded carrots or beets - whatever it is you fancy - throw it in!
STEP III: CHOOSE YOUR PROTEIN
Meat eaters, vegetarians, pescetarians, vegans, whatever way you choose to eat we all need enough protein to nourish our bodies. This is an important piece and one that can bring your salad from a light dish to a filling meal.
*Note on choosing animal proteins: grass-fed, free range, and local are by far the way to buy. Do a little research into the quality of the meat you’re buying; it's the one area I don't compromise on.
1. Chicken: Barbecued, slow roasted, stir-fried, baked, however it is you like to cook and season your chicken it will taste amazing in your salad.
2. Steak: This is a specialty for me - but one of my favourites! Free range beef, bison, or moose (thanks dad!) all taste amazing sliced into strips over a salad
3. Eggs: A boiled egg sliced over a salad is a super quick way to get some awesome protein (& fat) into your salad if you’re short on time.
4. Fish: Simple salads are my preferred way of eating when it comes to incorporating fish. Quality is super important here – If you can catch your own from your local waters or get it fresh from local fishermen who use ethical fishing techniques that really is the best way to go. Obviously that isn’t always available, so the next time you’re at the supermarket look for these varieties; Atlantic mackerel, wild Alaskan salmon, Pacific halibut, cod, haddock, herring.
5. Vegetarian protein: Protein comes in all shapes and sizes, including non-animal form! The following are all great vegetarian protein sources: lentils (1/2 cup – 9g protein), quinoa (1/2 cup – 7-9g protein), beans (1/2 cup – approx.9-10g protein), organic tempeh/tofu/edamame (1 serving – approx.20g protein).
STEP IV: CHOOSE YOUR FAT
I hope by now your fear of fat is behind you, as fat is a super important element to any meal. Fats help you absorb fat soluble vitamins from other foods (A,D,E,K), balance blood sugar, nourish your brain, cells, hormones, tissues, hair, skin and nails.
1. Avocados: ¼ - ½ of an avocado cubed or whipped into a guacamole is an excellent way of getting satiating fat into your diet.
2. Nuts: Some of my favourites are almonds, walnuts, and cashews. Raw or chopped and roasted in a pan with a little coconut oil is all you need for a delicious crunchy topping.
3. Seeds: Sunflower, sesame, pumpkin, chia, ground flax, and hemp seeds are all great choices.
4. Goats cheese: Goats cheese comes in many forms; soft, feta, gouda, cheddar, and even brie, and can sometimes be easier to digest for people that can’t handle cow’s cheese. Be cautious and start with a small amount if you’ve had issues with dairy in the past – or skip the cheese and opt for one of the other fats above!
STEP V: GET DRESSED
Skip the store bought dressings and whip up your own at home! Dressings are super easy to make, taste delicious, and save you money (and your body from questionable ingredients).
1. Ginger miso: Combine ¼ cup cold pressed olive oil, ¼ cup water, ¼ cup organic white miso paste, a dash of raw honey (to taste), 2 tbsp. chopped scallion, 1 tbsp. ginger (peeled and grated), juice from one lemon, a drizzle of sesame oil.
2. Garlic herb: Combine 1-2 cloves crushed garlic, ¼ cup cold pressed olive oil, 1 tsp. chopped rosemary, 1tsp chopped basil, 1tsp chopped oregano.
3. Lemon Dijon: Combine 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1⁄2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1⁄4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper, 1⁄8teaspoon sea salt, 1 clove garlic finely minced or pressed, 3 tablespoons olive oil
4. Balsamic: Drizzle cold pressed extra virgin olive oil and your favourite balsamic vinegar over your greens. Yes – that’s it!
I know this is a lot to choose from, so I’ve made it simple for you. Here are some of my favourite combinations of the above.
1. Mixed greens + Sprouts + Pomegranate seeds + Sliced steak + Goat cheese + Roasted walnuts + Balsamic dressing
2. Romaine + Sprouts + Roasted corn + Roasted red pepper + Roasted chickpeas + Avocado + Lemon Dijon dressing
3. Massaged kale + Grated beet + Grated carrot + Quinoa + Hummus + Hemp seeds + Ginger miso dressing
4. Arugula + Sprouts + Halibut + Black sesame seeds + Sliced pear + Balsamic dressing