Salads with attitude

Now in the midpoint of summer, salads are family favourites and many of us look for ways to add variety and interest to the salad bowl.

Nutritionally, as part of the vegetable core food group, salads are winners containing vitamins and minerals, dietary fibre and antioxidants that protect us from chronic illness.  They also boost our general health, regulate our appetite and promote healthy gut function. Sadly though only one in 20 of us eats enough vegetables.

Here are 10 ways to boost your salads and elevate them nutritionally to a new level. Salads can transform from a meal accompaniment to a stand-alone meal.  Leftovers can be used as a lunch or form the basis of another meal.  Salads are very versatile, easy and delicious.

Elevate your salads by starting with the basics (salad greens, tomatoes and cucumbers) and adding some of the following:

Legumes – chick peas, lentils, mung beans, four bean mix

Roasted Vegetables –  such as sweet potato, pumpkin, slow baked tomatoes, eggplant, carrots, beetroot

Greens –  bean sprouts, rocket, cabbage, different salad greens, spinach leaves

Grains –  cous cous, croutons, brown rice, pasta, quinoa, burgul, millet, Asian noodles

Fruit –  pomegranate seeds, watermelon, orange or grapefruit wedges, peaches, mango

Toasted seeds and nuts – try sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, dukkah, flaked almonds, pistachios, walnuts, peanuts

Flavour – add garden herbs ( parsley, oregano, coriander, rosemary, mint, spring onion),onion, olives, roast vegetables coated in olive oil and cumin seed, stir harissa into legumes, coat roast vegetables with relish, chilli,

Protein –  cheeses like cheddar, feta, haloumi and ricotta or try tofu, hard boiled eggs, diced BBQ steak or chicken, salmon or tuna, smoked trout or salmon, ham

Top with a tasty dressing –  use a variety of oils (olive, nut oils, canola, sesame oil, tahini) and mix with vinegar ( white wine , or lemon juice) and add flavours (mustard, chilli, herbs, spices, seeds, nuts, black pepper) or choose you favourite off-the-shelf dressing

Carole Richards is a Dietitian and Diabetes Educator with over 30 years experience in assisting people to improve their food choices and improve their general health.