Now that the weather’s warming up, you’re likely forgoing that bone broth and soup aisle and heading back to the veggie section of your local supermarket for lunch and dinner ideas. Salad are a primo Aussie staple for spring/summer meals – given it can get stinking hot, it’s no wonder we love our cold, uncooked veggies, right?
Thing is, salads can become boring. And even though they’re (usually) quite good for you and packed with healthy veggies and protein, we’re all trying to up our diets so they’re at max levels of health. We chatted to Lorna Jane Clarkson, founder of Lorna Jane, about how to maximise the health benefits of your warm season salads, so you can sneakily give your bod some more sustenance.
Firstly, you can get your salad going by making the basics strong.
A good place to start is with your dressing. Look for a nutritious base (like lemon juice,
Greek yoghurt or tahini) and then give it a protein boost by adding a high-quality lean
protein (like chicken, salmon or tempeh).
Watch your portion sizes with protein, though – often we overload on the meats, turning a once healthy salad into something way less good for our guts.
It’s likely you’re already popping avo into your salad – after all, we’re the smashed avo nation, babey! We love the stuff. But if you’re not – get onto it.
It’s no secret that avocado is filled with good fats, which will keep you fuller for longer, but did you know that they also reduce LDL cholesterol and inflammation? It’s also great for your skin thanks to its omega 3 and vitamin E levels and they’re actually richer in potassium than bananas!
Potassium is a real good thing to up in your diet – it’s also essential for regulating fluid retention, supporting your nervous system and for muscle recovery if you’re a gym junkie.
EDAMAME & PEAS
Keen to avoid the dreaded summer flu? Edamame is your friend.
Both edamame and peas contain high levels of plant-based protein as well as vitamin K, folate, B vitamins, fibre and antioxidants. Edamame’s nutrient combination is shown to help boost your immune system while peas support blood sugar regulation. And they both aid digestion, thanks to their high fibre content. Peas go really well with my Eat The Rainbow Bowl and I opt for edamame when I’m making my Soba Noodle and Tuna Salad.
APPLE CIDER VINEGAR
Lazy folks, rejoice. Use apple cider vinegar as a salad dressing, and you can get the tangy zest you love and add some dietary benefits to boot.
If I’m in a rush, a nice helping of apple cider vinegar is a super easy way to give my salad a fresh, tangy dressing as well as add some extra goodness. Even though it’s a vinegar, apple cider vinegar helps regulate your pH levels (interestingly, most of us are on the more acidic side) and support digestion. It’s also gut friendly (thanks to its antibacterial properties) and helps support your immune system.
These are those dried seaweed chips, like sushi wrapping but in smaller pieces and not soggy, you know? You can get them at most health food shops and even supermarkets stock ’em these days.
More than just a sushi wrapping, nori is a light and tasty way to add crunch to your salads. It contains high levels of protein, fibre, vitamins (A, B, C, D, E, K), minerals (including calcium, iron, copper, magnesium, zinc) and antioxidants. Being a sea vegetable, it’s also rich in iodine, which supports thyroid function and your metabolism.
NUTS AND SEEDS
It is SO easy to sprinkle some nuts and seeds on your salads, and they’re not just for show. Those lil’ babies are chock-full of nutrients.
Nuts and seeds contain goods fats to increase satiety as well as vitamins and minerals (levels and combinations depend on the nut or seed you choose). I love to toss a handful of my Tamari Nut recipe on top of my lunchtime salad and I stash some in my office cupboards to rescue any of my lunches that need a little extra flavour or crunch.
COLD PRESSED EXTRA VIRGIN OLIVE OIL, OR COCONUT OIL
Lorna swears by her oils being cold pressed and extra virgin, because this is how you keep all the good nutrients in ’em.
When it comes to oil, I choose olive or coconut (depending on the flavour I’m looking for)
but ALWAYS extra virgin, organic and cold pressed. This makes sure that the oil retains as much of its nutrient profile as possible without being overly refined or processed. Good quality cold pressed, extra virgin olive or coconut oils help reduce LDL cholesterol, increased satiety and are anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory. They’re also great for your heart health and skin!
Naturally, your salad will probably have a leafy base. But when it comes to choosing your greens, you can do a better job health-wise if you select wisely.
Don’t settle for limp and ‘empty’ leaves and instead opt for greens that actually taste good, will fill you up and are nutritious. No more floppy iceberg lettuce, go for kale, spinach, watercress, rocket or romaine. Adding a handful of micro greens is also a good option. A good rule of thumb is ‘the greener the better’.
So there you go! You can read more of Lorna’s tips by following her (@ljclarkson), or via her brand new cookbook, EAT GOOD FOOD – which contains more than 150 of her fave recipes. Grab one in your local Lorna Jane store or online via this link.