This is definitely a “guilt” post. No, just kidding, I made these before and didn’t get around to putting them up.
Salads are extremely important. They’re also like sandwiches – super versatile. If you pick and choose the ingredients for your salad carefully, it can be one of the healthiest meals you will eat. On the other hand, a bad choice of ingredients for salads can give you what I call a Wendy’s salad. Full of unhealthy stuff so that you’re better off eating a cheeseburger.
I’m not a fan of salads but when I make them my way I can eat them all the time. My favourites are a fruity, balsamic salad, lentil salads and warm salads. I’m not a fan of ice berg lettuce unless it’s in my sandwich so it’s good, because it’s not exactly healthy. I mean, it won’t make you fat but there’s really no point eating it.
There’s a huge variety of salads in the store, the ready to make ones and while they’re convenient they’re not exactly healthy. You’re better off buying ready to eat leaves and adding dressings and toppings yourself. I used to buy those Dole salads, the Asian one particularly, until I realized I wasn’t doing myself any favours. My room mate inspired me to buy those organic large leaf boxes. I don’t have the time or the capacity to buy individual leaves and tear them apart and wash them every morning so I buy these every week and they’re pre cut, pre washed so all I have to do is dump a handful in a bowl or a Tupperware box. It’s so convenient. I suggest you buy one of those assuming you’re a hungry, busy college student.
All of my favourite foods have more than one texture and flavour. It just makes food that much more interesting. It’s the same with my salads. The more flavours and textures, the more likely I am to eat it. You can literally put anything and everything in a salad. My general rule goes – dark leaves, fruit, nuts. A side of meat can be optional, that way you get everything you need in a meal.
Instead of just buying dressing from the store, you can also make your own dressings in a jam-jar. I learned this from Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver. Throw in a bunch of stuff in a jam jar, screw it shut and shake like crazy. Bethenny Frankel, celebrity chef and creator of Skinnygirl Margarita says dressings need three things – a fat, a sour element and flavouring. So you could even go with a olive-oil, lime juice and pepper.
I carry salads to school. Seriously, I do. My room mate has one of these super awesome salad boxes that she bought from Homesense. It’s a tall box with a cooler thing on top so it keeps your lettuce cold and a section for dressing. When she’s at school, she just opens the box, pulls a tab to release the dressing and shakes. I haven’t made it to Homesense yet so what I do is use a regular Tupperware box and take my dressing in a tiny jam jar (like the ones they give you on the plane or in fancy hotel brunches) and then pour it in when I am ready to eat and shake. Alternatively, you could go for those ready dressings from a pack they always have at college, school or work cafeterias.
I’m going to give you a recipe for my latest favourite salad and then list a bunch of things that you could mix and match to make your own super salads.
Balsamic vinaigrette is my favourite salad dressing. That’s what actually makes this salad. It’s salty-sweetness adds a kick that no other dressings will. It’s also one of the healthiest salad dressings out there. I first bought it because I thought that’s what my room mate used on her salad everyday and it smelled nice. Turns out she’s an Italian dressing kinda girl.
Anyway, if you’re not a fan of salads, I promise you try this once, it’s a wonderful salad packed with goodness. It leaves you feeling super fresh too and it’s extremely light. That’s the good thing about non-creamy dressings, they leave you feeling energetic throughout the day instead of slowing you down. If you’re picking salad dressings, remember to go for the non-creamy ones. Southwest salad is the worst salad ever created. It’s the baconator of salads. It’s the Harley Morenstein of the salad world and not in a good way.
Here’s the recipe to my fruity balsamic salad:
Renees Balsamic Vinaigrette (I like Renees because it’s no preservatives, no gross unpronounceable stuff!)
Equal parts balsamic vinegar and olive oil shaken with a pinch of black pepper.
Acidic fruit: Grapes, strawberries, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, apples, oranges
Leaves: Any mix of leaves, organic spring mix is what I use
Method: Seriously? Just dump the lot in a bowl and toss it around, bud! Throw in some chopped walnuts for an extra crunch. Radishes are a good addition as well.
Here are some ideas for salads. These are the only ones I will eat so I’m giving them to you:
Asian Salad: A mix of dark lettuce, cabbage, shredded carrots, cucumber, onions, sweet peas, fried noodles and an asian dressing made from soy sauce, hoisin sauce and peanut butter. Throw in a handful of peanuts.
Lemony Citrus salad: A mix of dark lettuce, corn, oranges, apples, pomegranates and pine nuts with a lemon-olive oil-pepper shaken dressing.
Lentil Salad: Buy mixed lentils from your grocer, boil them till tender, add chopped tomatoes, chopped onions, chopped carrots and a squeeze of lemon and chilli pepper. Add some chives or thyme for an extra kick of flavour. Sometimes I will add some chopped boiled potatoes. Try sweet potato for a healthier option. Radish is a good addition too.
Pasta salad: Boil some pasta, any kind that’s not noodle-like. Squeeze some lemon, olive oil, pepper and toss with mixed beans, sun dried tomatoes and shredded cheese. Add some oregano for a more flavourful salad.
Sweet potato salad: Boil some sweet potatoes, stir in some yoghurt, chives, onions, tomatoes, beans.
Fruit Salad: Toss a bunch of fruits with a squeeze of lemon and a dash of honey or maple syrup. Makes a wonderful dessert too.
Roast vegetable warm salad: Add some lightly toasted pine nuts or sunflower/pumpkin seeds to cubed and roasted zucchini, bell peppers, onions, eggplant and toss in a few chopped olives. Drizzle with olive oil and basil and eat warm, alongside some sort of rice or meat.
Honestly, take a bunch of leaves, some fruit and some nuts and toss them together. You can literally make a salad out of anything. Remember that salads don’t always have to be raw, but if the rest of your meal is cooked, try to make them raw. The fibre that you get from salads is extremely important for smooth bowel movements. Seriously.
Don’t be afraid of salads, they can be delicious!