Sometimes you just want a light refreshing meal on a hot summer day, but you just can’t bear the thought of another boring green bowl of salad. What if we told you that salads don’t have to be boring like they are reputed to be? Here are a couple of ways you can spice up your salads this summer…
Who said salads have to be vegetables only? Adding fruits to your salad is a great way to add a touch of sweet- and fresh-ness to the dish. Strawberries are an excellent source of vitamin C – an antioxidant that plays a role in immune and skin health1,2. Summertime in the UK is peak season for strawberries. So expect to see an abundance in supermarkets and at your local farmer’s market. Pair them with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar for a wonderful burst of flavour.
Although not grown locally, watermelon is also a popular fruit for the summertime too. As they are 92%3 water, they make a great thirst-quencher that will keep you hydrated throughout the day. Crumble some feta cheese on top and you are good to go.
Add nuts and seeds
The secret to a delicious dish doesn’t just boil down to flavour, of equal importance is the texture. Nuts and seeds bring the crunch element to a dish, and in addition they are also a source of protein and a number of beneficial nutrients.
Some say walnuts remind them of little human brains because of the folded texture and divided halves. They are an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which play a key role in cognitive development4,5. For plant-based eaters, walnuts may be a suitable alternative to other sources of omega-3’s such as hen eggs and oily fish. Roast them in the oven to crisp them up and release the aromas before sprinkling on top of your salad of choice.
Switch up the base
If you intend to have your salad as a main, adding grains is a great way to make the salad more substantial and filling. Quinoa contains all nine of our essential amino acids, making them an excellent protein source6. Compared to other grains, quinoa is considerably higher in fibre. Per 100 grams of quinoa, there are 10-16 grams of fibre7, making up approximately half of the UK adult recommended daily fibre intake (30 grams)8. Other grains you might want to try include barley, bulgur and many more.
The sky is the limit. Take this chance to experiment with new ingredients you wouldn’t usually go for and get creative with your salad recreations! Share your creations with us on Facebook @LoveYourGutOnline or Twitter @LoveYourGut
1Halvorsen et al. (2006) Content of redox-active compounds (ie, antioxidants) in foods consumed in the United States, Am J Clin Nutr, 84: 95-135
2National Health Service (2017) Vitamin C. Available at: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-c/ [Accessed: 03/07/2019]
3Naz et al. (2014) Watermelon lycopene and allied health claims, EXCLI J, 13: 650-660
4British Dietetic Association (2017) Plant-based diet. Available at: https://www.bda.uk.com/foodfacts/plantbaseddiets.pdf [Accessed: 04/07/2019]
5European Commission (2016) EU Register of nutrition and health claims made on foods. Available at: http://ec.europa.eu/nuhclaims [Accessed: 03/07/19]
6Food and Agriculture Organization (2013) Quinoa 2013 International Year. Available at: http://www.fao.org/quinoa-2013/what-is-quinoa/nutritional-value/en/ [Accessed: 04/06/2019]
7Repo-Carrasco-Valencia and Serna (2011) Quinoa (Chenopodium quinoa, Wild.) as a source of dietary fiber and other functional components, Ciência e Tecnologia de Alimentos, 31(1): 225-230
8Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (2015) Carbohydrates and Health. Available at: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/445503/SACN_Carbohydrates_and_Health.pdf [Accessed: 04/07/2019]