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How to build exciting healthy salads

Ciao, welcome back to my blog, today's post will be about SALADS!

Looking for some light and fresh yet nourishing meal ideas that is ready in 10 minutes?

Great, salads are the perfect solution, especially now that we all back to work.

When we are busy and in need to prepare something quickly but tasty at the same time that will last you for the next day too, salads are the way to go.

Now, unfortunately salads have been often marked as rabbit food or as being a very boring meal at least.

This far from true! If you know how to make a yummy, colourful and satisfying salad you won't experience any lack of energy during the day.

When well build, they are extremely filling and of course super good for your overall health.

That's why I am sharing with you the 6 steps on how I build my salads, which are known among my friends and colleagues for never being the same and for sure, never boring! Literally.

First, the shopping: please avoid salad in plastic bags if you can, they might be quicker to prepare but they are not as healthy as the whole bunch and they are not convenient for your pockets too.

Raw food lose part of their main nutrients and vitamins after being cut, so the best practice will be to prepare the salad and eat it right after but not always this is possible.

Better then store bought, pre made ones is to do it own your own. It will take only a few minutes, I promise.

Cleaning part:to speed things up I usually cut the salad of choice without washing it and then I toss it in a bowl of fresh water, stir it well and then drain it with a colander instead of cleaning leave by leave. Make sure to dry it with a clean tea towel after washing it: nobody likes a cold watery salad.

Play with textures:

Take for example a simple carrot: it can be grated, sliced, with a bit of patience you can do small sticks with it or use a peeler to obtain pretty ribbons like below. It will be a nice extra touch to make it more exciting and eye-pleasing. You can do it with most hard vegetables such as fennel, celeriac, swede and so on...

1)Choose a base of leafy greens

such as lettuce, arugula, romaine, kale, rocket, chicory, napa cabbage, escarole, spinach. Stay away from iceberg as a base: it doesn't contain any fibres, it is just a solid glass a water and you will feel hungry after 30 minutes.

2)Add as much vegetables as possible, trying to include all the colours of the rainbow, even better if copped thinly or grated to enhance their flavour.

-red like tomatoes, radishes, red peppers

-white like fennel, celeriac, cauliflower and spring onions

-yellow like corn, yellow tomatoes, peppers and courgettes

-orange like carrots, orange peppers

-purple like beetroots, red cabbage or red onions.

-green like cucumbers, green peppers, steamed broccoli, steamed sweet peas and so on....

To have even more choices I often include leftovers of my steamed or grilled veggies, such as grilled aubergines, steamed broccoli, roasted squash and so on...the more the better. That's why I love salads so much: you can basically add most of your leftovers inside and make it delicious again!

I also add some of my favourite fruits from time to time to make thing more interesting, such as pomegranate, mangoes, cantaloupe, watermelon, strawberries, blueberries and much more!

Literally the combinations possible here are almost endless!

3)Add as much fresh herbs as you like

Parsley, basil, lovage, chives, mint and so on will add an extra twist to your salad making it unique and super tasty without adding too much salt.

4)Add some grains and some lean protein

To be filling and satisfying, and therefore a balanced full meal, you will add both cabs and protein that will give you all the energy you need.

It will also diversify the textures of your salad making it super tasty and appetising.

Carbs options (chose one): quinoa, couscous, pasta, rice, farro, boiled potatoes.

Protein options (choose one): prawns, chickpeas, tuna, boiled eggs, grilled chicken, beans, feta cheese, cheddar cubes, mozzarella slices, marinated tofu or tempeh, smoked salmon, ham or lentils.

Fun fact: pluses are kind of in the middle as they contains equal amounts of protein and carbs but I usually treat them as replacement for protein when I am having a vegetarian or vegan day.

5)Add a source of fat

Avocado slices, olives, nuts, seeds.

6)Finish with a simple dressing

The secret of the salad is to balance well the dressing. If the dressing is too rich and fat, then the salad will be too heavy and the amount of calorie intake will be super high.

The only dressing I use is the combination of good quality extra virgin olive oil, vinegar (either balsamic, white or apple) the tiniest amount of salt and some pepper.

Be mindful of the quantities: too oily and it will turn soggy, to much pepper and it will be too spicy and so on. My advice would be to prepare the dressing in a small bowl and then add it gradually until you find the perfect amount for you. You could also substitute vinegar with lemon or lime juice which would also help if you have bloating issues since vinegar is a fermented liquid.

Easy peasy, wasn't it?

These are my general guide lines when I need my salad to be a full meal, but you can really experiment with ingredients, textures and healthy dressings also if they are served as side next to a main dish, even when using less ingredients.

I always make sure to have a big portion of raw and/or cooked veggies on the side.

Below I am sharing with you some of my favourite side salads recipes:

Disclaimer: you'll see a lot of tomatoes :)

Sicilian salad (click on the image to read the full recipe)

Simple tomato salad:

It is the quickest but by no means it has less taste. It is perfect as a side for fish and meat but I usually love it with a good beigel and nothing else.

  • Thinly chopped garlic,basil and parsley,

  • olive oil,

  • salt and pepper

Seaweed salad

If you are craving something fresh and summery this is the right recipe for you and it is ideal with fish recipes.

  • Steamed seaweeds

  • Baby plum tomatoes

  • Pitted black olives

  • Avocado

  • White vinegar

  • Extra virgin olive oil

  • Salt and pepper

Warm salad with potatoes, squids and tomatoes (click on the image to read the full recipe)

Rice salad

Great full meal salad to bring to work as it is well balanced with protein, fats, carbs and fibres.

  • Steamed basmati rice

  • Sauté kale with olive oil, garlic and chilli flakes

  • Heriloom beans

  • Tomatoes

  • Dressing of olive oil and salt

Thank you so much for reading my post today, I hope you found some useful tips for your healthy meals.

Stay tuned: more delicious salad recipes coming soon!

Have a lovely weekend all!