Whilst speaking to a new client earlier who had recently started incorporating more salads into her diet, I was surprised to find out that despite this attempt at being healthy, she had been regularly dousing her lettuce, cucumber and tomato in shop bought e-numbers!
Two things here:
1. Lettuce, cumber and tomato. Familiar. Reliable. And, BORING! I can well understand why someone who has not been initiated into the art of salad making would go off this health stint in about 2 seconds and go for a cheese-toastie instead. Salads need to look and taste exciting! And what's more, they should be nutritious – lettuce, particularly our national favourite, iceberg, has a load of water and negligible vitamins and minerals. That won't satisfy anything much other than maybe barely our thirst.
2. Shop bought e-numbers. Please don't fall for this trap. Yes, I know that it probably tastes great, but please read the ingredients on the back. If there is anything listed that you can't pronounce, is called a stabiliser, preservative or has an e-number, please, please, please don't buy it. If you have already paid for it and taken it home, the kindest thing you can do for yourself (and anyone you live with it) is BIN IT. Ok, so I hear you say, "a little won't hurt," but if you consider the sheer volume of toxins and artificial everything in our food, soaps, detergents, creams, air, water… why burden your body further? (I'll rant about toxins another time.)
So, what to do?
Well, first thing is, go out and explore what sublime seasonal greens there are out there. During this time of year in the UK we have growing; watercress, spring greens, spinach, sorrell, spring onions, purple sprouting broccoli, asparagus, savoy cabbage and dandelion, among others. Not to mention all those wonderful herbs, such as parsley, basil, chives, coriander which you may already be growing in your window box! All of these can be chopped, sliced or simply torn to make a real salad! Add some ripe vine tomatoes for colour, throw in some sprouted/soaked quinoa, buckwheat or grains, if you feel you need the extra bulk. For extra protein and phytochemicals, add some seaweed sprinkles. For more protein, maybe add some chopped anchovies, a handful of your favourite nuts and seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, hemp or whatever you have going) and voila! An awesome salad that will sustain you for hours!
But hold on. It's naked!
Yes, some people may be able to stomach a dry salad, but not I. No, I LOVE fat. Particularly in the form of organic, cold (or mechanically) pressed extra virgin olive oil. I would say that you need about two tablespoons per person. (Sometimes more, if you're me.) Here are some recipes for you to experiment with.
1. Olive oil with pink himalayan salt and freshly ground pepper. Simple, but effective.
2. Olive oil with pink himalayan salt, freshly ground pepper and freshly squeezed lemon. Zingy!
3. Olive oil with pink himalayan salt, freshly ground pepper and apple cider vinegar. Mmmm.. that makes my tummy happy!
4. Add garlic to any of the above. Eat this with your date, not before your date!
5. Add cayenne pepper or fresh chilli to the above for an added punch. KERPOW!
6. Add organic whole grain mustard to the above for a little je ne sais quoi… (French dressing!)
7. Substitute some or all of the olive oil with organic cold pressed hemp oil or flaxseed oil for some extra brain power (also known as Omega 3).
8. Add raw organic honey to any of the above to make it sweeeet!
Inspired? You should be – it's making me hungry!
Don't be afraid to experiment with dressings. You might get it wrong sometimes, so try it before you throw it in. Ideally you want to have a different salad each time you eat and that's so easy to do by just changing the dressing a little, or adding a few extras. Salads are and should always remain FUN!
If you're the kind of person who's always in a rush, you can prepare a bottle of salad dressing and keep it so that it's ready to go. The salad you can make enough for 2-3 meals, just leave the dressing till the last minute.
Go on! Try it! And then, I challenge to come back here and tell me that salads are boring!