Done right, a salad is healthy, nutritious, delicious and filling. Done badly, you’re either starving an hour later or, in an attempt to make it satisfying, you have inadvertently laden it with unhealthy items such as creamy dressings or breaded meat.
To learn how to make the best salads this summer, we turned to nutritionist, Myra Dill, who shared her expertise and recipes.
“The secret to a satisfied feeling after salad is finding your balance by adding in proteins
with higher fibre vegetables and avoiding sugary or starchy ‘fun’ items such as dried fruits, croutons or high fat dressings,” she advised.
“I love to start with my greens, then add one or two bursts of colour through vegetables and maybe raw fruit – blueberries and applies are my personal favourite. Then, a healthy fat such as avocado or nuts, and top it with either a plant-based protein such as hemp hearts, seeds or beans, or a lean protein such as local fish, chicken breast or egg.”
To add flavour and avoid dressings, Ms Dill suggested throwing seasoned edamame, seasoned chickpeas or pickled vegetables on top.
If you do want a dressing, Ms Dill advised a simple olive oil and vinegar combination, a squeeze of lemon juice, or a homemade peanut sauce (recipe below).
Where possible, she tries to use locally-grown ingredients such as kale, spinach, microgreens, onions and cherry tomatoes from local farmers; avocadoes from our trees; wild-grown fennel and Nasturtiums; and herbs such as rosemary, mint and basil, which grow well in pots.
If you want to replace one of your usual picnic items with a salad, try her Summer Roll Salad. Ideal for the beach or boat:
SUMMER ROLL SALAD
- 5 large leaves of spinach or romaine roughly chopped
- 12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
- 1 large carrot, julienned
- 2 cucumbers, julienned
- 8 oz Napa or local cabbage, thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp fish sauce
- 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 1/4 c rice vinegar or Apple cider vinegar
- 8 large rice paper sheets
- 2 tbsp hemp seeds
- 12 fresh mint leaves
- 12 fresh basil leaves
- Optional extras: local fennel, cilantro or ginger finely chopped, cooked vermicelli noodles, thinly sliced mango.
- Optional protein: 3tbsp hemp seed hearts, 10 diced shrimp, or fresh local cooked fish of choice, or shredded cooked chicken.
- In a medium bowl, mix together noodles (if using), carrot, cucumber, cabbage, fish sauce,sugar, and vinegar.
- To assemble rolls, place a sheet of rice paper in a medium bowl of warm water until just softened. Lift sheet carefully from water, placing it on a tea-towel-covered board.
- Place some of the vegetable filling horizontally in the center of the sheet and top with one mint leaf, one basil leaf, your protein choice, and hemp seeds.
- Fold edge closest to you up and over the filling; roll sheet to enclose filling, folding in sides after first complete turn of roll.
- Repeat with remaining sheets and filling.
- 1/2 c smooth all natural no added sugar peanut butter
- 1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- 1 tbsp freshly grated ginger
- 4 tbsp boiling water
- 1/4 c crushed, toasted peanuts, for serving
Whisk peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, ginger, and boiling water until smooth. Top with peanuts and sesame seeds and serve alongside rolls.
Too busy to make your own ‘amped up’ salad? “WildGreens on Front Street have super fun choices of salad toppers that are still healthy,” recommended Ms Dill.
Myra Dill is a health coach, behavioural change specialist, fitness instructor and founder of fitness and nutrition company, eFit. For more information or nutritional inspiration, visit efitbm.com.