Summer is well and truly over and with its final goodbye it’s easy to think that so too have our ever-easy, delicious and nutritious salad lunches. But, there’s no need to deny yourself the leafy greens just because other leaves are drying up and crunching under our feet. When the convenience comfort takeaway starts infiltrating your lunch-hour thoughts, it’s time to get creative with your nourishing midday meal. So, we found new and exciting ways to spice up your salads; putting together a mix of our favourite salad sides without the fuss and a soggy-free approach to keep you going until three-thirtyites kicks in.
1. Poached coconut chicken.
Tired of eating the same bland chicken salad? Try coconut poached chicken, instead. It’s high in protein and the perfect way to spruce up your salad and, the best part, you can prepare it on a Sunday for the coming week. Coconut milk is rich in fibre, vitamins C, E, B1 and minerals including iron, selenium, sodium and calcium – so it gets a big tick in the nutritional department. Poaching chicken also means you avoid frying and unnecessary oils.
- 1½ cups (375ml) coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons lime juice
- 6 kaffir lime leaves
- 1 teaspoon sea salt flakes
- 3 x 200g chicken breast fillets, trimmed
Place the coconut milk, lime juice, lime leaves and salt in a large non-stick frying pan over very low heat and stir to combine. Add the chicken and poach for 12 minutes each side or until cooked through. Allow to cool slightly before refrigerating chicken while still in the liquid. Allow to chill before serving.
* Reserve the rest of the poaching liquid and drizzle over your chicken and salad to finish
2. Honey roasted CINNAMON ALMONDS
Adding nuts to salads is a great way to add some crunch to your greens. If you’re looking to take it to the next level, try lightly roasting almonds (or any nut of choice) in some honey for a hint of sweetness. Honey can be high in calories, but it contains flavonoids and antioxidants that reduce the risk of some cancers and heart disease.
- 1 cup of almonds
- 4 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- Sprinkle of salt
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees.
2. Spread almonds in a single layer on a cookie tray lined with baking paper and bake for 10-15 minutes.
3. Heat the water, honey, and cinnamon in a saucepan on the stovetop, stirring to mix well. Once honey and water mixture is about to simmer, add almonds directly to saucepan.
4. Cook over the stovetop, continuing to stir so that the almonds are evenly coated in the honey and cinnamon mixture. Continue to heat until the honey and water mixture is a thick syrup (should take about 5 minutes).
5. Pour almonds back onto cookie sheet and spread into a single layer to cool. Sprinkle with salt.
3. Citrus fruit
If your everyday garden salad is beginning to bore you, try adding a little citrus fruit. Fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and mandarin are not only great for adding flavour but their nutritional value is also a fabulous way of getting more vitamins into your daily intake. Oranges, for example, are packed full of Vitamin C and are high in antioxidants and dietary fibre - ah-mazing!
4. Whole grains
Adding whole grains to our salad rotation is an awesome way of incorporating low-GI foods that will keep you fuller for longer and keep energy levels high. Grains such as quinoa, brown rice, and Israeli couscous are perfect for adding that little bit extra whilst also being packed full of vitamins. Eating foods that a high in fibre are important for digestion and great for weight loss – you are less likely to reach for the sugary snacks at 3:30pm.
Try this quinoa salad with pomegranate dressing for a weekly change.
- 1 cup cooked quinoa
- 2 cups parsely chopped
- 2 cups mint, chopped
- 2 large handfuls, baby spinach leaves
- 1 small red onion or 2 shallots, finely sliced
- 2 Lebanese cumbers, chopped
- 2 ripe tomato, chopped or 250 g cherry tomatoes
- 20 g pumpkin seeds
- 20 g almonds or pistachio, chopped
- Jewels from 1 fresh seeded pomegranate or a handful of goji berries
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate molasses
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 80 ml cold pressed olive oil fresh ground pepper
Combine all the dressing ingredients until creamy and spoon over your salad.
If you’ve got a green thumb (like we try very hard to) then your veggie garden is probably packed with fresh herbs. Even with the change of season, your plants have likely still had a good dose of sunshine and regular watering, allowing them to hold onto their goodness. Herbs such as mint and flat leaf Italian parsley are great added flavour and also aid with digestion.
This mint, pea and feta salad is the perfect summer addition to our salad roundup.
- 200g podded fresh peas or frozen peas
- 200g sugar snap peas, topped
- 200g small snow peas, topped
- 100g pea shoots (see note)
- 2 cups mint leaves
- 200g marinated Persian feta
- 1 garlic clove, crushed with salt
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 100ml extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon dried min
1. For the dressing, combine the crushed garlic, lemon juice and honey. Slowly whisk in the extra virgin olive oil. Stir in the mint and season with black pepper.
2. In a large pan of boiling salted water, cook fresh peas for 5-6 minutes (3 minutes if frozen), adding the sugar snap and snow peas for the final 2 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold water. Cool completely.
3. Place the vegetables in a large bowl with the pea shoots, feta, mint and dressing and toss gently to combine.
Salad dressings can be very high in calories, making the hard work of eating salads go right out the window. But, never fear - we’ve searched and found a few amazing low-cal dressing recipes that are high in flavour without breaking the healthy balance.
Classic French Dressing
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or wine vinegar
- ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 3-4 tablespoons or 45-60 mL cold pressed olive oil – based on your own taste black pepper and a little sea salt (optional)
Combine vinegar and mustard. Whisk in the oil until creamy looking.
Parsley & Mint Salsa Verde
- 2 bunches parsley
- 1 bunch mint zest and juice from ½-1 lemon – depending on taste 1/2 cup cold pressed olive oil
Combine all the ingredients into a high speed blender like a Vitamix and blend until smooth.
Story by Isabella Ousby