We just successfully managed to end lent and celebrate it with a probably – or hopefully – delicious feast on Easter goodies: for someone like me it’s an abundance of eggs and Easter ham, as well as a nice lamb roast. For others it might be a bag of candy or a traditional Easter cake. Do not forget that you can do what ever you like, it’s all about balance.
But it’s also all about summer coming to Europe again and even though the temperatures might not give it away yet – bikini or beach body season is upon us and this year will be confident to rock on the beaches, lakes or swimming pools from day 1.
A personal tip, I actually accidentally stumbled upon when looking for low-carb paleo food choices last year after being diagnosed with celiac disease , is going crazy on salads. #saladeverday, if you know what I mean.
Doris, you are the only person who thinks that a salad is a proper meal.
My close friend Eva, a good year ago – and she had a point at the time.
But I am not talking about sad little lettuce leaves with cucumber and a tomatoe. Noooo.
First, I absolutely hate tomatoes. Second, I am flavour-girl, I am literally obsessed with anything spicy or mustard-y and this does not change when I decide to go all rabbit on my lunches and dinner.
Indeed, salads are considered to be for stick-thin models and can only be described as rabbit food – especially by man who crave energy laden dishes. But wait a minute. I am craving energy too – especially on days I work out or have a lot of errands to run.
So here is my fool-proof way to make the perfect salad – and some ideas how you get a decent, filling salad which actually is a proper meal.
Step 1: chose a bunch of leafy greens to not only create the base for your salad bowl, but to bulk the dish up from the start.
Also known as Cos, this variety of head forming lettuce has deep green, long leaves with a crisp texture and deep taste – it is furthermore packed with folic acid, vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, and fiber content, romaine lettuce can significantly contribute to a heart-healthy diet.
Bright, vibrant-looking spinach leaves are not only more appealing to the eye, but also comes out at the top of ranking lists for nutrient richness: protect yourself against inflammatory problems, oxidative stress-related problems, cardiovascular problems, bone problems, and cancers at the same time.
One of my all time favorites, lamb’s lettuce has small, delicate leaves. It’s available year round and rather affordable – so add these dark greens to your diet to benefit from a high beta carotene and Vitamin C content and important bioflavonoids.
Step 2: next up are the colors and what makes up the texture of your salad bowl – I catch myself sometimes to go a little crazy on the ingredients front as I like to make my salads as colourful as possible and whatever gives me crunch is a must. Here you go with my favourites:
Not as watery as your usual, but still nice, cucumber – raw, crunchy bell peppers add a high amount of hydration to your salads. With a surprisingly high nutrient and phytonutrient content, you will also benefit from fat-soluble carotenoids and vitamin E – which are even potential anti-cancer remedies.
Being loaded with high amounts of fibre, this green vegetable helps your digestive system to function better – at a way milder taste than regular onions, which I do not like to consume raw. Spring onions on the other hand again as a nice crunch and slight spiciness to your greens.
If you manage to get your hands on green asparagus go do it – and simply roast the delicate stems for 5 minutes with sea salt and a drizzle of olive oil – only to enjoy one of nature’s best brain boosters. It further contains high levels of the amino acid asparagine, which serves as a natural diuretic, and increased urination not only releases fluid but helps rid the body of excess salts. In a good way.
Step 3: proteins are not only important for those of you working it in the gym or guys who want their muscles to expand rapidly. I would recommend to go for roughly 1g of lean protein per pound of body weight and with completing our salad bowl by topping it with a nice choice of protein, you do not even need supplements like protein powder to reach this mark.
Lean meats and seafood
I like to have a huge piece of grilled chicken on my salads – and would never turn down a seared steak on top of my salad bowl. Why? Because lean meats are a natural source of the types of protein my body needs to build muscles, organs and bodily fluids. And to repair cells. And to satisfy my hunger. Further good choices are scallops and prawns. Flavourfully seared of course.
To me it doesn’t matter if it’s a quail, chicken or duck egg – I already raved about egg benefits and add them to my salads either boiled or even poached to enjoy a nice runny yolk.
At times, a vegetable source of protein is needed – or preferred if you are a vegan – and I found mushrooms, especially button, cremini or portobello, the best source for paleo conform plant protein. Increasing consumption of naturally-grown foods like mushrooms decreases the risk of obesity and overall mortality, diabetes, heart disease and promotes a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
So here you have your balanced, nutritious and above all filling lunch or dinner. Calorie-wise I feel a loaded salad could even account for a snack in between, but somehow my go-to romaine bowl fills me up like a proper meal. Still at roughly 250 cal for a whole bowl, it would fit into my macros as a snack, too.
Without the gloopy dressing though – I love salads with a couple of spritzes of olive or pumpkin seed oil and herbs: garlic, oregano and paprika. That’s it.
Think again back to our #saladeverday challenge and for a second forget what we just learned about the health benefits for your body.
Think of that bikini. Think about the nice shape you are going to be in when kicking a ball on the beach. And above all keep in mind that in summer they sell ice cream – which can be enjoyed free of guilt when you keep the basis light and nutritious from now on.