25 Jul 2021

Summer Salads To Nourish You, Inside And Out

Here are my tips for building a summer salad that’s full of all the essential nutrients, without compromising on flavour.

With warmer days and longer nights, our bodies are calling out for fresh and delicious meals packed with seasonal goodness. What better way to get all that than with a refreshingly light salad?

For many, the concept of a salad might consist of wilted leaves in a bowl, maybe with some packaged salad dressing and little else to add either flavour or nutritional value.

This month, you will find the essential building blocks for a salad that is not only nutritious, but tasty too. The key is to make sure that you include a balance of protein, healthy fats, slow releasing carbs, and plenty of vegetables. You can also adapt the flavours throughout the seasons, incorporating warm vegetables and dressings made with seasonal produce.

Add plenty of vegetables

Lettuce | Rocket | Green Leaves | Sprouted Seeds | Roasted Red Peppers | Steamed Broccoli | Sugar Snap Peas | Cucumber I Tomatoes | Roasted Eggplants  | Avocado | Courgette | Red Onion | Garlic | Scallions 

When building your salad, choose a base that comprises two handfuls of lettuce, rocket or spinach, and add as many vegetables as you can.

Vegetables contain plenty of vitamins and minerals, and are rich sources of phytonutrients, which are natural components of plants that support whole-body health. Studies show that people who incorporate more plant foods into their diets have a reduced risk of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

Making it a goal to include all the colours of the rainbow in your bowl will get you well on your way to good health, as each colour offers a variety of nutrients.

Add protein

Chicken | Turkey | Salmon | Prawns | Tuna | Eggs | Tofu | Chickpeas | Beans | Quinoa

The building blocks of protein are vital for the growth and repair of body tissue; when you are exercising, under the weather, or even fast asleep, the amount of protein you consume will have a fundamental impact on your health.

The average adult’s diet needs to contain around 15-25% of protein, so don’t worry about going overboard with half a chicken and a side of greens. Simply add some slices of barbecued chicken, garlic-marinated shrimps, cubes of marinated tofu, or smoked salmon to your bowl, and you will feel satiated for hours.

The key is to make sure that you include a balance of protein, healthy fats, slow releasing carbs, and plenty of vegetables.

Add carbohydrates

Grated Carrots I Chickpeas | Lentils | Quinoa | Millet | Soba Noodles | Pearl Barley I Roasted Sweet Potato 

While carbohydrates are the main source of fuel for the body, in today’s typical Western diet, fast-releasing carbohydrates tend to be consumed in excess, and this results in too much sugar in your blood. We store the excess as fat and leave our bodies craving a more sustainable form of fuel.

These fast-releasing carbohydrates (found in white pasta, rice, sugars, fruits and some starchy vegetables) give us a sudden burst of energy, followed by a slump, while slow-releasing carbohydrates (found in whole grains, seeds, nuts, beans and legumes) provide us with more sustained energy over a longer period.

When building your salad bowl, try dressing cold soba noodles with coriander and soy sauce, or add in some cooked quinoa, lentils or left over hummus.

Add healthy fats

Olives | Avocado I Pine Nuts | Pumpkin Seeds | Sunflower Seeds | Almonds | Hazelnuts 

That’s right: you need fats to thrive. There are of course different types of fats – natural ones and unnatural ones – and it’s the natural ones you want to be adding to your salad. They not only keep you feeling full for longer and provide your body with energy, but they also support your heart health, your brain and nervous system, your immune system, your joints and your skin, as well as helping your body to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K.

Your diet should consist of approximately 35-50% of fat, so try adding avocado, olives, chopped nuts or a handful of seeds to your bowl, and your skin, hair and hormonal system will thank you.

Pick a dressing

Miso | Tahini | Yogurt | Tzatziki | Tamari | Pesto

Dressings have greater health benefits when homemade, rather than poured from a shop-bought bottle. You can use them to add flavour, as well as provide some extra nutrients.

You can create a simple dressing of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil with either apple cider or balsamic vinegar, or lemon juice. Usually, the trick to a delicious dressing is to mix one part acid with two parts oil.

Add fresh herbs and spices

Parsley | Coriander | Mint | Dill | Basil | Tarragon | Chervil I Chives I Oregano I Chillies I Turmeric I Ginger

Fresh herbs and spices have plenty of medicinal properties. While parsley and coriander help reduce fluid retention, turmeric contains anti-Inflammatory properties and cinnamon lowers your blood sugar levels. Experiment with your herbs and spices, and see how you can add more nutrients to your salads.

After all, salads needn’t be dull and lifeless. Incorporating texture will ensure your bowl is as stimulating to your senses as it is nutritious.


Want more SIMPLE + HEALTHY meal ideas to inspire you this summer? Book your COMPLIMENTARY 30-MINUTE CALL with me and we can discuss the best nutritional approach for you, and not just for summer.