As the evenings get both longer and lighter there’s no denying we’d all prefer to spend a little more time outside enjoying ourselves at the weekend, rather than slaving over a hot stove (unless of course you’re a smart FFF’er). If not, ideally, we want quick, simple meals, with little time needed prep right?. Well, we’ve got something for you which ticks all of these boxes – a nice, big salad! Some of you may tut and think a bowl of leaves won’t keep you full, but we’re here to prove you wrong.
Salads are really versatile meals and we’re here to show you how to up your salad game!
Start off with a leafy base – think spinach, rocket or lettuce to name a few. All are packed with nutrients and provide volume to your salad without hiking up the calorie content. This will ensure you are satisfied at the end of your meal.
Leafy greens are super nutritious and have lots of beneficial qualities. Green vegetables get their colour from the pigment chlorophyll. It has potent antioxidant properties and works to protect the body from oxidative damage caused by free radicals. Free radical damage is linked to causing cardiovascular disease and cancer.
It has also been suggested that chlorophyll can help control hunger and cravings as it helps stabilise blood sugar levels.
Additionally, chlorophyll binds to toxins within the blood and removes from the body.
Add in a generous portion of fibrous carbohydrates – to make your salad into more of a substantial meal, incorporate something like quinoa, lentils or chickpeas. They are great sources of soluble fibre, including pectins and beta glucans. Soluble fibre dissolves in water to form a gel-like substance, which increases food transit time between the stomach and the small intestine. This process slows the absorption of glucose into the bloodstream, which helps to keep you feeling fuller for longer (or at least until lunchtime rolls around) and also promotes more stable blood sugar levels.
Incorporate a variety of veggies – filling your plate with vibrate veggies, will not only ensure your meal is appealing to the eye but also to your health. It’ll also make it better suited for a good Instagram snap!
It’s great to think of your diet in terms of macros, i.e. the amounts of protein, carbohydrate and fat you eat, but a great deal of importance should also be placed on making sure each meal is made up of various brightly coloured foods as they will add a huge amount of nutritional value to your meals.
Pack in the protein – whether that be from meat, fish, dairy, eggs or plant-based sources such as tofu. Proteins are primarily functional and structural components within each cell of the body and so are required for growth and repair, as well as the maintenance of optimal health.
In addition to playing a vital role in the building and repairing of tissue, protein is also important for hormone and enzyme production and skin, hair, and bone health.
In addition, protein is the most satiating macronutrient component of our diet. Satiety is the feeling of fullness and the suppression of hunger for a period of time after a meal. Therefore it is extremely important to make sure your diet contains enough protein.
Garnish – sprinkle on nuts and seeds. This will not only add another dimension of texture, but they’re also packed full of healthy fats and various vitamins and minerals, all of which have beneficial effects on overall health.
Dressing – a good salad dressing can make or break a salad and so it is crucial to get this right. Try to avoid shop-bought dressings as often they can be unnecessarily pricey and high in calories, salt and sugar. Instead, try to make your own, like this simple tahini dressing –
Makes approximately 300ml dressing –
120g of Tahini
2 small lemons
Pinch of salt
Fresh herbs such as parsley or dill
Add the Tahini, lemon juice, and salt to a bowl and mix together with a whisk.
Slowly pour half of the water into the bowl as you continue to whisk the mixture. Then add the remaining water to the bowl while you mix the dressing more vigorously.
Add in the fresh chopped herbs of your choosing and voilà!
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