The idea of this ‘too easy’ healthy salad is that it can be as simple, or as complicated as you like, depending on what supplies you have and the foods you like. The majority of the bowl should be green and leafy, but any thing goes really. Try different leaf combinations and the rest of the ingredients are optional. I love the colour in a salad so if possible add a red or orange vegetable (or both!).
I know this is a bit of a no-brainer recipe, but I just want to get you thinking about the endless possibilities when making a salad. Or if you have cooked a meal and can’t be bothered putting together a fancy salad, then just to consider throwing the leaves in a bowl and pouring over a little olive oil and vinegar. Minimal effort, for a lot of health benefits.
So what so good about it?
Leafy greens contain one of the most concentrated sources of nutrition of any food. See this post for more detail. Our ancestors most likely grazed all day on a variety of leafy greens… You just can get enough. Remember a good quality oil based dressing (recipe below) is essential for the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins. Please always make your own dressing, they are just too quick and easy not too.
Mixed green leaves (of any kind)! Torn or roughly chopped. Sometimes, especially when I’ve done another dish with lots of vegetables,
this is it for the salad. I love fresh greens with a great dressing (see below). Plus the extra nourishment you derive from your meal is well worth the minimal effort.
Sprouts (buckwheat, snow pea or any large variety)
Basil or parsley, shredded , torn or finely chopped
Tomatoes (cherry, grape or small truss), quartered
Red capsicum, finely sliced
Radish, finely sliced
Red or white cabbage, shredded
Roasted diced sweet potato or pumpkin
Carrot grated or julienne
Zucchini, grated or julienne
Fennel, finely sliced
Cucumber, diced or sliced
Broccoli or cauliflower, small florets
Beans, snow peas, sugar snaps
Red or spring onion, thinly sliced
Toasted or raw nuts or seeds (almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, sunflower, sesame or pumpkin seeds)
Toasted buckwheat (gives a nice crunch)
Semi sun dried tomatoes
Feta cheese (crumbled) or Parmesan cheese (shaved with a peeler) or goat cheese
Adding any type of protein to this can turn this side salad, into a very healthy meal
Add drained and rinsed chickpeas, canellini beans or any other bean or legume
Add leftover brown rice or quinoa
Edible flower petals are a must for me, but I do grow them – they are just too pretty!
1 part acids such as red wine vinegar or aged balsamic vinegar or lemon juice or lime juice (eg; 2 Tbs)
2 parts extra virgin cold pressed olive oil (or macadamia nut, avocado or flaxseed oil) (eg; 4 Tbs)
Good pinch of sea salt and pepper
If using lemon or lime juice, you can include the finely grated zest too for added flavour, nutrition and a big immune boost.
To make the dressing just mix the oil and acid, salt and pepper (and optional zest) and drizzle enough to just cover (but not drown) the ingredients in your salad bowl. This dressing is lovely over steamed vegetables too.
Make it creamy
Add a teaspoon of dijon mustard (it won’t add spice, just a creaminess much like a french dressing)
Try another acid
Why not try another vinegar. I love to experiment with different kinds of vinegar. I love Chardonnay vinegar (in fact I love anything Chardonnay!), raspberry vinegar, apple cider vinegar or any others…limited only by your imagination so experiment.
You can always make a few days worth of dressing and keep in the fridge.
Well, salads can be a deal breaker for many children. Before my two accepted salads (a combined 6 years), I continued to make them (because I really love salads), but I just made sure I always included the things they liked in the mix. The salad bowl went on the table most nights. I dished up lots of the bits they liked and a little of bits they didn’t. When they inevitably pushed aside the leaves (mostly), I would firstly ask if they were sure they didn’t want them. Then I’d say great, I need to get stronger or faster or smarter or whatever else they wanted from their little worlds…and then I (or my husband) ate what was left. No nagging, no threatening!
I’d also say that a great dressing can make all the difference. I’ve had children who generally fuss over salads, eat my salads to the shock of their parents. It’s got me a bit of a reputation as the salad guru – but that’s fine with me.
Lastly, as I’ve said before, just keep plugging away. Try different combinations and dressings. I also have plenty more great salad recipes to come, so stay tuned.
PS – if you are feeling frustrated about now because your child/children will flatly refuse any form of salad or vegetable, I still have lots of suggestions for the really ‘tough nuts’ to come. I will get there, just take on board any part of this that resonates and work on that. I love a challenge, I’ve had my fair share of very tricky patients, and I will do whatever I can to help you turn around your fuss pot.
What do you just love in a salad? Share your favourite ingredient or tips for encouraging children to cross over to the “green side!”
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