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.
Anything goes super salad
- 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.
- Optional sprouts (buckwheat, snow pea or any large variety)
- Optional fresh basil or parsley (shredded, torn or finely chopped)
- Optional vine ripened tomatoe/s (cherry, grape or small truss) quartered
- Optional red capsicum/s -finely sliced
- Optional radish -finely sliced
- Optional avocado/s -diced
- Optional red or white cabbage -shredded
- Optional roasted diced sweet potato or pumpkin
- Optional carrot/s -grated or julienne
- Optional zucchini/s -raw grated, julienne or roasted
- Optional fennel -finely sliced
- Optional cucumber -diced or sliced
- Optional broccoli or cauliflower -small florets (cooked or raw)
- Optional peas (snow peas, sugar snaps)
- Optional red or spring onion -thinly sliced
- Optional toasted or raw nuts or seeds (almonds, cashews, walnuts, pecans, sunflower, sesame or pumpkin seeds)
- Optional toasted buckwheat -gives a nice crunch
- Optional olives
- Optional Semi sun-dried tomatoes
- Optional feta cheese crumbled or Parmesan cheese (shaved with a peeler) or goat cheese
- Optional adding any type of protein to this can turn this side salad into a very healthy meal
- Optional add drained and rinsed chickpeas, canellini beans or any other bean or legume
- Optional add leftover brown rice or quinoa
- Optional 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)
- Sea salt and freshly ground black 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 creamyAdd a teaspoon of dijon mustard (it won't add spice, just a creaminess much like a french dressing)
Try another acidWhy 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.
Time-saving tipYou 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.
Also make sure they get involved in some small way, even if it means asking them to add something to the salad (that you have maybe already chopped) or perhaps ask them to ‘toss’ the salad. Then remember to thanks and praise them for helping ‘make’ the salad. It is a known fact that kids who contribute to making a meal, will be much more likely to eat it.
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!”