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Get more from your salads – Tips to take your salad bowl to the next level

You can get more from your salads as they are a perfect lunch or dinner option and another excellent portable food that can be deliciously healthy and really quite filling. Salads are perfect as you can include many grains, legumes and some great tasty proteins teamed with fresh seasonal leafy greens and vegetables. And as I have said before the most important aspect to a good salad is the dressing. Here are some helpful tips to take your salad bowl to the next level:

 

Include grains in your salad

Grains or ingredients you can include in your salads are cous cous, burghal – (Cracked Wheat used to make tabouleh), barley, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, brown rice, cooked basmati rice, noodles such as buckwheat, rice, bean thread, you can also make your own croutons out of spraying a slice of bread with olive oil and chopping it into squares and baking it in a 180c oven for 10 – 15 minutes until golden. You can use this same method for tortillas, pita breads and lavosh, for crackers and pita chips to have with dips.

Aim for ½ a cup of grain in your salad per person if using only grains
Aim for ¼ a cup of grain in your salad per person if using grains and legumes

Legume salads

Legumes you can use in your salads can include cooked chick peas, lentils, cannellini beans, barlotti beans, three bean mix, check for the ingredients and buy the tinned ones without any added or extra salt or sugar. If you are cooking your own it is best to soak these over night first, discarding the soaking water and covering them with fresh water before simmering. It is not necessary to salt beans and they will take different cooking times so taste them after 20 minutes, you should be able to squash them in between your fingers> Drain and cool before storing in the fridge. You will need to eat these within the week although you can freeze them.

Aim for 1 cup of legumes per person in a salad if using only legumes
Aim for ½ a cup of legumes in your salad per person if using legumes and grains

Vegetable fillers for salads

Just about anything goes for a salad when adding in fresh vegetables. The important factor here is to use fresh not tinned, tinned vegetables serve another purpose. You can roast, barbecue, grill, steam or sauté most vegetables and use them for a salad. These vegetables could include, capsicum, eggplant, onion, Asian greens, corn, pumpkin, sweet potato, carrot, parsnips, green beans, broccoli and so on. Any vegetable that you eat for dinner you can include in a salad, top up your favourite combinations with some fresh vegetables like baby spinach, mixed lettuce leaves, sliced tomatoes or cherry tomatoes, diced cucumber, sprouts and you can also include a sprinkling of nuts and seeds. These could include sesame seeds, sunflower, pumpkin, almonds, roasted peanuts, walnuts, macadamia nuts.

Don’t forget about fruits, sliced or shredded apple, pear, orange, mandarin and grapefruit segments, pomegranates, fresh dates, diced melons, mangoes, peaches are all fantastic in certain salads and give a little sweetness and wonderful flavour combinations.

Try this tasty Quinoa salad with broccoli and feta

 

I know I said that the most important aspect to a salad is the dressing ! Keep an eye out for my next post that will give you four salad dressing recipes help take your salad bowl to the next level.

 

Healthy Smoothies – Chef Dominique Rizzo’s Recipe Tips to get it right

Healthy Smoothies are a perfect quick breakfast for anyone on the go, there are two different types of smoothies, a high protein smoothie and a fruit and or blended fruit and vegetable smoothie. Smoothies are extremely popular as they are an easy way too start the day when you system is still detoxing from the night before.

Your combinations are endless, here are some Recipe Tips to get it right:

  • It is recommended that you have about 2-3 servings of fruit a day and 5 servings of vegetables a day.
  • Fruits are high in sugar so stick to the 2-3 servings a day.
  • Like with vegetables, choosing different coloured fruits increases the variety of nutrients, which can enhance your health.
  • Eat a selection of apples and pears, citrus fruit such as oranges, mandarins and grapefruit
  • lemon squeezed in warm water first thing in the morning is a must for a healthy liver and digestion.
  • When in season choose stone fruits such as apricots, cherries, peaches, nectarines and plums and tropical fruits such as bananas, paw paw, mangoes, pineapple and melons
  • Berries, grapes and passionfruit are ideal for snacks and adding into fruit salads or on desserts.

Go Dairy Free

For healthy smoothies you don’t always have to go dairy, you can also use almond milk, coconut, rice, soy, oat milk, water or coconut water. Be sure to read the labels and get unsweetened versions to avoid added sugars.

Up the Protein of your healthy smoothies

Protein powders come in many different varieties, look for an all-natural protein powder from a reputable health shop with little or no sugar and no flavourings, you can add your own vanilla or
chocolate as these are unnecessary sugars and colourings that you don’t want. Base your serving of protein powder on 30g grams for women and about 56 grams for men.

Fruit and Fiber Options

Frozen berries, bananas and chopped fruits are the best for healthy smoothies and can be easily prepared and wrapped in plastic or stored in containers in your freezer making ti easier to throw together any flavour. Most frozen fruit you can now buy in packets so there is no excuse. It is especially good to buy fruit in bulk when it is cheap and chop it up to freeze it that way you have tropical fruits all year round.

“Superfoods”

All the rage now are many “superfoods” that you can add to your smoothie for extra nutritional value. Here are a few that you may or may not have heard of, these are all available in your health
food shop and some can also be found in your local supermarket.

Acai powder – The small, dark purple Amazonian berry provides exceptional amounts of antioxidants, omega fats, protein and fibre, plus it’s an immunity and energy booster.
Omega 3 fish oil –Disappears into your smoothie and you’ll never know it’s there
Raw cacao powder – A top source of antioxidants, magnesium, iron along with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Chocolate that is good for you! This is particularly good with strawberries and coconut. You can also just use cocoa or dutch cocoa for a richer flavour .
Chia seeds or powder – Chia is a great source of healthy omega fats, protein, antioxidants and dietary fibre. It has a neutral flavour and because it absorbs water, it thickens liquids and keeps you feeling fuller for longer.
Maca powder – Great for energy and balance, this ancient Peruvian superfood was highly prized by Incan warriors to increase stamina and combat fatigue.
Spirulina Powder – Spirulina is 100% natural and a highly nutritious micro salt water plant. Spirulina contains rich vegetable protein, multi Vitamins and a wide range of minerals and can be
added to water, or smoothies, it is not recommended for people with serious seaweed or seafood allergies.

Try this Healthy Smoothie Recipe

Tea and fruit smoothie
Serves 2 Pre time 5 minutes
3 cups frozen white grapes
2 packed cups baby spinach
1 1/2 cups strong brewed green tea, cooled
1 medium ripe avocado
2 teaspoons honey serves 3
1 cup fresh pineapple, chopped
1/4 cup coconut milk
¼ cup natural or coconut yogurt

Place in a blender and blend until smooth and enjoy!

Want more recipes for Healthy Smoothies?

Try this Cucumber Cooler Smoothie Recipe

or this

Berry Coconut Smoothie Recipe