One can never go wrong with a good salad. May it be a garden salad dressed with the classic vinaigrette or a creamy dressing, people who’d love to add the right amount of nutrition to their body could easily create their own versions of salad. But how can we really create a healthy and delicious salad consistently? Here is the list of things you would need to consider in order to be friends with salads and make them the most amazing dish you could ever create.
Green, green, grass of home
It is always necessary to use the freshest vegetables you can ever find to make a salad. What is a salad if your vegetables are almost nearing its rotting period? It’s okay to use vegetables with a bit of blemishes and all, especially if you’re using organic ones but not to the point that it looks and tastes spoiled or whatnot. The fresher the vegetables are, the more nutritious they would be.
And when we say salad, we’re not only referring to the usual garden salad. You can definitely create a salad with grilled or roasted vegetables. Even boiled or blanched vegetables will do. You can also consider the cuts of your vegetables. Cutting them into bite-size pieces will have your guests appreciate it even more as they would be easy to eat. You can be as creative as you want. Make it rustic, Mediterranean or something that would fit the season, as long as the vegetables you’re using are fresh (and/or organic), everything will be all worth it.
What’s your flava?
There are several ways to give your salad a delicious flavour. The simplest way to do it is with a classic one, the vinaigrette. To have that rich taste without sacrificing your health, you have to choose the right oil and the crowd’s favourite is the olive oil. Using extra virgin olive oil suits best for salads as according to Leslie Beck of The Globe and Mail, “these are “cold pressed” from olives using minimal heat and no chemicals. As a result they retain the highest amount of phytochemicals and nutrients compared to “pure olive oil”, “olive oil” or “light olive oil”, which have been refined. If you want to be adventurous and try other oils, you can do so and some of the healthy alternatives are flaxseed oil, canola oil, avocado oil, walnut oil and grapeseed oil. These don’t only give great flavours but they are good sources of Omega 3-fatty acids and vitamin E. In addition to oils for the classic vinaigrette are vinegar or lemon/lime juice and herbs and spices. You have to have that tangy flavour to it that would really perk up your taste buds. The commonly used vinegars are red/white wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar and cider vinegar. To make a twist to this classic dressing, you can switch to Asian flavours by using sesame oil, miso, soy sauce, fish sauce and/or calamansi (instead of lemon or lime juice).
Another way to dress up your salad is by using ingredients that have a “creamy” consistency such as mayonnaise, yoghurt and sour cream. The famous caesar salad is quite known for its savoury and creamy dressing. A lot of versions have been introduced with the use of white mayo but the ‘original’ or ‘authentic’ version of it uses olive oil, raw egg yolks, dijon mustard, lemon juice and anchovies. It’s more like a vinaigrette actually, but creamier because of the egg yolks. Using mayo might be a bit unhealthy and that’s why some people use alternatives such as yoghurt. It doesn’t have as much vitamin K as mayo does, but it’s more nutritious.
If you are looking for great olive oils, try the ones from our friends at Regans Ridge who produce them organically.
Protein is in!
Salad won’t be complete without proteins. Eggs, bacon, chicken – those are the usual proteins we add in salads. Let’s not forget cheese. Cheese, specifically parmesan and feta cheese, is often mixed in Mediterranean salads. To have a healthier way of adding eggs to your salads, you can make use of free-range eggs that are organically produced like the ones from our friends in Runnymede Farm. Other healthy protein alternatives are tofu, lentils, tempehs, chickpeas and quinoa.
Fresh vegetables might have that crisp texture but to make your salad more enjoyable to the mouth, try adding more crunch to it. Croutons are a great addition to salads. Though it adds a bit of carbohydrates and fat, if needed be, you can make your own croutons at home using gluten-free breads or whole wheat breads. These kinds of breads are available in our Giving Local website which offers healthy and delicious breads from Primal Alternative.
If you’d really want to skip them and have a healthy salad, use nuts or seeds instead like pistachios, almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds and sesame seeds. You can also try adding the right proportion of granola from Loving Pantry which will make every bite so satisfying.
These four factors are what we need to cover to be able to have a harmonious friendship with salads. Of course, you can still add more but these things need to be considered first to make sure that your salad is well-balanced. It has to have the freshest ingredients or vegetables, it has to have the right colours, it has to have the right flavours, it has to have the right texture, and it has to have the right amount of nutrients. Balance is the key to having a great salad. The main purpose of having a salad is to at least get the right amount of nutrients for your body. Some may consider it as an appetiser, some may have it as their main dish, some may even have it as their dessert (like fruit salad in that sense). But, the point here is that to be friends with salad, you have to know what your body needs and there follows the ingredients you need for your salad; take note of the four factors listed here, balance them according to your needs and you might have a salad that you can put on your best friend list.
Try out some of the salad recipes we have here: