Give yourself a break from slaving over a hot stove with these cool and delicious summer salads, courtesy of The Healthy Chef, Teresa Cutter.
The evidence is clear that the more fruit and vegetables you eat, the healthier you’ll be. Fruits and veggies are loaded with vitamins and minerals, and provide antioxidants that may prevent a number of diseases, including cancer and heart disease. Evidence suggests that antioxidants are best acquired through whole-food consumption rather than as an over-the-counter pill, so eat your fruit and veggies at every meal!
Leafy salad greens and vegetables are also known as functional alkaline foods. The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition states that alkalising diets improve bone density and serum growth hormone concentrations and also help to prevent muscle wastage. It also suggests that eating between five and nine serves of salad or vegetables a day can be a more effective strategy in prevention and treatment of chronic disease. A salad serve is about a cup or a large handful of leafy greens or half a cup of veggies.
Salads also act like a prebiotic in your gut. Prebiotics are non-digestible high fibre foods that stimulate the favourable growth of probiotic bacteria in the gut, which can boost your immune system and stimulate better absorption of nutrients from food. The word probiotic means prolife, so where possible choose foods that are life-giving.
POACHED ORGANIC CHICKEN SALAD WITH GREEN GODDESS DRESSING
This is a delicious and filling meal that will blow any preconceptions about boring salads clean away!
Time it takes: 10 minutes (plus 25 minutes if poaching chicken breast)
4 good handfuls mixed leafy greens
1 cup alfalfa
½ cup snow pea sprouts
1 Lebanese cucumber, sliced
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed
Handful chopped mint and parsley
Sprinkle of pumpkin seeds or smashed pistachio
300g poached or grilled skinless chicken breast, sliced
Green goddess dressing
(makes 1½ cups)
1 bunch parsley leaves
1 bunch mint leaves
½ cup cold pressed olive oil
Black pepper and a little sea salt to taste
Mix all ingredients for the salad into a large bowl. Make the dressing by combining the herbs, lemon zest, juice and olive oil into a good high-speed blender. I love to use my Vitamix for this as it blends up the herbs to a wonderful smooth puree. Season with a little pepper. Serve each salad with 2 tablespoons of dressing and enjoy for a healthy lunch or dinner.
Nutrition per serve
Total fat: 12g
Poaching the chicken breast
Place 2 chicken breasts, 3 cups of water, pinch of salt, juice of 1 lemon and the stems of a bunch of fresh parsley or thyme in a saucepan. Bring to the boil gently, then turn the heat down very low. Cover and simmer on a gentle heat for 15 minutes (do not boil). Check to see if they are fully cooked through. Remove the chicken breasts and enjoy hot or cold.
Note: Other protein sources can be used in place of the chicken, such as grilled white fish, tinned tuna or wild salmon, sardines and even rare cooked grass fed beef. Vegetarians can use cooked green lentils, tofu or smashed organic eggs in place of the chicken for added protein.
SUPER FOOD SALAD
This is the perfect salad to enjoy this time of year. Serve alone or alongside steamed white fish. Vegetarians can add nuts, seeds, green peas or tempeh for added protein.
Time it takes: 5 minutes
500g spinach leaves – approx. 2 cups per person
Small bunch parsley, chopped
250g (1 cup) cherry tomatoes
1 small red onion
6 apricots, halved or alternatively you can use plums, peaches, figs or roasted pumpkin
2 tablespoons goji berries
Sprinkle of pumpkin or chia seeds
Raspberry dressing (see recipe below)
Place spinach into a large serving bowl. Add the rest of the salad ingredients, except the goji berries and seeds, and arrange decoratively over the top and between the leaves. Finish off by scattering over the goji berries and pumpkin seeds. Drizzle with dressing just before serving and enjoy.
100g (1 cup) raspberries
60ml (¼ cup) cold pressed olive oil
Smash the raspberries and olive oil together. Drizzle a little over this amazing salad and enjoy.
The dressing keeps well in a glass jar for about five days. Use over your favourite salads or drizzle onto poached organic chicken or roasted turkey.
Nutrition per serve (no dressing)
Total fat: 1.8g
Nutrition per serve
Total fat: 9.8g
Teresa is one of Australia’s leading authorities on healthy cooking and the founder of The Healthy Chef, a company dedicated to improving health and wellbeing. A qualified chef with over 20 years’ experience, as well as a nutritionist and fitness professional, she has combined her knowledge of food, diet and exercise to develop healthy recipes for people who love food but want to maximise their health and wellbeing. For more information visit www.thehealthychef.com