Written for The Juicery Co.
Salads make a great accompaniment to any summertime patio party, sunset picnics, and sunny beach days that we are all enjoying here in Vancouver. A “salad” can be as simple as some tender new lettuces tossed in a vinaigrette beside a piece of wild fish, to as complex as a balanced plant-based meal with numerous flavours and textures. Salads are also one of my favourites because there are no recipe rules; it can all just be tossed in a bowl transforming it into something beautiful. Below are 5 tips to building a salad along with two of my favourite summertime recipes. Happy Sunny Days xx
Lauren Paton, R.H.N.
* Include summers freshest produce
Look for locally grown in the grocery store, or check out a nearby farmers market or produce stand. If you have a garden and can include homegrown produce that’s great! Check out http://eatlocal.org to find one near you.
* Include local summertime beauty foods to help keep your skin glowing and support you through the warmer months. Here are a few of my top picks:
- Melons: Watermelon is my personal favourite summer fruit. Number 1 it tastes deliciously sweet, but it’s also super hydrating and contains high concentrations of lycopene to give your body UV-defense protection. Toss watermelon, cucumber, avocado, basil, lime juice, and olive oil together for a refreshing salad.
- Berries: Have you ever gone berry picking? If you haven’t you should put it on your bucket list this summer! I’m going to call this berry therapy. I love it because you can quietly be in your own space, choosing the plumpest looking berries and putting them in your bucket (or your mouth!). Berries are scored high on the ORAC scale (oxygen radical absorbance capacity), meaning they are loaded with anti-aging antioxidants to help keep your skin looking youthful!
- Tomatoes: The flavour and nutritional value comparison of a conventional store-bought tomato vs. vine ripe heirloom tomato is exceptional. Not to mention, heirloom varieties are so pleasing to the eye. Tomatoes are also and excellent sun-defense food due to their lycopene content. Did you know that the lycopene absorption increases by cooking tomatoes, and by adding healthy fats such as olive oil?
- Peppers: Sweet bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C! Eating raw bell peppers will give you a great dose of this water-soluble antioxidant to help keep your immune system strong through the summer months by fighting free radicals. Vitamin C is also required to produce collagen, helping keep your skin looking firm and supple.
- Herbs: Liven up any salad with herbs! They bring so many wonderful health benefits and flavour to your dish. They are detoxifying, anti-inflammatory, have antimicrobial properties, and are great for digestion.
Tip: Include rosemary in bbq meat recipes! Marinating your meats beforehand with this herb can help reduce HCA's (heterocyclic amines), which are carcinogenic compounds that can form when meats are grilled.
* How you chop
It’s true that the way to chop a veggie can affect how it tastes. With raw salads I enjoy smaller cuts by either using a mandolin to slice see-through radish slices, or shredding thin cabbage to make a slaw. Grated beets, ribbon'd carrots, and spiralized zucchinis add a fun touch to top any green. There’s something so satisfying about a chunky, grilled vegetable that you can cut into with a fork and knife. Whether that be a whole portobello mushroom brushed with grass-fed butter and garlic, or juicy halved stone fruit slathered in coconut oil and honey.
* Double batch and save some for lunch the next day.
I always have meal prep in mind, because it allows me to spend that extra time doing fun outdoor activities, rather than extra time spent cooking (don’t get me wrong, one of my happiest places is the kitchen, but nothing beats some vitamin sea!). Leave the dressing on the side so lettuces don’t get too soggy. If you are using dark leafy greens then it should be fine to
have them lightly tossed… sometimes I find a massaged kale salad tastes even better the next day!
* To feel more satiated, include quality protein and healthy fats to your leafy green salads.
Nothing worse then having lunch, then an hour later your mind and body is preoccupied with something else to eat because your hungry. Include healthy fats such as avocado, nuts, seeds, salmon, and toss your salad with a quality extra virgin olive oil. Not only will you feel more balanced, but your body also requires fat to absorb fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. If you are an omnivore, go for humanely raised, organic meats, or make it plant-based by adding beans, lentils, quinoa, or a scoop of hummus.
Creamy Avocado & Dill Nugget Potato Salad
- 1 ½ pounds of nugget potatoes, cubed (you may also use fingerling)
- 1 ½ cups of green beans, cut on the diagonal into bite size pieces
- 1 shallot, thinly diced
- 2 tbsp. of fresh dill, chopped (and some extra for garnish)
- 1 large avocado
- ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 1-2 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. dijon mustard
- Sea salt and pepper to taste
1. Add scrubbed potatoes to a large pot, cover with water, and bring to a boil. Reduce to medium heat, and cook until fork tender. Strain, and refrigerate.
2. In a double broiler, steam green beans until vibrant green and tender (Remember you want to cook the color into vegetables and not out!). You can add these to the bowl of cooked potatoes once have cooled.
3. In a food processor, add the avocado, lemon juice, dijon mustard, olive oil, salt & pepper. Puree until smooth.
4. Take chilled potatoes and green beans out of the refrigerator, and mix in the chopped shallot, dill, and creamy avocado dressing. Taste, and adjust flavours to liking.
Beluga Lentil Salad with Grilled Apricots & Blueberries
- 1 cup of beluga lentils
- 4 apricots, halved and pits removed
- ½ cup of blueberries
- ¼ cup of raw walnuts, crushed
- ¼ cup of goats feta, crumbled
- 2 tbsp. mint, chopped
- 2 handfuls of arugula, washed
- 2 handfuls of curly green leaf lettuce, washed & torn into bite size pieces
- Coconut oil and pure maple syrup to brush apricots
- Salt & Pepper to taste
- ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil
- 3 tbsp. of balsamic vinegar
- 1 garlic clove, grated (you can use a microplane)
- 1 tsp. of dijon mustard
1. Rinse lentils in a fine mesh strainer. Transfer into a medium size pot with 2 cups of clean filtered water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for about 15-20 minutes (or until tender). Drain any excess water and set aside to cool.
2. Prepare grill for medium heat. Lightly brush apricots with high-heat cooking oil such as coconut oil and some pure maple syrup. Once the grill is hot, place apricots cut side down. When they have grill marks (this should only take a couple minutes), flip and cook for a little while longer. Remove from heat and let cool.
4. Prepare all salad dressing ingredients in a mason jar with a lid and shake, shake, shake!
3. In a large mixing bowl add chilled lentils, blueberries, walnuts, goat’s feta, mint, arugula, and lettuce. Gently toss in desired amount of dressing, taste, and adjust flavours to liking. Top the salad with halved apricots, and garnish with whole mint leaves. If you want you can chop half the cooked apricots into smaller pieces and toss them into salad mix as well!