Nothing sounds healthier than a salad, right? But we need to remember that not all salads are made equal. Adding the wrong ingredients can take your healthy lunch option from hero to zero.

That said, don’t give up on salads — they can be filling, healthy, delicious and a great way to boost your daily vegetable intake. They also don’t need to keep you in the kitchen for hours, an excellent lunch idea. Just follow our tips for making the ultimate salad.

 

Rainbow Power

Try to think of a rainbow every time put your salad together – the more colours, the wider the variety of nutrients.

The power of colour – A study was conducted using jelly beans, one bowl contained only black jelly beans and the other contained a variety of colours. Those that were asked to eat from the colourful bowl, ended up eating less – Something to think about!

 

First things first, make a base with a nutrient packed base with a variety of leafy greens. Go for the darker coloured leaves as they are richer in nutrients, the greener the better. Be experimental with other greens such as baby spinach, rocket, kale, Chinese cabbage etc.

Top off your green base with several colourful veggies. Try to stick with raw or lightly steamed. This is a good opportunity to also use up those left over veggies in the fridge.

The power of protein.

Your salad becomes a meal when you add a protein! Whether you choose, meat, poultry or fish, opt for the lean options and steer clear of any processed meats (e.g. bacon, salami) or any that are fried or sauced. Try to keep your portion size to a deck of cards. Once again you can use any left overs.

Good options include the following:

  • Grilled chicken breast
  • Smoked chicken
  • Boiled eggs
  • Tinned tuna/sardines
  • Ostrich/minute steaks cut into strips
  • Any lean left overs etc.

If you’re vegetarian or you just want to mix it up you can choose some of the following options:

  • ¾ cup of chickpeas, kidney beans, pinto beans, lentils etc
  • ½ cup of cubed tofu

Keep it complex

Healthy carbs do exist and can be added to your rainbow salad, as long as you keep it complex – high fibre, unprocessed, unrefined, low GI options. And check your portion size aim for ½ -1 fist or 1 slice of bread.

Good complex carbohydrate options include:

  • Any starchy veg – butternut, sweet potato, baby potato, mielies and beetroot
  • Fruit (Tennis ball portion size)
  • Low GI bread
  • Whole wheat pasta
  • Brown rice
  • Quinoa
  • Whole wheat cous cous

A little something to make it interesting.

One of these flavourful ingredients goes a long way, don’t use too much of a good thing. Make sure you only use about the tip of your thumb or 2Tbs, more than can skyrocket calories.

Good options include:

  • Olives
  • Avo
  • Hummus
  • Olive oil
  • Unsalted nuts
  • Feta
  • Seeds

Dress it up

Many salad dressings can take a salad from fresh and nutritious to downright unhealthy. Our tip, keep it classic. Avoid all oil-based dressings (even if it’s disguised as low fat) and stick to balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.

Do it the night before

Taking a packed salad for lunch takes a little planning, but does not have to take you hours and hours. To avoid everything going mushy, pack ingredients separately into re-sealable packets/little containers and combine them just before eating.

Enjoy your rainbow salad. Hopefully these tips will help to get you taking a salad as a lunch option.

 

 

Spinach, Strawberry and walnut salad

 

  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 4 cups fresh baby spinach
  • 8 large strawberries, thinly sliced
  • ½ block reduced fat feta (optional)
  • Balsamic vinegar

 

  1. Toast your walnuts and allow them to cool.
  2. Toss the spinach and strawberries into a large bowl. Add the walnuts and feta and drizzle some balsamic vinegar over the top.