Summer is a great time for salads. With warmer weather, longer daylight hours and an abundance of delicious fresh ingredients in season, it’s the perfect time to make salads something you enjoy every day. The Australian Dietary Guidelines encourage us to enjoy a wide variety of nutritious foods from the 5 core food groups – so that’s fruits, vegetables, breads and cereals, proteins and dairy foods. Choosing a wide range of different foods increases the likelihood of obtaining sufficient intake of all nutrients your body needs for good health. Eating a wide variety of different foods can protect our bodies from chronic disease and may also increase quality of life and longevity.
A salad is the perfect way to include a range of different foods and it’s also a great way to increase your intake of plant foods. Of course, start with your favourite mix of fresh vegetables as the base, add a delicious summer fruit such as sliced strawberries. If you’re on a weight loss plan, and your kilojoule level allows it, add a plant-based protein such as chickpeas, and then some good fats – some slivered almonds, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or a handful of olives. That’s what the Mediterranean’s do.
Observational studies began in the 1960s on populations in Mediterranean countries, and their traditional dietary pattern has specifically been shown to have benefits relating to:
- Greater longevity
- Improved quality of life
- Reduced risk of illness and death relating to:
- Cardiovascular disease, Coronary Heart Disease, Myocardial Infarction (heart attack)
- Favourable effects on the risk factors for these conditions including high blood pressure and high cholesterol
- Certain types of cancers
- Metabolic Syndrome
In addition to making your diet more nutritious, having more plant foods is one of the ways known to encourage a more diverse microbiome – so that’s a wider variety and a larger number of good bacteria in your gut. The best way to improve your gut health is to eat a plant-rich diet with a significant focus on whole foods. Two groups of plant compounds are known to be important – dietary fibre and polyphenols. Polyphenols are nutrients that naturally occur in plants, they are beneficial to health in a range of ways, including their role in promoting a healthy gut microbiome. And plant foods are also a great source of dietary fibre. So why not give these great recipes a try:
- 2 cups green beans, trimmed
- ½ garlic clove, finely grated (optional)
- 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- ½ tsp Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- ½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 40g reduced fat feta cheese, crumbled
- Fresh basil leaves
1. Lightly steam beans for 4-7 minute until tender-crisp.
2. When the beans are cooked and warm, stir through the garlic, balsamic vinegar and Dijon mustard. Stir to combine ensuring everything is evenly coated.
3. Add the cherry tomatoes then season with salt and pepper to taste. Finish with feta cheese and fresh basil
Dressing the beans while they’re warm allows them to soak up more flavour
Prep Time: 10 Minutes
- 4 cups spinach and kale mix
- 1 Pink Lady apple, thinly sliced
- ¼ red onion, finely sliced 1 tbsp dried cranberries
- 80g reduced fat feta cheese 1 tbsp fresh basil leaves
For the dressing:
- ½ cup orange juice
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar 1 tsp Dijon mustard
- ½ garlic clove, finely grated Pepper
1. Make the dressing by combining orange juice, apple cider vinegar, mustard, garlic and pepper together in a jug. Whisk to combine and set aside.
2. Prepare the salad by placing kale and spinach mix into a bowl and top with apple slices, red onion, dried
3. cranberries, feta and basil. Dress with the prepared salad dressing when ready to serve.
4. Dietitian Tip:
5. No time to make a dressing? Just add your favourite fat free salad dressing and it will be just as delicious!
- 1 tomato, chopped
- ½ cucumber, chopped
- ½ red or green capsicum, chopped
- ¼ red onion, chopped
- 40g reduced fat feta cheese
- Pinch of dried oregano
- Cracked black pepper to taste
- 2 tsp red wine vinegar
1. Place tomato, cucumber, capsicum, red onion and feta cheese in a bowl.
2. Sprinkle with dried oregano and season with black pepper.
3. Drizzle with red wine vinegar to serve.