Did you indulge a little over the holidays? I sure hope so! And I hope you thoroughly enjoyed it. Though now do you find yourself wanting to “start afresh” with your eating habits in the New Year? Are you tempted to try the latest fancy diet or detox? Well, STOP right there! Resist the temptation of throwing all your money at something that will make you feel good about yourself for a few scarce weeks (if that). Before long the boredom, flavour fatigue, cravings and irritability will set in and you’ll feel like the most terrible human for not seeing this “diet” through. So, do yourself a favour and skip the diet! Let’s go straight to preparing yourself delicious, nourishing food that will give everyone in the office food envy. Don’t force yourself to eat plain lettuce leaves with tuna for lunch!! Sure, it’s a “healthy” meal, but it will surely leave you feeling hungry again at 3pm, dreaming of chocolate or that crusty white bread that you had promised yourself you would quit.
Salads are a wonderful, nourishing & delicious lunch, and if they are prepared correctly, they will leave you feeling full, satisfied and motivated to do that after-work exercise session you had planned. So follow these 6 steps when preparing a salad for lunch and you can’t go wrong!
Adding about 80-100g of lean protein will not only add flavour to your salad, it will help to keep you full and satisfied. Your protein intake should be spread out evenly over the day, so you really don’t want to be skipping your protein intake at lunchtime.
Examples include 80-100g of chicken, tuna, salmon (fresh or tinned), white fish, beef, lamb, tofu, 4 bean mix, lentils or egg. Cooking a little extra meat the night before is a really easy option. Or you could simply grab a tin of tuna or a small tin of 4 bean mix from the cupboard and add it to the rest of the salad at lunchtime.
Don’t be afraid of carbs!! Carbs are your brain power! Adding ½-1 cup of good quality, nourishing carbohydrate will help keep your blood sugar levels stable throughout the day and stop you from getting that 3 o’clock energy slump (with an accompaniment of mad sugar cravings). A mix of low GI carbohydrate and lean protein will help to keep you full and satisfied.
Examples include ½-1 cup of pre-roasted sweet potato cubes, quinoa, pearl cous cous, barley, freekeh, bulgur or wild/brown/black/red/basmati rice. Another idea is to have piece of wholegrain bread or some wholegrain crackers on the side.
3. HEALTHY FATS
Previous advice to choose low fat products wherever possible has led the world to an irrational fear of all fats. I often have clients proudly tell me that they don’t use any oil at all for cooking and would never touch a salad dressing. In fact, it is extremely important to include healthy fats in your diet every day to help keep your heart as healthy as possible. The other benefit of adding healthy fat to your salad is the fact that it is extremely satiating (meaning it will keep you full and satisfied!). Fat is high in energy though, so you only need to add a small amount.
For example, ¼ avocado, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil or a sprinkle of nuts or seeds (such as almonds, cashews, sunflower seeds, pepitas, linseeds etc).
Please, please, please don’t eat dry lettuce leaves for lunch (unless you truly like the taste and texture)! There are lots of healthy salad dressing ingredients that will ensure your salad is extremely delicious.
· A couple of teaspoons of herb infused olive oil mixed with a squeeze of fresh lemon/orange and white/dark balsamic vinegar
· 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon yoghurt, finely chopped dill & salt
· 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar and the juice of ½ a pomegranate
Get creative or do some googling for salad dressing recipe ideas – there are SO many delectable ones out there!!
5. FRESH HERBS
Another great way to add flavour to your salad is to add some fresh herbs. Rather than spending $3 a bunch at the supermarket each time (and only using a handful before they start to wilt), why not have a go at planting your own? My favs for salads are basil, thyme, oregano, chives and parsley.
6. CHOOSE INGREDIENTS THAT YOU LIKE TO EAT & MAKE SURE IT’S DELISH!
I’ve left the most important step ‘til last!! Just because you have heard that kale is a superfood, or you have read an article in a magazine raving about the benefits of goji berries doesn’t mean you have to eat them!! If you love the taste of those fancy ingredients, then go for it, but if there is any food that you don’t like – don’t eat it. Simple as that. The key to feeling satisfied and preventing cravings is to nourish your body with wholesome foods that you actually enjoy eating. Adding about 30g of cheese (try goats cheese, feta, cheddar etc) or some fruit pieces for sweetness will contribute to the deliciousness of your super salads!
Check out this Salmon & Citrus Salad recipe for an example of a marvellously satisfying salad (I had it for lunch today – it was extremely tasty). Click on the picture for the recipe.