You don't have to eat less, you just have to eat right. Making a healthy and nutritious lunch should not take hours of planning. There is no need to force ourselves to eat foods we do not like. By mixing and matching the contents of these salad jars you can create a variety of lunches that will keep you going through the afternoon - just don't forget the protein!
As my little part of the world is beginning to take on that pale green hue that brings hope of new life, I get all excited about growing my own salads and vegetables. So fresh and from rich soil. I look at the pictures on the packets and dream of eating vegetables that have taken two minutes to get from garden to plate.
However, I am not known for my green fingers and the poor seedlings do not always survive. The excitement about what i was going to do with them does, however, linger and I find myself hunting out fresh produce which is becoming more and more abundant in the coming weeks.
As general rule I like my salads as colourful as possible, with several different textures and complimentary taste combinations. I pretty much always have a dressing, even if it is just olive oil and lemon juice as this really gives the leafy greens a lift.
Food that is in season and has low food miles is fantastic, but not always possible. I do check the origin of the produce though and try to choose ones that are grown closest to home.
On retreat of course, our salads are freshly made, but if you want to prepare in advance, a good way is to fill a container almost full and then put a lid on it. Of course, as soon as you chop your salad, it starts losing the nutrients, so really, I would only make up the jar the night before, but the dressings can be made in advance and stored in the fridge in a glass jar for up to two weeks.
So, what is my favourite salad? Well, yesterday it was the French style salad with olives, tuna, green beans and tiny potatoes with a gorgeous Dijon mustard dressing. Tomorrow I may quite fancy something with hummus and pomegranate (in fact I would put pomegranate in anything).
It can, of course, depend on what the weather is like. I have seasonal favourites (salad is not just for summer).
When making your salad, you should try and aim for a total of a quarter protein, a quarter complex carbohydrates (brown rice, quinoa, potato, sweet potato or squash) and the rest vegetables and leafy greens, seed and nuts.
To make up the pots: put the dressing in the bottom and then place in some crunchy vegetables that can bear a little marinading ( carrots, peppers, celery, broccoli etc). Above this you can layer your pot to look pretty, if presentation is important, but you will be tipping it out before eating! The softer the vegetable the higher it should go. Finishing with leafy greens. If I am making the night before, I will often just put the leafy greens on top in the morning to prevent them wilting, but again this is not essential).
These are some of my favourites, but remember you can substitute ingredients and really make this your own (for example I “ran out” of pomegranate (it was delicious) so I put in chopped strawberries instead). I do not like rocket – so I never use it, but some people love its peppery taste.
Ingredients are in bold.
Salmon, quinoa and broccoli:
Cook the quinoa according to packet instructions and cook the salmon fillet (steam, bake or grill). You can also used tinned salmon. Allow to cool then make up the pot.
Dressing – 2tbsp olive oil and juice of half a lemon, a little seasoning. Put in the jar and shake.
Next add a handful of broccoli chopped into small pieces. You can chop some stalk in as well.
Follow with the quinoa and place the salmon on top of this. Add a layer of tomato then cucumber, pomegranate seeds and pumpkin seeds above. Finally, fill the rest of the jar with watercress.
Cook the baby potatoes, hard boil the eggs and blanche the green beans.
French dressing: 3tbsp olive oil, 1tbsp wine vinegar, 1tsp French mustard, 1tsp honey, salt and pepper.
Place the dressing in the bottom of the jar, then place in some chopped red onion, followed by some green beans and the baby potatoes (quartered). Add a tin of tuna, the chopped fresh tomatoes and the sliced hard boiled egg. Add some black olives and top with Romaine lettuce.
Insalata Italiana (no cooking)
Dressing: 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, pinch of Italian herbs, seasoning.
Place the dressing in the jar, add chopped red pepper, a handful of chick peas, some feta cheese (diced), shopped cherry tomatoes, cucumber, black olives, a small palm of pine nuts and top with beetroot leaves .