A fresh start to the year with a salad full of rainbow colours

 

image

Sometimes our own bodies are our best guide to what is good for our health. At this time of the year, after the season of socialising and eating out, our bodies often crave fresh, light, clean, vibrant foods. A salad full of rainbow colours fits the bill. Bright colours in vegetables, fruits and salads often indicate high  nutrient and antioxidant content, and apart from that, look appetising – enjoyment of eating food forms part of the promotion of good health.

The author of the latest cookbook I’ve been reading is a woman after my own heart. She suggests that making greens the foundation of the plate can be used as a daily strategy for increasing vegetable intake (Kelley, J. (2012) “Salad for Dinner”, Rizzoli International Publications, NY, USA). As I’ve mentioned before, and as Kelley points out, the preparation of a salad is an art, requiring balance of colour, flavour and texture. Salads don’t need to be all raw, they are lovely with a balance of cooked and raw vegetables, protein foods such as chicken, fish or eggs and additions such as avocado and olives. They don’t need to be complicated – but an oily dressing is essential, around 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar or lemon juice. Good quality oil is another essential – I  recommend fresh organic extra virgin olive oil from Australia, and/or Udo’s organic 3:6:9 blend, which should be kept refrigerated. Oils promote absorption of nutrients from the salad ingredients, good digestion, brain and hormone function, amongst other things.

Including more salads regularly in your diet is a beautiful way of incorporating more vegetables. Here is one of my current favourite recipes – however try creating your own with your favourite ingredients! It just takes some practice to get the balance right. Enjoy!

Tuna and avocado salad with roasted pumpkin, beetroot and greens

Serves 2

Sustainably fished tuna in oil, 180g can, drained

Avocado medium, 1/2, chopped into small pieces*

Beetroot, 1 medium, peeled, grated or sliced thinly with a peeler*

Jap Pumpkin chopped into small pieces, 1/2 – 3/4 cup, and 1 tsp organic ghee or coconut oil, to roast

4 cups mixed greens, or enough to fill two salad bowls, washed and drained

4 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil or Udo’s organic 3:6:9 oil, or a blend

1 tsp whole grain mustard

1 tsp apple cider vinegar or red wine vinegar

two beautiful wide salad bowls

Optional – shallots and spinach lightly sauted in a little ghee or coconut oil, with water added as required, until cooked, then drained

  1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celcius. Grease baking dish with ghee or coconut oil. Place pumpkin in the baking dish and rub a little ghee or coconut oil over the pumpkin. Roast for 20 – 30 minutes or until soft.
  2. Make dressing – place extra virgin olive/Udo’s oil, mustard and vinegar in a small bowl or jar, and mix well.
  3. Arrange greens in the two salad bowls, then artfully place the beetroot, pumpkin, tuna and avocado and the optional cooked shallots and greens on top.
  4. Drizzle over the dressing, then season with salt and freshly ground pepper – and enjoy!

*for low FODMAP diets, reduce avocado to 1/8th medium per serve, and reduce beetroot to less than 40g per serve (which is approximately 2 tbsp grated)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Japanese inspired warm organic chicken salad, with daikon, carrots, shallots and a dashi-based sauce

image

Warm salads are a perfect light evening meal for warm climates. Here where I live on the sun-filled Gold Coast of Australia, we are still amidst summer weather. If you are in need of something light and easy to digest, combining some cooked chicken and vegetables with soft greens and a warm sauce makes an ideal meal.

This salad is inspired by Japanese flavours. The chicken and vegetables are cooked in home-made shiitake mushroom dashi and mirin (Japanese rice wine), providing a subtle, sweet flavour that is deeply nourishing and balanced by adding a sesame oil and umeboshi vinegar dressing and a little salt, such as beautiful pink Himilayan crystal salt, or sea salt. The home-made dashi is immune boosting thanks to the shiitake mushroom, and mineral rich from the konbu (a particular type of seaweed) and bonito flakes it is made from. The simmered root vegetables, carrot and daikon are considered to be grounding from a traditional medicine perspective, and to provide warming yang energy from a traditional Chinese medicine perspective, nourishing the kidneys. When cooked with the chicken, they provide a warming balance to the light and energising greens.

This recipe is low FODMAP, SCD friendly, Paleo, grain free, gluten and dairy free. For those who eat grains, adding some rice as a side dish would provide some carbohydrates with the meal. For those who are avoiding grains, having a warm drink after your meal such as banana, vanilla and cinnamon almond, macadamia and coconut milk (see my recipe) can provide additional nourishment.

Recipe

Serves 1

1 tsp organic ghee

1 chicken drumsticks

1/2 cup shallots, chopped

1 tsp organic mirin*

1 tsp organic apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup water, 1 dried shiitake mushroom*, 2cm x 2cm piece of konbu* for home-made dashi

1/4 – 1/2 cup carrots, peeled and chopped

1/4 – 1/2 cup daikon*, peeled and chopped

1 bowl full of soft organic greens, such as butter lettuce, mizuna, shiso leaves, rocket and lemon sorrell, washed

1-2 tsp chives, chopped, for garnish

Dressing:

1/2 tbsp flaxseed oil

1/2 tbsp toasted sesame oil*

1-2 tsp umeboshi vinegar*

1. Put the ghee in a saucepan placed on medium heat. Add in the chicken drumstick, shallots, carrots, daikon and mirin. Stir, and gently fry over medium heat for a couple of minutes. The mirin should smell fragrant. Cover, and turn down the heat to low, and let it cook while you make the dashi. Keep an eye on it, and add some water if it becomes dry and starts sticking.

2. Put the 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Add in the shiitake mushroom and konbu, and simmer on low heat for ten minutes.

3. While the dashi is simmering, place your washed greens in an elegant bowl. For the dressing, place the flaxseed oil, toasted sesame oil and umeboshi vinegar in a small jar or bowl and mix well. Pour the dressing evenly over the salad and mix through with your hands or salad tongs.

4. After the dashi has simmered for 10 minutes, take it off the heat, and add in the one tsp of bonito flakes. Let it sit for one minute, then pour it through a tea strainer into the saucepan with the chicken and vegetables. Add in the teaspoon of Apple cider vinegar, to assist with the leaching of minerals from the chicken bone into the broth. You may wish to add a dessertspoon of grass-fed gelatin for additional nourishment and digestability. Adding some dark leafy greens in here is also lovely, I usually put in a couple of handfuls of water spinach or sweet potato leaves. Cover, and let it simmer over medium heat until the liquid is nearly reduced down completely, this usually takes around 15 minutes or so depending on your saucepan and the heat of your stovetop.

5. Taste the liquid in your simmering pot – it should be quite sweet and rich. If not, reduce it down more until a smaller amount of liquid is left. There should be just a few spoonfuls.

6. Using a rounded spoon, place the chicken and vegetables on top of the salad artistically, then pour the remaining sauce over the top of your finished dish.

7. Garnish with the chives and season with a little pink Himilayan or sea salt and freshly ground black pepper……enjoy……and be nourished! This dish is lovely with a sprinkling of gomasio (ground toasted sesame seeds and salt…. recipe coming soon!)……

*available from asian grocery and health food stores