Reinventing the salad: Easy recipes for lunch on the go

I begrudge paying £5 or £6 for shop-bought salads because they tend to be limp with skimpy amounts of vegetables. Making a salad from scratch, though, gives you the power to make a nutrient-packed, full-of-flavour, low-cost lunch that you're actually excited to have. 

The word 'salad' is often associated with negative connotations, such as 'rabbit food', 'unsatisfying' and 'boring'. If these are some of the words that spring to mind when you think about salad, I want to reframe your thoughts. And part of that is to stop thinking of 'salad' as interchangeable with 'lettuce'.

Let me make it clear: the base of every salad does not need to be lettuce or leafy greens, and when it is, there are far more options than iceberg. Think about chicory, radicchio, watercress, rocket and lambs' lettuce. Each adds its own distinctive flavour and texture to the salad. 

Now that I've finished ranting, let me show you how to fall in love with salads again. 

Pick and mix salad jars

The quantities all provide one serving

If you have a copy of my first book, The Food Medic: Recipes & Fitness For A Healthier, Happier You, you’ll probably remember the pick
’n’ mix approach in my shakes and smoothies section. It became a huge favourite with everyone, perhaps because we all love variety and excitement in our lives. 

I like to layer my salads in big clip-top jars, but you can serve yours simply on a plate or in a lunchbox. Layered salad jars just look visually appealing, and the clever layering will help to keep your salad fresh and crunchy until lunchtime. 

Below is a guide to how it works. The vegetables and ingredients I list are just examples, generally those that are easy to find in most supermarkets. However, do feel free to add different things that you particularly enjoy. 

Layer 1
The Dressing:
This is the liquid layer and needs to be at the very bottom of the jar. (See below for some simple salad dressings.) 

Layer 2
Crunchy vegetables:
I like to add these on top of the dressing so that they can soften a little. Choose from bell peppers, celery, onion, broccoli, asparagus, edamame beans, radishes, grated carrot and green beans. 

Layer 3
Complex carbohdyrates:
These are your starchy vegetables, wholegrains and legumes, which provide you with energy. Choose from brown or wild rice, quinoa, freekah, millet, farro, barley, buckwheat, noodles, lentils, chickpeas, beans, sweet potato, white potato and butternut squash. 

Layer 4
Protein:
This will keep you feeling fuller for longer so that you can keep going until dinnertime. Choose from feta or goat's cheese, roast chicken or turkey, salmon or mackerel, tinned tuna, sardines or anchovies, prawns, or hard-boiled eggs. If you're vegan, add tofu or another portion of beans, peas or lentils to get your full protein hit. 

Layer 5
Soft vegetables:
These are veg that get soggy quickly, so placing them near the top means they will be protected from the moisture in the other layers and retain their bite. Choose from beetroot, roasted aubergine, roasted peppers, grilled courgettes, sweetcorn, avocado, spring onions, marinated artichokes and sundried tomatoes. 

Layer 6
Accessories:
This is the fun layer, where you can boost the taste and texture of the entire jar. Choose from pomegranate seeds, olives, hummus, salsa, guacamole, fermented foods such as sauerkraut and kimchi, mango, nuts and seeds, lentil sprouts and fresh herbs. 

Layer 7
Leafy greens:
The delicate greens go at the very top to prevent them from becoming soggy. Choose from kale, rocket, spinach, watercress, chicory, pak choi, romaine or baby gem lettuce. 

Pick and mix dressings

These dressings are super easy to make with fairly common ingredients. Just put them all together in a bowl and mix thoroughly.

To get more information Dr Hazel Wallace, visit her website The Food Medic
Buy a copy of her latest book
The Food Medic for Life: Easy recipes to help you live well every day


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