Nutrition: Salad Days

After the spells of grey skies, rain and below average temperatures, Birmingham welcomes the long-awaited summer sunshine and warmth when it arrives. People often report not having much of an appetite when the sun is beating down on them, and that’s probably why salads are often synonymous with summer; they can be a healthy, light and refreshing alternative to a stodgy burger and fries or meaty BBQ.

I find salads to be a really versatile dish, whether it’s consumed as a side or a main meal, and when you consider the vast array of delicious foods on offer at our local food store or market, no two salads ever have to be the same. Here’s a few of my favourite homemade salads that I’ve been indulging in over the past couple of months.

I’m not a fan of rocket lettuce which is a very popular leaf to include in salads, so I’ve been using spinach as the base of most of my salads. It’s pretty tasteless so it allows the flavours of all the other ingredients to really come through.

Not everyone enjoys including fruit in their salad, but I say the more the better. I know it’s ‘trendy’ to eat avocado these days, but I genuinely love this fruit which is full of healthy fats and adds great texture to your salad.

Oily fish is full of omega 3 fats which are important for heart health and I’ve always enjoyed including salmon, especially smoked salmon in my salads but I recently happened on a recipe which suggested combining mackerel and satsuma/clementine segments - I’m so glad I tried it, it’s now one of my favourite salads!

My kitchen is full of cooking gadgets and my latest purchase is the spiralizer. It’s so much fun preparing salads with this and my favourite vegetable to spiralise is a courgette; I’ll lightly stir-fry it and include it in a salad

We’re often warned against salad dressings because of being calorie-laden, and in some cases their high sugar and high salt content can get in the way of our health efforts. A simple way to add flavour to a salad is the use of balsamic vinegar, with its sweet and tangy properties and only 14 calories per tablespoon. I however love combining balsamic vinegar with a good glug of extra-virgin olive oil for a simple, healthy dressing.

I could go on with different ideas for salads, from using whole-wheat pasta to pulses, but I’ll leave it there.

Words and photos by Colleen Campbell.

Colleen Campbell writes a lifestyle blog (http://forcailini.blogspot.com) and is a Registered Nutritionist and the owner of nutrition consultancy, NutriShion (www.nutrishion.co.uk).

You can connect with her on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for more health and nutrition tips.