It took me around 20 years to develop a daily salad habit. My challenge was to make a tasty, balanced salad, with a healthy dressing. Dressings can also make a salad soggy very quickly. So after some trial and error in creating a nutritious salad that looked and tasted good even after few hours in the office, I came up an easy-to-assemble no-dressing-needed everyday salad. It’s so easy, fresh and delicious that we have made the same salad, all year round, for years. Astonishing in our house, where variety rules. And as I have said repeatedly regarding healthy eating, one just needs to plan, shop and prep. And use your fridge for the purpose it was intended!
EVERYDAY RAINBOW (OR MULTI COLOURED) SALAD
Ingredients (in equal proportions)
½ cup red capsicum chopped
½ cup yellow capsicum, chopped
½ cup cucumber, deseeded and chopped
½ cup pomegranate
½ cup moong bean sprouts
Method and tips:
- Mix together and store in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days. We eat a small bowl of this salad before a meal or as an anytime snack.
- You could substitute one of the red/yellow capsicums with grated carrot or finely chopped purple cabbage.
- We don’t use any dressing. It has a natural balance of sour/tart, sweet with crunchy and fresh, which is met by the ingredients themselves.
- You can add nuts and seeds for added nutrition, flavor and crunch and a squeeze of lime or chaat masala, if you want some zing.
Note 1: On Making Sprouts
Every weekend, we sprout a cup of organic whole green gram (whole moong). We soak it in water overnight or for 12 hours. We drain it and place it in a damp muslin cloth, tie it up and wait for another 12 hours or until sprouts appear. Then we store it in an airtight container for a week or until we run out. We also use these sprouts in chaat (dahipuri, bhelpuri) and grind them to make chilas/pesarattu dosas.
Sprouting beans improves their nutritional quality by increasing the availability of protein, minerals, vitamins C and B complex, in addition to making them easier to digest.
Note 2: How to keep salad veggies tasting fresh and crisp: For crunchy veggies, prep them in advance (a few days’ worth) by deseeding them (cucumber, capsicum etc.) and store it in airtight containers in the fridge, wrapped in cloth or tissue to absorb the moisture from the fridge.
JAPANESE SALAD WITH SESAME DRESSING
Ingredients for the salad:
2 carrots, in long peels or matchsticks
2 tomatoes, deseeded and thinly sliced
2 cups of lettuce strips
Ingredients for the dressing:
3 tbsp white sesame seeds,
1 tbsp soya sauce
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp sesame or peanut oil
1 tbsp mayonnaise
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar or 1 tbsp apple cider or any vinegar that is not too sharp
Salt to taste, if needed
- Prep the salad ingredients and refrigerate so they stay crisp.
- For the salad dressing, first dry roast the sesame seeds for a few minutes in a pan, and grind in a dry grinder or hand pound them in a mortar pestle to a powder.
- Place the ground sesame seeds in a clean jam jar or deep bowl, add in the rest of the salad ingredients and shake or blend well.
- Assemble the salad ingredients onto individual plates or salad bowls. Pour over the sesame dressing and toss well. You need only 2 teaspoons of salad dressing per bowl.
- Serve immediately.
Note: You can vary the vegetables used in this salad – you can use deseeded cucumber, bean sprouts, radish, red/yellow capsicum, cabbage etc. You can add cooked vegetables too, like green beans and corn, or boiled eggs and beans for protein.
Food Fact: Iceberg lettuce leaves are low calorie but are not very high on nutrition. In general, darker green leaves like romaine, leaf lettuce, baby spinach leaves, arugula etc. have higher levels of vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals compared with sweeter, paler leaves.
Health Perks of Salads:
- A great way to get a variety of nutrients and they are so versatile too. There is infinite variety in salads.
- Super easy meal to make.
- A convenient way to get your daily dose of coloured vegetables, greens and fruit with their health benefits
- Salads are high in fiber and will help with constipation and lowering cholesterol.
- Salads (with a healthy homemade dressing) can be low calorie. If you eat salad at the beginning of the meal, it will fill you up and you will consume less of the higher calorie food.
- The good fats in salad dressing (olive oil, sesame oil, groundnut oil) combined with nuts and seeds can be help the body absorb protective phytochemicals from other veggies.
Making one simple change to your daily diet, and adding any kind of healthy raw salad before every meal or once a day as an in-between snack, will pay off with multi-fold health benefits. My next article will be on how my salad journey progressed to making complete meal salads. So, what’s your salad story? Do write in and let us know and please share your favourite salads with our readers.