3 Easy Tips to Refresh Your Salads
Posted by Hain Celestial on Jun 15, 2015 | A Healthier Way of Life
Barbecue season is associated with great salad sides as much as grilled mains. Because the right combination of ingredients and light-but-scrumptious dressings can make the difference between humdrum and yummy, we are sharing our best tips to turn simple ingredients into mouth-watering salads that everyone will crave!
1. Salad please!
No summer barbecue among meat-lovers, vegetarians or both, is worthy of the name without some amped-up salads to add taste, crunch and a rainbow of colours. The trick to a great summer salad? Combining leafy greens, fresh veggies, whole grains and/or protein-packed legumes to hike the health — and pleasure — factor!
- Loaded with fibre, whole grains like couscous and quinoa can spruce up a fresh salad or replace the same old potato sides. This Toasted Quinoa and Roasted Pepper Salad, for example, goes great with any main, vegetarian or not. Surprise guests with ancient grains like Freekeh, an earthy, smoky grain made from green wheat. And if you’re not too familiar with ancient grains yourself, this wholesome 7-grain Casbah® blend is a super place to start.
- Explore beyond perennial favourites like tomatoes, bell peppers and cucumber. Root vegetables, for example, provide both crunch and sweetness. The best part? They can cook on the barbecue alongside your main. Just wrap some beets or sweet potatoes in foil, add a touch of extra-virgin olive oil and your favourite seasonings then cook on the side of the grill for 30 minutes or so. You can also just toss your favourite Europe’s Best® frozen vegetables with seasonings and cook them on a sheet directly on the grill. No prep, no mess!
- Vegetarians praise the protein power of legumes and it’s no wonder. A handful of chickpeas or edamame will turn any salad into a nutritious powerhouse, or provide a good starting point to a winning dip. This robust but calorie-wise Roasted Garlic Edamame Dip recipe, will add flavour, not fat, to your barbecue spread.
2. Tempting Textures
The popularity of layered dips rests as much on the harmony of tastes as the contrast of textures; the same goes for great salad sides. Take a bite of the action with these crush-worthy additions:
- A handful of toasted nuts and seeds sprinkled on salads adds protein and crunch. Just spray a cooking sheet and roast your choice of nuts in a 350 degree oven, 5 to 10 minutes or until warm and fragrant. For seeds, warm a little olive or canola oil in a skillet and sauté gently for 2-3 minutes.
- Think out of the box by playing with both texture AND temperature. The contrast between warm and cold can be quite seductive. Bake some Yves Veggie Cuisine® Kale & Quinoa bites, then crumble and sprinkle over any cold chopped salad. Add some roasted chickpeas (our recipe here) or turn falafel into croutons.
- Croutons are a popular salad add-on but can seriously impact the calorie count. A few Pita BitesTM crumbled on a garden salad add just a few calories but a lot more crunch and excitement. (They’re also great with summer dips!)
3. Dress & Dip
While a super dressing can turn any humdrum salad into a spectacular side, fear of calories has led many of us to shun them altogether. We say: no more! Here are our favourite ideas to lighten favourite dressings in unexpected ways.
- Did you know you can reduce/replace cream or mayo with puréed vegetables that add zest, unctuosity, PLUS vitamins and minerals? The trick is to zap in your trusty blender: roughly 2 cups of vegetables (cooked squash, cherry tomatoes, cooked beets or raw cucumbers for example), 2 tbsp or more of oil to taste, 1 tbsp of an acid (flavoured vinegar, citrus or fruit juice) and a choice of flavourings: spices like cumin and curry powder; fresh herbs like parsley and cilantro; minced garlic or green onion; sweeteners like honey, maple syrup or puréed dates; dairy like Greek yogurt; or a touch of mustard, miso, or grated ginger. The possibilities are endless, tasty and healthy!
- Flavour-packed oils like Spectrum® Extra Virgin Olive or Sesame Oil can provide loads of taste with mere teaspoons. If you wish to reduce calories even more, replace half the oil with organic chicken broth or fruit juice. Both intensify flavour without expanding our love handles.
If you have favourite dips — or any leftover party dip —, turn them into quickie dressings. Thin a tzaziki dip, or basically any yogurt- or mayo-based dressing, with some skim milk. Whisk a little olive oil, lemon juice and water into hummus (great on greens!). Or whip up a light Thai peanut dressing by combining: 1/4 cup natural peanut butter, juice of 1 or 2 limes, 3 tbsp tamari or soy sauce, 2 tbsp honey, 1 tbsp fresh grated ginger, 1 minced garlic clove, 1 tbsp olive oil and a few drops sesame oil. If needed, add a little lukewarm water to thin.
And don’t forget dips can sub as great spreads and toppings for such popular barbecue staples as wraps, tacos and burgers. Now that’s versatility!
Do you have salad sides that have made your reputation far and wide? Any amazing dip recipe you’d like to spread around? Visit us on our Facebook page and share with our community of health-minded foodies. We always love to hear from you!