No matter the weather, nothing tastes better than a refreshing salad. With the bounty of fresh produce available at this time of the year, Summer salads definitely don’t need to be boring!
Vegetables are the secret powerhouses of your Paleo diet - your nutrient superheroes. They are packed with phytochemicals, anti-oxidants, dietary fibre, vitamins and minerals and form an important foundation of your Paleo diet.
Not all vegetables are grown (or created) equal and while the wild world of global trading has allowed us access to many different vegetables year-round, somehow, they just taste better when you purchase and eat them in season - days after they have been harvested. Choosing seasonal and local ensures optimal nutrient density as once deprived of light (especially when being cold stored and transported over long distances); vegetables begin to lose their nutrients rapidly.
Getting to know your local farmer, belonging to a CSA or visiting and supporting your regional farmers’ markets will not only provide you with the best produce, but provides these hard-working folks with the ability to continue to nourish you and your family. Using what the farms have available seasonally, and even weekly, can provide ever-changing options that you can easily choose and prepare at home too.
Salads are always a wonderful option for your Paleo diet as they provide a foundation on which to build many combinations and permutations of Paleo friendly meals that will be enjoyed by all.
Try adding some of these vegetables and using a few different cooking techniques (yes, even for salads) or preserving methods can take any salad to the next level.
Asparagus are rich sources of folate, dietary fiber, protein, copper, potassium, and vitamins K, B1, B2, B3, B6, A, E and C. They support blood sugar regulation have anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties and may even prevent several types of cancer.
Choose stalks that are rounded, not fat or twisted. They should be firm with closed purplish or dark green tips.
Store your asparagus upright in a cup of water in the fridge or with the ends wrapped in damp paper towel. Eat your asparagus within a day or two of purchasing. They are delicious steamed until they turn a bright shade of green and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil.
Beets contain magnesium, vitamin C, fiber and folate.
Choose beets that are heavy for their size, with no surface cuts or nicks.
Enjoy your beets raw in juice or salads, or you can cook them in a variety of ways: steamed, stir fried or roasted. (They are best with a squeeze of lemon juice and some butter.)
Cauliflower has cancer fighting abilities, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, B vitamins and Vitamin K and can support digestion.
Choose cauliflower with creamy white curds and firmly attached, bright green leaves. Avoid cauliflower with loose sections or brown spots.
Take the stem off your cauliflower, and keep it in an opened plastic bag in the fridge. It will last at least a week. Best enjoyed raw, lightly steamed or pureed.
Rich in vitamins and good for heart health, garlic lowers blood pressure, has antiviral and antibacterial properties, prevents cancer and aids in absorption of iron.
Choose smooth, blemish-free garlic bulbs with no sprouting or signs of decay.
Garlic burns quickly, so when adding minced garlic to your cooking, add it in closer to the end, and never toss right into a hot pan or it will turn bitter.
Greens & Lettuces
Phosphorous, fiber, folate and vitamins A, C and K are all found in lettuces.
For best freshness, avoid heads with wilted leaves.
Keep living lettuce in its original packaging and wash just before you use it. Enjoy lettuce raw in salads or juices.
Spinach is well known for its nutrient density including B vitamins, vitamins C and E, omega 3 fatty acids, beta carotene, glutathione and an endless list of additional minerals and phytonutrients. It fights heart disease, macular degeneration, cancer and cataracts!
Reach for dark green leaves that are not bruised, wilted or slimy.
Kale contains fiber, iron, vitamins C and K, antioxidants, anti-inflammatory, liver health, calcium, sulfur and I supportive of digestion.
Leaves should be brightly colored and crisp with no signs of wilting.
Toss kale leaves into salads, stir fries and soups.
Mushrooms are often used to replace and supplement meat due to their meaty texture and umami flavour. They contain protein, selenium, copper, potassium, phosphorous, iron, calcium, zinc, niacin, magnesium, riboflavin, folate, antioxidants and B vitamins.
When choosing mushrooms, look for light-colored gills and tight undersides.
Store your mushrooms in a brown paper bag in the fridge for no more than ten days. Enjoy raw or cooked and remember to save the woody stalks for flavoring stocks.
Tomatoes are your richest source of the antioxidant lycopene.
Choose deeply colored tomatoes that are firm and free of wrinkles that have a sweet aroma.
Tomatoes can be eaten raw, roasted, grilled or sautéed. They should never be stored in the refrigerator as they will lose their flavor.
These sweet, summertime onions contain vitamin C and chromium.
Look for bulbs that are firm with no visible signs of decay. Skins should be dry, and the onions should not be sprouting.
Vidalia onions should not be eaten raw but are delicious when cooked, on their own or added to a dish.
Pickles & Fermented Foods
Pickled and fermented ingredients are food trendsetters right now. There is definitely no need to be limited by the simple cucumber or beetroot. Pickled vegetables and fruits of all sorts are high on the agenda. Try making your own or sourcing some delicious, creative options at your local farmer’s market.
Grilling & Smoking
Lettuce, the base of the ‘boring’ weeknight salad is slowly moving from side act to star performer. Chargrilling the leaves on the barbecue adds a new complexity of flavour to this humble leafy green.
Smoking adds such fantastic flavour to so many dishes that many new ingredients, such as smoked honey and smoked salt, are cropping up in delis and gourmet food stores. If you are fortunate enough to have a smoker, experiment with meats, vegetables and fruits at home to add layers of complexity to your bowl.
The traditional favourites that we all know and love are getting updated and modernised so that everyone can love and appreciate them as our forefathers did. Re-invent a garden salad by adding a variety of leaves such as arugula, kale or radicchio; try a roasted root vegetable salad with watercress or herbed mayonnaise; or make over a classic Caesar salad by grilling your Romaine and crisping up some delicious bacon instead of the croutons.
Need a meal to add to your salad? This week’s menu is now available – delivered to you, no apron required.
Grilled Chicken Caesar
Marinated Chicken Breasts
- 1 lb chicken breasts
- 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
- 1/8 cup olive oil
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 4 hearts of romaine lettuce
- 4 eggs soft or hard boiled
- 8 oz. Pete’s Paleo bacon cooked
- 1 tsp nutritional yeast
- 2/3 cup Paleo mayonnaise (or make your own)
- 4 anchovies in oil
- 2 small cloves garlic
- 5 tbsp lemon juice about 1 lemon
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1/2 tsp coconut aminos
- 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
Make the Caesar Salad Dressing
- Using an immersion blender set to low, mix together all the ingredients OR smash the garlic clove and finely chop the anchovies, then whisk all ingredients together in a bowl.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper. Keep it covered in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
Prepare the Chicken Breasts
- Put one chicken breast inside a between two sheets of parchment paper. Gently pound the chicken using a meat tenderizer or heavy rolling pin until it's even in thickness. Repeat for the other chicken breasts.
- Whisk together the marinade ingredients and pour it over the chicken, turning to coat. Marinate for 30-60 minutes.
Grill Your Salad
- Heat your grill with the lid closed until it reaches 550F.
- Remove chicken from marinade and pat dry then rub
- When the grill reaches temperature, open the lid and place the 4 chicken breasts on one side of the grill. Close the lid and cook for 5 minutes.
- Open the grill and flip the chicken. Cook for 3 minutes.
- While the chicken is grilling, halve your romaine hearts, the long way.
- Open the grill and arrange the romaine hearts cut side down on the grill around the chicken. Cook for 2 minutes. Then remove everything from the grill.
Assemble the Salad
- Divide the lettuce among four plates.
- Top each plate with nutritional yeast, salad dressing, chicken, eggs, and bacon.
- Sprinkle each salad with cracked black pepper and enjoy!
For even more ways to simply and easily add flair and pizazz to your salad bowls download our salad guide. Get creative and try something new and different, experiment with tastes and flavors. You will be surprised at the masterpieces you are able to create.
Michal Ofer is a wellness and digestion expert and nutrition coach. She is focused on assisting clients to take control of their health and happiness through the sustainable food and lifestyle choices that best support them. Through strengthening the body from the inside out, her clients are able to reach new heights of health, happiness and wellness. Michal obtained her Professional Training and Certificate from The Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York. She has a further studied through the University of Colorado (Boulder) and Stanford University and is a Certified 21 Day Sugar Detox Coach. Michal has also received a Bachelor’s Degree in Life Sciences and a Master Life Coach Certification. For further information and to connect with Michal visit her website at www.michalofer.com