The Mediterranean diet is widely considered one of the healthiest ways to eat.
A balanced salad contains protein, carbs, and fats as well as fruits and vegetables.
Dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine shared five Mediterranean-inspired salad recipes.
The Mediterranean diet is widely considered to be one of the healthiest ways to eat, thanks to its links with heart health and a lower risk of various diseases including Parkinson's and diabetes.
It focuses on vegetables, legumes, seafood, and olive oil, wine in moderation, and minimal amounts of processed and fried foods, red meat, refined grains, added sugars, and saturated fats.
When it comes to building a satiating salad, you need more than just a few lettuce leaves and chopped tomatoes. Dietitian Nichola Ludlam-Raine, who aims to eat a Mediterranean-style diet, told Insider a balanced salad should contain the following components:
These are our body's main source of fuel, Ludlam-Raine said. She recommended choosing higher fiber and wholegrain options where possible, such as quinoa, wholegrain rice, wholewheat pasta, or wholemeal pitta.
"I personally like the mixed grains in the microwavable bags for my salads," she said.
Vegetables, salad, and fruit
Ludlam-Raine recommended aiming for two handfuls of produce, for example a handful of salad leaves, crudités, roasted vegetables, or pomegranate seeds.
"The greater variety of plant-based foods in your diet, the better your gut microbes will be, which means better physical and mental health," she said.
"Whether it's animal or plant-based, protein is digested slowly and helps to keep us fuller for longer," Ludlam-Raine said.
Good sources in salads include chickpeas, feta cheese, mixed beans, hummus, chicken, edamame beans, and salmon, she said.
"Fats provide some of the essential fatty acids our body can't make itself and help to absorb fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K," Ludlam-Raine said.
To get a source in your salad, try adding a handful of olives, mixed seeds, flaked almonds, a dollop of pesto, or a drizzle of rapeseed or olive oil, she said.
Salmon and avocado salad
This salad is a balanced meal because it's full of colourful vegetables, healthy fats, protein, and wholegrains — as well as flavor, Ludlam-Raine said.
2 salmon fillets
1 pack microwavable quinoa
2 handfuls salad leaves
1/4 cucumber, sliced
2 handfuls of tomatoes, halved
100 grams pitted olives
1/2 avocado, sliced
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 small handful fresh basil, finely chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1. Place the salmon in an oven-proof dish and cook at 180°C/356°F for 12-15 minutes until cooked through.
2. Heat the quinoa in the microwave according to packet instructions.
3. Place the salad, tomatoes, cucumber, and olives in two bowls, and top with the quinoa, salmon, and avocado.
4. Combine the lemon juice, basil, and olive oil in a small dish or jug to make a dressing and drizzle over each salad.
Falafel Buddha bowl
This recipe is great for people looking to eat more plants, which can boost gut health, Ludlam-Raine said.
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon tahini
1 teaspoon maple syrup
2 handfuls of leafy greens
1 pack of microwaveable grains, such as rice
1 large pepper
2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes, halved
2 small handfuls of chopped cucumber
1 ripe avocado, sliced
6 falafel balls
Black pepper to season
1. To make the dressing, simply add all ingredients to a little jar and shake to combine.
2. Chop your pepper into chunks and roast in the oven to soften for 20 minutes (or use roasted peppers from a jar). Meanwhile, cook the grains pouch in the microwave as per the instructions.
3. Time to assemble: Add a handful of salad to cover the base of each bowl, and then add the cooked peppers, tomatoes, cucumber, rice, avocado, and finally the falafel.
4. Drizzle the dressing and enjoy!
Watermelon and halloumi salad
This salad will keep you feeling full thanks to the slow-release energy from the mixed grains, as well as the fat and protein in the halloumi, Ludlam-Raine said.
½ block halloumi, sliced
100 grams watermelon, cut into cubes/triangles
100 grams cherry tomatoes, halved
¼ cucumber, diced
1 pack microwavable mixed grains
1 pack mixed salad
1 small handful mint leaves
1. Heat a griddle pan on a medium/high heat with a couple of sprays of oil and place the watermelon to heat for two minutes on each side to lightly char. When done, remove from the pan and place in a bowl in the fridge to cool.
2. Wash down your griddle pan and repeat the process with the halloumi, once grilled on each side, take off the heat.
3. Meanwhile, add two handfuls of salad to each bowl, and prep your mixed grains according to the manufacturer's instructions — add ½ pack to each bowl and top with the cucumber and tomatoes.
4. Remove the watermelon from the fridge and add to the salad, alongside the halloumi, mint leaves, and a squeeze of lime to finish.
Chicken mozzarella pasta salad
Ludlam-Raine said this salad provides over 50 grams of protein per portion as well as two portions of fruit and vegetables.
200 grams cooked wholewheat spelt pasta (or any pasta you have)
2 chicken breasts, cooked and chopped
100 grams peppers (color of choice)
100 grams plum tomatoes, halved
100 grams sweetcorn
½ red onion, diced
80 grams light cream cheese
30 grams pesto
Juice of ½ lemon
Splash of water
Pepper to season
1. Add the pasta to a large bowl, followed by the red onion, sweetcorn, tomatoes, peppers, and chicken, then mix together.
2. In a small bowl, add the cream cheese, pesto, and a splash of water, followed by a squeeze of lemon and season with pepper. Stir to combine.
3. Pour the sauce over the pasta salad and mix, coating all the ingredients.
4. Drizzle with optional olive oil and serve.
Plant-based green goddess salad
Ludlam-Raine said this salad provides protein from the cashews and edamame beans, and the wholemeal pitta provides slow-release carbohydrates.
Serves three to four.
½ white cabbage, shredded
3 big handfuls of spinach or lettuce, shredded
½ cucumber, diced
2 spring onions, diced
100 grams edamame beans
2 big handfuls of spinach
1 handful of fresh basil
50 grams cashew nuts
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (or white wine vinegar)
1. Add the cabbage, spinach, cucumber, spring onions, and edamame beans to a large bowl and stir to combine.
2. Add the dressing ingredients to a blender or food processor, add a little water if you need to help it loosen and combine.
3. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix through to coat the vegetables.
4. Serve with a wholemeal pitta or any other side of your choice.
Read the original article on Insider