Dear hearts, it’s finally weekend and I have celebrated this beautiful Saturday with a 7 km walk along the fields with my sweetheart. We are currently enjoying 33 degrees (91.4F) and even though it is indeed lovely with sunny summer days the sudden heat wave is a tad unbearable and in particular when you are overweight. Last night when it was very warm as well I was trying to do my weekly jog but it was simply too warm and I got overheated quickly which resulted in lack of energy, not fun. I do tend to beat myself up a bit when I fail even though I know that there is a natural explanation for it. Anyway, new day today and I have been in a far better mood, I think our lovely walk in the sun sorted out the bad experience of yesterdays jog quite nicely.
So I was thinking of showing you all how I make one of my favourite salads, which is both quick and easy to make. I have come to realise that I tend to change cravings during the summer, the hot weather seem to make my body ache for lighter and more “watery” based food. Of course the natural explanation is that I sweat a lot more and therefore also need more hydration and that is probably one of the reasons, but I usually (even during colder periods) prefer the more tasty cold salad instead of warm carbohydrate source. No matter what, here is my contribution to a healthy Saturday salad, enjoy!
I buy locally farmed and fresh spinach from a small vegetable shop nearby (I also buy all our eggs from there because they are true free range eggs in the sense that the birds actually do roam free and can behave as chickens do most, I love it!) and it’s simply lovely. Of course if you don’t care much for spinach you could always exchange it for fresh broccoli or some rocket salad. Personally though I totally love spinach and could most likely eat it every day if it wasn’t for the fact that I do enjoy some variety in my food too.
Since spinach leaves are pretty huge I usually chop them up into smaller pieces, easier and nicer for a salad and in particular if there are people (such as my boyfriend) who doesn’t normally like spinach but doesn’t mind it when its all mixed up with the rest of the vegetables in a salad. Good stuff!
Good to Know Facts About Spinach!
✩ low amounts of calories and fat ✩ contains soluable dietary fiber ✩ plenty of iron ✩ fresh leaves are rich source of vitamin A, C and beta-carotene ✩ excellent source of vitamin K which among other things helps to strenghten bone mass ✩ good amount of minerals such as potassium, manganese, magnesium and zinc ✩ folate which among other things support red blood cell production, allows nerves to function properly, help prevent dementias ✩ last but not least its also rich in omega-3 fatty acids – ding ding jackpot is what I say about all these health benefits! ✩
When its really hot outside (our current 33 degrees is really hot for a Scandinavian polar bear like myself) I try to add quite a few vegetables that are high in water content such as cucumber and lettuce (both around 94-96%). A fun fact is that even spinach with all its health benefits actually qualifies as a vegetable with a high water content landing around a whopping 92%. I know that a lot of health fanatics frown upon these vegetables due to this, but honestly, I love it – and in particular during the summer when we all could do with a bit more hydration in our diet. Saying that, it is usually during the colder seasons that most people tend to forget to keep themselves hydrated properly so stop frowning whenever a high water content is mentioned. I think that a lot of people are put off by the thought of a vegetable containing so much water, but what often is forgotten is that these vegetables also have other extremely useful health benefits as well as water. I mean, just look at spinach (and the rest of the vegetables in this salad) what a marvellous little thing that is despite its high water content!
Good to Know Facts about Cucumber & Lettuce!
✩ loaded with vitamin C ✩ the peel of the cucumber contains vitamin K so by all means keep the peel on! ✩ contains potassium a mineral that aids in metabolic functions, development of muscle tissue and protects from high blood pressure ✩ high in water content which helps you (and your skin) to keep properly hydrated ✩
At this point the salad is very green (see below), which of course is nice but to add a bit more color and a few more fibers I usually put in pepper, tomato and carrots as well.
I try to buy mostly organic/ecological vegetables that are produced by the local farms in the area where I live, but sometimes I cannot and then that’s ok too. I don’t think that there is a point in being too snobby about these things even though if you can afford and are able to purchase the better alternative then of course I would always recommend it. Below (sorry about the picture quality, the colours did not come out the way I was hoping) some of the more colour popping vegetables of the salad. I usually settle for one pepper but sometimes I throw in red, green and yellow just for the fun of it. Normally I stick to 1 carrot as they tend to go a long way but of course each to their own, if your greatest vegetable love is carrots by all means grate a few and add it to your salad. There are no rules, only yummy enjoyment!
I used to love tomatoes a couple of years ago and then all of a sudden I couldn’t stand them, I have no idea why but I suppose some of my taste buds must have changed (they do that every now and then during your life) so I have had to re-train myself to like them again. I mean, I think they are an absolutely beautiful fruit (cause yep it is actually a fruit and not a vegetable) but it has taken a while to get back into the swing of eating and enjoying them. However the health benefits of tomatoes are far too important to ignore or leave out of your diet.
Good to Know Facts about Tomato, Carrot & Yellow Pepper
✩ the outer skin and the seeds of the tomato contain insoluble fiber which stay intact during digestion and push waste, easing constipation ✩ tomatoes are also loaded with antioxidants like C and beta-carotene which helps lessen the risk of damage from free radicals ✩ the inner flesh of the tomato contain soluble fiber which when reaching your small intestine binds with water, creating a thick gel, slowing digestion and allows nutrients to fully absorb. Soluble fiber also picks up some of the excess cholesterol in your body helping to lower your blood cholesterol levels ✩ soluble fibers additionally slows sugar absorption, resulting in more stable blood sugar levels ✩ carrots are excellent source of vitamin A, C, Calcium and iron ✩ carrots also contain fiber, vitamin K, potassium, folate, manganese, phosphorous, magnesium, vitamin E and zinc ✩ yellow bell peppers (which I used today) contain niacin, which is a B vitamin that helps to keep your skin healthy, help the nerves work normally and keep your digestive system working properly ✩ the right niacin levels also help your body to turn the food you eat into useable energy ✩ yellow pepper also contains vitamin C ✩ and just like spinach, yellow bell peppers contains Folate ✩
Since I prefer a salad with a bit more interesting taste I usually add another favourite of mine, namely the fantastic vegetable leek! Its not only a beautiful vegetable (I mean just look at natures own ability to create one of the latest trends in interior decoration, dip dye, amazing!) it is of course also very, very (ridiculously so) good for you but that is probably not surprising to read at this point I suppose!
Good to Know Facts about Leek
✩ Leeks contain important amounts of the flavonoid kaempferol, which in research has shown to help protect blood vessel linings from damage ✩ contain important concentration of the B vitamin Folate which is supporting our cardiovascular system by keeping our levels of homocysteine (excessively high levels of homocysteine are a risk factor for many cardiovascular diseases) in balance ✩ also present in leeks are impressive concentrations of antioxidant polyphenols which play a direct role in protecting our blood vessels and blood cells from oxidative damage ✩ current research (which unfortunately mostly have been focused on onion & garlic = fellow allium vegetables) expect to see leek providing measurable amounts of protection against several different types of cancer ✩
The finished product, I don’t know about you – but to me this looks super yummy! Some days I have this quick and easy salad instead of another source of carbs and only add a protein source such as a quorn sausage or vegetarian gyros or the like. I am not on a no-carb diet or anything along those lines, but I do believe that I used to eat far too much high carb food before my lifestyle change. It is so very easy to let the carbs run away with you without you even noticing it, well not until its too late anyway. That is why this salad is amazing, because it is filling, healthy and yummy at the same time and it is most definitely one of my greatest vegetable loves!