This summer we’re all slowly coming back to life, and for many of us that means heading back to the office, even if only part-time. So, with this in mind, my summer salad jar is the perfect, nutritious lunch that can be made quickly and easily at home then taken with you to work.
Lunch is such an important meal, especially when you are working, as it’s your fuel to get you through the rest of the afternoon. It needs to feed your brain, keep your energy levels high, and – most importantly – make you feel good!
This summer salad is packed with antioxidants, protein, and extra virgin olive oil that will help keep skin clear, hair glossy, and nails strong. Using a glass jar rather than a plastic container will ensure your salad stays fresher and cooler for longer; plus, you’ll prevent any hormone-disrupting BPA (Bisphenol A, found in plastic) from making its way into your lunch. Opt for a Kilner jar or similar, the Kilner ‘on the go’ jars are especially good as they come with a little pot built into the lid for your salad dressing.
Make your salad the night before or first thing in the morning so that you have time to eat and still squeeze in a stroll in the sun come lunchtime!
Salad Base Ingredients
A few spoonfuls of brown rice/whole-grain pasta (optional).
A handful/couple of spoonfuls of your chosen protein/s. Cold chicken, cold or smoked salmon, hard-boiled eggs, cottage cheese, grilled halloumi, hummus or tuna all work well.
Half an avocado, sliced or diced
A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
1 carrot, grated or sliced
1/2 a pepper (red, orange or yellow)
A good handful of crispy green leaves like watercress, spinach, rocket, and/or white and purple leaves like radicchio and chicory
A sprinkle of pumpkin and/or sunflower seeds
Mel’s Top Tip 1: Strong peppery, bitter leaves – like watercress, spinach, rocket, radicchio and chicory – are packed with goodness, far more than plain lettuce, so opt for these.
Mel’s Top Tip 2: You can use any protein leftovers from your dinner the night before for your salad – say cold fishcake, bean burger or falafel – making it even more straightforward to put together!
For the salad base, you ideally want to layer your ingredients in the jar in order of their moisture content as any juices will seep to the bottom:
Start with a layer of brown rice, or whole-grain pasta if using.
Then layer your flavoursome protein/s.
Softer salad ingredients, like the avocado and tomato, go next.
Then add your dry, crunchy, bright vegetables like carrot and pepper.
Next, layer your crispy leaves.
Finally, top with the seeds.
150ml (2/3 cup) extra virgin olive oil
75ml (1/3 cup) apple cider vinegar
‘The Mother’ Dijon mustard
Good-quality raw honey (or vegan substitute) to taste
This dressing should make enough to last you all week. Mix all the ingredients together thoroughly, then store in a glass jar in the fridge.
Pour the dressing over your salad before you leave for work, or else take it with you in a separate pot to add just before eating.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mel holds a BSc (Hons) in Nutritional Therapy, an MSc in Nutritional Medicine, and has been specialising in fertility and pregnancy nutrition for over 18 years. Her career includes time spent at the Zita West Fertility Clinic, The Healthy Holiday Company, and Dr Jane Benn & Associates. Mel set up Melanie Brown Nutrition 10 years ago and currently works with clients across the globe advising them on fertility-enhancing diet and lifestyle.