I used to call this my Mediterranean-inspired salad until one of my clients jokingly suggested it should be called ‘The Egg and Sperm Salad’ since the ingredients were all selected for their beneficial effects on sperm, eggs, and ovarian function. I liked this new name as it perfectly captured what the salad does – and so it stuck!
It’s exceptionally rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds so is as colourful as it is good for you and a sure-fire way to brighten up your lunchtime.
The base is watercress, which has DNA-repairing properties that are good for sperm and eggs; and spinach, which is high in antioxidants that are good for ovarian function and egg quality, as well as your skin and immune system. These strong, peppery greens are also high in essential fatty acids which are important for hormone regulation. The carrots and red peppers are full of beta-carotene, the orange-red pigment found in plants that is important for progesterone production, and which the body additionally converts into vitamin A to strengthen our immune system and skin. Red onion is packed with quercetin, a powerful antioxidant for sperm. Tomatoes add vitamin C which promotes progesterone in women and improves sperm health in men, as well as lycopene, a powerful antioxidant. Lastly, avocado rounds off the salad by adding a good dose of vitamin E, the most well-known of all fertility nutrients.
Serve the salad with a dressing made of extra virgin olive oil and apple cider vinegar, with honey and Dijon mustard to taste. Olive oil is a rich source of antioxidants in itself, and it helps the body to absorb the carotenes from the salad ingredients. I especially love apple cider vinegar with ‘The Mother’, the original fermentation product which gives it unique health-boosting properties; unlike other vinegars, it’s particularly good for digestion and gut health.
- Try and bulk-buy all the ingredients for a few days’ worth of salad lunches for you and your partner. Take everything except the avocado out of the packaging, and give it a good wash and spin in a salad spinner before refrigerating daily portions in glass containers lined with kitchen towel. This way your salads will stay fresher for longer and be ready for you to grab, top with avocado and your protein of choice, then eat on the go.
- Always buy your extra virgin olive oil in a dark glass bottle, never clear glass, plastic or tin. Light damages the delicate oil and plastic bottles and tins lined with plastic contain a hormone disrupting chemical called Bisphenol A (BPA).
A good handful of baby spinach & the same of watercress
Half a Romano pepper (the long, sweet, red ones), sliced finely
A handful of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
One carrot grated or sliced
Half an avocado, sliced or diced
Half a red onion, sliced finely
I’d recommend choosing an unprocessed high-protein topping option, such as cold chicken or salmon, cheese, hummus, falafels, lentils, beans or eggs. Why not try adding some different veg for variety too?
For a dose of added antioxidants, top with sunflower and pumpkin seeds, and/or crushed walnuts.
2/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar with ‘The Mother’Dijon mustard and a good quality honey (or vegan substitute) to taste.
Mix all ingredients together thoroughly and store in a glass jar in the fridge for up to two weeks.
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.