Just because it’s winter doesn’t mean you have to give up your healthy eating for stodgy comfort food.
During summer, salads are a great way to stick to your healthy eating habits, but as it gets colder and wetter, the idea of refreshing lettuce, tomato and cucumber in a bowl becomes less and less appealing.
This is actually a physiological response that our bodies have adapted over many years. In the winter, our ancestors would have required more food (and fat) to keep themselves warm. However, now that we have the luxury of heated offices & homes, and a lot more of us spend the day sitting around, this extra fat is unnecessary (and often unwanted!).
It’s hard to rewire our brains into not craving this food; so instead, here are some great salad ideas that will give you the satisfaction you’re looking for, without piling in the calories.
Roast vegetable salad
This is usually the first go-to winter salad as there’s something so comforting about roast veggies.
You can use whatever vegetables you like, but we enjoy eggplant, pumpkin, red onions, zucchini, capsicums and carrots, tossed in a bit of olive oil and salt, then roasted for 30 minutes at 180C.
Add cherry tomatoes to the oven for the last 10 minutes for some extra zing and vitamin C.
Mix the roasted vegetables with some fresh baby spinach and herbs (thyme, rosemary and/or basil), balsamic vinegar and pine nuts.
Beetroot, Zucchini and Quinoa Salad
If you’re really hanging out for a taste of summer, this salad will give you a nice nostalgic barbecue flavour. Alternatively, you can do the grilling on the stove or in the oven.
- 1/2 cup quinoa, cooked
- 2 packs of LeaderBrand Pure’n Ezy Baby Beets, halved
- 4 zucchinis, sliced lengthways
- 1 Tbsp olive oil
- 1/2 cup walnuts
- 1 corn cob, with husks removed
Preheat your grill or element/pan to high heat. In a bowl, toss the beetroot and zucchini slices in oil and season to taste. Grill the beetroot for 5-7 minutes, turning each side until cooked and then set aside. Grill the zucchinis for 3-4 minutes, turning each side until tender and set aside.
Grill the corn cob until the kernels start to blister. Cut the charred corn kernels away from the husk.
Spread walnuts over half a piece of foil, fold over and scrunch edges to seal. Place the walnuts into the oven and cook for 2-3 minutes until lightly toasted.
For the dressing:
- 1/3 cup egg mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup mint leaves, plus extra leaves to serve
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1/2 clove garlic, chopped
Combine all the dressing ingredients in a small food processer, process until smooth and season to taste.
Roast pumpkin salad
Pumpkin is a quintessential winter flavour, but you can get a bit over pumpkin soup after the first 10 times. This salad is another way to celebrate the pumpkin while also getting some other fabulous health foods into your diet.
Roast your peeled, cubed pumpkin until firm but cooked. Add chopped feta, chopped avocado, roasted pine nuts & baby spinach (or any mixed lettuce).
In another bowl combine olive oil, red wine vinegar, maple syrup and wholegrain mustard. Toss through your salad and enjoy.
Veggie noodle salad
If you haven’t bought a spiralizer yet, you need one in your life. It’s a great way to fulfil your pasta craving without the additional empty calories.
For a delicious veggie noodle salad, make some zucchini noodles with your spiralizer, or by using a potato peeler to make thick strips then cut them into thinner strips.
Pop the noodles into a bowl with cherry tomatoes, olives, basil and rocket.
Make a dressing by combining olive oil, lime juice, lime zest, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour the dressing over salad ingredients and gently mix.
If you have time, allow the salad to sit for 10 minutes, then it’s good to go with an extra crack of salt and pepper. Add some crumbled goat’s cheese and/or chilli if you so desire (which I do!).
Tabouli (or tabbouleh) salad
You can get an extra hit of vegetables in this staple Lebanese dish by using cauliflower as the base. Blend cauliflower florets until they resemble couscous. You can use it raw or fry it for a few minutes for a more tender texture. Add in diced capsicum, celery, olives, cheese, mint, granny smith apple and spring or red onion. Pair with slices of your favourite lean meat and hummus.
Do you have any other great winter salad ideas? Share them with us below if so!