Salads might not be the first thing you think of when it comes to your training but they are the food on the minds of most in the Summer. Luckily, it’s easy to combine the two to get all the benefits.
Making the perfect salad just takes practice and you have to be willing to forgo the conventions but with some simple tips you can create something healthy and nourishing that will also fuel your body.
More than just lettuce
If you have a problem with salads, it’s often a problem with lettuce. Lots and lots od people hate lettuce. But don’t let this put you off. You can create all kinds of salads where lettuce doesn’t make an appearance. Think of all the other raw vegetables and fruits you can use: grated carrots, cucumber, spinach leaves, broccoli, avocado, blueberries… Experiment and see what works for you; no lettuce required.
Too many people skip salads on the basis that they will be starving fifteen minutes after eating them This is where protein comes in. Protein helps to fill you up as well as provide the essential amino acids that training muscles need. Tinned fish is an easy way to add protein to any salads and John West Infusions can double as your dressing as well as your protein with a range of flavours. Try adding basil infused tuna to a tomato salad or sweet chili salmon with avocado. Fish is a rich source of vitamin B12 which helps to reduce tiredness and fatigue – ideal when training for an event. Beans are another easy protein to add to salads along with chicken or hard cheeses.
Superfood your salad
Nuts and seeds are packed with minerals that your body needs. Good sources of magnesium, copper and iron as well as healthy fats and fibre, they make a super addition to any salad. Try scattering pumpkin, sunflower or sesame seeds on top of a salad or add chopped walnuts, almonds or hazelnuts.
Fresh herbs are a great way to add flavour to any salad. Add the whole leaves of flat parsley, coriander or mint to salads. Try coriander with any chicken or fish salads, flat parsley with salmon and mint with any salad that has apples added.
Fruit adds a touch of sweetness to a salad. Try adding berries like blueberries, raspberries or strawberries or go with chopped apples or orange segments.
If you are training hard then you are going to need some carbs for fuel. Put some wholegrain bread on the side to go with your salad or add wholegrains like quinoa, wholegrain pasta or brown rice.
Dress it up
Dressing are the key to a salad you will actually want to eat. Plain, undressed salads are boring and you won’t want to eat them. Salad actually means “to add salt” and salt can help to bring a salad to life. Just don’t overdo it – you want to flavour your salad not pickle it. A little oil like olive oil actually helps you to absorb more of the vitamins and then you can play with wholegrain or Dijon mustards, lemon or lime juice, balsamic or apple cider vinegar.
Check out some of our salad recipes below.
Consultant Nutritionist - MSc., BSc., MINDI
Sarah has a degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from Trinity College and a Masters in European Food Regulation.
She runs a food and nutrition consultancy giving one-to-one advice on nutrition and diet as well as working with some of Ireland's leading food companies.