Summer is approaching and I start craving more fresh and light things again. Winter for me is always all about soups and stews to keep me warm but that time is definitely over. The sun is out and all the fresh greens are shooting out of the ground everywhere. The summer farmers markets just started again here in Vancouver a week ago and the abundance of growth in all the community gardens is so inspiring and to me. I met up with my friend who has a little plot in one in a community garden this weekend. We planted some spinach, mustard greens and yellow beets and harvested a lot of oregano and some radishes.

I try to always have a fridge full of vegetables and different greens (from the farmers market or self harvested if possible) it makes it very easy to be creative in the kitchen and throw together quick nutritious and delicious meals. Lately I’ve had a salad of some sort for almost every lunch. On weekdays I bring it to school and on the weekend I enjoy it at home or on the road wherever I am. This way I make sure to have complete meals every day without having to spend all my money on expensive meals in restaurants or at whole foods which can definitely be a challenge if you are a health conscious person. But more on that topic in a separate post soon.

Today I want to share with you how I mix and match my salads daily with an easy formula switching up the actual ingredients daily to keep it interesting and to have a variety and a change of vitamins and minerals (micronutrients).

No Recipe Salad

Serves one

2 handfulls of greens, shredded
2 parts other vegetables, grated, roasted, sliced - roasted, stemed or raw (depends on the vegetable you choose)
1 part healthy plant fat
1 part protein or 1cup pre cooked pseudo grain

optional add ons
for extra flavor spring onions or red onion, finely sliced
for extra crunch and nutrition fresh sprouts (any from the brassica family) are most nutritious or pea shots
for extra freshness fresh herbs like parsley, basil, cilantro, thyme, oregano, rosemary, mint, lemon balm

2 tbsp oil or tahini
1 tbsp acidic medium
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of pepper or chili

optional flavor
sometimes I like to switch it up and make my dressing a bit more interesting, use turmeric, any dried herbs or spirulina / chlorella

some of my favorites as examples for the indicated parts above (use whatever you have on hand):
greens ie.kale, spinach, nettles, lettuce, radish or beet greens, swiss chard, arugula, dandelion greens
vegetables ie. carrots, beets, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, radishes, tomatoes, celery, - feel free to roast or slightly steam them or keep raw if preferred
healthy plant fat ie. handful olives, half an avocado1 handful nuts / seeds ie. pumpkin, sunflower or sesame seeds, walnuts, almonds, pecans - toasted if preferred
protein ie. 1 can salmon, piece of leftover pasture raised chicken, grass fed lamb or beef, sardines or mackerel, 1-2 eggs any style; vegan options organic tofu/tempeh (i like them marinated and quickly pan fried), 1 cup cooked quinoa, millet or buckwheat
my favorite choices for oils acidic medium are organic extra virgin olive oil and cold pressed walnut oil, tahini will make it deliciously creamy
acidic medium lemon, lime or apple cider vinegar

Simply throw all the ingredients in a bowl or glass / metal container (if it is for on the go), whip up dressing in a small bowl and pour over. If I am taking the salad with me I usually bring the dressing in a small side container and pour it on when it’s mealtime.

Enjoy and have fun mixing and matching!

Check out specific examples below (they both happened to be vegan versions)

Lettuce, Root and marinated Tofu Salad

serves one
2 hands full of lettuce (from the farmers market)
1 small beet, grated
1 yellow carrot, grated
1/2 avocado
organic firm tofu
1 tbsp tamari (gluten free soy sauce)
2 tsp turmeric powder
little ghee or coconut oil
3 small spring onions with top greens, finely sliced
broccoli sprouts
red radish sprouts

2 tbsp organic tahini
1/2 lemon, juice
1 pinch of chili
1 pinch of salt

Cut tofu in 2cm cubes and place in bowl together with the turmeric and tamari stir until all the cubes are well covered. Heat a frying pan on medium heat with a dollop of ghee (or coconut oil). Place the cubes in the pan and fry for about 10 minutes (turn them every 2 minutes). Add grated beet and carrot to a small sauce pan and add about 3 tbsp of water cover and steam for about 5 minutes on low heat, you want them to be warm and soft but still crunchy. Meanwhile wash and shred the lettuce, slice green onion and cut avocado in cubes place in a large bowl. Add steamed root vegetables and mix together with your hands. Stir together the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Place salad on plate. Top with fried tofu, sprouts and drizzle over the dressing.


Radish Greens

Note: I love to use all parts of vegetables. Radishes are a great example for that many would throw away the top green parts but in fact they are extremely nutritious a source of calcium, iron, magnesium, folate, vitamin A, C, K. I personally also enjoy the mildly pungent flavor a lot and I love them in salads but you can also sauté them with garlic or make pesto - all lovely alternatives.

Radish tops don't stay fresh for very long though. It's best to separate them from the roots soon after harvesting or bringing them home from the market (mine were freshly harvested from the community garden). Wash and store the leaves like other salad greens and eat them within a day or two.

Minty Radish greens and Cabbage Quinoa salad

serves one

2 hands full radish greens, shredded (see note below)
1/4 head red cabbage
1 tsp coconut oil
5 radishes, thinly sliced
generous hand full of kalamata olives
1 hand full of toasted sunflower seeds
1 cup pre cooked quinoa (1/3 cup raw + 2/3 cups water)
2 sprigs fresh mint

2 tbsp organic extra virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, juice
1 pinch of pepper
1 pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 200°C / 400°F. Shred cabbage and place on baking tray. Rub coconut oil in your hands until it softens and massage onto the cabbage until evenly covered. Season with salt and place in oven for about 15 - 20 minutes. Toast sunflower seeds for a bout 5 minutes on medium heat in a frying pan. Wash and prepare all the other salad ingredients (except olives) in a bowl and mix. Stir dressing ingredients together in a small bowl. Top with the sliced kalamata olives and drizzle with dressing.