Late summer salads

Posted on: 20 September 2018 by 50connect editorial

Although the sunshine might be waning, keep summer alive at your kitchen table with these health-conscious, no-cook recipes that are quick to assemble and easy on the waistline.

late summer salads

Quickly create a colourful, rich-flavoured meal that's not only nutritious and low-fat, but also packed with lots of substances that protect us from chronic health problems like cancer and heart disease.  Researchers tell us that individual vegetables and fruits are distinctive in the particular phytochemicals they contain.  For example the vegetables you typically find in a salad - leafy greens, tomatoes, bell peppers - offer different phytochemicals, each with its own array of health benefits.

Just one serving of dark leafy greens is estimated to contain over 100 different phytochemicals. Scientists don't yet understand exactly how they all work, but they do know we can maximize their effectiveness by including them, along with a wide variety of other vegetables and fruits, in our daily meals.

  • Dark, leafy greens like romaine lettuce and spinach contain lutein and zeaxanthin, powerful antioxidants that have been linked to reduced risk of age-related macular degeneration and lung cancer. Other good sources for these phytochemicals include corn, asparagus and eggs.
  • Capsicum peppers are a good source of phytochemicals called phenols, especially coumarins and terpenes, which help fend off cancer. Red capsicums also contain lutein and zeaxanthin.
  • Tomatoes are rich in lycopene, considered the most powerful antioxidant in the carotenoid family. Lycopene is thought to reduce the risk of prostate cancer and possibly breast cancer as well.

Many families keep leafy green lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers and bell peppers on hand but many vegetables and legumes are sold in jars or cans and add that something extra to a main-meal salad.  Try asparagus, artichoke hearts, corn, chickpeas, beans, olives and specialty items like roasted bell peppers and hearts of palm. Don't forget that canned as well as fresh fruit work well in salads but use water- or juice-packed versions, or rinse those that only come in a sugar syrup. 

Leftovers also pack a punch from cooked grains like rice, bulgur and couscous to chicken, fish and other meats.  Refrigerated cooked grains may need to be briefly revived in the microwave. Dried Asian noodles like bean thread and rice noodles only need to soak briefly in hot water to reconstitute and soften.

Ingredients can be mixed together to form a tossed salad or, for a change of pace and festive, eye-catching appeal, arrange them in mounds on either individual plates or a large serving platter lined with leafy green lettuce.  Just keep in mind that the most healthful proportion to use is one-third for the meat or other animal protein and the other two-thirds of the plate for vegetables, fruits, beans and grains.

Your refrigerator probably contains everything you need to put together a main-course salad.  It's  as simple as opening cans, cutting up vegetables and fruits, mixing a dressing and assembling the various elements - all in just about 30 minutes, but here's three inspiring recipes to get your creative kitchen juices flowing.

 

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