HOW TO make AN AIP SALAD that KEEPs YOU FULL!
During Summer, I love me some salad.
Now I’m not talking about those piddly limp looking little salads consisting of wilted leaves and soggy tomatoes. I’m talking about a real man salad. One filled with so much nutrition and flavour your hunger will be packing its bags and heading out the door.
When I make a salad, I want it to be the main meal. The star. I never want to be hungry after eating one and I don’t ever want to be left feeling empty, pathetic and deprived (ok, maybe a little dramatic, but you get my drift).
So over the years, I’ve develop a few basic “rules” when it comes to making my salads. They must be:
· Robust and keep me satisfied for hours
· Full of nutrients – vitamins, minerals, healthy fats and protein
· Taste bloody beautiful
Since transitioning to the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (AIP), I’ve had to say goodbye to a few of my staple ingredients from years gone by, including tomatoes, capsicum, grilled eggplant and fresh corn, as well as nuts, seeds, goats cheese and cream filled dressings. You too?
Never fear, because with these super simple basic salad guidelines, you can adapt any dietary requirements to fit. And the bonus = if you’re like me and tend to batch cook on a weekend ready for the week ahead, you’ll already have everything you need washed, chopped and cooked, ready to be thrown in a bowl or your toteable lunch container.
Here is what (I think) every great AIP salad needs:
Protein | Organic chicken, grass-fed red meat, seafood, fish, tinned fish
Fat | Avocado, olive oil, avocado oil, olives
Vegetables | Steamed, grilled, roasted or pickled, including leafy greens and fresh herbs
Complex Carbs | Sweet potatoes, pumpkin, carrots, beets, parsnips
Let Me Break it Down a Little . . .
For me, I tend to start with my choice of protein as this is always dependent on what is currently in my fridge, ready to be used.
Protein | I like to aim for about 25% of my plate/bowl to be filled with some sort of protein. This usually varies between shredded chicken, leftover steak sliced thinly, or a pork chop. Perhaps leftover baked fish, or even a tin of tuna/salmon. Note: I always have a stash of cooked meat stored in my freezer, separated into individual servings for this exact reason. Or simply cook an extra serving of protein at dinnertime, ready for the next day!
Complex Carbs | Having an AIP kitchen (and being scared of running out of food), I always have a container filled with roasted root veggies in my fridge ready to be added to any of my meals (this is such a time saver during the week!). If you’re not as organised as me, that’s ok. Just chop your veggies small and they’ll roast in next to no time. I understand that some people try to avoid carbs, or perhaps require a lower carb intake, however for me personally, through self-experimentation, I’ve found that my body loves them and I especially love adding roasted sweet potato, beets and parsnips or even using leftover mashed pumpkin in my dressing. I don’t add a lot – perhaps 1-2 tablespoons, but I’ve personally found that since adding a little to each meal, the occasional hormonal acne that I would get on my chin is a thing of the past (see my post on this here).
Veggies | The bulk of my salads (at least 50%) are filled with organic veggies. However, due to my digestion issues - all veggies are cooked, with the exception of cucumber and lettuce. Just don’t stop at lettuce! I love my salads, and I get excited about eating them when they’re filled with a variety of veggies like steamed broccoli and cauliflower, or some asparagus and zucchini. Perhaps even think about adding zucchini noodles. I also love adding different leafy greens, depending on the season and my mood, as they all have different nutrient values, so switch it up every so often and think about colour, texture and flavours. Add a spoonful of pickled or fermented vegetables, or perhaps even some fruit. Mango and avocado….mmmmmm! Also don’t be afraid of using lots of fresh herbs - I love using parsley as a leafy green all on its own, and adding big bunches of fresh mint, coriander and basil can take your salad to a whole other level.
Healthy Fats | An absolutely essential component to any AIP salad, as it’s these wonderful fats that will not only help you absorb all of the much needed nutrients you’re about to consume (remember my fat-soluble vitamin posts!), it’s what will fill you up and stop you from over eating. I aim to fill my plate with around 25% of good fats, which could include avocado, coconut or the fat from whatever protein I am using. It could include the coconut oil I’ve roasted my veggies in, or simply from the olive oil or avocado oil based dressing I’m adding. Our body’s need good, healthy fat!
Now it’s time for the big guns. The dressing. In my humble opinion, the piece de resistance of any good salad. The key that will either turn you into a salad lover or salad avoider.
The Vinaigrette | Made with fat and acid - usually a mix of olive oil and either a vinegar or lemon juice with a good amount of Himalayan salt.
The Creamy | For those hearty salads filled with robust veggies that can hold a heavy dressing. Usually a base of coconut milk or coconut yoghurt, or perhaps leftover pureed vegetables, like pumpkin or sweet potato, or even avocado.
Some Favourite Dressings. . .
The Basic | Never gets boring! Combination of olive oil, apple cider vinegar and Himalayan salt
The Caesar | My dairy free version combines coconut milk, lemon zest and juice, anchovies, garlic powder, fresh dill, Himalayan salt and nutritional yeast - for a cheesy touch
The Raspberry Vinaigrette | Bright and zesty - In a blender, blitz together frozen or fresh raspberries, olive oil and a good amount of lime juice and Himalayan salt
The Ranch| A creamy blend of fresh herbs - Whisk together coconut milk, apple cider vinegar, olive oil, garlic powder, Himalayan salt and finely chopped fresh herbs, like dill and chives
The Green Goddess | A creamy blend of avocado, lime zest and juice, olive (or avocado) oil and Himalayan salt
The Citrus | A zesty and refreshing combination of blood orange zest and juice, olive oil, apple cider vinegar and Himalayan salt