Why you should start your day with salads on your holidays?

Most people suffer from constipation or stomach upset on holidays. Well, it’s not surprising given that on holidays, we let ourselves go. Indulging in food (mostly carbs) and alcohol, irregular sleep routine and little to no exercise can mess up with the strongest of digestive systems.

On a recent trip to Mahabaleshwar, to avoid an upset stomach, I took to eating salad first thing in the morning. Yes, I had salad in the breakfast.

With a lavish hotel buffet spread, where the assortment of muffins and donuts were too tempting to resist, I first fortified my stomach with a generous helping of salad. A fibre-rich salad of lettuce, baby spinach, lettuce, cucumber, nuts, seeds and dry berries not only kept my digestion healthy, but made me feel less guilty of my indulgence in strawberry cream. Also, over the day, you might indulge in panipuri or eat at a roadside joint where salad is not an option.

Benefits of salads  

  • Leafy green and raw veggies are a good source of fiber; they help in bowel movements.
  • Salads increases the level of antioxidants in your blood.
  • Salad before entrée makes you feel fuller and controls your food intake.
  • High levels of folate in dark green leafy vegetables helps in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.
  • High water content found in salad veggies keeps the body hydrated and skin youthful; highly beneficial when you indulge in alcohol and 8 hours of sleep takes a toss.

How to make your salads more interesting?

No one wants to eat the same old cucumber and carrot every day. That’s where leaves, nuts, seeds, fruits and cheeses can be quite a game changer, and can actually make you fall in love with salads.

*Choose 1 or 2 in each category

Salad Greens – Kale, Arugula, Baby spinach, Iceberg lettuce, Romaine lettuce, Turnip greens

Veggies – Cucumber, Purple cabbage, Cherry/firm tomatoes, Peppers, Broccoli

Nuts – Walnuts, Almonds, Pecans, Pine

Seeds – Pumpkin, Sunflower, Chia, Sesame, Water melon

Berries – Blueberries, Cranberries, Raisins

Fresh Fruits – Apple, Orange segments, Avocado, Watermelon

Grains/Millets – Quinoa, Red rice, Barley

Beans – Chick peas, Red kidney beans, Red lentils

Cheese – Feta, Goat cheese, Paneer, Tofu, Parmesan shavings

Now, one of the most important aspect of salads is its dressing. Most people turn to bottled dressings due to lack of time, but to tell you the truth, making salad dressings is not that difficult. Make a slightly big batch and it will last you a couple of weeks in a glass jar in the refrigerator.

Stock a few staples like Balsemic vinegar, Red wine vinegar, Tahini, Extra Virgin olive oil, Honey, Dijon mustard, etc.

Vinegar based dressing – Take olive oil and balsamic vinegar/red wine vinegar and stir the mixture till it emulsifies (becomes a thick paste). Now add 1 tsp of Dijon mustard, black pepper, salt, 1 tsp of honey. Mix and pour it over your salad.

Curd based dressing – Curds are easily available in most Indian homes and transforms salads into a yummy mini meal. Take hung curd, add extra virgin olive oil, grate 1 garlic clove, and add salt and black pepper. Mix.

Tahini based dressing – Take tahini and extra virgin oil in equal proportion (1/4 cup should be enough), add 1-2 tsp lemon juice (the tartness of lemon cuts through the bitterness of tahini), Dijon mustard, honey, salt and black pepper. If you find the mixture thick, add 2 tbsp ice cold water. Whisk, it makes a creamy salad dressing. To this salad, I add boiled chick peas, it tastes yummier.

These are all vegetarian salads, however, you can make it protein rich by adding boiled eggs, roasted chicken segments or smoked salmon.