Superfoods get a mention everywhere these days, we are told we must have them for a nutrient packed meal! So what are they?

Certain foods, mainly fruits, vegetables, grains, nuts and seeds are packed with essential vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals that boost our health and vitality.

And whilst superfoods may seem like a new shopping list of items to purchase, it couldn’t be easier to incorporate these superfoods into your daily salad and make it come to life!

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Experience is not required! And most of them take about 15 minutes to prepare!

From kale to broccoli, berries to pomegranate, quinoa to barley cous cous… Here’s the low down on how to get these superfoods into your summer salads and eat the rainbow every day!

Some of the recipes use similar basic ingredients and it’s just a case of adding one new ingredient each day until this becomes a new habit. Simple!

1. Quinoa, broccoli and pomegranate salad

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Quinoa is not a grain but is actually the seed of a plant called Chenopodium, related to swiss chard and spinach.

It is a good substitute for rice or cous cous, as it is low GL so will not spike blood sugar, it is a complete protein, digests slowly, is high in fibre, vitamins and minerals, and gluten free, therefore a good choice for those who cannot tolerate wheat, oats, rye or barley.

This is a good way to make quinoa more interesting and tasty!

– 150g cooked quinoa
– 50g cooked broccoli
– 50g feta cheese
– handful toasted pumpkin seeds
– 2 tbsp pomegranate seeds
– finely chopped handful of spring onion, parsley and mint

Mix everything together and serve with pomegranate seeds over the top, olive oil and lemon.

Serve with salmon, tuna, chicken, roasted vegetables or salad as a quick and satisfying meal.

Citrusy vinaigrette works well with this salad (cilantro, lime and mustard)

2. Warm salad of butternut squash and barley couscous with sweet sour dressing

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Butternut squash is a complex carbohydrate rich in betacarotene for a healthy immune system, pine nuts are rich in minerals and essential fats while red onion provides quercetin, a phytonutrient beneficial to the immune system.

(Add some additional protein if you want to this – feta cheese, prawns, eggs etc)

– 320g butternut squash, peeled and cut into chunks
– 1 tsp olive oil or coconut oil, melted
– 70 g quinoa

For the dressing:

– 1 tsp sea salt
– Pinch of black pepper
– 1 garlic clove, crushed
– 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
– 1 tsp honey
– 1 tsp oil (extra virgin or cold pressed oil)
– 1/2 small red onion, sliced thinly
– Pinch of red chilli powder or flakes/cayenne pepper
– 1 tbsp chopped fresh mint
– Handful of rocket or spinach leaves
– 1 tbsp toasted pine nuts (or mixed seeds)

Cut the butternut squash into chunks and cover with olive oil, cook for 10-15 minutes in the oven until the squash is al dente.

Mix all the salad ingredients together in a bowl, along with the squash. Cover with the dressing and mix.

3. Roasted sweet potato, avocado and pumpkin seed salad

This colourful dish can be served as a side salad or as a vegetarian main meal.

The different rainbow of colours offer a range of different phyto-nutrients – plant nutrients which have specific health benefits such as fighting infection and inflammation.

The herbs in the dressing can be varied or use any dark green leaves such as watercress, rocket or spinach.

Ingredients:

– 1 medium sweet potato
– 1 tbsp mild olive oil
– 2 handfuls rocket
– 2 handfuls bay leaf spinach
– 225g cherry tomatoes, halved
– 1 ripe avocado
– 1 tbsp pumpkin seeds, toasted if you prefer

Dressing:

– a handful each of flat-leaf parsley and basil
– 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
– pinch of sea salt
– freshly ground black pepper
– zest of 1/2 lemon
– 1 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Cut the unpeeled sweet potato into long, evenly sized wedges, place them on a roasting tin, drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Roast for 35 minutes.

Very finely chop the parsley and basil and mix with the rest of the dressing ingredients. Adjust seasoning. Toss the rocket, spinach and tomatoes together and place in a salad bowl or on two plates.

Peel, stone and slice the avocado and spread over the mixed leaves. Top with the sweet potato wedges, scatter with the pumpkin seeds, then finally spoon the dressing generously over the top. 

4. Greek salad

Greek salad with gigantic black olives, sheeps cheese

This salad is full of summer flavours and rich in antioxidants from the red onion and red tomato.

Serves 2

– 1 medium red onion, halved then thinly sliced
– 3 medium tomatoes, chopped into chunks
– 15 cm (6inch) chunk of cucumber, quartered lengthways then chopped into chunks
– 1 1/2 tbsp Kalamata olives, pitted and halved
– 150 feta cheese
– freshly ground black pepper

Dressing:

– 1 1/2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or use oil from the olives)
– 1 tbsp white wine vinegar
– 3/4 tsp dried oregano
– freshly ground black pepper

Put the vegetables and olives in a salad bowl, pour over the dressing and toss gently crumble the feta on top and lightly toss through the vegetables season with black pepper and chill lightly or serve immediately on a crispy bed of crispy lettuce like little gem, romaine or cos.

5. Goat cheese and beet salad

Provides a great fibre and protein punch, beetroot provides  betaine, vital for cardiovascular and liver health, and also potassium for muscle building and maintenance of healthy blood pressure. Pistachios provide minerals, protein and essential fats.

– 100g thinly grated carrots
– 100g thinly grated beetroot
– 15g pistachios
– 75g goats cheese
– 70g baby salad leaves
– a few chives

Dressing:

– 1 tbsp cider vinegar
– 1/2 tbsp clear honey
– 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Break the cheese into 2 cm pieces and arrange on the plates with the salad ingredients.

Check out Part 2 here

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