New Year’s is a time when people resolve to take steps to improve their life. A common New Year’s resolution is to eat more healthily by following a new diet. In most cases, if it is a restrictive diet that focuses on eliminating certain foods, it can be difficult to maintain and might not last until the end of the month let alone the end of the year. A healthier way to look at eating is to focus on an inclusive diet that is centred on all the great things you can eat!
If you haven’t read Judy Ridgway and Simon Poole’s book ‘The Olive Oil Diet’ then the New Year may be a good time to grab a copy. It’s a guide that offers a sustainable way to eat healthily by focusing on what to include in your diet rather than what to exclude from it. The book talks about seven types of food that you should aim to include in your diet every single day to nourish your body so that it can function to its best ability.
‘The Olive Oil Diet’ has lots of easy nutritious recipes. Here, I would like to share one of the book’s fabulous salad recipes, ‘Sicilian Winter Salad’. I also want to share one of my favourite recipes ‘Grilled Endive, Blue Cheese, Pear and Walnut Salad’ from my own healthy eating blog www.TotalSalads.com.
Bitter leaves in salads help absorption
The reason I chose these two recipes is because the modern Western diet does not include very many bitter flavours, and these recipes show how to successfully combine bitter green leaves (such as rocket and endives) with other ingredients to make simple yet delicious dishes. Bitter foods are good for you because when your tastebuds sense bitterness, they send signals to your body to start producing more digestive juices that subsequently makes your body more efficient at absorbing more nutrients from your food.
A bitter salad is a great way to start a meal. Extra virgin olive oil has always been my oil of choice for salad dressings. Using a fruity extra virgin olive oil drizzled on top of bitter greens helps balance the some of the bitterness in the leaves, but feel free to experiment with different varieties of olive oil to find the flavor you like the best!
SICILIAN WINTER SALAD
For the salad:
- 2 large fennel bulbs, trimmed and quartered
- 1 large handful rocket
- 1 orange, peeled and thinly sliced
- 16-20 small balck olives, pitted
For the dressing:
- 100ml extra virgin olive oil
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 pinch dried wild marjoram (alternatively, use oregano)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Place the fennel in a bowl of very cold water for 5 minutes. Drain and slice as finely as you can, preferably using a food processor or mandolin.
- Arrange the rocket on a serving plate and top with slices of fennel and orange set in a pretty pattern. Dot with black olives.
- Mix the olive oil with the lemon juice and dried herbs, then season with salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and serve
GRILLED ENDIVE, BLUE CHEESE, PEAR AND WALNUT SALAD
(Serves 4 as a starter or side dish)
- 4 heads of endive
- A little extra virgin olive oil to brush onto the endives before grilling
- 150-200g / 5-7oz blue cheese, crumbled
- 1 medium pear
- 80g/2oz walnut halves, roughly broken or chopped
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- ½ tsp red wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
- ½ tsp Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp honey (optional if you want to balance some of the bitterness in the endives)
- Remove the outer leaves from the endives and slightly trim the base, making sure to leaves enough of the base attached so that the endive leaves remain attached. Cut the endives in half lengthwise. Brush the cut sides with some olive oil.
- To grill the endives, warm up a griddle pan or Panini press on medium heat. When the griddle is hot, place the endives cut-side down on the griddle and leave for 5-7 minutes. If you do not have a griddle pan or Panini press, you can also grill your endives in an oven-proof dish in a 200°C oven for 15 minutes.
- Prepare your dressing by combining all dressing ingredients in a jar and shaking well. Set aside.
- When ready to serve, arrange the endive halves on a platter. Scatter them with the walnuts and crumble some blue cheese on top.
- Make sure you slice the pear just prior to serving to avoid discolouration.
- Cut the pear into quarters lengthwise, remove the seeds and then slice each quarter horizontally (widthwise) to get small triangle slices of pear. Scatter the pear on top of the salad.
- Drizzle the salad dressing on top (you may not need to use all of it).
- This salad can be served either warm or cold.
This is a guest post written by Erum Gulmann, healthy eating blogger at www.TotalSalads.com. She can be followed on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest under the handle ‘TotalSalads’.