Another good option for lunch is a large salad of some kind – based on vegetables, and including meat, legumes or grains. In this lesson, we’re going to make a variety of salads, and then finish with lunches by looking at some OK bought options.
We’re told to eat our fruit and vegetables, but often no distinction is made between them. But they have quite different properties, and now seems like a good time to talk about them. You’re possibly familiar with the concept of the Glycemic Index and know how to pick foods that have a low GI. If you’re getting plenty of protein and fat at each meal, this isn’t really necessary, as the fat will slow down the release of sugar anyway. But if you need to limit your carbs, it can be useful to think of fruit and vegetables as falling into these three rough categories:
- Non-starchy vegetables – low in carbs and can be eaten freely. Some nutrition experts recommend eating 4 cups of these a day. These can be eaten in salads, fermented (covered in lesson 11), or steamed.
- Starchy vegetables – Including root vegetables. Mostly need to be cooked before eating. Eat small amounts of these (or grains or legumes) to round off a meal.
- Fruits – These really don’t belong in the same category as vegetables at all. Although they do have valuable nutrients, they are mostly also high in sugar. So limit to a couple of small serves a day, maybe one with breakfast, and one after dinner as a dessert.
You will most likely have heard that it’s beneficial to eat lots of raw vegetables, as they are full of enzymes. While it’s true about the enzymes, the Chinese Traditional Medicine viewpoint is that raw, cold vegetables are hard to digest, especially in the winter. A Nourishing Traditions viewpoint is that different vegetables are best prepared in different ways. That is, some are most nutritious eaten raw, some are better cooked and many are better if fermented.
In this course, we’re looking at different ways of preparation. We’ve already looked at soups, and in this lesson, we’re going to look at vegetables that are good eaten raw, and thus suitable for salads. Later on, we’ll look at cooked vegetables, and sprouted and fermented vegetables. My view is, get some variety. In the summer, it’s nice to have a salad at lunchtime and some cooked vegetables at night. In the winter, salads lose their appeal, so have soups and stews instead. But at a meal when you’re eating no raw foods, add some fermented foods for beneficial acids and enzymes.
Another thing to remember is that you need fat with a meal to help digest your vegetables and assimilate their nutrients. So we’ll be using dressings with fats, and also adding some high fat foods to our salads. (Although we’re going to cover sauces and dressings in a later lesson, we’ll start this lesson by making two basic salad dressings.) We can make salads more easily digestible by finely chopping, shredding or grating the vegetables to start the process of breaking the food down. Where we’re adding legumes or grains to our salads, we’ll be soaking them before cooking to neutralise the anti-nutrients.
Remember that different metabolic types will need different types of salad – eg. quinoa salad is better for a Carbo type and Bean salad would most suit a Mixed or Protein type.
This section is for those are working through the lessons of the cooking course. Otherwise jump straight to the recipes
- Vegetable salads: Nourishing Traditions Pg 175
Make one or both of the dressings
Make a different salad for lunch each day this week. Choose from:
- Tuna or salmon crunchy salad
- “Mix and match” big leafy salad
- Lamb & spinach salad
- Chickpea & pumpkin salad
- Chunky bean salad
- Quinoa tabbouleh
Or any from the vast array of wonderful salads in Nourishing Traditions
Each day, keep a record of:
- Which salad you had
- How easy it was to prepare
- How you felt before eating it
- How you felt after eating it
- How long before you felt hungry again
- How your energy levels were during the afternoon
If you are preparing food for other family members, ask them to keep the same records. If they are too young, observe their behaviour. If they are at school, you may be able to tell the teacher you are trying out different lunches and would like their feedback on which gave the best results. Do some research around your workplace or the kids schools, or places you go to during the day, and see if there are any acceptable bought lunches. They are not easy to find, but you may be able to find compromise lunches for times when you’re unexpectedly without food, or want to meet a friend for lunch. Some possibilities:
- Salads or soups will probably be a better option than sandwiches, if you can find them.
- Sandwiches might be OK if made with a whole grain bread, but make sure they are made with butter, not margarine
- Some supermarkets have a deli section with things like cold chicken pieces, salads or hot foods
- Kebab shops seem to be springing up everywhere. Buy a kebab and eat the filling, but leave the bread.
- Sushi, if freshly made. White rice is not usually acceptable, but if you are really stuck, this might be better than your other options.
You now have a range of different portable lunch options:
- Healthy sandwiches
- Soups (taken in a thermos)
- Sometimes, last nights leftovers might be suitable
- Any OK bought lunches you found (but regard these as an occasional treat or a last resort)
- At the weekend, you can vary it with egg dishes, savoury pancakes or pizza