On my route to creating a go-to lunch that will help with my new low-carb healthy eating programme, this delicious and easy to make salad has become a firm favourite. The salad ingredients provide important fibre and vitamins and the protein comes from the soft boiled egg and oily fish in the form of mackerel fillets which also provide valuable omega-3 fat. This recipe combo totals just under 4 grammes of carbohydrate; fat and protein don’t flood your body with glucose that it might not be able to process effectively, unlike even small portions of bread, grains, rice, pasta and potatoes. I mix this up quite a bit with different salad ingredients and make sure a varied selection appears on my shopping list every week. That way, I can throw together a slightly different version every day that I won’t get bored with. Choose whatever ingredients you like best and read food labels carefully and you’ll quickly get brilliant at making better choices for controlling your blood glucose levels.
The salad mix
- A large handful of crisp lettuce. I don’t buy bagged salad as it never seems to keep long once opened and turns a bit slimy. Instead, I buy a whole Cos or Gem lettuce – wash and dry it (I use a salad spinner) and keep it in an airtight tub in the salad drawer until I want to use it.
- Cucumber – about a 2 to 3-inch piece, sliced or cubed
- Radishes – about 6, sliced or quartered
- Small avocado about 80g = 2g carbohydrate, 17 g fat, 152 calories
- 1 free-range soft boiled egg, peeled – I generally cook a couple at a time so I’ve always got one in hand so to speak. 1 egg is pretty much zero-carb, 5.5g of fat and about 75 calories
- 1 raw carrot, grated
- 1 stick of celery, chopped including the celery leaf
- A few chopped or torn fresh herbs – coriander, flat-leaf parsley or basil all work well
- I x 125g drained can of mackerel fillet in olive oil or brine (not the ones in sunflower oil which is high in polyunsaturates or the mustard or tomato sauces that usually contain hidden/high levels of sugars) OR a whole mackerel fillets from the chilled fish counter which has a higher omega-3 content
- Options: crumbled feta cheese (v low in carbs) or a tablespoon of cooked Puy lentils instead of the egg. Swap the mackerel for cooked or smoked salmon which is also classified as an oily fish with beneficial omega-3 oils
- Salad dressing: I make my own in a small screw-top jar. It’s easy and, more importantly, I know what’s in it. Commercial salad dressings are often chock full of sugar. This will keep in the jar for a few days.
- First, make the salad dressing. Allow the salt and mustard to dissolve in the vinegar in the jar first, add the olive oil and pepper. Put the lid on. Shake until fully mixed and emulsified, taste and rebalance with a little more oil, vinegar or seasoning to taste. It needs to taste quite gutsy as, once it’s on the salad, the flavour won’t seem so strong.
- Add the salad ingredients to your salad serving bowl. Serve it an attractive bowl if you can – it all adds to making the meal a more satisfying experience. Add a tablespoon of the dressing and gently toss the salad until each piece is thoroughly coated.
- Top with the fish and boiled egg (I like to sprinkle with a pinch of celery salt), or the lentils and feta. Enjoy!
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