How to Be a Salad Queen

Paul and I eat a lot of salad. He often has a chunk of steak sliced and tossed through whereas I have beans, chickpeas or sometimes squid or smoked salmon. If you have the basic ingredients at hand it takes literally 10 minutes to make a great salad.

The key to super success is having a balance of textures, flavours and colours as well as a finished dish that looks great.

Textures: soft baked kumara, avocado, hummus, crunchy seeds or nuts, crisp salad vegetables / sliced or grated raw vegetables / fruits, firm beans or other pulses, fruit such as nectarine, apple, feijoa, tamarillo, tomato, plum all give an interesting mouth feel to the salad.

Flavours: tart lemon juice, tangy feta or parmesan, sweet balsamic drizzle and fruits, salty tamari or soy sauce, creamy sweet dressing, fresh vegetables, spicy chilli sauce and ungent avocado or olive oils are some of the flavours to include – not all at once though.

Less is usually more when it comes to food combinations.

Think about what you like to eat and start there – if you’re new to making salads start by making them to please your own palate first and then you can refine your recipe until you get it just right.

This salad I made for lunch one day last week.

Serves 2

Ingredients

10 pieces of crumbed squid – baked in the oven until crispy and sliced thinly

1 large cup prepackaged coleslaw (grated carrot, red and green cabbage, parsley)

½ perfectly baked kumara, chopped roughly (recipe in an earlier post)

2 knobs blue cheese, crumbled

2 really big tablespoons hummus

Small handful of pumpkin seeds

Small red chilli sliced finely – optional if you like a bit of heat

Creamy Caesar or Ranch dressing

Tamari (you can use soy sauce) this takes the place of salt.

Fresh Cracked Pepper

Method

I always like to use nice bowls, you can see my favourite blue one in the picture. People eat with their eyes first. It doesn’t matter if you have mismatched bowls – there’s something quite nice about that too. If you can serve salad in a bowl slightly larger than you need so that there is more bowl showing (if that makes sense) it looks great. Any colour bowl will do.

First place your kumara in the bottom of each bowl, follow with the coleslaw and then the squid – so you have three layers. Just plonk them on top of each other – don’t worry about being too careful. Drizzle over your dressing and tamari – not too much you can always add more later – over dressed salad is a bit yuk. Using your fingers (or two forks) gently toss the ingredients together by scooping and lifting the kumara up from the bottom of the bowl to mix with the squid and slaw. Don’t try and get it perfectly mixed – just separate the layers really and distribute the dressing a wee bit. Next put a big dollop of hummus on one side of the salad, sprinkle the blue cheese and seeds over the top and finally add the sliced chilli pepper and cracked pepper . Serve and eat immediately.

8 Signs that You’re Sleep Deprived…and What You Can Do About It.

Sleep deprivation comes with the territory if you’re a busy working Mum. Waking up early to get an hour or two in before kids get up and squeaking in a couple of extra hours after they go to bed – it’s a never ending cycle. Some of us never recover from the sleepless nights with a new baby.

I am guilty of using iPhone or laptop in bed at night until Paul starts elbowing me to turn it off.

If you consider sleep as a tank which is full, half full or empty – when it’s less than full you will need several EXTRA hours sleep to fill it back up – on TOP of the seven to nine hours that most of us need each night.

One late night out with the girls one night spent up with a sick child one sleepless night finishing that deadline or getting through end of the month will subtract from your tank. When you put it into perspective it’s not surprising that more-than-a-third of NZ women are sleep deprived.

So are you??

Check out the list below to find out.

  • You get sick. If you’re not sleeping properly your body finds it hard to shake off bugs. Ever had a cold or sinus infection that lingers longer than it should?
  • Your skin is sallow, lined and lifeless. They call it “Beauty Sleep” for a reason!
  • You’re overly emotional. Yep we are emotional beings – but when you find yourself overly teary, angry or getting upset really easily – or on a giddy high without any reason it could be your empty sleep tank.
  • You’re clumsy. Tripping over things (ever tripped over your own foot?) bumping into the door way, dropping the keys.
  • You can’t make decisions and your memory is shot.
  • You put on weight. Sleep deprivation fries our hormones. In particular cortisol when elevated in the evening leads to weight gain around the tummy.
  • You always feel hungry. Usually this leads to snacking on convenience food, sugary foods and slugging back coffee to perk yourself up.
  • You’re disorganised and can’t think clearly.

I used to be a terrible sleeper – it took me ages to get to sleep in the evening, and when I finally did drift off I would wake up around 3am and that was that. It all changed when I started using a supplement called ageLOC Vitality which aids mitochondrial repair – ever since then I pretty much fall asleep straight away and wake up when the alarm goes off. This supplement has been a game changer for me.

Once you get into a bad sleeping habit it can be hard to break. If you can relate to any of the above some of these ideas may help.

  • Commit to going to bed a a certain time each night and stick to it. If I can get into bed and turn the lights out by 9 I know I’ll feel great in the morning. 9pm is early but in the long run everything in my life goes better when I get to sleep early. (Usually it’s 930 or 10pm however!!)
  • Create a night time ritual. Find a good chamomile tea and brew a cup half an hour before bed winding down with some peaceful music.  If you have a noisy household use earphones.
  • Meditate.
  • Turn off TV and other devices an hour before bed. Chill time for your brain.
  • Get regular (daily if possible) vigorous exercise.
  • Make sure that your bed is comfortable. This is super important. Getting into bed should be a pleasant and conducive to relaxation – if it’s not then make some changes to get it as comfy as possible!
  • Don’t drink coffee after 4pm, alcohol after 7pm and keep away from fatty foods in the evening. Some people are super sensitive to coffee – if Paul has a coffee at lunch he’ll be awake all night and if you’re like him you’ll know it…but the rest of us can have an afternoon coffee not realising that it will cause fitful sleep. The body is a machine and can only do the best with what we put in it. If it is digesting a lot of stodgy or fatty food or processing alcohol in the evening a good night’s sleep is not on the agenda.
  • Turn your mobile on to airplane mode at night so that you aren’t disturbed by incoming messages etc – this also may help stop you reaching for the phone first thing in the morning!
  • Use Lavender Essential Oil on your pillow at night.
  • Listen to a relaxation audio like this one to help relax your whole body into sleep. Ruby loves this – I do a slightly different one with her, talking to her quietly first getting her to take take easy deep breaths…then working up from the tips of her toes imagining each body part feeling heavier and heavier as though it’s sinking down deeper and deeper right through the mattress – toes, feet, ankles, calves, knees thighs working all the way up to the top of the head.

What works for you? I would be so grateful if you could share.

Love Ali x