We are well into summer now, the craziness of Xmas and New Years has subsided and many of us have started or are about to start back at work or study. Some will be starting to think about getting our diet and health back on track after the holiday excesses or for others, it may be a new year’s resolution to make a change away from the dietary habits and lifestyle that no longer serve us.
However, it is still summer and there are plenty of barbeques and social events left in the season.
Barbeques are often a healthy meal in themselves, as long as your make the smart choices. There should a few healthy salads to choose from, so fill your plate up with these. Barbecued meat, chicken or fish is great; just avoid the fattier cuts and sausages. Grilled kumara, capsicum, zucchinis and eggplant are fantastic on the barby and are coming into season now.
The one part of the barbeque that it is more difficult to get healthy is often the starters. It usually consists of some cheese and crackers and bread and dips. And it’s pretty easy to get carried away and eat more than your fair share while waiting for the main meal to be served. Crackers themselves often lack fibre, and are high in salts, artificial flavours and seasonings, as well as providing empty calories for those wanting to lose weight. Packaged dips can pose a similar problem, some offering very little if any nutritional value or health benefits. And the dairy and gluten intolerant are often even more limited to just the rice crackers and hummus.
Some healthy starters are carrot and celery sticks with homemade hummus or guacamole but to mix it up a bit, I thought I’d share this little starter recipe which my mother made for us over the weekend. It’s a simple raw salmon dish flavoured with lots of fresh herbs.
Gluten free, dairy free and sugar free, this dish provides us with essential omega 3s, which support basically every system in our body, along with some high quality protein. The protein in this dish will prevent us from the over snacking that can occur with high carbohydrate foods such as with bread and crackers. The mint and parsley can help with bile and digestive enzyme production; have calming and soothing properties to the digestive tract as well as providing a host of vitamins and minerals. Parsley can help support the kidneys and can be used to help fluid retention. The cos lettuce is fresh, and hydrating and provides a nice alternative to the typical bases of bread or crackers.
400 grms boneless, skinless salmon fillet
1 Tbsp of the zest of lemon, finely grated
1 small spring onion, finely chopped
1 Tbsp very finely chopped capers
2 Tbsp finely chopped flat leaf parsley
2 Tbsp finely chopped mint
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
12-18 baby cos lettuce leaves
Use a very sharp knife to finely dice the salmon. Place in a bowl with the lemon, spring onion, capers, parsley, mint, olive oil, salt and pepper. Toss to combine, cover and chill until ready to serve.
It will keep for at least 12 hours. To serve, divide baby cos leaves between 8 serving plates, then to with salmon.