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salad

When you don't have time to cook, making a salad for dinner is one of the quickest ways to whip up something healthy in minutes. 

If you think the kids might not be happy with it, our foolproof method to building a yummy salad will prove otherwise – it is tried, tested and approved!

 

Our secret is to begin your salad by layer and to make sure you have at least one element for each of the layers:

1. A base: we recommend to start with a green base, such as spinach, lettuce, rocket, mixed leaves… For a more hearty recipe, you can also go for cooked quinoa, lentils or pasta.

2. Vegetables: cucumber, radish, peppers, carrot ribbons, red onions, roasted sweet potatoes, butternut squash… The more, the merrier: this layer is to ensure you get your five-a-day and also to give some crunch and texture to your salad.

3. Protein: leftover rotisserie chicken, boiled eggs, ham, cooked salmon, tofu, grilled haloumi, chickpeas… 

4. Something soft: if you ask us, a salad needs avocado, but if you don't like it or don't have any at hand, it can also be feta, goat's cheese, cooked butternut squash, sweet potatoes or sundried tomatoes.  

5. Something sweet: raisins, grapes, strawberries, goji berries, cranberries, pineapple or a drizzle of sweet chilli sauce is essential to bring your salad to the next level.

6. Something crunchy: mostly nuts and/or seeds, this layer is the cherry on the cake. We recommend flaked almonds, toasted pine nuts, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, chopped halzelnuts… 

7. Fresh herbs: basil, coriander, mint, spring onions… whatever you have on your balcony or in the fridge will do but don't skip this step! 

8. Optional: If you didn't already, you can also add cheese to your salad, such as feta, cheddar, gruyere, blue, goat's cheese.

Last but not least, make a nice dressing: 1 tsp mustard, 1 tbsp vinegar, 2 tbsp olive oil, salt and pepper is our favourite one but don't be afraid to play around. There are a million easy recipes on the Internet. 

To give you some inspiration, here are some of our favourite combinations for the perfect salad:

Mediterranean

1. Mixed leaves
2. Cherry tomatoes, cucumber, red onions
3. Leftover chicken
4. Avocado, sundried tomatoes
5. Raisins
6. Pine nuts
7. Basil

Asian

1. Spinach
2. Sweet peppers, cucumber
3. Smoked or cooked salmon
4. Avocado
5. Sweet chilli sauce
6. Chopped peanuts
7. Mint, spring onions 

Country

1. Mixed leaves
2. Radish
3. Eggs and crispy bacon
4. Goat's cheese
5. Cranberries 
6. Walnuts
7. Mint

Gwan, give it a go!

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Choosing what you want to eat for lunch can be a daily struggle. 

These days, it's safe to say we're all health conscious, but some lunch options that appear to be on the lighter side, can add up to the same amount of calories as a burger. 

But fear not! We have top tips from the experts at Safe Food that will have you eating right in no time. 

Top Tips

  • Watch your bread! Ask for sandwiches to be made on two slices of bread from a regular sliced pan (deli slices of bread can be twice as thick as regular slices). Go for wholegrain bread whenever you can. Rolls and baguettes can be very heavy – wraps are a lighter option.
  • Go for ‘low-fat’, ‘low-calorie’ or ‘healthy option’ sandwiches where you can.
  • Many sandwiches, rolls and salads contain hidden ingredients. Check the label for the calorie, fat and salt contents so that you’re not misled.
  • The ultimate healthy sandwich is made from wholegrain bread, lean meat, poultry or fish, plenty of salad vegetables and a tablespoon of low-fat dressing.
  • If you put spread or mayonnaise onto your bread slices, then try not to have any more mayonnaise or dressing in the sandwich filling.
  • Have some fruit or a low-fat yoghurt after your sandwich for a really tasty lunch.

Healthy Choices

Sandwiches

  • Chicken or turkey breast without skin
  • Roast beef or lean ham
  • Tuna, prawn, salmon or crab meat without mayo
  • Egg, Quorn slices, couscous or tofu wraps
  • Low-fat cheese or cottage cheese
  • Low-fat dressing, low-fat spread, low-fat mayonnaise, mustard or ketchup
  • Extra salad for fibre and bulk
  • Wholegrain bread, Granary bread, pita bread or tortilla wraps

 

Salads

  • Tomato-based salad
  • Low-fat coleslaw
  • Low-fat hummus, salsa or yoghurt dips with freshly cut vegetables
  • Pasta, rice or noodles with salad
  • Sushi

 

Extras, treats and snacks

  • Broth type soups
  • Low-fat yoghurt 
  • Probiotic drinks or yoghurts
  • Fruit, fruit salad
  • Low-calorie cereal bars
  • Rice cakes
  • Low-fat rice pudding or custard
  • Yoghurt-based smoothies

 

Where to go easy…

Sandwiches

  • Bacon, sausage, cheese, coleslaw or a mixture of these
  • Processed meats such as salami, pepperoni or corned beef
  • Any meat with skin or visable fat
  • Mayonnaise, oil-based dressing, butter or full-fat margarine
  • Large rolls, white bread, cheese baguettes or oily breads like focaccia
  • Crumpets, croissants, muffins or stuffed breads

 

Salads

  • Potato salad or coleslaw
  • Cheese
  • Croutons

 

Extras, treats and snacks

  • Chocolate bars (if you must, go for a treat-sized bar)
  • Cream or ice-cream desserts
  • Cakes, buns or tarts
  • Full-fat custard or puddings
  • Sweets, toffees, crisps
  • Muffins, danishes, biscuits
  • Fizzy drinks, milkshakes, cream-based coffees

 

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With miserable weather setting in, there's no doubt that you want to sit in with your girlfriends for a cosy night of fun.

Going to a night club means you have to dress up, put on tan and make up AND style your hair. #Effort.

All of it will go down the drain anyway while you wait 20 minutes to queue for Coppers.

So if you're having a girls night in, we have some scrumptious party food ideas that will have your friend's mouths watering.

We warned you!

Fancy Mini Potato Skins

This delicious treat is perfect comfort food for you and your BFFs. Loaded with your favourite toppings, the girls will keep wanting more!

 

Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers

To add a bit of spice to your night, why not try these bacon wrapped poppers. Full of crunchy, hot goodness, it's the perfect snack for movie time. Not to mention they will definitely warm you up from the cold weather outside!

 

Marinated Cocktail Shrimp

If you fancy a boozy little snack to keep your night going, try this recipe. Packed full of flavour, it will really give your friends that punch to keep them going all night long.

 

Party Salad Boat

If you are after something a little bit healthier, these party salad boats are perfect. Full of flavour but light enough that you can snack away all night. You can even change up the recipe to suit your friends, or have individual bowls so they can make the boats up themselves!

 

Mozzarella Sticks

We know what you're thinking, you've either tried the frozen kind or the McDonald's kind, and they weren't all that great. Don't be put off! With this simple homemade recipe, your taste buds will be watering all night long. Remember to buy quality mozzarella though, to make them that little bit more special.

 

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If you're trying to eat light, salads probably seems like the perfect option, but they're not always the mealtime wonders they're made out to be.

Salads, especially ones that aren't homemade (think pre-packaged, dressing-laden varieties) often tend to be one of two things. Either they're jam-packed with hidden calories from additions like croutons, creamy dressing, bacon or breaded chicken, or they're bland, boring plates of iceberg lettuce and little else.

If you're planning a clean eating kick, take a few minutes to make up a salad at home with some of the following ingredients. It'll be far cheaper, tastier and healthier. Who can argue with that?

1. Dark leafy greens
Iceberg, baby gem and other light green lettuces have an extremely high water content and very few nutrients. Base your salad around darker greens like spinach, rocket and kale for a tastier and more beneficial meal.

2. Nuts and seeds
Add crunch, texture and a whole load of protein and heart-healthy fats by sprinkling a large spoonful of seeds or chopped nuts over your salad. Pistachios, almonds and walnuts are all great options. If you find seeds boring, try lightly toasting them first in a dry frying pan until golden brown. Toasted sunflower and sesame seeds are a revelation… you'll be hooked.

3. Eggs
Filling, packed with protein and pretty much carb-free… what more could you want? A slightly runny poached egg is perfect over a salad, or if you're on the go, make egg muffins ahead of time and slice them over the salad. We love this recipe from Irish blog Cup Of Three.

4. Quinoa, pearl barely or farro
Wholegrains FTW. Cooked grains instantly make a light salad into a filling meal with minimal effort. Cook the grain using your preferred method ahead of time and stir through the salad once it's ready to go.

5. Beans
Kidney beans, black-eyed beans and chickpeas are all tasty salad fillers, and if you go for the canned options there is literally no prep involved. Simply open, drain and rinse. They're packed with fibre and protein and will leave you feeling satisfied until dinner.

6. Citrus fruits
Want a salad that looks incredible AND tastes amazing? Slice some grapefruit, blood orange or tangerine on top of that bad boy. Light vinaigrettes and balsamic dressings are perfect with that citrus tang.

7. Beetroot
The health benefits of beetroot are endless, and it's a cheap and hassle-free salad ingredient. Try slicing and roasting beetroot wedges for 20 -25 minutes with some honey and oil, or simply grate some raw beetroot over the top of your salad. Beware though, raw beetroot will stain everything in sight, so don't mix it through the other ingredients unless you want an entirely pink meal.

 

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Sure, you can go low-carb, gluten-free and vegan… but the most basic way to lose weight is still just to cut calories.

What a pity it's such a pickle to actually put into practice.

The simple fact is you can drop half a kilo a week by cutting out 500 calories per day – sounds great right? Of course it does! 

So here are easy tips on how to trim up on your calorie intake:

 

Don't eat in front of the TV

Research at the University Of Massachusetts states that you'll end up eating more calories if you sit in front of a TV. Instead, eat at the dinner table and trade one-hour of TV for a casual walk. 

 

Step away from the nuts

Especially a big bowl! Nuts have heart-healthy fats but they're also very high in calories. If you can't resist though go for pistachios. Two handfuls of pistachios are just 160 calories whereas two handfuls of mixed nuts amounts to 525 calories. 

 

Limit salad toppings

A big bowl of hearty greens might seem healthy, but all those goodies on top can add some serious calories. Try swap your dressings and croutons for flavourful veg such as roasted bell peppers, grilled onions or mushrooms.

 

Use a smaller plate

Swap your standard 30cm plate for a 25cm one. You'll eat about 25 percent less – and save up to 500 calories!

 

Skip the whip

Some coffees would not be complete without a little whipped cream on top – but they have a huge amount of calories in them. Some dessert-like coffee creations contain as many as 670 calories! Craving your cream? Try it on a shot of espresso for a total of 30 calories. 

 

Skinny up cocktails

Syrups, sour mix, sugary fruit and creamy additions to your drinks can turn them into desserts. An indulgent cocktail could add up to nearly 400 calories! Instead, order drinks that are mixed with club soda, tonic water, citrus fruits or cranberry juice. Your waistline will thank you. 

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Avocados are one of the most versatile fruits in the world and can be used in sweet and savoury dishes – though more commonly found in savoury.

Here are five simple ways you can use avocado!

1. In a smoothie
For a richer, creamier taste to your smoothie, add half an avocado! Not only will this add a dose of healthy fats to your smoothie but avocados are also known to contain a good amount of Vitamin C.

2. As a spread
If you’re looking for a healthy, plant-based alternative to butter, why not use avocado as a spread in your sandwiches, wraps or on toast?

3. As a pasta sauce
If you’re sick of tomato sauce on your pasta, avocado makes a great sauce base. Add an avocado to some chicken or veg stock and lemon juice along with some salt and pepper and then blend until smooth.

4. As a dessert
Once again, if you are trying to get a bit more plant power in your diet, avocados make the perfect base for a chocolatey pudding. Simply blend an avocado with some cocoa powder, vanilla extract, melted chocolate and maple syrup before placing in the fridge overnight. There you have it, the healthiest dessert in the world! 

5. As a snack
For a fast and nutritious snack, simply half an avocado, add salt and pepper and eat! You could even try adding some chopped prawns or crab meat for a posh snack. 

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This salad would make the perfect light dinner for those of us who prefer bigger meals for lunch.

The sweetness of the roasted veg goes perfectly with the saltiness of the feta cheese.

What you’ll need: 

Serves 2

  • 2 beetroot
  • 1 small butternut squash
  • 1 red onion
  • 1 parsnip
  • 1 carrot
  • 2 handfuls of watercress or rocket
  • 100g feta cheese

What you’ll need to do: 

  1. Preheat the oven to 180.
  2. Chop all of the veg into bite-size pieces. Coat lightly in olive oil, pinch of salt and pepper.
  3. Place the veg (squash, carrot, onion, parsnip and beetroot) into a roasting tin and put into the oven.
  4. Roast the veg for about 30-35mins or until softened. Reserve any juices or oils that are left in the tin.
  5. Arrange the leaves onto two plates and add the warm veg. Crumble the feta over the top.
  6. In a small bowl, mix the reserved juices with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
  7. Pour over the salads and enjoy!
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If you overdid it on the chocolate and rich food this Valentine’s Day don’t worry – we have just what you need.

Replace your rice with quinoa for an easier-to-digest meal without skimping on taste. Quinoa is a superfood and is a source of complete protein.

This meal would make a great lunch that you can bring to work or college with you.

What you’ll need: 

Serves one

  • 125g quinoa
  • 4 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small tin of sweetcorn
  • 1 avocado
  • Handful of black beans, either tinned or soaked overnight and cooked
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Parsley (optional)

What you’ll need to do:

  1. Prepare the quinoa and black beans as instructed.
  2. Half the cherry tomatoes and chop the avocado into small pieces.
  3. In a bowl combine the cooled quinoa, beans, sweetcorn, tomatoes, avocado and season.
  4. If you would like a little more taste, drizzle some olive oil and balsamic over the top.
  5. Add some parsley or coriander for extra taste if you have some.
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This salad has amazing flavours with the sweet earthiness of the roasted beets and the salty creaminess of the feta –  it is perfection.

This would be great as a starter for your valentine or even as a healthy lunch.

What you’ll need:

  • 2 medium sized beetroots
  • 3 tbsp rapeseed oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 200g good-quality feta cheese, cubed or crumbled
  • 2 handfuls of rocket

What you’ll need to do: 

  1. To roast the beets, wash and peel them. Cut them into bite-size chunks.
  2. Place in a roasting dish and sprinkle with sea salt and the rapeseed oil. Put them in a pre-heated oven at 200°C for about 45 mins until tender. When cooked, reserve any juices that are in the roasting tin.
  3. Arrange the rocket on two plates and add the feta and roasted beetroot on top.
  4. In a bowl, drain the roasted beetroot juice and add a tsp of balsamic reduction and season.
  5. Pour over the salads and serve with some crusty bread.
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