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Balanced bowls: the best salads for a healthy, happy summer

As #SaladTok has taken the popular social media app by storm with over 300 million combined views across the hashtags #SaladTok, #SaladTikTok & #SaladsofTikTok, iconic British brand Denby have researched the most popular salads on the app, how to make them and their health benefits.

As the weather gets warmer and the days get longer, it’s the perfect time to enjoy some light, nutritious meals that make the most of our seasonal produce. Eating healthy, nutritious food is important all year round, but summer just lends itself beautifully to fresh, colourful salads enjoyed together al fresco.

Here to serve up some culinary inspiration, homeware and ceramics brand Denby share some delicious recipes and feel-good ingredients to liven up your lunch this summer.

The Green Goddess salad
One veggie-packed recipe recently having a resurgence is the Green Goddess salad. In fact, this salad has become so popular through social media apps like TikTok that online searches for the recipe have reached up to 2,600 searches a month (Ahrefs).

While certainly taking some inspiration from the vibrant colour, it’s actually the dressing that gives the Green Goddess its name. Created back in the 1920s, the original recipe consists of mayonnaise, tarragon, parsley, chives, spring onion, garlic oil, and finely chopped anchovies (Quaint Cooking).

However, there have been countless versions of this dressing made over the decades. Many modern takes on the recipe substitute the anchovies for Worcestershire sauce, or replace both with shallots, walnuts, and nutritional yeast to make a vegan version that still has the characteristic tangy flavour. Pour this dressing generously over finely chopped cabbage, cucumber, spring onions, and chives to make the refreshing, crunchy salad that’s taken social media by storm. Serve in your favourite neutral ceramics to really showcase the colour of this vibrant green dish.

Mood-boosting ingredients
We all know that eating a healthy, balanced diet can have a positive impact on how we feel. However, there are some foods that do a particularly good job of boosting our mood, making them excellent ingredients for creating healthy, happy bowls of goodness.

Gut-friendly food
Recent research has revealed just how much our gut impacts our mental health. In fact, it’s been found that up to 90% of our serotonin — which regulates mood, appetite, and stress levels — is actually produced by our gut (Healthline). One way to promote a healthy gut microbiome is to eat more fermented food, as this aids the growth of healthy bacteria and improves overall digestion.

Incorporating ingredients like yoghurt, kimchi, or sauerkraut in your summer salads is therefore a great way to boost your mood while also packing your meals with flavour. With its tangy, umami taste and crunchy texture, try using sauerkraut as your new go-to salad topper: it pairs particularly well with grains like quinoa, plant-based protein like butter beans, and a handful of salty black olives. Yoghurt can also be used as a great dressing base, blending well with countless herbs and spices to make fresh, creamy dressings to drizzle over all your favourite salads.

Oily fish
Another powerhouse ingredient to look out for is oily fish, as these are high in omega-3 fatty acids. As the body can’t produce its own supply, getting enough of these healthy fats in your diet is important — especially as omega-3 has been linked to improved mental health and overall brain function (Harvard Health).

So, next time you toss together a fresh summer salad, try incorporating oily fish like salmon, sardines, or mackerel to your recipe. A poke bowl is an excellent way to enjoy salmon, and it makes the most of delicious Asian staples such as sriracha, edamame beans, soy sauce, and pickled cucumbers. Alternatively, you could opt for a taste of the Mediterranean by combining a tin of sardines with salad leaves, black olives, capers, and red wine vinegar. Finish off with a generous squeeze of lemon and enjoy al fresco!

Nuts and seeds
Finally, nuts and seeds make an excellent salad-topper as they not only add some crunch and texture among your vegetables, but they’re also packed with vitamins and an amino acid called tryptophan, which helps to produce serotonin (Healthline). Pumpkin, sunflower, and sesame seeds are all great sources of this amino acid, as are almonds, walnuts, and cashew nuts.

To add some depth of flavour to your salads, try toasting some pine nuts in a frying pan (with no oil) until they’re golden brown and have a rich, smoky taste. These are particularly good when scattered over slices of soft goat’s cheese and a generous drizzle of balsamic glaze. Alternatively, you can use peanuts as the perfect addition to a crunchy Thai salad, either scattered over the top or blended with lime juice, soy sauce, ginger, and rice wine vinegar to make a satay-style dressing.

“Light, refreshing, and packed with healthy vegetables, salads are the perfect meal to enjoy during the summer. Eating a balanced, nourishing diet can help you to feel good and they also make great sharing dishes when friends and family come over.

“You can inject some colour into your diet not only by cooking with plenty of fruit and vegetables, but also by pairing these meals with ceramics and dinnerware in vibrant, complementary colours. Pastel hues and light shades of blue like azure or turquoise are all energising colours evocative of balmy summer days, and are perfect for serving up bowls of fresh, nourishing salads al fresco.” -Zoe Turner, Head of Marketing Communications at Denby

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