January is always a time of new year’s resolutions which often include restrictive eating regimes after festive season indulgence. However, cookbook author and salad queen, Chantal Lascaris, believes balance in food (and in life) has nothing to do with extreme dieting or adding kale to every meal you consume.
“Instead of making big and impossible-to-stick-to changes (which feel overwhelming), starting with a few good intentions is more manageable and increases the chances of success when it comes to your balance and wellbeing,” says Chantal. One example is to simply make sure you drink enough water in a day. Not only can upping your water intake drastically reduce your sugar intake, but it can also reduce your appetite and food intake during a meal. Some studies even show that drinking water regularly can be linked to improved diet quality overall.
A home cook and author of several cookbooks (featuring hundreds of delicious recipes), Chantal believes balance in food (and in life) has nothing to do with extreme dieting or adding kale to every meal you consume. She advises: “Completely overhauling your diet with drastic changes is a recipe for disaster. Being mindful and making small, sustainable decisions can have a big impact on your relationship with food, making it more healthy and more sustainable in the long run.”
Chantal’s own passion for food-fuelled healthy living has been funnelled into her cookbooks, which include two salad-focused recipe collections. Her most recent release, The Ultimate Salad Book, uses fresh and nutrient-rich ingredients in a variety of recipes that help you to eat balanced, healthy meals, and feel good at any time of the year. “Start with simple things,” says Chantal. “Simple steps, simple ingredients, simple goals, simple outcomes.”
To help you step into the new year with your most balanced foot forward, Chantal shares three recipes from The Ultimate Salad Book that will help show you how easy (and delicious) balanced eating can be.
CAJUN SWORDFISH SALAD
You’ll need: 600g swordfish steak, filleted; 1 Tbsp olive oil; 1 large cucumber, sliced on the diagonal; stalks celery, chopped; 1 cup roughly chopped baby spinach; ½ cup roughly chopped fresh mint
For the cajun rub – 2 tsp salt; 2 tsp garlic powder; 2 tsp paprika; 1 tsp ground black pepper; ½ tsp cayenne pepper; 1 tsp dried origanum; 1 tsp dried thyme
For the dressing – ¼ cup rice wine vinegar; ½ cup coconut milk; salt and pepper to taste
Mix the ingredients for the Cajun rub.
Cut the swordfish into bite-size pieces and place it into a sealable bag with olive oil and Cajun rub. Gently massage the bag to ensure the fish is well coated. Place in the fridge for about 30 minutes to allow the flavours to develop.
Toss the cucumber, celery, baby spinach and mint in a serving bowl.
Heat a non-stick frying pan and sauté the swordfish for about 5 minutes until just cooked. Be careful not to overcook the fish, as it can become dry. Add a touch more olive oil if necessary. Allow cooling slightly before adding the fish to the salad.
Whisk the dressing ingredients and drizzle over the salad.
HERBED CRANBERRY AND CHICKEN SALAD
You’ll need: 400 – 600g skinless deboned chicken thighs; 1 tsp dried thyme; salt and pepper to taste; 1 tsp olive oil; ¼ cup water, or as needed; 2 cups mixed salad leaves; ½ red onion, thinly sliced; ½ cup sliced chives; ½ cup torn fresh parsley; ½ cup torn fresh dill; ¼ cup crumbled blue cheese
For the dressing – 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar; ¼ cup olive oil; ¾ cup dried cranberries, plus extra for garnishing; 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard; 1 clove garlic, finely chopped; 3–4 Tbsp water; salt and pepper to taste
Season the chicken thighs with thyme, salt and pepper.
Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and brown the chicken thighs on all sides. Cook the chicken until done, adding the water if the pan gets dry. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before slicing the chicken.
Using a hand blender, whizz the dressing ingredients until smooth.
Combine the mixed salad leaves with half the chicken and the red onion in a serving bowl. Season with salt and pepper and pour over half the dressing. Toss to combine.
Scatter over the chives, parsley, dill and blue cheese.
Add the remaining chicken, drizzle over the rest of the dressing and garnish with extra dried cranberries.
You’ll need: 1 x 410g can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed; ½ x 410g can chickpeas, drained and rinsed; 1 cup cubed cucumber; ¼ red onion, diced; 2 stalks celery, chopped; 2 cups roughly chopped fresh parsley; 2 Tbsp roughly chopped fresh dill
For the dressing – ¼ cup olive oil; ¼ cup lemon juice; 1 clove garlic, crushed; salt and pepper to taste
Combine the salad ingredients in a bowl and toss.
Whisk the dressing ingredients, pour over the salad and toss well. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve.