Cooking With Mark

Healthy meals done right in 2019

Put aside those dull leaves and spruce up your salads without the high-calorie dressing

The new year is days away — a time to reflect perhaps? I’ve worked in publishing for almost three decades, and without fail, the first issue of the year in the UK would heavily feature weight loss, de-junking or makeover features. There would for sure be a main cover line, ‘New Year, New You’, with a promise that if you followed the diet plan within you could ‘lose 7 pounds in seven days’.

As I designed these promise cover lines, I was always a little sceptical. Was it true, is it possible? The answer is a big fat no, unless your meal plan was bowls of ice — for breakfast, lunch and dinner. So why so much pressure to shed the holiday pounds? I guess it sells more magazines. I’ve been out for dinner and seen friends order a ‘healthy salad’, only to watch them drench the leaves in calorie-loaded dressings, and a sneaky side order of fries. OK, the fries were a mistake, but it’s that dressing that turns what should be a low-cal lunch into a leafy burger of sorts, in terms of calorie content. This new year go beyond the limp leaves, carrots and tomatoes. Instead of calorie-heavy dressings, try a drizzle of olive oil, lemon juice and some garlic salt, adding taste and texture minus the calories.

As I designed these promise cover lines, I was always a little sceptical. Was it true, is it possible? The answer is a big fat no, unless your meal plan was bowls of ice.

Or add pulses like chickpeas — these little boys will plump up your salad and keep you feeling full. I love sun-dried tomatoes from the deli; I add them to a leafy salad and use the herbs infused oil as a dressing. One of my best tips to dress a salad is balsamic gel. Available in most stores, this little gem is genius, and rather than sink to the bottom of your salad bowl it sticks to the leaves, so every mouthful is tasty, and packed with flavour. Without leaving a pool of tart vinegar at the bottom of your bowl. The two recipes alongside kick salads into 2019 and say goodbye to dull leaves.

Recipes, food styling and photography by Mark Setchfield, follow him on Instagram @gasmarksix

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