It’s a rare thing for something so obviously ‘healthy’ to appear on these pages. In fact it’s a couple of years since I posted my Sensational Antioxidant Salad. And since that was also in January, I guess I’m just caught up once again in the ‘let’s be healthy in January’ crush! In my defence, should you be imagining I eat a lot of unhealthy things, I think I generally eat a good, healthy and balanced diet. But in general, I’m not into ‘health foods’ per se. A few years ago a friend suggested meeting for lunch at a new local health foods restaurant. It was a kind thought as I’ve always been concerned about the healthy aspect of food – partly as I’m an alternative health practitioner as well as a book editor – and eat organic where I can and lots of fresh fruit and vegetables and rarely does anything ready made pass my front door. But I like ‘healthy’ in the way the Italians cook simple food with good quality ingredients. I’m not into nut roasts and anything that purports to be meat but is made of a concoction of non-meat products. And really, in the end, taste is the thing. I love food and I want to enjoy it.
Although I’ve posted a fair few ice cream recipes and a few other desserts on my blog, they are things rarely made and usually only for when friends or family come. On the whole, I don’t have a sweet tooth – I once did but not for years and I find the less sweet stuff you eat, the less you can tolerate it. I’m occasionally tempted by Taylor St Baristas‘ lovely banana bread that they bake on the premises with good wholesome things, and I like a little bit of good quality dark chocolate from time to time, but I never eat sweets, biscuits or things like cupcakes with sugary icing. I do, however, drink coffee (as regular readers will know!) and wine and I eat meat – not with every meal but often – and pasta and rice. And these things are all acid-forming foods for the body. So I thought I should look more closely at introducing some alkaline-forming food into my diet.
The alkaline-acid forming foods thing is slightly weird because it’s not obvious what are the good things and what are the bad things. For instance, one of the most alkaline-forming foods is lemon. Yes, and you thought lemon is acidic. Well, it is … and it will attack your teeth, for instance, if you chew on too much lemon … but once it enters the body and goes through the process of digestion, it becomes alkaline-forming in the body. Why is this important? An acidic body is an unhealthy body prone to disease or even just plain tiredness. An alkaline body is a healthy body full of life and energy. But balance is the key, as in most things. A healthy body should aim to have a diet (including drink) that is pretty much a balance of acid and alkaline but with slightly more alkaline: say 40/60%. However, if you’re ill, have a condition like arthritis or are under a lot of stress (which also causes acidity in the body) then you should aim for something more like a 80/20 ratio, which will contribute to healing.
There’s quite a bit in the media these days about the benefits of an alkalising diet and so I thought I’d find a way of making sure I ate plenty of alkalising foods without radically altering my diet. And thus I came up with this salad which makes a great and filling lunch and is made of all alkaline-forming foods. You’ll easily find lists of alkaline- and acid-forming foods on the internet but basically vegetables, especially green, are good; meat, dairy, caffeine and alcohol are the baddies. Here is a list of the ingredients for my salad, but of course you can just put in your own favourites, or what’s to hand. And you may vary it with the seasons.
I also added raisins (very alkalising) and almonds. Most nuts are acid-forming but almonds are the good guys. Make sure you buy unsalted and unrefined ones from a health food store, and preferably organic. Pesticides and herbicides are also acid-forming.
Apple Cider Vinegar (raw and containing the ‘mother’) is one of the most alkalising things you can consume and to aid the alkalising of your body you can drink 1-2 tablespoons a day in water; lemon juice works in the same way. It’s good to do this at the start of the day before you have anything else. If you’re worried about your teeth, use a straw. All refined oils are acid-forming but unrefined and cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil is good and alkalising. Thankfully, sea salt (e.g. something like Maldon’s and unrefined) is alkalising too, which means you can also season your salad! Spices and seasonings like cinnamon, chilli, ginger, all herbs and Tamari are also alkaline-forming so you don’t have to give up good taste when making your salad. I laid some spinach, watercress and flat parsley leaves in a bowl and finely chopped my other vegetables and put them on top. I then scattered over some raisins and chopped almonds.
For a dressing I drizzled over some cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil and some raw apple cider vinegar. Finally I rubbed a little Maldon sea salt between my fingers as I scattered some over the salad.
I gently tossed the whole thing before eating so that everything was coated a little in the dressing. And then I ate it!
Of course, it is very healthy but freshly made with gorgeous, favourite ingredients, it’s very delicious too. I couldn’t help feeling a little virtuous! But, don’t worry, I haven’t become unrecognisably ‘healthy’ in my eating and I’ll balance the health kick later on, I imagine, with something pasta and ragu and some wine! Well, it is Friday! However, I think just making an effort to eat healthily some of the time – in this case with some purely alkalising food – is going to help overall health. I thought at first I’d miss some nice bread with lunch (yes, sorry, but bread is acidic-forming! Even very nice bread) but the salad is so filling that’s not a problem. And if I want a slice of nice sourdough, I tend to have it a bit later now and keep lunch strictly healthy. So, go on, give it a try. At the least, it may help you think just a little more about what you’re eating and whether your diet is good. And remember that a gourmet likes eating so much it makes sense to keep healthy too so you can enjoy it.