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Sensational Alkalising Salad

January 24, 2014

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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.

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Spinach          

Watercress

Cucumber

Avocado

Parsley

Radishes

Bell pepper

Carrot

Celery

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.

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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.

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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.

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I gently tossed the whole thing before eating so that everything was coated a little in the dressing. And then I ate it!

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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.

From → Recipes, Salads

13 Comments
  1. Jennie permalink

    I recently was a participant to the Honestly Healthy cookery course at the Caldesi Cookery School and learned so much about the alkalising way of eating, that I’ve ordered a spiruliser (had never heard of these!) to add ribbons of vegetables to my salads! But will always use the 20% of my 80/20 for coffee and some wine 🙂

  2. LOVE seeing all these good, healthy recipes out there. And what a feast for the eyes with all those colors!

  3. Your salad is so colorful…I could eat it every day for lunch and be happy. 🙂

  4. Bright, colourful and appetising. Bet this tastes great too.

  5. Dear Kay … this is honestly the best article I have ever read on the merits of including the balance of alkalinising foods in one’s way of life. It is informative and not at all holier-than-thou, the effect being to stimulate and encourage the reader to want to at least give it a try. I am going to copy and paste it in my records, and forward it to many people I know who stand to benefit all the facts and figures and flavour you supply. I am also of the belief, which the Ayurvedic tradition upholds, that our emotions and attitudes do much to affect the pH of our bodies too. Thus, if the food is healthy and organic but our sentiments are embroiled in resentment or anger or what have you, the good food effects are largely diminished. This is why it is so important to make ‘healthy’ equivalent to ‘delicious’ !!! When people sit down to a delicious meal, their spirits are always uplifted … and a virtuous cycle is restored! The Japanese yin/yang approach to healthy eating was also a surprise for me … coffee is yang … so adding milk or cream would yin it. ( I’ll have to retrieve that book – goodness knows where I’ve put it) because I am getting the impression that ‘yang’ is vaguely the equivalent of ‘acidic’ and yin the equivalent of ‘alkaline’. The Chinese traditional approach to healthy eating are also very careful to point out the importance of temperature. Thus they wouldn’t approve of a ‘cold’ salad in winter … it’s ‘warming’ foods that one should look to. I find all of this quite quite fascinating. Anyway … thank you for pointing out that healthy and happy can most definitely go hand in hand at the table!

    • Thank you for such an interesting reply, Jo, and saying you’ll pass my post on. I’m a great believer in the benefits of making small positive changes that can be easily sustained rather than aggressive big changes to diet that no reasonable person can sustain for long. Better to re-educate yourself so that some of the time you’re eating well and then don’t have to experience guilt or stress when you have something not so ‘healthy’ when out or at the weekend. I’m also a believer in happiness is the real key to a healthy life as stress, anger and unhappiness plays havoc with our bodies; of course avoiding stress and unhappiness is not always easy, but there are strategies we can develop. And you should never eat when you’re angry! Neither is it healthy to eat ‘on the go’. Sit down and rest – if only for a few minutes. Interesting the Chinese cold/hot food. I think it also means not just ‘hot’ temperature but foods that cause heat in the body, like chilli. A whole other post!!! Certainly if you have digestive problems you should ever eat extreme hot or cold foods, temperature-wise. Interesting that the Greeks (when in Greece) usually serve hot food warm for this reason. You never get a really hot plate of moussaka – but then it tastes better just warm too!!

  6. Jane Coles permalink

    The wonderful piece on acidic and alkaline foods affected me deeply. I have arthritis, have just had a hip replacement operation which went very well. But my body is rebelling. Very strange tightening oedema in my feet and – acid reflux! I find it strange the way the body tries so hard to tell you what it needs – I found myself not wanting coffee. I have now researched the acidic/alkaline foods. I started, Kay, with the salad which was absolutely delicious and looked so beautiful. Our eyes, I think, keep trying to tell us what we need as well. So thank you!

    • Thank you, Jane. I’m really pleased you enjoyed the salad and hope trying a more alkalising diet will help you. You’re definitely right that our bodies do try to tell us what’s good and bad for us – but we don’t always want to listen! 🙂 x

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