Author: Antra Thada
This New Year, let’s say yes to salads and no to processed foods.
After going through a pandemic in 2020 we should have our priorities set straight. Living a healthy life should be on the top of our to do list. A healthy body leads to a healthy mind. Disease breakouts like Covid-19 are not in our hand but the best thing we can do for ourselves is to eat food which is full of nutrition and boost our immunity.
Various types of salads
Salads are nothing but pieces of different kinds of foods, comprising of at least one raw ingredient. The definition of salads kept on changing with time. Earlier people used to consume only raw vegetables and fruits as salads. But as times progressed, we started incorporating all the elements of a balanced diet in a salad. Now-a-days people consume various forms of salads which may even include raw or steamed meat along with fruits and vegetables. All the components are mixed in a definite proportion to prepare a wholesome satiating meal. With a little bit knowledge of flavours, one can prepare mouth-watering salads as appetisers, main course or even as desserts! Yes, you heard that one right. Salads served with whipped cream, ice-creams, gelatine or mixed with sweet fruits can prove to be the perfect ending to a wholesome meal.
Salads can be prepared according to the individual’s preference. Just salad greens along with carrots, cucumbers or beans can act as good appetisers. Salads served with proteins like eggs, chickpeas, fish, meat or legumes can even be consumed as main course. Salads can even comprise of pastas or rice assembled with mayonnaise. Salads have immense potential of being good in taste along with numerous amounts of other benefits which are too good to be ignored.
Why should we eat salads?
We need to take care of our health more than ever before. The best way to fight diseases is to build a healthy and strong immune system. Whatever we eat reflects outside on our body. For e.g. eat too many carbohydrates and fats and problems like high cholesterol, high BP and obesity arises, eat fibre-less food and you will end up constipated! The best way is to establish a balance between everything in order to avoid such issues. I try and eat salad at least once a day either during or before lunch. It makes me feel full and as a result I consume less carbs in the form of chapattis or rice.
Countless studies have been conducted which prove that people who regularly consume salads have a higher level of essential elements like vitamin C & E, folic acid, lycopene, alpha and beta carotenes etc. Organisations like WHO and FAO recommend consuming 400 g of fruits and vegetables per day as they help in prevention of chronic illness like heart diseases, cancer, obesity and diabetes.
Grow your own Salad Greens
Wouldn’t it be amazing if you could eat food which is growing in your own backyard or home garden without worrying about the harmful carcinogens used in commercial farming? With spring approaching in a few weeks it would be the best time to plan your kitchen garden. Nothing can be more refreshing and satiating than this. With a little effort you can develop your own kitchen garden. So to make things easier for you, here are a few tips to convert your backyard into a small yet amazing farm.
Five leafy green salads for your backyard or home garden
Salad greens are nothing but the leaves of plants or vegetables which can be consumed raw. With the development in technology today, any crop can be grown in any season in a green house. But these crops cannot be compared with the ones grown in their own season. Don’t worry if your home doesn’t have much space. Vertical hydroponic farming can be used where there is a space crunch with a few trays and an empty wall. Salad greens like lettuces, arugula, kale, spinach and mustard can be cultivated easily.
One of the most common salad greens is lettuce. You can choose from a variety of lettuce like butter lettuce, iceberg lettuce, romaine, leaf or oak leaf lettuce and red leaf lettuce. These are fairly easy to grow in an urban household. After sowing all you need to do is to keep the soil moist by watering the plants regularly. Avoid overwatering the planting bed as it can lead to rotting of leaf or roots. After 40 -60 days of sowing, your lettuce is ready to harvest. Depending upon your requirement you can harvest the whole lettuce or cut a few leaves at a time. Lettuce has low fibre content but is rich in minerals and vitamins.
Another type of salad green is kale. It is easier to propagate kale through saplings. You can prepare your own nursery by planting seeds in a tray. After 15-20 days the saplings can be transplanted. Harvesting of transplanted plants can be done after 30-40 days.
Spinach is a very common type of salad green in Indian households. It requires minimal care and grows quickly even in small spaces or trays. To ensure a good harvest of spinach crop, make sure that the soil is well drained and compost or organic manures are incorporated at least 7 days in advance. Try to keep the soil moist during the growing period and avoid overwatering. After 45-60 days spinach will be ready to harvest.
Mustard is another vegetable which is included in the list of salad greens. In a tropical country like India, mustard is a very commonly cultivated crop. Adding mustard to your salad will satisfy the spice requirement of your palate. Mustard can be planted by seeds or through saplings. Baby mustard leaves are ready to be harvested after 25-30 days of sowing.
A salad green which can add a tangy flavour to your salad is Arugula. It also reduces risk of diseases like cancer, diabetes and osteoporosis. Its easily cultivated using seeds. You need to be a little patient with this plant as germination occurs after 8-10 days but harvesting can be done 40-50 days after sowing. Arugula needs moist soil and ample of sun to flourish well. Once the plants are 3-4 inches tall, you can either pluck the whole plant or harvest a few leaves leaving rest of the plant to grow.
Name of salad green
Calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, vitamins C and K.
Copper, manganese, potassium, vitamins A, K, B6 and C,
Potassium, magnesium, iron, calcium, vitamins C, B6, B9, K and E, high amounts of carotenoids
Calcium, copper, vitamins C, A, and K
Nitrates and polyphenols
So, gather your gardening tools or purchase them from us and prepare a salad which is cultivated in your own backyard.