Super Healthy Summer Salad Toppers
It’s that time of year when salads make a fantastic lunch or dinner choice. Cool, crisp and an easy way to boost your vegetable intake – I’m a big fan!
Whether you’re looking for a nutrient boost or just some fresh ideas, these toppings are definitely worth a go!
Nope, I’m not talking about the kind from Brussels, but rather, specific seeds that are allowed to sprout. You may also see them referred to as microgreens.
Alfalfa, broccoli and radish seeds can be found in many health food stores, and now many supermarkets too. You can even grow your own with some fairly simple equipment.
Sprouts are a good source of vitamin K1 and vitamin C, but one of my favourite benefits is that they are a great source of phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens are plant-based compounds that weakly mimic the action of oestrogen, helping to balance excess or low levels of the hormone.
Broccoli sprouts are also a great source of sulforaphane, which can support detoxification and is also said to boost the immune system with potential anti-cancer benefits.
Nutritional yeast is often used in dairy free sauces, to provide a cheese flavour; but it also works well sprinkled on top of salads.
Like its name would suggest, nutritional yeast is packed with nutrients! These include a range of energy boosting B vitamins, as well as copper and zinc. Some brands also contain added vitamin B12 which is especially useful for anyone on a plant-based diet, who may struggle to find non-animal sources of this.
Just one heaped tablespoon (16g) of nutritional yeast contains: 436% RNI of vitamin B1; 137% RNI of vitamin B2, 180% RNI of vitamin B3; 600% RNI of vitamin B5, of vitamin B6, which is 21% of the recommended daily intake; 80% RNI of biotin; 320% RNI of folic acid; 80% RNI of vitamin B12 (in certain brands); 192% RNI of zinc; and 50% RNI of copper.*
Nori seaweed, used to wrap sushi, can also be found as flakes or sprinkles.
As well as providing a delicious flavour to dishes and being a lower sodium seasoning alternative to salt (it’s great in omelettes); nori flakes are a good source of vitamins and minerals, including iodine, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin A, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc and vitamin B12. Just 2.5 g of dried nori provides 25% RNI of iodine.*
As well as providing a crunchy texture, seeds can provide plant-based protein and healthy fats. Chia and hemp seeds in particular contain good amounts of omega 3 essential fatty acids for managing inflammation in the body. These seeds are also a good source of minerals such as manganese, magnesium copper – all important for energy production.One tablespoon of chia seeds contains 10% RNI of manganese and 10% RNI of selenium.*
One tablespoon of hemp seeds contains 10% RNI of manganese, 13% RNI of magnesium, and 12% RNI of copper.*
Mushrooms are a powerhouse of many nutrients, but if you don’t like the taste, powders can be a great way to include them in your diet. Just sprinkle them on top of your salad for a boost of antioxidants and immune boosting beta glucans.
Try some of these out for yourself!
*RNIs (Reference Nutrient Intakes) are sourced from the Nutritics database, 2019. Please note that individual and optimal nutrient needs may significantly differ.