I’ve already posted in the past about why I think having a large salad is a good choice for the last meal of the day (which you can read: here). For a quick summary, the high physical volume keeps you feeling full and satisfied well until you go to sleep while the low-calorie density provides a buffer for any other choices made earlier in the day. An added bonus is that the high vitamin and mineral content of fresh veggies should top up a large portion of your required daily intake. While the benefits of this habit are clear, I think this time of day is the hardest time to stay consistent and requires some variety. It is quite easy to have the same breakfast and lunch most days just out of habit and convenience while you are busy getting on with the days tasks. When it comes to the evening our mental willpower is diminished making deviating from your planned diet all the more tempting. Therefore it is nice to have some variety and have something “special” to look forward to on different days. Taking time to make more of an “experience” out of the last meal of the day also helps with satiety, keeping you feeling fuller for longer. For this reason I always have about 7 or 8 different recipes that I cycle through so that I can have something different most days of the week. Sometimes I will make a big batch and have the same thing two days in a row if there’s leftovers but I will rarely have the same thing 3 or more days in a row, its nice to have some variety and always be looking forward to the next thing I fancy making that I "haven't had in a while". My "Massaged Kale Salad" recipe I posted previously is a great quick option to throw together requiring very little prep. If I have a bit more time then this “Big Mac Salad” Recipe is one of my favourites. It tastes just like a Big Mac from McDonald’s but it's a salad! Way, way healthier, much lower in fat and calories while being packed with tons of nutrients and, except for the lentils, this recipe is made from Raw Foods (maximising the amount of nutrients available in the food). *If you wanted to make a 100% Raw Vegan version of this meal then it would be pretty easy to substitute the cooked lentils for diced mushrooms that have been dehydrated, that would give it pretty much the same texture and taste. Okay so here’s the Recipe:
Big Mac Salad Recipe This recipe makes enough for 4 Servings, so make a big bowl and invite some friends to share it with you. They will be blown away with how much it tastes like McDonalds!
INGREDIENTS (makes 4 servings)
For the dressing:
50g raw cashews (soaked in hot water for 20 mins)
2 dates (soaked)
¼ cup hot water
1 Tablespoon tomato paste
1 Tablespoon white vinegar
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
3 Tablespoon low-sodium vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon reduced-sodium tamari
1 clove of garlic
1/2 of a medium Red Onion
½ teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon of dried seaweed (I use wakame or you can use 1/2 tsp sea salt instead.)
½ teaspoon wholegrain mustard
For the lentils:
400g cooked lentils, drained and rinsed
3 Tablespoons low-sodium vegetable broth
1 Tablespoon water
1 teaspoon tomato paste
½ teaspoon reduced-sodium tamari
1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast
1 clove fresh garlic (diced)
1/2 red onion (diced)
1/2 teaspoon wholegrain mustard
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
For the Salad Base:
1 head of Iceberg lettuce (shredded)
1.5 red onions, (diced)
100g gherkins / pickles (chopped into slices)
30 cherry tomatoes, (sliced in to quarters)
Mushrooms chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons of sesame seeds (sprinkle over at the end as a topping)
Instructions: 1) The first thing you want to do is to take a mug and put the cashews and 2 dates in, pour in enough hot water so that it covers them. I usually place a saucer or something else on top to seal it in and keep the warmth from escaping. Leave this for 20 minutes while you make the rest of the recipe (if you don’t do this the cashews won’t blend well and you will have a lumpy sauce, if you want it smooth and creamy, remember to soak!)
2) The next part can be quite time consuming if you make the sauce and then do the lentils after as there's a lot of ingredients to find. The trick here is to make them both at the same time as a lot of the ingredients are used in both, so set your self up with the blender jug and a frying pan on the side. You want to add all of the sauce ingredients to the blender (minus the cashews and dates) and all of the lentil ingredients to the pan.
3) Once you have all of the ingredients split between the two (jug and pan) then you can put the pan on a low heat to heat up the lentils and mix in the flavours. 4) While the pan is heating up, start chopping the base salad ingredients into a large bowl, this should take about 5-10 mins to chop it all.
5) Once you are done chopping the salad base into the bowl, the cashews should have been soaking long enough to blend well. Pour the cashews, dates and the hot water it was soaking in into the blender over the other ingredients. Blend on a high speed until it is a smooth sauce like consistency.
6) By now the lentils should be done heating up, pour these out from the pan into the salad bowl. Pour the sauce / salad dressing into the main bowl next. 7) Mix well to make sure the sauce has spread evenly over all the salad and sprinkle the sesame seeds on top! Serve and enjoy!
Ive found this recipe is a great way for my clients to enjoy a comfort food taste that reminds them of childhood trips to McDonalds while still sticking to their nutrition targets in order to see progress and reach their goals. Here is the full nutritional breakdown for one serving of the salad below: