Lighten up! 15 gluten-free summer salads for a light dinner (or lunch)
It's 24 degrees here in London today, the sun is shining and all we can think about is ice-cold fruit smoothies, popsicles, salads and of course going for a workout later at the (air-conditioned) gym! If you're anything like the Expertrain team, you probably eat more salads when the weather is hot, and salad is a great, healthy option for lunch or dinner that won't leave you feeling full or bloated - plus, no slaving over a hot stove! We've gathered together 15 of our favourite gluten-free salad recipes from across the web, so whether you're sticking to a gluten-free diet or are feeding friends and family who are, give some of these recipes a go! If you're carb cycling or trying to include more protein in your diet for building muscle, feel free to add some lean protein such as chicken, tuna, salmon or strips of beef to your salad.
This vegan, dairy-free, gluten-free, refined-sugar free salad is a dream for lunches or dinners. Fruity, thanks to the mango and dried cranberries, yet with a savoury kick from the onions, millet, quinoa and almonds. Quinoa is packed with protein, so this will leave you feeling satsfied. We love the lemon poppy seed dressing too!
Making mayo from beans? Give it a go! This vegan, gluten-free and dairy-free recipe is perfect for everyone and you'll find the bean mayo recipe here - it makes the finished dish a lot lighter than regular slaw.
Spinach is packed with iron and vitamin C, and baby spinach is ideal to use in this hearty salad, which includes bacon, eggs, mushrooms, red onion and a delicious tomato vinaigrette that's really addictive, and loaded with antioxidants. This has to be one of our favourite salads!
Roasting vegetables then tossing them in a maple syrup and cider vinegar dressing sounds almost too-good-to-be-true. This recipe is so easy to make, and you could always make double to take to work for lunch the next day. We love that you can use whichever vegetables you picked up on your weekly shop - the recipe calls for carrots, asparagus, and yellow pepper, but we also like to use red pepper and even sweet potatoes are great!
This Moroccan salad is a great side dish to enjoy with chicken or salmon, but it's also ideal as a main and it's packed with protein and fibre from the chickpeas. Feta cheese can contain a lot of salt, so use just as much as you need to taste. Delicious!
We love using vegetables you wouldn't typically find in a salad in our salads here at Expertrain HQ, and we've fallen a bit in love with this broccoli salad recipe. Broccoli is a great source of vitamin C and steaming it for just 3 minutes locks the nutrients in - no soggy broccoli here! The dressing uses honey, olive oil, mustard and cider vinegar, so it's sweet yet sharp, and the perfect complement to the vegetables.
#7. Quinoa Tabbouleh
Ok so this middle-eastern salad has to one of our favourite things to eat. Fresh and zingy thanks to the juicy tomatoes, and cucumber, we like to add some mint to the dressing (although this recipe doesn't include it). Just chop, mix everything up and enjoy a delicious bowl of tabbouleh that will satisfy you thanks to the protein-packed quinoa. This is great as a quick dinner after the gym or a speedy lunch in the park on a sunny day.
Mmm, avocado! We should all be eating avocados - they're loaded with nutrients and good, monounsaturated fats. This recipe goes to show you can do far more with them than just eat them in guacamole or spread on toast! Avocado, lettuce, walnuts, dates and pear may sound like a strange combo, but it's a nutrient-packed one that tastes yummy, we promise!
Chicken Caesar Salad is usually more of a treat than an everyday occurrence, thanks to its high-fat mayonnaise-based dressing. This skinny version lightens things up by swapping out mayo for Greek yoghurt. Add some eggs and chicken for protein and you have a complete meal that tastes even better than the traditonal version - well, we think so anyway!
BBQ-flavoured salad dressing turns this simple bowl of quinoa salad into something amazingly delicious. You'll spend most of your time making the smoky bear dressing that's great on all kinds of salads, then just add some mixed beans or chickpeas and fresh salad vegetables to your cooked quinoa to serve. If you're taking this to work, pack the dressing in a separate container and add it when you're ready to eat.
#11. Speedy Bean Salad
You can't go wrong with a vegan bean salad - quick and easy to prepare, a source of protein and fibre and really satisfying too. We recommend making a big batch and dividing into tupperware for healthy lunches at work! You really could use whatever beans you like - this recipe uses chickpeas, kidney beans and black beans in a fresh tasting, herby dressing. Add some mint too, if you like.
If there's one thing you can count on Vietnamese cuisine to be, it's light! This dish is inspired by the Vietnamese classic Bun xao. It's low in fat, gluten-free yet very satisfying. We love this for a Friday night dinner when the sun is still shining outside. If you're a fan of noodle-based salads, this has to be one of the best recipes out there and its super-simple to prepare! You could even treat yourself to a glass of wine.
Oily fish is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, which we need for a healthy brain. Get your daily dose of omegas with this mackerel salad, which also uses green beans, broccoli and baby spinach - it's loaded with goodness and counts as three of your five a day - boom! The mustard and lemon Greek yoghurt dressing adds the perfect finishing touch.
We're not usually fans of 'ready-to-eat' anything, but those pouches of pre-cooked quinoa you find at the supermarket come in handy for whipping up a super-speedy salad after work. Tuna is loaded with omega-3 fatty acids - all you need is an onion, some peppers, chilli (you can use dried chilli flakes if you don't have a fresh red chilli), tomatoes and olives, plus the quinoa, and you have a healthy, delicious meal.
Want to get four of your five a day in just one meal? This salad uses butternut squash, one of our favourite ingredients, and an excellent source of vitamin A, for healthy eyesight and skin. It can be hard to know what to do with squash other than make soup or risotto, and we think this recipe rules. With wild and brown rice, it's loaded with fibre and even makes use of those pumpkin seeds you picked up. We'll be making this for lunch all week!