Spring salad days

As I’ve mentioned before, I work for myself and this means that most days the biggest distance I walk is down the stairs to my desk. I’ve basically become incredibly sedentary and at the same time I’m reading lots of articles about how being sedentary is basically a big step (not literally) forward to death. So I sit at my desk in a world of panic, and when I panic, I reach for biscuits.

In a nutshell, I’ve convinced myself I’m going to die before I hit 40 if I don’t make some lifestyle changes. I’m also a little dramatic.

Given that the work I do isn’t easy (or likely) to change into something more exercise based the first thing I’ve decided to do is stop eating. Well, stop eating as much crap as I usually put into my body and try and live a little healthier. It’s also that time of year when everyone starts talking about summer and all the clothes in the shops are a little skimpier and quite frankly, me in anything that’s even a little bit less than a kaftan right now would not be a good look.

This is probably the worst time to do this as after the Valentine’s Day disaster (in that Marcel forgot to buy me a card – not really a disaster. I mentioned the flair for the dramatic, right?) my darling husband bought me four Easter eggs. Add that to the four I bought him, plus the couple of others from other people, we have a cupboard filled with chocolate.

Over the last week, I’ve been eating salads. I actually like salads, it’s just they’re not as easy to just grab and go as say, oh, I don’t know, a bag of Cadbury’s mini-eggs. So I’ve started making salads accessories (is that even a thing? I think it must be) and keeping them in the fridge or pantry. Like roasted vegetables and savoury granola and different types of dressing and grains. And because these things do go off, it means I have to eat them so I don’t waste them. Also, there’s so many good looking vegetables in the markets and shops right now, it feels like a treat to eat them simply after months of stodge. And It has actually helped. I feel a little less like I’m running to the grave, now it’s just a slow saunter. Of all the salads I’ve made in the last week, the below is my favourite. Any other salad tips? I do need inspiring if salad and I are going to have a long term relationship.

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Smoked mackerel and lemon mushroom salad (serves 2) 

  • 300g mushrooms (I used a mix of mushrooms as there’s some lovely varieties in season right now)
  • 300g smoked mackerel, skinned and flaked
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 1 x red pepper chopped into small chunks
  • 1 x bag of mixed leaves (I used rocket and baby lettuce)
  • Half a cantaloupe melon cut into small chunks (this is a little weird, but trust me, it works)
  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Juice of half a lemon

Chop the mushrooms into small pieces. Heat a knob of butter in a frying pan with a little olive oil over a low heat and when it’s melted, throw in the mushrooms. Keep stirring so they don’t catch and when they start to release some of the lovely flavour, add the lemon zest, a pinch of salt and a little black pepper. Keep cooking till the mushrooms are glossy and shiny and smelling delicious. Towards the end of the cooking time, squeeze a little lemon juice over the top. Like a teaspoon of lemon juice. Remove from the heat and leave to one side.

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Whilst they’re cooking, assemble the rest of your salad by simply putting everything into a big bowl apart from the lemon juice. Throw in the mushrooms, give it a squeeze of lemon and toss everything together. Season to taste – remember the smoked fish is quite salty so be sure to taste it before you season it. We served this with crusty bread and Marcel added olives to his but that was too much salt for me. The cantaloupe, which both of us thought was a little weird, was actually AMAZING. Cut through that smoky salty fish and worked a treat. So don’t be afraid of using fruit in your salads. You’ll see from the photo that I totally wimped out of putting it in at the beginning and served it on the side. But don’t be a wimp like me, throw it right in.

Tonight’s salad is going to be something with quinoa and roasted peppers. Probably just quinoa and roasted peppers. So there’s your recipe for that right there.

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