Eating clean this party season

Warmer weather, longer days - summer is in the air! That means event season will soon be here too, but doesn’t have to mean healthy eating goes out the window. As winter draws to a close, now is the time to put away those hearty recipes and freshen up your diet with lighter meals—especially celebrating seasonal ingredients like asparagus, fennel and broad beans.

Control over your diet is a little easier to do when you’re cooking at home, but what about when you’re out and about? Staying on-track can be simple if you just take a good look at what’s on the menu, and opt for choices that deliver the following:

• Whole grains: These slow-burning carbohydrate sources help deliver sustained energy—think brown or wild rice, barley, rolled oats, quinoa, and legumes.
• Protein: The building block of our cells, adequate protein intake is essential for growth and repair of the body’s tissues. Meat, seafood, eggs, nuts, seeds and legumes are all great protein sources.
• Healthy fats: Not all fats are created equal. Unsaturated fat sources like extra virgin olive oil and avocado are great for us in moderation and important for heart, skin, eye and brain health.
• Greens, greens, greens: Apart from being packed with vitamins and minerals, green vegetables contain fibre, which keeps us feeling fuller for longer and help maintain good gut health.

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The ‘Spring Clean’ salad 

This lean-and-clean favourite does require a little preparation—removing the skin from the beans can take a while, and you may need a mandolin for the fennel—but it’s totally worth it. If you can’t find bulgur, use couscous or quinoa instead, and just prepare it according to the instructions on the pack.

Serves two

INGREDIENTS for the salad…

4 large eggs
50g goat cheese or soft feta
500g broad beans shelled
½ fennel bulb, finely sliced
1 avocado, thinly sliced
1 long red chilli, seeded and finely sliced
Handful each of fresh mint and dill, finely chopped
½ cup bulgur
1 cup boiling water
Sea salt and black pepper, to taste

INGREDIENTS for the dressing…

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
zest and juice of ½ lemon
½ tsp cumin
½ tsp smoked paprika

Method:

1. Pour the boiling water over the bulgur in a glass or ceramic bowl. Cover with a plate to stop the heat escaping. Leave to soften for at least 30 minutes. Strain off any excess water, and rinse.

2. Meanwhile, bring a pot of water to the boil. Pour in the broad beans and blanch for 1-2 minutes, then strain. Place the beans in a bowl of iced water to stop them from cooking further, then peel the skin from the broad beans.

3. Bring a small pot of water to the boil. Gently place the eggs in there - you may like to use a spoon to do it slowly, so they don’t crack. Boil for four minutes, then run under cool water and peel. You should have beautifully cooked soft-boiled eggs with runny yolks.

4. In a large salad bowl, combine the bulgur, broad beans, fennel, avocado, chilli and fresh herbs.

5. Combine the dressing ingredients - olive oil, lemon juice, zest, cumin and paprika - and pour over the salad. Toss well to combine.

6. Transfer into two serving dishes and season with salt and pepper to taste. Top each bowl with two boiled eggs, cut in half. Crumble the goat cheese or soft feta over the top and serve.