Hi, my name is Kellie. I’m a nutritionist and delighted to be involved in the First 1000 Days movement, and I look forward to sharing my seasonal recipes and ideas with you. I live in Wicklow with my husband who is a sheep farmer. He looks after about 500 sheep as well as 4 cows. We also have 1 rooster and 5 hens, so we get lots of lovely fresh eggs every week. A few years ago, my husband built me a raised bed in our garden and I started to grow my own vegetables.
I am delighted to have some veg growing this year after nothing grew for me last year due to the terrible weather we had over the Summer. But the fabulous sunshine this Summer has really helped to spur on the growth of my veg and I’m looking forward to harvesting in a few weeks. In the photo, you can see my raised bed a few weeks ago at the very early stages of growth. I am growing salad leaves, carrots, courgettes, purple-sprouting broccoli and hopefully some runner beans. I also planted a redcurrant bush two years ago and this year for the first time, there are lots of redcurrants almost ready for picking so I’m very excited about that.
We have a niece who is 11 months old so I hope she will enjoy trying redcurrants for the first time when we pick them!
So far, I’ve had a plentiful supply of salad leaves from my raised bed. They are so easy to grow. All you need is a plant pot or window box, a little bit of soil or compost and a packet of seeds! When you pick them they grow back straight away so you have a constant supply over the summer. It’s so much nicer to pick salad leaves from the garden for lunch than to open a bag of supermarket lettuce.
You may not think that salad leaves provide much nutrition, but they are actually a source of Folic Acid which is a very important nutrient for anyone thinking of having a baby, and during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. (Click here for more information)
Over the past few weeks I’ve been trying to come up with new ideas for salads incorporating my salad leaves, and also because the weather has been so nice and it’s too warm for soup or hot food at lunchtime. I’ve realised that you don’t need to tie yourself up in knots to make a delicious salad – just a few simple ingredients is all it takes. Here are some of my favourites:
First, here’s a salad dressing that can be made and kept in a jar in the fridge, and used as needed. It’s so easy to make at the start of the week and handy to have in the fridge, and because you’ve made it yourself, you know exactly what’s in it. The olive oil provides vitamin E which is important for healthy DNA.
Homemade balsamic dressing
- 5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or rapeseed oil
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 1 tsp wholegrain mustard
Combine the ingredients in a clean jam jar. Shake before using and use a clean tablespoon to drizzle over salad as needed.
Nutritional information per tablespoon:
85 calories, 9g fat
Source of Vitamin E & Omega-3
Quick Feta & Avocado Salad
This fresh-tasting salad provides at least 2 of your 5-a-day and the feta provides calcium which is important for healthy bones. Don’t be alarmed by the fat content – this is mostly healthy monounsaturated fat from the olive oil in the dressing and also from the avocado.
Assemble on a plate: Salad leaves, piece of feta cheese (about the size of a matchbox) crumbled, 7 cherry tomatoes (halved), 2 inch piece of cucumber (diced), 6 sugarsnap peas (chopped in half), ½ ripe avocado (chopped). Drizzle over 1 tbsp homemade balsamic dressing. Serve with wholegrain crackers.
Nutritional information per serving:
284 calories, 8g protein, 23g fat, 12g carbohydrate
Source of Calcium & Folic Acid
High in Vitamin C
Tuna & Baby Potato Salad
This is a good way to use up leftover baby potatoes. The olives are optional.
Combine 1 small tin tuna in brine (drained), 3 cold, boiled baby potatoes (quartered), 1 old boiled egg (chopped) salad leaves, 1 large tomato, chopped, 3 or 4 black olives (chopped). Drizzle with 1 tbsp honey mustard dressing or home-made balsamic dressing.
Nutritional information per serving:
306 calories, 27g protein, 17g fat, 11g carbohydrate
Source of iron
High in Folic Acid & Vitamin C