Created in partnership with Pimp My Salad

In Autumn we tend to turn to warming, comfort foods that soothe and sedate us through the colder months. But, they’re often not nutritionally balanced, or, else leave you feeling heavy and lethargic. If you’re looking for healthy, comforting lunch ideas that can help boost immune function, is a meal you can look forward to, and will get you through the day, look no further!

Pimp My Salad are toppings that can be added to any meal to boost flavour, texture and interest to any meal. As they’re made using slowly dried cooking techniques, and with ingredients like cashew nuts, mixed seeds, sunflower seeds and hemp, you’ll also benefit from an extra boost of nutrition. Team them with our suggestions below for an exceptional lunch experience. The salad toppers were gifted to the team to try, the opinions and suggestions are all our own.

Autumnal salads

You may be put off eating salads in the autumn; we get it, it can be off-putting to have a cold, seemingly soggy lunch when its grey, overcast and cold. But we can’t argue how nutritious they are as you can pack quite a few of your five a day into just one meal. So, if you’re looking for ideas on how you can still have salads at lunch during those colder months, try these tips out.

Get a salad spinner

Leaves can hold onto a lot of moisture so using a salad spinner will help you get most of the excess moisture out of your salads.

Leave juicy fruits and vegetables in tact

We’re specifically looking at your tomatoes! Once they’re cut, their juices get everywhere which will just make your salad leaves soggy again. So, be sure to use whole/baby tomatoes so you can still enjoy them but it won’t ruin your salad. Same goes for cucumbers really – but they’re a little more challenging to keep whole as it would mean taking a whole cucumber to lunch- maybe just save those for snacks!

Turn up the heat

If you have a microwave at work, you could take in a microwavable quinoa bag, chickpeas or rice that you can mix in with your salad.

Top it off

Pomegranates are great salad toppers but can also be quite cold and juicy – as they have to be kept in the fridge. So, turning to seeds, nuts, dried fruits and cheeses can all make your salads more interesting, comforting and more nutritious. Personally, we did love the Super Seed Sprinkles from Pimp My Salad which is a perfect blend of super food seeds with a slight spice and saltiness.

Oh, and one final tip: take it out the fridge at least 30 minutes before you want to enjoy it.

Sensational soups

Soups are an autumnal staple and the perfect dish for lunch. Plus, it’s super easy to batch make your own delicious and healthy soups for the week, or freeze for another time if you want to have variation in your meals each day. You really don’t need lashings of butter, cream, or other additives for a healthy, comforting and delicious meal.

Principles of soup making

  • Decide on your principal ingredients: do you want to make a carrot and coriander, pea and mint, leek and potato, or vegetable, as an example?
  • Choose a stock: vegetable is an easy choice but you can just as easily use a meat-based stock for more flavour.
  • Pick your seasonings: fresh onion, garlic and/or ginger are all good ways to pack a punch to your soup. You can also work with dried herbs and spices if you want or prefer.

Making your soup

  1. Once you’ve decided on your combo, in a little oil or butter, fry off your onions/garlic/ginger until softened.
  2. Add your principal vegetables (top tip: If you want a thicker consistency, potato squash, celeriac and cauliflower will do this for you) and fry for a few more minutes.
  3. Add your stock – to at least cover your vegetables, but we’d recommend just slightly more.
  4. Allow to simmer, and the vegetables to soften for 25 minutes.
  5. Pop your ingredients into a blender until smooth- if you want lumps, keep some of the vegetables to one side and add back in to the smoother mix when finished.

Top it off

If you fancy adding a little extra flavour and interest to your soup, the Coconut Bacon from Pimp My Salad (coconut flakes with herbs and spices, slightly smoked) will add a little crunch, sweetness and smokiness to you soup. Personally, I found the coconut to be quite overbearing – but I am not a major fan of coconut so it tends to stick out for me. However, if you are, you’re sure to love it! Plus, it makes for a great alternative if you’re looking to cut down on your meat intake.

Veggie medleys

Another great alternative to the autumnal salad is a veggie medley. Whether its purposefully made for lunch and shared among the family, or used as leftovers, roasted veggies are a great way to enjoy warming, comforting and nutritious foods during autumn and winter. Although it sounds seemingly bland and unappealing, coat your veggies in spices or warming seasonings to roast in and it’s a game changer.

For lunch the next day, you can reheat and top with salad leaves and some fresh feta or sprinkle on some Cashew Parm Cheez for a fresh and alternative take on parmesan, or top it off with some Coconut Bacon or Super Seed Sprinkles for added crunch and texture.

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