One of the things I love about the internet is the access it provides to healthy variations of almost any recipe. A quick search online and chances are someone out in cyberspace has come up with a healthier alternative to your favourite chocolate bar, cookie or fast food burger. The options are endless and healthy eating no longer equates to the typical veggies you’d expect to find in a salad bowl.
Given Krishn enjoys a good burger from time to time, I recently set out with the goal of creating a salad that would be satiating and stop fast food cravings in their tracks. Gluten free and Paleo-friendly, the Big Mak salad is reminiscent of something you might find on a burger joint’s menu, but is 100% guilt free.
Loaded with fermented pickles that support optimal gut health, anti-inflammatory spices, and healthy fats from pastured meat, this salad is filling and definitely hits the spot. The ingredients are supportive of health, without all the nasty additives found in factory-farmed meat and other standard burger fixings. It’s quick and easy to make up a big batch up for lunches or dinner and won’t leave you feeling sluggish or like you’re ‘crashing’ immediately after consuming. While I used a spiralizer for the salad ‘noodles’, you can use a mandolin or julienne peeler instead ( I definitely would recommend investing in a spiralizer if you’re planning to do more veggie-based noodles in the future…you can pick up a very basic one for $20)
Highlights of some key ingredients include:
- Fermented pickles – while pickling is traditionally done to preserve food in an acidic agent such as vinegar, fermenting is done in brine (salt water). Fermented vegetables produce an acidic liquid that is a by-product of the fermentation process. This encourages the proliferation of probiotics and enzymes that contribute to proper digestion and healthy gut bacteria. Fermented pickles shouldn’t be found on a shelf in the grocery aisle but rather the refrigerated section.
- Sweet potatoes – this veggie offers healthy carbs that are satisfying and rich in fiber. They are also low on the glycemic index meaning they help to keep blood sugar stable. Sweet potatoes are a great way to boost the immune system given the high amounts of Vitamin A and C. In the absence of a bun, sweet potato noodles satisfy the carb craving without converting to sugar the way refined flours do.
- Zucchini – an extremely versatile vegetable, zucchini has a mild flavour making it a great addition to many recipes. It’s extremely low in calories yet rich in heart-healthy potassium and loaded with the antioxidant, Vitamin C.
- Pastured meats – unlike grain fed meat, pastured or grass-fed meat is high in healthy omega 3 fats and conjugated linoleic acid, a type of fat that’s thought to reduce heart disease and cancer risks. Given the body isn’t able to make omega 3, it’s extremely important to have good quality dietary sources free of factory farming, GMO feed, antibiotics and other additives.
The BigMak Salad (Serves 5)
Meat Ball Ingredients:
- 2lbs pastured ground meat (I use 1lb beef, 1lb lamb, but you can do all beef, elk etc.)
- 2 flax/chia eggs (see instructions below)
- 1tsp himalayan sea salt
- 1tbsp dried basil
- 1tsp turmeric
- 1 medium red onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- Black pepper to liking
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
- Make chia/flax eggs by mixing 1 tbsp of ground chia or flax seed mixed with 3 tbsp of water (this equals one ‘egg’ so double for this recipe) and let sit for 10 minutes to thicken
- Chop onion into small pieces
- Finely chop garlic
- Mix all ingredients together
- Roll into meatballs and place in baking dish
- Bake on 375 for 25 minutes
- 4 tbsp tahini
- 1 tbsp raw, unpasteurized honey
- 1/2 cup of olive oil
- 2 tbsp Braggs Amino Acids/ or tamari
- 1 tbsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Blend all ingredients in blender on high
- 2 small sweet potatoes
- 3 small zucchini
- 1 medium red onion
- 6 dill pickles (make sure pickles are done in brine, not vinegar)
- Using a spiralizer or mandolin, make sweet potato and zucchini noodles
- Chop red onion up into small-medium sized pieces
- Chop dill pickles
- In a bowl, mix together sweet potato and zucchini noodles with red onion
- Dish out the salad
- Take 2 meat balls and crumble over each bowl of noodles
- Top with dill pickles
- Drizzle with desired amount of dressing