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Nutrition

Four delicious, easy and healthy summer salads

Eating with the seasons isn’t just good for reducing food miles, it’s great for the taste buds too.

On hot summer days, our bodies crave light, simple and fresh foods. Combine this with the bounty of locally grown summer veg and the options for tasty salads are almost boundless.

Here are four to get you started:

Grilled peaches and chicken salad

Chicken is an excellent source of lean, low-fat protein and just right for topping salads as it’s as good cold as it is hot. Combine it with sweet, fresh, juicy peaches for a true taste of summer.

Slice and griddle a chicken breast and two peaches, stoned and cut into eighths. Toss baby spinach leaves in an oil-and-vinegar dressing, place the chicken and peaches on top, add a sprinkling of chilli flakes if you fancy, and serve.

Green beans, fennel, feta and almond salad

One of the joys of summer is being able to buy (or grow) green beans that haven’t been flown in from the other side of the world. They’re a rich source of fibre and vitamin C, but also provide high levels of vitamin K and silicone, which keep your bones, skin and hair healthy.

Finely slice a fennel bulb, steam a similar weight of beans, and toast a generous handful of sliced almonds. Combine these in a bowl with the juice of half a lemon and a couple of tablespoons of virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and mix well. Crumble a little feta cheese over the top and garnish with some finely chopped mint for a zinging crunchy salad.

Herbed couscous with courgette and halloumi

Courgettes grow in abundance in allotments and gardens all over the UK in the summer months – making this a low food-mile salad. They contain all sorts of goodness, including vitamin C and potassium, which is good for blood pressure.

Cut the courgettes into discs and grill them in a griddle pan with a light brushing of olive oil. Toss them into the couscous with big handfuls of basil, mint or coriander or a combination of all three. Add a generous slug of olive oil, salt and pepper and, just before serving, grill the sliced halloumi – it’s much better eaten warm – and toss this in.

Summer panzanella

Don’t throw away old bread; follow the Italian way and transform it into a delicious ‘panzanella’ – a rustic bread and tomato salad. Tomatoes are one of the best sources of the antioxidant lycopene, which reduces the risk of heart disease and cancer. Old baguettes, sourdough and ciabattas are best for this, but you can use any bread.

Cut it into mouthful-sized chunks and thoroughly soak them in olive oil before frying them to a deep golden brown. Meanwhile roughly chop at least twice as many tomatoes as there is bread, finely slice a red onion and a clove of garlic and mix them in with the bread. Add two tablespoons of vinegar, twice as much virgin olive oil, season, garnish with basil and serve.