Light meals to ward off big C

20:05, Mar 03 2014
Tylo Murphy astand
Tylo Murphy tries his hand at salads.

Each fortnight we showcase the culinary skills of students at two Taranaki schools. Spotswood College and New Plymouth Boys' High School take turns to report on healthy and exciting meals they prepare. This week the budding chefs at Boys' High take centre-stage.


Since summer has finally arrived, we are not craving the meat and two vege comfort food that we normally get in colder months.

There are many veges and fruits in season right now and they are bursting with goodness and are cheap. With that in mind we have devoted this Kai with Soul to these lighter meals that are often eaten outside on the deck. We have deliberately avoided using the "typical" leaf salad veges as we know you are very comfortable with using those already. Salads can be as different from each other as our imaginations are different. They can be made up easily from items that have not been used in previous meals, or completely made up ones with foods that you think would go well together.

The first salad we are making today is beetroot, carrot and date salad topped with feta cheese and a drizzle of balsamic dressing.

Beetroot has plenty of folate and a useful amount of iron. Even though it is sweet, it is not high in kilojoules (kJ). Carrots can be pretty boring but they add a nice crunch to this salad as we have left them raw, plus they bring their beautiful colour to the plate.


Carrot brings the vitamin A chemicals in abundance, plus they also have cholesterol-lowering properties and chemicals that fight cancer. Both of these highly coloured vegetables are rich in phytochemicals. These have recently been recognised as cancer-fighting micro-nutrients.

The nutrition guidelines suggest we eat "5+ a day", two fruit and three vege, with the added suggestion of trying to get five different colours a day also.

As always, we advocate eating fresh foods as opposed to processed. Processed foods, when eaten, release free radicals that bounce around and break things in our cells. Imagine a tennis ball-serving machine set up in a china shop and firing away. Fresh foods contain antioxidants which stop free radicals.

So imagine every antioxidant represented by a person with a net catching the tennis balls before they can break anything. Free radicals are part of the cancer pathway and people who eat these and other fruit and vegetables, have a lower risk of many different types of cancer, as well as lower risk of heart disease and stroke.

Feta cheese brings a bit of protein and creaminess to the mouth-feel. Be sparing with the dates as they are high in sugar. Their purpose is to offer a little sweetness and diversity.

The second salad we are offering today is tuna and green bean salad. This one is based on the classic tuna nicoise which is usually made with olives, tomatoes, eggs and potatoes.

We had some green beans that were not used in another recipe so we decided to use them here.

Our third salad again is a variation on a theme. Tabbouleh is usually made with bulgur wheat but we are making it today with cous cous - easy to find, well priced and extremely fast to make. This is an excellent salad for the parsley-lovers out there as it contains useful amounts of folate, calcium, iron and vitamin C.

Just to sum up, the message we always try to get out there is to be resourceful, get the kids involved and have a go. Salads are a fabulous vehicle for these things so use the recipes below as a starting point and take it from there.

For two people

A handful of beans per person

1 egg

1 tomato

1 small can tuna

Tuna and green bean salad

2 slices bread for croutons

Homemade aioli

c oil

1 egg

1 T lemon juice

1 t mustard

1 t garlic (optional)

Salt and pepper


1. Top and tail beans and put into boiling water for three to four minutes until slightly cooked but still crunchy.

2. Drain and cool.

3. Hard boil the egg (8-10 mins in boiling water), peel and cut into quarters.

4. Cut tomato into quarters.

5. Cut bread into about 9 squares per slice and bake at 200 deg for 10 mins or until golden brown.

6. For the aioli, put all ingredients into a measuring jug and blend with a stick blender for about 10 secs. Taste and adjust seasonings.

7. Assemble salad, sprinkling croutons on top.

Tasty tabbouleh

For two people

1 c raw couscous, follow instructions on packet to make about 2 c cooked.


Put in large bowl

Add around 1/2 c chopped parsley

Add about c chopped mint

Add about the juice of 1 lemon (1/4c)

1 tomato, scoop out pulp then finely dice

Mix together, taste and add anything you think is missing.

Beetroot, carrot, date and feta cheese salad

For two people

2 medium beetroot

medium carrot peeled

2 dates chopped

1/4 block feta cheese


1/3 c vinegar

2/3 c oil

Your choice mustard, salt and pepper


1. Cut beetroot into small wedges and place into boiling water. Cook until soft. On removing beetroot from the water the skins should slip off. Discard these.

2. Cut the carrot into julienne (matchsticks) and add to beetroot.

3. Chop the dates into sizes you prefer and add to salad.

4. Crumble the feta cheese over the top and drizzle over the dressing.

Taranaki Daily News