Tag Archives: healthy salad

Turmeric & Jalapeno Dressing (with charred corn and bell pepper salad)

My latest obsession is fresh turmeric.  I’ve read so many things about the health benefits of turmeric so when I saw some organic Peruvian turmeric at the corner market I HAD to grab some to experiment/play with!

Now that I’ve gotten over the initial trepidation of using a new spice, I’m incorporating it into all sorts of dishes, from rice to lentils to quinoa – and now even in my salad dressing(s)!

The following salad dressing requires, in my opinion, a hearty salad with some texture and crunch to balance out the heat of the jalapeño.  I really enjoy it with the following:

Charred Corn, Cabbage and Bell Pepper Salad (serves 2)

  • 2 cups green or red cabbage (shredded)
  • 1/2 cup julienned (thin strips) carrot
  • 1 cup julienned bell pepper (red, orange and/or yellow)
  • 3/4 cup corn
  • 1/3 cup red onion, shredded
  • Garnish options:  Roasted peanuts or cashews, feta cheese, fresh cilantro, cherry tomatoes, green onion

METHOD:  (this is just a suggestion.  You don’t need to char the vegetables to have a great salad!).

  • Cut/prepare vegetables.
  • Get a non-stick pan searing hot (it should be starting to smoke).
  • Once the corn starts ‘popping’ (literally, like popcorn), give the pan a shake.
  • When the corn starts to char/blacken, remove from pan and into a large mixing bowl.
  • Repeat process with red onions and then with bell peppers.  You only want to ‘flash’ them into the hot pan to give a nice char.  You’re not trying to cook them.  A few SECONDS in the pan is plenty.

Turmeric and Jalapeno Dressing (enough for 4 servings)

NOTE:  I use a microplane for grating ginger, garlic, turmeric and all citrus zest.  It is an essential kitchen tool, in my opinion.


  • 1 medium sized jalapeno, seeds removed (keep a few if you want the dressing really spicy!)
  • 1 4″ piece of turmeric, peeled and grated (or 3/4 tsp ground turmeric, but use the fresh stuff if you can!)
  • 1 1″ piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 clove garlic (about 1 tsp), grated
  • 1 cup coarsely chopped cilantro
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp grated lime zest
  • 3 Tbsp fresh lime juice
  • salt to taste

METHOD:  pulse all ingredients together in a food processor or hand-held blender and toss into salad.  Season salad with salt to taste.


NOTE:  If you have any dressing left over it’s wonderful thrown into quinoa, rice or lentils!!




Curried Lentil and Vegetable Salad

curried lentil and veg salad in bowl

My favourite thing about summer isn’t the beach or the warm, sunny weather.  It’s not the longer days and mid-afternoon cocktails (although those things are wonderful too!).  My favourite thing about summer is the abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs from my garden and/or the local Farmer’s Market!

I LOVE making salads during the warmer months.  They’re light, healthy, delicious and there are a million different ways to make them.  I came up with a salad a few weeks ago for a get together at my  place and everyone agreed it was very yummy.  We snacked on this salad along with buffalo mozzarella and heirloom tomato flatbreads, smoked salmon platters and grilled baguette slices topped with everything from mushroom duxelle to garlic and basil marinated cherry tomatoes.  And of course the rose, bubbles and Sauvignon Blanc was flowing (:  It was a perfect afternoon (and evening) on the patio spent with my favourite people, great drinks and wonderful food.  My idea of HEAVEN.

This salad is incredibly versatile.  If you really like an ingredient, by all means add more of it.  If there’s a vegetable you don’t like, just leave it out or substitute it with something you do like.  For example, you could use kale in place of cabbage or just use cauliflower if you don’t like broccoli.  You could use cilantro instead of parsley and cashews instead of almonds….  You get the idea.

Have fun with this salad and enjoy it by itself or topped with some grilled chicken or fish for an amazing, healthy dinner entrée!  Serve salad warm or chilled.

NOTE:  I use the trio of organic lentils and the organic quinoa that you buy in bags from Costco so the cook times mentioned below are based on that specific type of lentils.  If you’re using a different kind, ensure you follow the cooking directions on your package so you don’t over or under cook them or end up with tonnes of extra liquid (if you do, just drain it).

pictures of lentils and quinoa in bag

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 large salads or 6 small)

Cooking in pot:

  • 1/8 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 1/4 cup quinoa
  • 1/2 cup carrots
  • 1 cup cabbage (or kale)
  • 1/4 cup white onion
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp curry powder (I used a mild curry but use whatever you love!)
  • 1 1/3 cup water or vegetable stock
  • 1 tsp salt

Adding to above ingredients just before serving:

  • 3 cups broccoli (or cauliflower or BOTH)
  • 1/2 cup bell peppers (red, yellow, and/or orange)
  • 3/4 cup cherry tomatoes (or whatever amazing summer tomatoes you want!)
  • 1/2 cup feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup cranberries (or raisins)
  • 1/2 rough chopped unsalted almonds (or cashews)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 cup – 1 cup parsley
  • 1/2 tsp salt and pepper to taste
  • OPTIONAL:  1/8 cup olive oil to finish


  • Finely dice/chop carrot, garlic and cabbage OR just buzz in a food processor until coarsely chopped.
  • Add olive oil, garlic, cabbage, carrot, salt, curry powder, and cumin into a pot and sauté on medium heat until ingredients are softened and fragrant (about 5 minutes).
  • Add water (or stock) and bring to boil.
  • Add lentils and quinoa and reduce heat to simmer.
  • Simmer for 8 minutes then remove from heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, chop broccoli (and/or cauliflower) into bite sized florets and steam for 2 minutes MAXIMUM.
  • Run under cold water or plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking.  You want the broccoli to still have lots of crunch!
  • half or chop the tomatoes, dice the peppers into bite size pieces and chop the parsley.
  • Once slightly cooled, transfer lentil mixture to large bowl and add vegetables, parsley, salt, pepper, lemon juice, chopped almonds and cranberries.
  • Toss together to combine.
  • Add feta and mix gently so the feta doesn’t fall apart and turn the salad ‘creamy’.
  • Taste and adjust seasoning and lemon juice to your liking.

Transfer to bowls and serve on its own or topped with grilled fish or chicken.  Enjoy!

curried lentil and veg salad in bowl w spoon





Watermelon, Feta and Mint Salad

watermelon salad

I’ve been making this incredible salad for years now.  I first saw an even simpler version of it in Nigella Lawson’s cookbook, Forever Summer.  Over the years I have played around with it and in this case I have added tomato and cucumber because I love both of those ingredients and am always pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoy the taste of watermelon and tomatoes TOGETHER.  The olives and feta add a wonderful saltiness, the herbs add freshness and the lime juice adds the perfect amount of tang.

This salad is delicious on its own for lunch, or if I don’t feel like anything too heavy for dinner (like most nights in the summer), I just pair this salad with juicy barbecued chicken, sausage or kabobs and I have dinner ready in under 15 minutes without having to turn on the stove!

I love the simplicity of summer cooking/eating.  The prep should be quick and fuss free and the food should be satisfying without making you feel too full to move.

The most important thing to keep in mind when making this salad is the freshness and ripeness of the ingredients.  Each ingredient should be wonderful on its own.  This salad is only as good as its parts.  If you have bland tomatoes, spongy watermelon and limp, seedy cucumber, the salad will be mediocre.  Ensure your ingredients are at their best and this salad will be amazing.  This is why I only make it in the spring/summer so I can get everything locally (preferably my back yard!).

INGREDIENTS (serves 2 large or 4 small)

  • 3 – 4 cups watermelon – large bite-size chunks
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint – chopped
  • 1/3 cup fresh parsley – chopped
  • 2 – 3 Tbsp lime juice + 1/2 tsp lime zest
  • 1/3 cup red onion – sliced very thin
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives (you can use kalamata as well, but I prefer black)
  • 3/4 cup cucumber – sliced or diced (whatever you prefer)
  • 1/3 cup grape tomatoes – quartered
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • Garnish:  1/4 cup or more crumbled feta and drizzled olive oil


  • Combine all ingredients except feta cheese in a bowl and toss gently to combine.
  • Taste and add more lime juice, salt and/or pepper as desired.
  • Transfer to serving bowl and top with feta and a drizzle of olive oil.

Enjoy alone or paired with your favour meat or seafood!

Spring Asparagus, Orange and Spinach Salad

orange, asparagus and spinach salad

I saw some beautiful baby asparagus on sale for $2 a bunch at the corner vegetable market yesterday and immediately decided that I would buy it and find a way to incorporate with the fish I had thawed out for dinner (Snapper).

bunch of asparagus

It’s been unusually warm on the West Coast this spring and when it’s hot out I just want light foods like fresh fish/seafood or grilled meats paired with delicious salads and vegetables.

This is a light, tangy, healthy salad and it’s great on its own or as a side with your favourite meat or fish.  I absolutely love the combination of slightly crunchy asparagus spears, juicy orange, crunchy almonds and salty parmesan cheese.  I’ll be eating this salad a lot in the coming months!

About the recipe:  I decided to throw some chickpeas, avocado and almonds into this salad for added fibre and healthy, filling fat since I didn’t want to cook a grain/starch…  I used shallots because I LOVE shallots and ALWAYS have them on hand but if you don’t have them, red onion would also work.  I garnished with shaved parmesan but feta or even goats cheese would also work beautifully in this salad.

NOTE:  I made the dressing and cooked the asparagus in the pan with it to infuse the flavour because I wasn’t using the BBQ.  If you are barbecuing, I would suggest grilling the asparagus on the BBQ and making the dressing separately because grilled asparagus is AWESOME.

INGREDIENTS (serves 2 large salads or 4 small ones)

  • 1 bunch asparagus (about 2 cups)
  • 3 cups packed baby spinach leaves
  • 3/4 cup chickpeas (pre-cooked and rinsed) – or other bean/lentil
  • 1/2 large avocado – diced
  • 1/3 cup orange segments + 1/4 tsp zest
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard (or grainy dijon)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice + 1/4 tsp zest
  • 2 tsp red wine vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1.5 Tbsp shallot, diced
  • OPTION:  1/4 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • Garnish:  1/4 cup shaved parmesan cheese & a handful unsalted almonds


  • Trim off the fibrous/tough ends of the asparagus (note: to figure out where to cut the bottom off, simply bend a piece the asparagus.  It will break at the point where you should discard the bottom part).  Cut asparagus on a bias (angle) into bite sized pieces. NOTE:  IF GRILLING THE ASPARAGUS, DON’T CUT IT UP UNTIL AFTER IT’S COOKED OR IT WILL FALL THROUGH THE GRATE.
  • Zest and then segment the orange (see how to segment and orange): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQr9QQLtBU0
  • Add shallot and olive oil to a pan and cook on medium-high heat for one minute.
  • Add asparagus and sauté until asparagus is tender with a slight crunch (al dente).
  • Add chickpeas.

chickpeas and asp in pan

  • Turn heat to high and add red wine vinegar, dijon mustard, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste.  Allow it to reduce for about a minute.Turn off heat and allow the asparagus and chickpeas to cool in pan with the dressing.
  • Meanwhile, using a large bowl, add your spinach, diced avocado, orange segments, orange and lemon zest, cherry tomatoes (if using) and salt and pepper to taste.
  • Add cooled asparagus, chickpeas and using a spatula, scrape down all the dressing from the pan and add to bowl.
  • Gently combine all ingredients and check seasoning.  Add lemon juice and/or salt as desired.
  • Transfer to serving bowls and garnish with parmesan cheese and almonds (whole or slivered).

Serve alone or with your favourite fish/meat!




Cucumber and Cabbage Salad with Pomegranate

cucumber cabbage salad in bowl

I absolutely LOVE chickpeas and decided to make my own falafel the other night.  Instead of serving it in a pita shell, I made garlic and cumin scented jasmine rice, a dill lemon yogurt dip and a refreshing cucumber cabbage salad with pomegranate and tomatoes.  This salad was delicious with the falafel.  It would also go really well as a side to chicken, burgers or ribs!

INGREDIENTS (serves 4 as a side dish)

  • 1/2 head small green cabbage (around 3 cups) – shredded as thinly as possible
  • 1 cup english cucumber – cut into match sticks
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 cup red onion – sliced as thinly as possible
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 Tbsp canola or grape seed oil
  • 1.5 Tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup tomatoes – chopped (cherry tomatoes would be great.  Just half them)
  • 1/4 cup cilantro – chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint – chopped
  • 1/4 cup green onion – chopped
  • 3/4 cup pomegranate seeds
  • OPTION:  1/2 cup feta cheese – for garnishing


  • Toss everything together (except feta and salt) in bowl.
  • Let sit for in fridge for one hour before serving to soften the cabbage a bit.
  • Add the salt to the salad and toss (NOTE:  only add salt right before serving so it doesn’t draw out the moisture from the cucumbers and tomatoes leaving a puddle of liquid at the bottom of the salad)
  • Taste and adjust salt, pepper and lemon juice as desired.
  • Transfer to serving dish and garnish with crumbled feta.

cucumber cabbage salad with pomegranate



Summer Spinach & Seafood Salad with Citrus Vinaigrette

summer spinach & seafood salad with citrus vinaigrette

summer spinach & seafood salad with citrus vinaigrette

I went fruit and vegetable shopping today and on the days I do this I tend to go a little crazy with my food combinations.  I just want to try everything, in every way, right away!  Grocery shopping excites me.  As much as I love a good challenge (like how to turn the last 4 items in the fridge, that are past their prime, into something edible), what I love even more is having 20+ fruits/veggies and a selection of cheeses to truly ‘play with’!  Today I did just that and it turned out awesome.  It’s another hot day and I just got back from a vacation that consisted of WAY too much drinking and eating; and it was ‘vacation – no holds barred’ kind of eating.  I didn’t see a vegetable for days.  So now I’m feeling bloated and lazy and I desperately need to get back to my regular routine of exercise and healthy food choices.  Today’s healthy lunch is a good start!  (I had some lobster meat on hand (rough life) so I used that, but baby shrimp, prawns, crab, or even canned salmon or tuna would work!  You could even go for turkey or chicken or just leave it vegetarian…. Whatever you like).

NOTE:  The most important thing you need to make this salad great are delicious, in-season, perfectly ripe ingredients.  (Fresh spinach, ripe nectarine/peach, firm watermelon, ripe juicy tomato, etc).   “This salad is only as good as its parts!” 

The measurements below are estimates only.  If you want more bell pepper, add it!  If you have some fresh strawberries or other fruits/veggies to use up, toss ’em in!  This is a guideline only.  Have fun and customize it just the way you like it!

INGREDIENTS (serves 2)

  • 4 cup baby spinach leaves (or a mix of kale, baby arugula, spinach, mesclun greens, etc)
  • 1/4 red bell pepper – cut into thin strips (about 1/2 cup) – any color of pepper would do!
  • 1/2 small nectarine (or peach) – sliced
  • 1/3 English cucumber – sliced
  • 1 cup watermelon – large dice
  • 1 small tomato – sliced or diced (your favorite kind/whatever you have on hand)
  • 1/4 red onion – THIN slice
  • 1/4 green onion – chopped
  • 1/4 cup cashews (pecans or almonds would also work here)
  • 1/4 feta – crumbled
  • 2 Tbsp shallot citrus vinaigrette
  • 1/2 cup crab meat, lobster, salmon, prawns, baby shrimp or any other seafood you enjoy/have on hand – or a combination of a few!
  • salt and pepper to taste


  • The key to a great salad, in my opinion, is the quality and combination of the ingredients (duh) and the SEASONING.  Even a salad with great intentions can be boring if it’s not seasoned properly.  Always season each layer and make sure you season the greens BEFORE you add the dressing.
  • Start by chopping/dicing vegetables and putting them in a bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.
  • Add the fruit.
  • Add the greens and season those.  Gently toss everything together with the dressing and ALWAYS taste to see if it needs a little more salt and pepper.  Start off with a small amount of dressing and add more as needed.  You almost always need less than you think you do.  Also, never add the dressing until just before serving to avoid a soggy, heavy salad.
  • Lastly, top the salad with seafood (or whatever you’re using), cheese and nuts.