Tag Archives: salad

Marinated Baby Bellas

Marinated Mushrooms

Mushrooms always seem to make their way into our shopping cart. The way we see it, a dish is not complete without the addition of criminis, shitakes, chanterelles or good ‘ol white button mushrooms. If you share the same love for mushrooms as our family, you will love this simple appetizer.

Our first experience with Marinated Mushrooms was several years ago at The Green Door Restaurant, one of Ottawa’s oldest and best know vegetarian restaurants. It was this restaurant’s cookbook that first introduced me to the ingredients of umeboshi plum vinegar and umeboshi plum paste – two seasonings or condiments that are now staples in our pantry.

Umeboshi plum vinegar, also known as Ume Su, is popular in Japanese and macrobiotic cooking. It has a very unique flavour giving vegetables, fungi, pasta and rice a salty, sour and fruity taste. If you are vegan and love dishes that traditionally use fish sauce, umeboshi works as a great substitute.

As well, this vinegar is known for its medicinal properties. Made from pickled umeboshi plums, it has an alkalizing effect on the body which helps combat illnesses and disease. Just be sure to look for a bottle that doesn’t contain any nasty ingredients. The brand I purchase has three ingredients: ume (Japanese plum), sea salt and shiso. Check out the site Allergies and Your Gut for more information on the making of umeboshi vinegar and its many health benefits.

Have you tried the Garlic Beets? I use umeboshi vinegar in that recipe, too.

With the summer over (said with tears rolling down my cheeks), why not add edible fungi to your diet. Mushrooms are immune-boosters and most are nutrient-dense.

Crimini mushrooms, otherwise known as “baby bellas” – did you know that crimini mushrooms are a younger version of the portobellas? – are the ones I find most in our local stores. They usually sit next to the white button mushrooms in the produce section. I tend to choose the crimini mushrooms for their medium-brown colour and earthier taste.


  • 300 grams crimini mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons umeboshi vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil or thyme
  • chopped parsley to garnish

Clean and trim mushrooms. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil. Add clean mushrooms and cook for no more than one minute. Drain and let cool.

Add all other ingredients to a bowl and combine well. Do not add salt. The umeboshi vinegar is salty in taste. When mushrooms are cool, add them to the bowl with dressing and toss. Garnish dish with fresh parsley.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

It’s going to be a beautiful summer solstice weekend in our neck of the woods. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the arrival of summer than a trip north to the lake.

This is the salad we plan to eat on the dock as we watch the osprey dive and listen to the loons sing.

Quinoa seems to be all the rage right now. It’s no wonder. This gluten-free whole grain takes only 15 to 20 minutes to cook, keeps for a few days in the fridge, and is extremely versatile. I have put quinoa in our smoothies and stews, as well as blended it in soups that require a thick, creamy texture. It is even used in many cookie, cake and muffin recipes.

If you haven’t already done so, you may want to try substituting your rice dishes for this wholesome grain. Quinoa has so many health benefits. It is high in protein, iron and calcium and has an abundance of B vitamins and other minerals. In his book “Staying Healthy with Nutrition”, Dr. Elson Haas states that the “amount of protein as well as the quality of protein in quinoa is worth mentioning….this grain contains a fairly nice balance of all essential amino acids, including lysine”.  Lysine is usually not found in grains.

In fact, did you know that quinoa is more closely related to veggies like beets, spinach and swiss chard than it is to grains? As Dr. Haas says, “perhaps we should call it a vege-grain“. 🙂

There are so many delicious quinoa salads out there. This one happens to be our very favourite at the moment.  Mediterranean flavours are just so refreshing this time of the year, don’t you think?


  • 3 cups of cooked and cooled quinoa (follow directions on the package – one cup of dried quinoa makes approximately 3 cups cooked)
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • one diced red pepper
  • good handful of cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1/2 cup to 1 cup chickpeas
  • chopped parsley or cilantro
  • capers and black or green olives, to taste


  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tsp dried oregano

In a large bowl, make the dressing and stir with a fork. Add remaining ingredients and toss. I like to serve this salad on top of a plate of organic mixed greens.

So simple and so easy and so darn tasty! Guaranteed to be a hit at your next social gathering! Enjoy your weekend and eat well!



Easy Tex-Mex Brown Rice Salad

Planning your meals for the upcoming work week?  This dish is an easy and delicious make-ahead salad to take to school, work or any potluck gathering.

Easy Tex-Mex Brown Rice Salad

  • 3 cups cooked brown basmati rice
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil (omit for an oil-free dish)*
  • 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon agave
  • 1 (14 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed (I use Eden beans)
  • good handful of cherry tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup fresh organic corn kernels (frozen and thawed kernels work too)
  • 1/2 cup grated carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
  • 4 green onions, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • sea salt and tabasco sauce to taste

Place all of the above ingredients in a large bowl and gently toss to combine. Cover the salad and keep refrigerated until ready to serve.

Simple and so aromatic!

*More and more I am using less oil in my dishes and the outcome is just as delicious. If you are interested in reading more about olive oil and its use in recipes, I would like to direct you to a recent and excellent post by Paul at vegan food preparation.

Vegan and Gluten-Free Caesar Salad, Dressing and Parmesan Cheese

Creamy, tangy, and oh so garlicky, this Caesar salad recipe is a winner.  Dinner guests that tend to be “picky eaters”,  will never know it’s gluten-free and vegan.  Unless, of course, you tell them which I personally tend to reveal long after the plates are licked clean. 😉

vegan caesar salad_edited-1

This recipe comes from Kris Carr’s book, Crazy, Sexy Diet.  If you don’t mind a little sass, this book is an excellent and quick read.  Kris explains in an easy-to-understand way how to take total control of your own health.

VEGAN CAESAR SALAD AND DRESSING (from Crazy, Sexy Diet by Kris Carr)

  • 1 cup * Vegenaise
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons gluten-free Dijon mustard
  • 1 clove garlic (or more!)
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons nutritional yeast
  • salt and pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a food processor and process until well blended. Pour desired amount over chopped romaine leaves, slivered or chopped red onion,  and gluten-free croutons, if desired.  Using tongs, toss the salad to evenly coat the romaine leaves. Sprinkle top with a vegan Parmesan cheese (see below for a quick and easy recipe).

Store extra dressing in a jar in the fridge and use it later as a spread on sandwiches, steamed vegetables (it’s so yummy on steamed asparagus!), or as a dip for your raw veggies.

vegan caesar dip

Here is a simple recipe for a Parmesan cheese that we absolutely love on our Caesar salad or pasta dishes.


  • handful of raw cashews
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • sea salt to taste
  • some fresh parsley (optional)

Place all ingredients in a food processor.  Pulse until you have coarse crumbs.  Store unused Parmesan in a glass jar in the fridge for future use.

If you are transitioning to a plant-based diet, I highly recommend this Caesar salad.  It satisfies any cravings you may have for cheese or other dairy foods.

* Not familiar with Vegenaise?  You may want to read here for its comparison with a jar of mayo.

Springtime Roasted Fiddlehead Salad

vvpLOGO    Welcome to your next salad in this Virtual Vegan Potluck!  I’m sure you mouth is now watering from all the appetizers, beverages, bread and previous salad posts!  I know mine is!

Considering it’s early May, I wanted to give you a salad that contains a veggie that marks the beginning of the Spring season.  Like the first robin on our front porch,  Spring has officially arrived when fiddleheads arrive at our farmer’s markets and local supermarkets.  For me, fiddleheads are a Springtime delicacy.

Fiddleheads are the furled fronds of a young ostrich fern.  Using my daughter’s words here – “they are cool looking”, as “they very much resemble a little gnome’s violin”.  Fiddleheads have a Spring-like and earthy flavour quite similar to asparagus, another one of my favourites.  This veggie is so nutrient-rich, mostly with iron, fiber, and omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, you just gotta love them!  They grow wild in my neck-of-the-woods, mostly along the banks of rivers and marshes.

I’m pretty big on raw foods, but this is one vegetable that should not be eaten raw. Traditionally, fiddleheads are boiled or steamed for 10-12 minutes.  I wanted to try a different method, so I went with roasting.  Roasting usually brings out the sweetness in vegetables, so it was worth a try.  Roasting fiddleheads, I am happy to report,  makes this unassuming vegetable a little more palatable for some fussy mouths (thinking of my 9 year-old here).


I hope you enjoy my Springtime Roasted Fiddlehead Salad! I tried to keep the recipe and ingredient list simple.  If you are unable to find some fiddleheads, you can always substitute asparagus or broccoli in this recipe.  But, if you really have the desire for fiddleheads, don’t wait too long.  They are only around for a short period of time (unless you acquire frozen ones!).  Without further ado, here is my recipe.


  • 2 cups of fiddleheads
  • 1/2 tablespoon melted coconut oil for roasting (or any other high smoke point oil)
  • 1 large carrot, sliced thinly on a diagonal
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced thinly on a diagonal
  • 2 green onions, sliced thinly on a diagonal
  • 1/2 red pepper, sliced
  • 1/4 cup parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and prepare a roasting pan with parchment paper.

Wash fiddleheads thoroughly in cold water.  Gently remove  browned tips and brown flakes.  Pat dry with a clean cloth.  Toss gently in a large bowl with melted coconut oil and place on prepared pan.  Be sure fiddleheads are spread out evenly on pan.  Add a sprinkle of sea salt, if you wish.  Roast fiddleheads for approximately 25 minutes, giving them a little flip halfway through roasting.  Let cool.

In a small mixing bowl, mix together olive oil, lemon juice, and garlic.  This is your salad’s dressing.

Prepare remaining vegetables and toss in a medium-sized serving bowl.

Once fiddleheads have cooled, add them to your serving bowl.  Whip your dressing with a fork and pour the dressing over the vegetables in your serving bowl.  Toss and serve.

Enjoy the rest of this fabulous potluck!




Kale Salad With a Kick


I finished day 3 of Natasha Kyssa’s “SimplyRaw Detox” with this beautiful and slightly spicy kale salad.  By far, this has to be the best kale salad I have ever tasted.

The recipe is from Brendan Brazier’s “Whole Foods to Thrive”.  Early this morning over a warm cup of Fire Water, I earmarked several pages of this book.  It never really dawned on me until today of the large number of raw recipes Brendan actually has in this book.  This kale salad recipe popped out as it contains a good pinch of cayenne pepper, just like my early morning Fire Water.

This salad was my dinner tonight, so I gave it a little extra by adding a handful of sunflower sprouts and a handful of raw pumpkin seeds.


  • 1 head of kale, shredded
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • handful of sprouts
  • handful of raw seeds or nuts
  • 3 tablespoons flaxseed oil
  • 2 green onions, finely diced
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • a good pinch of cayenne pepper

In a large bowl, using a fork, mix together the oil, lemon juice, salt and cayenne pepper.  Toss in chopped avocado and chopped tomato and mix.  Add kale and green onions and toss.  You may want to use your clean hands to help “wilt” the kale and soften the avocado to a creamier texture.  Once kale has been coated, toss in sprouts and seeds.  Serve immediately.

Day 2 of Going Raw for 28 days!

Last week, my good sister-in-law, Sharon, initiated a Raw Food Detox Support Group for friends and family interested in going on a 28-day raw food cleanse beginning April 1st.   I immediately jumped at the idea of joining!  April is the perfect time to rid the body of toxins accumulated over the winter months.  After all, it is at this time that I (normally) decide to de-clutter closets and dust those often neglected shelves in the house.  Why not do the same for my body?

The program we have chosen is Natasha Kyssa’s “SimplyRaw Detox”.  In her book,  “The SimplyRaw Living Foods Detox Manual”, Natasha sums up nicely our reasons for choosing this program:

“The program isn’t as restrictive as fasting and is easy to maintain during a regular working schedule. Unlike many other programs, you won’t feel deprived or go hungry, and the abundance of vitamins, minerals, and enzymes will supply the body with the daily nutrients and energy that is necessary for optimum health.”

No supplements or pills are required, just clean “live” food.

This will be my third time on this program.  The last two times I did feel the need on some days to tailor the program to fit my busy schedule.  On those days, I kept my meals clean, but indulged in cooked quinoa or steamed veggies where all my meals were to be 100 per cent raw.  I didn’t beat myself up over it, as this is actually something Natasha suggests for those not ready to go all the way with program.  At the end of the program, I still received positive results and it allowed me to continue my healthy eating habits of adding more raw foods to my diet long after the 28 days.

This time, I plan to follow the program 100 per cent!  I have a wonderful group of gals (41 of us in total!)  who will be there for meal ideas, suggestions and support.  I also have a very encouraging family who enjoy tasting my raw goodies and enjoy sharing a raw meal with me at the dinner table.

This is the end of day 2 and I wanted to share with you my food diary for the day.

When I woke up this morning, I did not reach for the coffee carafe.  Instead, I had a 2 oz. shot of wheatgrass juice then sipped on a mug of Fire Water.  I love telling the kids that I am sipping on Fire Water (since they assume I am the Dragon Lady on most days).  I followed my water with one organic apple and ate a piece of Fruit and Nut Manna Bread as my mid-morning snack.


  • 10 oz. purified water (warm)
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • a sprinkle of cayenne pepper

For lunch, my husband and I sat down to a big plate of mixed greens and sunflower sprouts topped with shredded carrot, chopped green onion, chopped cucumber, a sprinkle of hemp seeds, and a little lemon vinaigrette.  Our salad was accompanied by a large blueberry milkshake.  In the mid-afternoon, I had another wheatgrass shot and 1 medium peeled carrot.



  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 garlic, minced

Stir together with a fork and pour desired amount over salad.  This dressing recipe does make more than enough for two large salads.


  • 2 cups purified water
  • 2 bananas, peeled
  • 1/2 cup frozen blueberries
  • 1 small handful of kale leaves
  • 3 dates, pitted
  • 1/4 cup hemp seeds, soaked (you can use sunflower seeds too)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • sprinkle nutmeg

Blend all ingredients until smooth and serve.

For dinner, I made a plate of zucchini noodles with my spiral slicer and steamed a pot of organic broccoli.  You can see a photo of this slicer in action here.  I topped my zucchini noodles with Ani Phyo’s Pesto.  I love this recipe.  Instead of olive oil and cheese, an avocado, nutritional yeast, and miso are added for an out-of-this-world creamy and flavourful topping for any pasta or wrap.


  • 1/2 cup pistachios, shelled and raw (I used raw cashews, soaked for 30 minutes)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon miso, unpasteurized (I used yellow miso)
  • 1 cup basil leaves, fresh
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup avocado
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
  • 1 teaspoon dulse flakes

* I doubled this recipe for a family of 4.  Chop nuts in a food processor. Add remaining ingredients and process to mix well.  Add heaping tablespoons of pesto to noodles and stir.


Our 9 year-old daughter has a hard time with zucchini noodles.  She loved the pesto with some brown rice penne noodles, though!  This was her plate before she went off to dance class earlier this evening.


The next couple of days I am scheduled to teach in an elementary school where nuts are not permitted.  I plan on taking a few pieces of rustic sweet onion flatbread and kale chips all now in my dehydrator.  I will also take along another good helping of mixed greens, raw veggies, fresh fruit, some herbal tea and lots of water, of course.

I can’t  wait for this month to progress!  I will soon feel lighter on my feet and have an exuberant amount of energy.  I also look forward to trading in the sweats for a good pair skinny jeans. Yay! 🙂