Simple Summer Salad

Quinoa Chickpea Salad

The summer heat is on! For those of us in the Northern Hemisphere, Summer is here literally and figuratively. In the desert, where we live, the temperature has exceeded 110F several times already with more HOT.HOT, HOT days to come! Cooking meals in the summer not only adds to our external discomfort, but our bodies are already pretty busy trying to manage temperature making digesting a heavy meal a burden no “body” really wants. One way to keep your kitchen cooler (saving some money on expensive air conditioning) and aid your digestive system, is to make meals that don’t require cooking. This is just one of the many awesome reasons a plant-based diet makes perfect sense. There are so many options for plant-based meals that don’t require “heat”.  Here is one very flavorful summer meal that is quick to make, perfect for a picnic or to take to work, and, most importantly, has outstanding nutrition.

Simple Summer Salad

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Simple Summer Salad

This recipe was inspired and veganized from one of my favorite recipe books "Quinoa, The Everyday Superfood 365" by Patricia Green & Carolyn Hemming. It is fresh and full of flavor - not to mention an excellent source of plant-based protein, vitamins and minerals.


  • 1 cup cooked quinoa (cooled)
  • 2 19 oz cans chickpeas (Garbanzo Beans) drained & rinsed
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 3 Tbsp drained capers
    For Dressing
  • 2 Tbsp EVOO
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 Tsp Eden Organic Yellow Mustard
  • 3 cloves freshly chopped organic garlic
  • pinch of chili powder


  1. Prepare the dressing, blending well, and set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine chickpeas, parsley, capers and quinoa.
  3. Pour dressing over mixture and blend well.
  4. Let salad sit at room temperature for 30 minutes to allow flavors to blend.


I like to batch cook quinoa and keep in the refrigerator or freezer so it is always handy for a quick meal like this Simple Summer Salad.

Italian Parsley is recommended for this recipe as it is very much more flavorful than curly parsley. Curly parsley also changes the texture - although that is not a bad thing!

I recommend Eden Organic Yellow Mustard because the ingredients are simple and healthier than most other options. Read labels to be sure of what you are consuming.

Capers are very flavorful but do add sodium to your meal. You will not need to, nor do I recommend, adding any additional salt to this recipe.

Chili powder adds a little "zip" to the dressing. If you like things a little spicier, try using a pinch of cayenne instead.

Quinoa RecipesThis recipe book, “Quinoa – The Everyday Superfood 365” by Patricia Green & Carolyn Hemming, is one of my favorites. While not all of the recipes are Vegan, most can easily be Veganized. The very cool part of this recipe book is that is demonstrates all the incredible ways you can enjoy the SuperFood – Quinoa. Check it out.




Nutrition Information 

Quinoa – 3/4 cup

  • Excellent source of plant-based protein. In fact, quinoa provides all the essential amino acids so it is considered a “complete protein” source. One serving of quinoa supplies 8.14 grams of protein or 16% of DRI.
  • Excellent source of fiber. 5.18 grams or 21%
  • Very good source of manganese and good source of phosphorus, since, magnesium, and copper.

Chickpeas/Garbanzo Beans – 1 cup

  • Excellent source of plant-based protein. 14.53 grams or 29% of your daily requirement for protein.
  • Excellent source of fiber. 12.4 grams (3.9 g soluble/8.6 g insoluble) fiber or 50% of your daily requirement.
  • Chickpeas are also a excellent source of molybdenum, folate and choline; and a good source of copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium, and zinc.

Italian Parsley – 1/2 cup

  • Excellent source of Vitamin K (554% DRI) and Vitamin C (54%DRI)
  • Good source of Vitamin A (14%), Folate (12%) and Iron (10%)


  • Good source of Vitamin K, Vitamin A, niacin and riboflavin.
  • Excellent source of flavonoid anti-oxidants rutin and quercetin. Rutin is known to strengthen capillaries and quecertin has been shown to have excellent anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial qualities. In fact the quercetin levels found in capers is second only to the quercetin levels found in tea leaves.


Carrots, Cumin & Coriander Salad – A Trifecta of Flavor

Fresh CarrotsSummer is the best time of year to find fresh, crisp, delicious carrots at your local farmers’ market. While they are available year round, there is nothing like the taste of picked-today veggies; not to mention these wonderful foods are at their peak nutritionally during the summer months.

Some people think carrots are not very exciting.  They often see them as low-calorie snack foods to endure or merely some “color on a plate” rather than the incredibly versatile food they truly are. Carrots are indeed a great snack food (and they are certainly a low calorie option) but they are also excellent when made into soup, included in a stew, roasted with some herbs as a side dish, added to muffins and, my personal favorite, as the lead actor in my Carrots, Cumin & Coriander raw summer salad that is so full of flavor you’ll want seconds.

For my salad recipe, I happened to use the more common orange carrots; but you can certainly use a variety of colors: red, purple, yellow, white and orange to make your salad a beautiful rainbow of color on  your plate.  Make sure you select the freshest, brightest carrots available – the ones with the tops still on are a good bet!

Carrots, Cumin & Coriander Salad – A Trifecta of Flavor

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 10 minutes

Yield: 4 - 6 Servings

Carrots, Cumin & Coriander Salad – A Trifecta of Flavor

The dressing can be made ahead of time and refrigerated (covered) for up to 24 hours. This will allow the flavors to blend together and will save time when ready to serve. Make sure the avocado is not too soft - you want it to be a little firm so it will hold up. While the cayenne or chili pepper is optional, it does add a lovely little kick to this salad.


  • 1 lb fresh carrots
  • 4 stalks fresh crisp celery
  • 1 medium avocado
    For Dressing
  • 1/4 cup organic EVOO
  • 1 Tsp cumin
  • 1/2 Tsp coriander
  • 1/2 Tsp garlic powder
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/4 Tsp chili powder or pinch of cayenne (optional)


  1. Wash and trim carrots. There is no need to peel. Shred in food processor and remove to large bowl.
  2. Finely chop celery and add to bowl.
  3. Chop avocado into small pieces and add to carrots and celery IF serving immediately. Otherwise, prepare avocado just before serving and toss into salad at last minute to avoid any browning.
  4. Whisk all dressing ingredients in a small bowl.
  5. Add dressing to veggies and toss.

Why Carrots Make a Healthy Food Choice

Carrots are an excellent source of Vitamin A – especially important for eye health as well as having overall antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. In fact, 1 cup of carrots provides 113% of your daily recommended intake of Vitamin A.

Carrots are also a very good source of biotin (an important B Complex vitamin that helps convert food into energy), Vitamin K for cell health (particularly brain cell health), molybdenum to help our bodies detoxify, 14% of our daily requirement of fiber to keep our digestive tract in good shape, 11% of our daily potassium requirement, and 10% of our Vitamin C requirement.  Carrots are also a high water-content food so they make a great addition to your hydration needs. NOTE:  Drinking water throughout the day is the best way to stay hydrated – foods like carrots, celery and watermelon are awesome supplements.

BONUS:  Carrots are a low calorie, nutritionally awesome, very affordable food. They are easy to prepare and very portable.  Take them on a picnic, add them to your lunch, enjoy them after fitness class or school…. they are a healthy whole food to enjoy every day.

Picnic-Perfect Potato & Sweet Pepper Salad


Hooray, it’s picnic season! Who doesn’t enjoy packing a picnic basket full of delicious summer foods and heading to your favorite park, or beach, or a secluded hilltop to enjoy the great outdoors and break bread with friends and family or maybe even spend some alone time to destress from a busy week? It is easy to work up quite an appetite when enjoying the outdoors: swimming, building sandcastles, hiking, playing games etc; so the temptation to fill up on empty calories from salty chips, sugary sodas, and fat-filled sweets is very strong; however, taking good care of your health by eating nutritious foods is just as important on a picnic as it is every day at home. Yes, your choices need to be fairly portable, easy to prepare and serve, and packed safely to prevent food-bourne illness; but this is pretty easy to accomplish with a little preparation.

There are many great recipes available for simple yet nutritious picnic fare. One I particularly love is my Sweet & Peppery Summer Salad.  Should you want to “cook” while enjoying the outdoors, my Black Bean Burgers are a great choice. They will sizzle in no time on a grill or outdoor cooktop and I know will be a big hit with everyone. A delicious staple of picnics everywhere is a potato salad but it can come with some hefty calories and often unhealthy ingredients.  Here is my recipe for a delicious but healthier, plant-based version of this picnic favorite that is truly easy to prepare.

Picnic-Perfect Potato & Sweet Pepper Salad

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 60 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Picnic-Perfect Potato & Sweet Pepper Salad



  1. Wash, halve and steam potatoes until just fork tender (about 25 minutes) Drain and rinse gently with cold water to stop cooking process. Cut potato pieces in half again. Let cool.
  2. Use the Healthy Saute method to slightly soften and bring out the flavor of the chopped peppers (Healthy Saute: bring 3 Tbsp of vegetable broth or water to bubbling, add peppers, cover and cook for no more than 3 minutes. Drain.) Let peppers cool.
    For Dressing:
  1. Combine Just Mayo, Yellow Mustard, smoked paprika, dill weed and salt. Cover and refrigerate until ready to blend into potato mixture.
    To Pack or Serve
  1. In a large bowl add potatoes, celery and sweet peppers. Add dressing. Mix gently.
  2. When serving, sprinkle potato salad with small amount of dill weed and paprika.


Keep all picnic foods cold with ice packs/bags of ice in your picnic basket/cooler until ready to serve. Serve only when ready to eat. Do not let foods sit out in the sun/heat.

Plant-Based Nutrition Information

potatoesPotatoes are the stars of this recipe.  Often considered inexpensive comfort food and frequently consumed as unhealthy fast food; potatoes can actually provide awesome nutrition if they are prepared in a healthy way! This recipe calls for steaming the potatoes rather than boiling them.  This prevents the nutrients from being boiled away into the water and ensures the potatoes do not become too soft. Leaving the skins on the potato also increases the already high fiber content of this important food.

Potatoes are a very good source of Vitamin B6 – the cell-builder vitamin. B6 is very important for keeping our brain cells functioning and for supporting our nervous system. Our body’s production of serotonin (happiness), melatonin (sleep), epinephrine and norepinephrine (for stress management) needs vitamin B6. B6 also supports our cardiovascular system by helping to keep homocysteine levels low (homocysteine damages our blood vessels). Potatoes are also a good source of potassium, copper, Vitamin C, manganese, phosphorus, niacin and pantothenic acid.

Sweet Bell Pepper

Sweet Bell Peppers are AWESOME! One cup of these incredible veggies has only 29 calories – pretty incredible for a food that tastes so good, right? Sweet Bell Peppers are an outstanding source of Vitamin C – just one cup will give you 157% of your recommend daily intake of this important vitamin.Sweet Bell Peppers are also a very good source of Vitamin B6, Vitamin A, and folate. BONUS: these peppers have 30 different carotenoids that provide antioxidant and anti-inflammatory support to our bodies. Good things do come in small packages!

The nutrients we derive from these delicious veggies are at their peak when the peppers are fully ripe.  How do you know if they are ripe?  Your best evidence is in their color: when the color is deep and vivid they are likely ready to eat.  Another bit of evidence is if the pepper feels heavy for its size and if the pepper feels firm but yields very slightly to pressure.

celeryCelery is an awesome veggie that adds great texture (crunch) to my potato salad and a lovely color against the white flesh of the potatoes. Celery has been a go-to veggie for anyone trying to keep their caloric intake in check; but I wonder how many people really understand how valuable this veggie is to our daily nutritional requirements!

Celery is an excellent source of Vitamin K – a vitamin necessary for blood clotting. Vitamin K is also very important for our bone health.

Celery also has very special anti-inflammatory benefits – particularly for our digestive tract.  Celery is an important source of molybdenum – a mineral that helps our bodies detoxify by keeping the sulfer in our system in balance. Celery is a good source of folate, potassium and manganese as well.

I’ve talked a lot about the need to stay hydrated – especially in the summer – and celery can play a role in this essential task. Celery is 95% water – and while just eating celery won’t keep you hydrated, every little bit helps.

NOTE:  If you are unable to find Just Mayo from Hampton Creek for this recipe at your grocery store, Veganaise from Follow Your Heart is a very good alternative. In fact, I use both these products regularly.

Eat Great Food this Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day Blog Post

Labor Day Weekend is seen as the last big hurrah of summer. Children are back to school, sports and recreational activities begin their Fall programs, and workplaces seem to pick up the pace now that everyone is back from summer vacation. The 3-day weekend gives us an opportunity for one more gathering in the park, a pool party in the back yard, or a road trip to the beach.

Ahhh, summer, it’s hard for us to let you go!
Food is usually a central theme at holiday celebrations. Sharing good food with friends and family is part of our social fabric; yet, when it comes to packing our picnic baskets and filling our coolers, our understanding of the importance of nutrition seems to disappear. Let’s be honest; potato chips, colas, sweets and fried things are common fare for picnics. I’ve even heard these foods referred to as “treats”. Yet, the vast majority of these foods are nothing more than high fat, high sugar, high sodium, high calorie, low value, unhealthy choices.

Disturbing facts: By the end of 2015, potato chip sales  just in the U.S. will exceed $4.5 billion. One 6.75oz package of potato chips, 1 very small bag, has 1085 calories, 73 grams of fat, a whopping 1071 milligrams of sodium. Most people do not limit themselves to a 6.75oz serving.


Better Picnic Basket Alternatives

Here are some suggestions for your weekend celebration. Each one is easy to prepare, budget-friendly and definitely nutritious. Preparing these recipes together is an excellent opportunity to make nutrition a family affair.

Black Bean Burgers: Jazzed Up Veggies
Tabouleh Salad: Jazzed Up Veggies
Hummus: Jazzed Up Veggies
Chickpea Spread: Jazzed Up Veggies
Sangria: Jazzed Up Veggies
Dessert: Jazzed Up Veggies
Best Kale Chips: Recipe by Angela
Sweet-Potato Chips: Simply slice sweet potatoes very thin, toss with a very small amount of olive oil, sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Bake on cookie sheet slowly at 250 degrees for 1.5 – 2 hours.
Flip once.
Raw Veggies: carrot sticks, cucumber slices, cauliflower florets, broccoli florets, grape tomatoes, red pepper sticks, celery boats, & shelled edamame. Our Jazzed Up Chickpea Spread recipe makes a great dip for raw veggies or make some garlic hummus.
Nuts & Seeds: raw cashews, almonds, shelled sunflower seeds, and pistachios are great choices
Water: Keep everyone hydrated with infused water.

Enjoy your weekend. Breathe deeply, relax, make memories with family and friends, and nourish your body. Moments like these really nourish our souls.

Summer Celebration – Sweet & Peppery Summer Salad

Summer is nearly over and school is starting soon but there is still time to enjoy the bounty of the season.  Here in the desert Southwest it will feel like summer for some time yet. We  have had temperatures in the 110+ range for the past few weeks but it looks like we will be “dropping” to near 100 next week. Yeah! What better way is there to enjoy the week-end before school starts and stay cool than with this delicious summer’s bounty salad. Serve it as a starter, before your grilled veggie or bean burgers are ready, or have a larger portion as a main course. You will love this salad (the dressing is really awesome). It is definitely one of my go-to meals on a hot summer’s day.  Here is a little video incentive to get you started.


Sweet & Peppery Summer Salad

Sweet & Peppery Summer Salad

This salad makes a lovely appetizer or light meal. The quinoa, cashews and almonds are great sources of protein and the avocado adds heart-healthy fats. The lemons add a wonderful freshness, and of course Vitamin C, and the mango is simply delicious.

The combination of arugula, kale and radicchio is peppery and adds a lovely texture. All in all a wonderful summer salad.


  • Salad
  • 1 cup red or rainbow quinoa
  • 2 cups vegan vegetable broth
  • 1 medium Ataulfo mango
  • 1 medium avocado
  • 1 small red onion
  • 1/3 cup raw almonds
  • 1 - 5 oz package Earthbound Farm Organic Kale Italia deep green blend
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs (I used basil, parsley, garlic chives and cilantro)
  • Dressing
  • 1 cup raw cashews soaked for at least 1 hour
  • Juice of 2 medium sized fresh lemons
  • 1/4 virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup cashew milk
  • 3+ cloves fresh garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Rinse quinoa thoroughly. Bring broth to a boil, add quinoa, then reduce to low simmer. Cook until broth absorbed (20 mins) Fluff quinoa with fork. Set aside to cool.
  2. Dice or thinly slice red onion.
  3. Chop mango into small pieces. (The Ataulfo mango is not fibrous like other mangos and has a lovely, creamy lightly sweet flavor. I recommend this mango as it is just the right balance for this salad.)
  4. Thinly slice raw almonds.
  5. Mix Kale Italia and herbs in salad bowl. Add quinoa and toss again. Add all other salad ingredients.
  6. Do not toss again until dressing has been added.
  7. Prepare Dressing: This recipe makes enough dressing for several servings. Refrigerate extra immediately.
  8. Drain cashews and place in bowl.
  9. Add garlic, olive oil, cashew milk, lemon juice, salt & pepper.
  10. Mash together.
  11. Place ingredients in tall container.
  12. Use immersion blender to blend into desired consistency. Add additional lemon juice to thin if necessary.
  13. Drizzle desired amount of dressing over salad ingredients and toss gently.

Jazzed Up Tabouleh – Plant Based Deliciousness

We love finding new ways to enjoy old favorites, like this jazzed up version of Tabouleh. A tasty summertime favorite, full of fresh, delicious herbs and veggies; our version of Tabouleh uses cauliflower instead of the traditional bulgur wheat and kicks things up a bit with the addition of coriander and sea salt seasonings. These add great flavor to an already delish dish. Of course, the great thing about these types of recipes is you can make them your own by incorporating seasonings that appeal to your palate.

We believe a refreshing summer salad is made even more enjoyable with a glass of crisp, cool organic white wine or some sparkling water. We are writing a post next week on the availability of vegan organic wines so stay tuned for that! For now, to be sure you are choosing vegan friendly wine, check out or do a little online research of vineyards that use only plant-based fining in their wine production.

Here is a little vignette we put together about the making of our Tabouleh. The recipe follows

Jazzed Up Tabouleh

Jazzed Up Tabouleh

Using the freshest ingredients available will ensure this lovely dish is at its best. Don't limit yourself to the more common white cauliflower; have some fun and substitute beautiful purple or orange cauliflower. I especially love the texture and color of Romanesco cauliflower. Whichever cauliflower you choose, the crunch and flavor simply elevates Tabouleh to a new level. Coriander is the unexpected ingredient here and adds a lovely, unique flavor. I use the sea salt with sea veg because it adds additional nutrition; but regular sea salt will also do the trick.The BONUS feature of this salad is it is very low in calories and high in nutrition. Enjoy!


  • 1/2 large head of cauliflower florets (remove tough core)
  • 2 cups tomatoes - we used red, yellow & white cherry & grape tomatoes sliced in quarters and halves
  • 2 large bunches of fresh flat-leaf parsley chopped
  • 4 green onions - white part for salad green part for garnish
  • 1 large English cucumber - diced (no need to peel)
  • 3 tbsp fresh mint - chopped
  • 1/3 cup organic olive oil - extra virgin
  • 3 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (add more to taste if desired)
  • 1/2 tsp Maine Coast Sea Seasoning (sea salt & sea vegetables)
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/4 tsp pepper


  1. Chop parsley, mint, cucumber, and green onions.
  2. Slice tomatoes
  3. Pulse cauliflower florets in food processor (S blade) until desired consistency. Do not over process.
  4. Transfer above ingredients to large bowl.
  5. Add olive oil & lemon juice. Toss gently.
  6. Mix salt, coriander, and pepper together, Add to bowl. Toss gently.
  7. Refrigerate for several hours to blend flavors.
  8. Sprinkle with green onion garnish.
  9. Serve.

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