Citrus Jicama Salad

Ironically, while I was in the midst of testing my 4th batch of streusel bars, I actually got hungry. I was craving something light and clean to contrast the sweet and buttery bars. I usually make a jicama salad with mango and mint. But grapefruit is in season and mango is a little harder to find these days. Plus, I just read somewhere (or maybe I saw it on The Dr. Oz Show, though I’m a little ashamed to admit this) that grapefruit can speed up your metabolism. It is also quite low on the glycemic index and is high in fiber. This salad is one of those rare combinations of super-healthy and low calorie while still being sort of addictingly good. You can adjust the dressing according to your taste — more or less agave, more salt, less oil, etc. Be sure to get really juicy lemons and limes for the dressing. I didn’t measure exactly when I made mine, but I know that the lemons and limes I used yielded a lot of juice. If yours are slightly less juicy, just adjust the rest of the ingredients proportionately.

Cirtus Jicama Salad:

1 jicama, peeled and diced

1 grapefruit, segmented (membranes removed using hands)

1/4 cup fresh mint, chiffoned or minced

Dressing:

juice of 1/2 lemon

juice of 1/2 lime

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon agave nectar

1/4 teaspoon sea salt (plus more to taste)

Directions:

Combine jicama, grapefruit and mint in a salad bowl. Toss with enough dressing to coat.

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Vegan Caesar Salad

vegan caesar saladCaesar salad is one of those ubiquitous menu items. It ranges anywhere from a pre-packaged container of stale croutons and wilted lettuce at the airport to the real good stuff that’s tossed tableside, to order, at the best Italian restaurants. As a result, the legitimacy of any given Caesar is sometimes questioned, let alone a vegan Caesar.

I’m always hesitant to put together a recipe that seeks to omit an inherent ingredient in a classic dish. Look at any Caesar recipe. It may be eggless. There may or may not be anchovies. Some include mustard. But there is almost always going to be parmesan cheese. That’s what makes it so good.

I’m sorry to inform anyone that I haven’t found the magical vegan substitute for parmesan. For many vegans, a popular alternative is nutritional yeast, which I used in this recipe. It’s nutty — and, by definition, nutritious — but I wouldn’t hold your breath if you’re looking for an exact match. That said, I invite you to suspend your notion of what a “Caesar” salad should or should not taste like — or include. This is just a good, creamy, salty, nutty, tangy dressing with the spirit of a classic Caesar and without the eggs or anchovies. Or the parmesan cheese.

In lieu of croutons, I sometimes use chickpeas for a bit of texture and a touch of protein. I also like to use my focaccia recipe for croutons. I toss cubed focaccia in a little bit of olive oil and baking them at 375 for about 20 minutes, or until browned and crispy.

Use 1 head of chopped, crisp romaine lettuce for this salad. This will serve about 4-6 as a side, or 2-3 as an entree salad. The dressing recipe makes plenty of dressing, so store any remaining dressing in a glass jar in refrigerator. It will definitely keep for a few days, if not longer (it’s never lasted long enough in my fridge for me to find out). 

Vegan Caesar Dressing:

1 clove raw garlic, peeled

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup olive oil

2 tablespoons sesame tahini

1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon water

1 scallion, white part only

1 teaspoon capers, drained

1/4 teaspoon dry mustard powder

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Blend all ingredients  for dressing in a blender until smooth. Toss romaine with just enough dressing to coat lettuce. Serve right away.

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Kale Salad with Quinoa and Cranberries

There are few things I love more than a new food discovery. Whether it be a new restaurant, a new product (I almost died and went to heaven when I discovered Purely Decadent ice cream in Whole Foods one hot summer day), or a new ingredient, it’s always exciting bringing some variety into your food world. So imagine my excitement when I found coconut amino at my local health food store when I went to re-up on my bottle of wheat-free tamari. There, in the section where it seemed only fermented soy products were destined to reside, was this soy-free, dairy-free, vegan product. I turned around the label. I must have been missing something. Would there be some disclaimer on the back — some small print concession that this product contains a trace amount of soy? Nope. Just more to make me want to buy the stuff. It was high in healthy amino acids. Lower in sodium than soy sauce or liquid amino and very low on the glycemic index. Plus, it was relatively inexpensive. Here is my inaugural recipe using coconut aminos: a simple, satisfying kale salad with quinoa for protein (an homage to the cafe at the Detroit Zen Center, a Delectably Free fave), and dried cranberries for a tart, sweet addition.

Kale Salad:

1 bunch kale, washed, chopped and tough ribs removed

1 cup cooked quinoa, kept warm

1/2 cup fruit sweetened dried cranberries

Dressing:

3 tablespoons coconut aminos

3 tablespoons sesame tahini

3 tablespoons fresh-squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons water

Directions:

1. Prepare dressing in a blender or, alternately, combine ingredients in a jar and shake vigorously.

2. Toss salad ingredients with dressing in a large bowl until kale is covered. Some dressing may be left over.

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Salad with Tahini Dressing and Stevia Candied Walnuts

I’m packing up and headed to Michigan for a few days to visit my family, so I’ll make this one quick. It’s fitting, actually, because this hearty salad would make a relatively quick and healthy dinner. It’s also very amendable to variation, though you simply must give these sweet yet guilt-free candied walnuts a shot. The tahini dressing is a creamy, tangy and satisfying addition to salads. I imagine it would also make a great sauce for chicken kabobs. Other possible variations to the salad: chopped avocado, chickpeas, dried cherries or goat cheese.

Tahini Dressing:

1/4 cup tahini

1/3 cup lemon juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoons sea salt (or more to taste)

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 tablespoons chopped parsley (optional)

1-3 tablespoons water, as needed

Truvia Candied Walnuts:

1 tablespoon vegan buttery spread

1/2 cup walnuts

2 packets truvia (I don’t like to use Truvia anymore; try your favorite stevia and start with one packet then add more as needed)

pinch of salt (about 1/2 teaspoon)

Other Additions:

Bibb lettuce, spinach or romaine

Cooked beets

Cooked Lentils (I cook mine with a pinch of salt and a pinch of allspice)

Directions:

1. To make dressing: blend all ingredients in a blender, minus the water. If dressing is too thick, add water as needed to reach desired consistency. Season with more salt or pepper to taste.

2. To make candied walnuts: In a small saute pan, heat buttery spread over medium-high heat until it begins to bubble. Add walnuts and toss to coat. Saute for about a minute in the butter. Add truvia and salt — when added to the butter, the coating will begin to brown. Continue to toss walnuts in coating and saute for about 4 minutes, or until walnuts begin to brown. Cool walnuts on a flat sheet of parchment paper until hardened.

3. Assemble salad. Garnish with walnuts and drizzle with dressing.

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Turkish Shepherd’s Salad

This is a healthy — yet addictive — salad that goes great as a side with any Middle Eastern dish, such as mujadarah. A single recipe makes enough to serve 2-4 (depending on how many other items are on your menu), but I like to make a triple recipe and have it on hand over a few days for a healthy meal or snack. I got the idea for this Shepherd’s salad from a wonderful version I enjoyed at the Turkish Kitchen in New York. They serve great Turkish food in a very trendy, nightclubish atmoshpere. The Turkish salad is a must-order there. I love the burst of flavor from the briney kalamata olives, a lovely contrast to the fresh, crunchy vegetables and parsley.

Shepherd’s Salad:

1 1/2 cups diced persian cucumber

1 cup diced roma tomato

1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, drained

1/2 cup parsley, roughly chopped

1/3 cup minced red onion

3 tablespoons lemon juice

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon salt

Toss all ingredients in a medium bowl to combine.

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Carrot Ginger Dressing

I’m busy early in the week this semester. When the days are long and I’m getting tired, I’m always tempted to order in or hit the salad bar at Whole Foods. Just a little Sunday night preparation, however, goes a long way. Last night, for example, I washed and cut up some romaine, roasted some tofu, and sliced some red onion. By adding some sprouts and this dressing I had a simple and healthy lunch and dinner, and one that will last me at least a couple of days. Despite the very low calorie content of this dressing, it’s amazingly flavorful. Prepare a batch for yourself and let it brighten up your busy week as well.

Ingredients:

1 cup diced carrot (about 2 carrots)

1/4 cup water

2 teaspoons fresh grated ginger

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon wheat free tamari

1 teaspoon agave nectar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon grapeseed oil

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

2 tablespoons fresh orange juice

pinch salt to taste

Directions:

Blend everything in a blender until fairly smooth. Dressing will be thick and carrots will still have some texture, but no crunch. Chill in refrigerator before serving.

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