Tag Archives: Salad

Sunburned, with salad

Hello there, ladies and gents! I’m back from a wonderfully lazy little trip to my friend Ingrid’s parents’ lake house. It was peeeeerfection. I caught a ride there and back with my brother and sister-in-law and their youngest little cherub, so I didn’t even have to drive. (Fun fact: I hate to drive. Hate it like I hate Chick-fil-A.) Ingrid is one of my very best friends from law school, and we always joke about how our families have pretty much the same collective personality. So, the weekend had all the comforts of hanging out with my own kin…..plus a sailboat, jet-skis, a pretty lake, and NO STUDYING. (I didn’t take my camera, sincere apologies. This is why I’m not a professional blogger–I tend to forget important things.)

There was also some really good food. (And isn’t that what we’re here for, after all?) I came home on a mission to recreate a coleslaw-esque salad Ingrid’s mom made, but things went awry. First of all, her salad had a mayonnaise-ey dressing. So I got out the blender and tried to make some mayonnaise out of soy milk and olive oil and it was literally the grossest thing my hands have ever wrought. I spit in the sink after I tasted it (even though I’m usually quite refined). Back to the drawing board on the homemade Vegannaise. Also, the salad that inspired my project had cranberries in it, and the grocery store I went to had no such thing.

But–take note, potential employers–I am nothing if not resourceful. I came home with some cabbage and some Rainier cherries, and mixed up something different. This was kind of unique and refreshing, so I submit it for your consideration.


Cherry-Almond Slaw with Ginger Vinaigrette


  • 1/2 c. canola or other neutral-tasting oil
  • 2 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and roughly chopped
  • S&P to taste


  • 4-5 c. shredded cabbage
  • 4 scallions, sliced thin (white and green parts)
  • about 1 1/2 c. Rainier cherries, pitted and roughly chopped
  • 1/4-1/3 c. slivered almonds

Combine the dressing ingredients in a blender, or if you’d rather, just mince the ginger and whisk everything together. I definitely did not use all of the dressing (saved some for future lunch salads), so scale back the ingredients if you’d rather not have any leftover. Toss the slaw ingredients with the dressing and serve. (Oh–and, I totally should have toasted the almonds first for more flavor, so you might try that. Way to drop the ball, DK.)

But wait–there’s more! I also found this sad little tupperware of leftover cooked orzo in the fridge.


I’d say it was about 2 cups. Taking my cues from this Heather’s Dish recipe, I added the following:

  • the raw kernels from 1 ear of sweet corn (I ❤ you, Iowa)
  • 2 sliced scallions
  • about 1/2 c. blueberries
  • a handful of roughly chopped parsley
  • drizzle of olive oil
  • drizzle of agave (sub honey if you want)
  • a few generous splashes of balsamic vinegar
  • S&P

Finished tupperware (less sad):


So, although I’m back from my little retreat and there are no boats waiting in this backyard, I do at least have a fridge full of healthy eats. We also have a make-your-own-bruschetta station….


…….and a really swanky pool.


Much love from the Moines…..see you again soon!


Slaw school

Vegetables. They never cease to amaze me.


What the @#$% are those, you ask? They’re kohlrabi (aka German turnips), that’s what. They belong to the cabbage family, and they have white flesh inside that has a texture similar to apples, jicama, or maybe raw potatoes. In all of my 25 years, I have never seen kohlrabi anywhere other than my grandparents’ house–my Grandpa Elmer always grows them in his garden. But apparently other people eat them too, because when my parents brought a couple home I googled “kohlrabi slaw recipe,” and several options came up. Here’s the link to the one we used–followed pretty much exactly (except I didn’t use cilantro and we only had two kohlrabi), so I won’t re-type it here. I was going to try making some homemade Vegannaise to replace the small amount of mayonnaise, but in the end I didn’t, mostly because I cannot get over my aversion to the word “Vegannaise.”

First, peel the kohlrabi with a paring knife and slice them into matchsticks. (This is kind of tedious, but I find chopping things very relaxing.)


Then whisk together your dressing ingredients, and toss with the veggies and golden raisins in a big bowl. Easy as can be!


This is a very simple recipe, and the dressing could use a little jazzing up, but I really liked the kohlrabi as a base for the slaw. It has a milder flavor than the usual cabbage, and great crispiness. I would start asking around (some place where lots of grandfatherly types hang out) to see if you can find some.

If you can’t, though, take a look at this splendid coleslaw article by Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen for some other ideas. I’ve made the Napa Cabbage and Sesame Seed slaw, and it’s an excellent alternative to the usual over-dressed, monochromatic slaw you find most places.

Have yourself a lovely week! More studying for me….

Quinoa for the Toner

Happy Father’s Day to this guy!

That (as you may have guessed) is my dad, Tom, more commonly known to those in the immediate family as “the Toner.”  Why?  Well, many years ago his nickname was “Tommy Tutone,” (80s musical artist that brought us that “867-5309” song), which then evolved to “Two-toner,” which then became “Toner,” often preceded by “the” to account for the fact that he’s Kind Of A Big Deal.

Besides reading She Sings at the Table in his spare time, Dad is also a school-administration superstar and a culinary force to be reckoned with.  He taught me all about the infield fly rule, attended more piano recitals than any person should ever have to, and bought me my food processor.  So….thanks, padre!

Although he often shies away from my hippie food and gravitates toward dishes that involve more bacon, the Toner is a big fan of my Honey-Balsamic Quinoa Salad.  I made him a batch today, in between bouts of bar exam study, and now I will of course share the recipe with you folks.

Honey-Balsamic Quinoa Salad (serves one dad for lunch for one work-week)

  • 1 1/2 c. quinoa, cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 c. quartered cherry or grape tomatoes
  • 4-5 sliced scallions
  • 1 c. sugar snap peas, chopped
  • one cucumber, peeled, seeded, and diced
  • about 1/3 c. sunflower seeds
Dressing (this will make a little extra–delish on a salad the next day):
  • 1/2 c. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste (don’t be too stingy–remember this has to season the whole salad)
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp honey
Cook the quinoa according to the package instructions.  Meanwhile, make the dressing, by combining ingredients in a blender or mincing the garlic and whisking the ingredients if you’d prefer.  When the quinoa is done, and still warm, put it in a large bowl and pour over most of the dressing.  Chop the vegetables while the quinoa cools.  Add the vegetables and sunflower seeds to the quinoa, stir, and add more dressing as desired.
Have a good week, friends!  I will be making flashcards and weeping.  (I’m just kidding.  Sort of.)

Spring training

Isn’t spring glorious?  I love it even when the weather doesn’t quite live up to what I think spring ought to be.  The extra daylight (and the ability to go outside without first finding my mittens) makes me want to do all kinds of things I feel too lazy to do in the winter.

A couple of recent things I felt like doing recently with my new overabundance of springtime energy: signing up for a race and making some pasta salad.

I signed up for the Dam to Dam 20K in Des Moines the first weekend in June.  I’ve done both the 20K and the 5K at the same event once before.  I was signed up last summer, but it was pouring rain when I got up at 4:30 to board the shuttle and I promptly went back to bed.  At 12.4 miles, this race will be a bit shorter than a half marathon, which I survived last October, so I should be able to handle it.  In an effort to up my speed a little, I’m going to follow an actual training plan this time.  (My training plan for the half was something like “Run as far as you can as often as you can, and hope for the best.”)  Here it is:

3/21 Athlete’s Workout class 3 m run Rest 30 min cross 2 m run or cross 3 m run +
4 m run
3/28 Stretch &
Rest 2 m run or cross 3.5 m run +
3.5 m run 40 min
5 m run
4/4 Stretch &
Rest 2 m run or cross 3.5 m run +
3.5 m run Trial Run 5K 5 m run
4/11 Stretch &
Rest 2 m run or cross 4 m run +
4 m run 40 min
6 m run
4/18 Stretch &
Rest 2 m run or cross 4 m run +
4 m run Rest 6 m run
4/25 Stretch &
Rest 3 m run or cross 4.5 m run +
4.5 m run 50 min
7 m run
5/2 Stretch &
Rest 3 m run or cross 4.5 m run +
4.5 m run 50 min
8 m run
5/9 Stretch &
Rest 3 m run or cross 5 m run +
5 m run Rest 7 m run
5/16 Stretch &
Rest 3 m run or cross 5 m run +
5 m run 60 min cross 9 m run
5/23 Stretch &
Rest 3 m run or cross 5 m run +
5 m run 60 min cross 10 m run
5/30 Stretch &
Rest 3 m run or cross 2 m run 4 m run Rest Dam to Dam

I adapted this from Hal Higdon’s website—it’s the “novice” plan for a half marathon.  The plan on the site is 12 weeks, but I’ve only got 11 before the race.  I reserve the right to switch things around, but I’m going to try to cover the mileage as much as possible and post a few updates along the way.  (That way, when I want to turn off my alarm and blow off some miles, I can picture sad, disappointed blog readers.)

Also (public service announcement!), as you can see, I’ll be doing a 5K during week 3 of the plan—that’s Saturday, April 9, to be exact.  If you live in or near Iowa City, you should sign up right here for the Iowa Student Bar Association Trial Run 5K (search event: ISBA Trial).  It’s at 9 a.m. at the University of Iowa’s Ashton Cross Country Course, and proceeds will go to Iowa Legal Aid. Great cause, fresh air…and you’ll probably beat at least one person, because I’ll be there!

A (wannabe) runner’s got to have some fuel, so now let’s talk pasta salad. Here’s a springtime rendition you can throw together in the time it takes to bring water to a boil and cook some pasta.  I used this pasta:

It’s not bad, and the ingredients are happy and healthy (brown rice flour, spinach powder, and beet powder), but I think next time I would use monochromatic pasta for a more aesthetically pleasing finished product.  I also used a couple of new (to me) ingredients: fennel and Nayonaise (egg-free mayonnaise-y tasting dressing).

Spring Training Pasta Salad

  • 12 oz. pasta of your choice, cooked according to package instructions
  • 1 c. peas (I used frozen, defrosted)
  • 1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced


  • 1/2 c. Nayonaise
  • Zest of 1 lemon and 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/3 c. loosely packed basil leaves
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Boil water and cook the pasta according to the package instructions.  Meanwhile, combine the dressing ingredients in a blender.  Taste and adjust seasoning to suit your fancy.  When the pasta is done, drain it and rinse it with cold water.  Then combine the pasta, veggies, and dressing in a large mixing bowl.

Have a good weekend!  Oh, and if you’re here thanks to Angela’s latest recipe link post….thanks for stopping by Smile

Crazy Sexy Cookery

Last week I got this book in the mail:

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I love Kris Carr’s blog, Crazy Sexy Life (“a super disco of health, spiritual wealth, and happiness!”), and I simply could not pass on the book when I saw the subtitle (I love both veggies AND living like I mean it).  I read most of it during the snow event of last week, and am currently on day 4 of the “21-Day Adventure Cleanse.”

Here’s the gist: avoid meat, dairy, sugar, caffeine, and gluten.  Aim for mostly alkalizing foods, exercise, and meditate.  Yeah, it sounds hard…but she made the brilliant decision to call it an “adventure cleanse”–who wants to pass up an adventure?  And I must say—after 4 days I feel pretty fantastic.  I am practically high on vegetables.  The worst part, however, has been giving up my beloved Diet Coke.

My nephew painted this for me, if that’s any indication of my long-standing devotion to this particular beverage.  But…I’ve heard plenty of not-so-nice things about aspartame, so I think it’s good for me to cut it out for awhile.

The best part is that you’re supposed to meditate every morning.  I wake up, brush my teeth, sit on the floor, and think happy thoughts for 15 minutes.  The second-best part: lots of experimenting with weird stuff in the kitchen!

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On the top left: collard greens.  I had never seen these in their natural form before…just chopped up and stewed with a ham hock or something.  As it turns out, you can make wraps out of them—see this link to Choosing Raw for a nifty tutorial!  My first attempt tasted a little….leafy for my liking, but on the second try I steamed the leaf for just a couple of minutes (my cheap-o steamer apparatus is top right), and it was much more palatable and pliable.

Today, in an effort to jazz up the giant bowl of vegetables I was supposed to eat for lunch, I made some crazy sexy cauliflower salad.  I made it into a sort of “cauliflower rice” using my beloved food processor, added some other finely chopped veggies, and then made the most DELISH dressing from raw cashews in my blender.  If you’re not sold on the cauliflower concept, at least try the dressing—I kind of wanted to do a cartwheel when I tasted it.  (But that might just be my salad high talking.)

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Cauliflower “Rice” Salad

1 small head of cauliflower, cut into florets and pulsed in a food processor until it resembles rice

1 red bell pepper, finely diced

2 scallions, halved lengthwise and sliced thin

Dressing: 1/2 c. raw cashews, juice of 1/2 a lemon, 1 clove of garlic, 1/4 c. warm water, 2 tbsp olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste

Combine the vegetables in a large mixing bowl.  Add all of the dressing ingredients except the olive oil to your blender.  Turn on the blender and slowly stream in the olive oil through the hole in the lid.  Check for consistency and add more oil or warm water if you’d like it to be thinner.  Add the dressing to the veggies and stir to coat.

Note: I would probably just go ahead and make a double batch of the dressing—it would be great as a dip or on lots of other salad combos.

Finally, perhaps you were a little confused by this photo above:

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Well, last night I wanted some chocolate.  Correction—I might have gone into a murderous rage if I had to eat one more vegetable and I wanted chocolate RIGHT THEN AND THERE.  Fortunately, there’s a recipe in the back of the book for “Chocomole.”  I know, I know, it sounds weird, but don’t knock it ‘til you’ve tried it, people!  Scoop the flesh of one avocado into your food processor (or blender), add a couple tablespoons of cocoa powder and a healthy drizzle of agave nectar, and turn it on.  You may want a little water to thin it out, and you’ll need to taste to see if you want more sweetener.  It tastes just like chocolate pudding!  OK, maybe not just like chocolate pudding, but it’s not bad.

Must go read for class now.  I have to get up early and meditate.  Until next time, fair friends!


Due to the set-up of my class schedule this semester, Thursday is usually the day when I can take a little break from reading, hit the grocery store, and restock my fridge with home-spun healthy eats.  After finishing class today, I picked up some staples and got to work.  I didn’t use any recipes, but ended up with some good stuff!  First up: a beans-and-veggies salad.  Ingredient round-up:

All you need to do here is drain and rinse the beans and dice the veggies…

…whisk together the dressing,

…stir to combine everything,

…and say hello to lunch!

Lemon-Tahini Two-Bean Salad

  • 1 15 oz. can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
  • about 3/4 c. diced sugar snap peas
  • 1 diced red bell pepper
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 diced avocado


  • 2 tbsp tahini (sesame seed paste)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together the dressing ingredients.  Drain and rinse the beans, and combine them with the diced veggies.  Add the dressing, stir to coat, taste and add salt and pepper as needed.

Next, I wanted to make some granola bars.  I often get snacky during long days of class, and I hate buying packaged stuff at the cafe in the law building or from the vending machine.  I’m sort of a processed food snob–I like making things myself so I know what’s in them.  As Cher says in Clueless (albeit while referring to a very different topic), “You see how picky I am about my shoes, and they only go on my feet.”  I don’t like ingesting mystery ingredients, and so a new recipe was born!

First, I toasted the dry ingredients in the oven.

I found some recipes online that included wheat germ, but I didn’t have any of that so I used ground flax instead.  It’s great to keep around for making fake “eggs” for vegan baking, putting in smoothies, sprinkling on oatmeal, etc.  Keep it in the freezer for longer shelf life (with your popsicles, of course).

While the dry ingredients were toasting, I cooked the wet ingredients (or, what I like to refer to as “the goo factor”) until the sugar was dissolved, and then assembled everything.

I combined everything, pressed it into an 8×8 pan, and baked.  Then, I tried to get one out to see if this was going to be a granola bar success story, and it was not a bar.  It was a pile.

BUT–I went to pout (actually, to do some reading), and when I came back later, they were completely cooled and held together just fine.  I really need to learn some kitchen patience.

White Chocolate Banana Granola Bars (makes 12)

  • 2 c. oats
  • 1/2 c. ground flax
  • 3/4 c. sliced almonds
  • 1/2 c. millet
  • 4 tbsp Earth Balance or butter
  • 1/3 c. honey
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar (I used a very scant 1/4 c.)
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 of an overripe-ish banana
  • 1/2 c. white chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 350.  Mix the oats, almonds, flax, and millet on a baking sheet, and toast in the oven for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally (the almonds should turn a light golden brown).  Cook the butter, honey, and brown sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat just until the sugar is dissolved.  Take off the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Add the sugar mixture to the dry ingredients in a large bowl.  Add the 1/2 banana, sliced very thin, and the white chocolate chips.  Stir to coat all the dry ingredients, and press the mixture firmly into a greased 8×8 pan.  Lower the oven temperature to 300, and bake for 20-25 minutes.  Let cool completely, and then cut into 12 squares.

I’m the kind of dork that gets really excited about new recipes, and I think these are particularly exciting because they’re sort of “choose your adventure” recipes.  You could switch up the ingredients in all kinds of different ways: different beans and veggies in the salad, or different flavors in the dressing, and different add-ins for the granola bars.  Oh, the possibilities!  Next Thursday can’t come soon enough.

No recipes, no resolutions

So, I love trying new recipes (as you may have guessed).  But sometimes recipes can be so….bossy.  Sometimes I just want to throw things together and not measure anything.  So today, I present to you three sort-of-recipes–blueprints, if you will–using two old favorite ingredients and one superstar newcomer to my kitchen.

Ingredient #1: Wheatberries

These are available in the bulk bins or packaged (I usually buy the Bob’s Red Mill brand) in what my family affectionately refers to as the “nature foods aisle.”  They have a great chewy texture and lots of super-duper nutritional qualities.  I’ve made several variations on wheatberry salads–all you need to do is cook them according to the package directions, chop up some fruits/veggies/nuts/whatever you have on hand, whisk together a little bit of simple dressing, and toss everything together.  Let your creativity run wild, my friends!  Here’s what I came up with for my latest variation:

That would be chopped pistachios, arugula, celery, scallions, and pomegranate seeds in the middle.  Pretty, eh?  I tossed all of those ingredients with the cooked wheatberries and then dressed the salad with a drizzle of my standard vinaigrette (1/2 c. olive oil, 3 tbsp. balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp. honey, salt and pepper).  How’s that for some Suddenly Salad?

Ingredient #2: Chickpeas

In my younger days, chickpeas were just those unappetizing beige things that always showed up on salad bars.  But then I pretty much stopped eating meat and looked into other ways to get some protein and now I use them for hummus, salads, veggie burgers, etc.  Hummus sort of makes my world go ’round, but I’ve already discussed it here, so let’s talk about a way to let the humble little chickpea shine all on its own.  First, drain yourself a can of ‘em, rinse off the icky liquid that comes with, and pat them dry with a kitchen towel.

Preheat your oven to 425 and put the chickpeas on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Then drizzle with a couple tablespoons of your oil of choice, maybe a tablespoon of vinegar, and sprinkle on some seasoning.  The possibilities here are endless…check out this link for some more ideas.  Here’s what I used:

I roasted them at 425 for 30 minutes, stirring twice along the way.  When they’re done, they make a great crunchy salad topper or simple snack on their own.

Ingredient #3: Kefir

If you google “health benefits of kefir” it seems that the only thing this stuff won’t do for you is balance your checkbook.  It’s a fermented milk product (OK, that sounds gross, but stick with me) that’s like either really thick milk or really thin yogurt.  I tried it for the first time yesterday and have already decided it’s going to be a staple in my smoothie toolkit.

I blended 1/2 c. kefir with half a banana and 1/3 c. blueberries.  It was absolutely, probiotic-ly delicious!  It reminded me of when I boycotted yogurt for awhile as a child because one of my brothers (or perhaps both working in concert) told me that the “active cultures” label meant that there were live junebugs in every carton.  Good thing I’m all grown-up and smart now.

I hope these no-recipe recipes will inspire you to some healthy cooking in the New Year!  And, speaking of the New Year: I’m pretty excited about it.  This was the first year in as long as I can remember that I didn’t start off by resolving to lose 10 pounds or stay under 1200 calories or something gloomy like that, and I must say, it’s been a great one.  I stopped eating Lean Cuisines and 100-calorie packs and being all neurotic about my stupid bathroom scale. I decided instead I would just enjoy cooking real food and exercising how I wanted to.  And thanks to this new philosophy, I’m a both a little bit lighter (literally) and a whole lot lighter (figuratively).  So make your resolutions if you want–I’ll be making some because I love fresh starts and self-improvement and all that Oprah/kumbaya kind of stuff.  But be nice to yourself when you do, mmmkay?  Cheers, everybody!