Fig + Pear Salad with Cherry Balsamic Dressing

Oh my salad greens goodness! Each time I see this picture, I get hungry all over again.

Normally, I rotate between 3-4 salad recipes each month…ones with ingredients that are easier on the budget than pistachios and cherries. However, there are times and occasions where something special is called for…like Mother’s Day perhaps? Or maybe a lunch with a friend who is like a mother or a sister to you.

Perhaps it’s the pistachios that made me think of Mother’s Day. Because unless you buy shelled pistachios, you know it’s a labor of love to crack open enough for a meal. And word of advice? If you have lots of little (or big) hands around the house that would love to eat pistachios like candy, you might want to hide your shelled stash until the salad is ready to serve. Just sayin’. From experience.

Reducing the balsamic vinegar is key to making this salad without adding sugar. I love how it pairs with the buttery pistachios, sweet figs and lightly sweetened pears. The mix of greens is up to you, but I advise staying away from watercress. Unless you love watercress, of course. I thought I might after reading Trumpet of the Swan back in grade school. But after trying it, I’ve decided it’s not a good idea to make food choices based on the preferences of fictional swans.

You can receive the recipe for the full salad and cherry balsamic dressing (which has a secret ingredient), along with other exclusive recipes and updates, by signing up for my newsletter here:

quinoa tabouli (vegan, gluten free, low carb, sugar free)

quinoa tabouliI love trying foods from other cultures which have a solid amount of veggies in their diets.

Ever since I tried tabouli, a middle eastern salad that usually features bulgar, I was a fan. However, my enthusiasm for it waivered ever since I began cutting back on wheat products several years go. I also swapped out the oil for hummus for an interesting twist on the dressing.

Thankfully, I discovered that quinoa is a perfect substitute and packs a superfood, plant protein punch into this refreshing salad. The key to great quinoa is thoroughly rinsing off the bitter saponin and using a ratio of water to quinoa that is just shy of 2:1.

If you give this a try, I would love your feedback.

CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the quinoa tabouli recipe

quinoa tabouli

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Serves: 4-6


    For the Ingredients

    • 4 T hummus
    • 2 T lemon juice
    • ½ tsp salt
    • dashes freshly ground pepper

    For the Salad

    • ¾ c. uncooked white quinoa
    • 1 cucumber, diced
    • 1 pack cherry tomatoes, sliced
    • ½ onion, finely diced
    • 1/4 -1.2 cup fresh parsley, minced
    • optional: pine nuts


    For the Dressing:

    Combine all ingredients in a glass measuring cup, jar or bowl and stir until thoroughly combined. Add water if necessary to thin. Pour over tabouli and gently stir until thoroughly mixed.

    For the Salad:

    Thoroughly rinse quinoa. Best way is to cover with water in a bowl or pot, agitate with you hands, pour into a sieve and repeat 2-3 times with fresh water.

    Add quinoa to a pot with 1.5 cups of water, bring to a boil and then simmer for 5-10 minutes or until the water is absorbed.

    Cool and fluff with a fork. When cool add cucumber, tomatoes, onion, parsley, and pine nuts, if using.

    Pour dressing over tabouli and gently stir until thoroughly mixed.

    This salad is best eaten fresh, but will keep in the fridge for one day if properly stored.

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    Chop Salad with Pecan Parmesan and Caesar Dressing

    chop saladThere’s just something that feels so right about eating a colorful bowl of salad. Agree?

    And something rustic yet subtly sophisticated about the name, “chop salad.” Throw in a salty, savory topping and a garlic-infused dressing, and that’s a two forks up in my book.

    I’m sharing this recipe with my Sugar Pretox Challengers, and couldn’t resist sharing it with you as well. It comes together easily and is made with ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry or fridge.

    The pecan parmesan is inspired by the recipe in Angela’s  Oh She Glows Cookbook. Watch those pecans when you toast them (a must for this recipe!). See this post for a tip on toasting nuts quickly and usually without burning them. Unless you step away to check email, wash a few dishes, referee an argument…let’s just say, I’ve been there before. 😉

    CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Chop Salad recipe

    chop salad with pecan parmesan and caesar dressing

    Prep Time: 25

    Serves: 4



      For the Pecan Parmesan

      • 1 c. pecans
      • 4 tsp. nutritional yeast
      • 3 tsp. olive oil
      • ¼ tsp salt

      For the Caesar Dressing

      • ½ c. olive oil
      • 1 tsp. lemon juice
      • ¼ heaping tsp of ground mustard
      • ¼ heaping tsp. salt
      • dashes freshly ground pepper
      • 1-2 garlic cloves

      For the Chop Salad

      • Romaine lettuce, kale and/or spinach
      • Carrots
      • Cucumber
      • Celery
      • Snap peas
      • Alfalfa sprouts


      For the Pecan Parmesan

      Add pecans to a large dry saucepan or fry pan. Toast for 2-3 minutes over high heat stirring frequently, until fragrant and lightly toasted. Watch closely as the pecans can burn easily!

      Add toasted pecans, nutritional yeast, olive oil and salt to a food processor or blender and process until finely chopped.

      For the Caesar Dressing

      Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until fully emulsified. Leftover dressing can be stored in an air tight jar for several days in the fridge.

      For the Salad

      Wash and prepare all salad ingredients: kale and/or romaine lettuce or spinach, carrots, cherry tomatoes, alfalfa sprouts, snap peas, cucumbers.

      Over each serving, sprinkle pecan Parmesan and drizzle on salad dressing

      Recipe Notes

      The dressing and pecan parmesan keep well for several days if stored properly in an airtight jar in the fridge.

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      game day any day 7-layer dip (vegan, gluten free)


      So here’s what the dip looks like all assembled and ready to be devoured:

      100_4021We didn’t quite polish it off last night, leaving some for lunch today. Leftovers sometimes get a bum rap, but I think they are shining stars when it comes to saving time and money, unless, of course you didn’t like the premiere of the dish to begin with.

      A quick note on the salsa. Homemade would be the top choice, but rarely do I want to take the time to make my own. Instead, I turn to Pace since it’s sugar free and contains relatively straightforward and familiar ingredients. You might be surprised to see how many shelf-stable salsas contain sugar and other questionable ingredients, so read the labels people. The shorter the list and the closer to being reproducible at home, the better.

      game day any day 7-layer dip

      7layerdiptitleYou know you’re a mom of boys when…your middle son chooses the colors of his favorite football teams as his inspiration for his “Mastermind” pattern. And when they have holes in their knees from playing tackle football, tackle anything, inside and outside. And when you, a fair-weather football begin to consider Super Bowl Sunday almost on par with Valentine’s Day or the Fourth of July.

      100_3937But onto the dip…

      I’m breaking a perhaps unwritten food blogging rule and posting a recipe without showing the finished product. Three reasons. One: I keep forgetting to take purty pictures of the dip all assembled. Two: I’m making it tomorrow but am giving you time to grab these ingredients in case you want to assemble it before the big game on Sunday because it’s just that good. Three: Truthfully, the assembled dip isn’t all that photogenic.

      Instead, for today, let’s let the ingredients do the talking…


      1. fat free refried beans
      2. red pepper hummus
      3. avocado
      4. salsa
      5. lettuce
      6. cilantro
      7. cucumber

      Oh, and don’t forget the chips. 🙂 To amp up the nutrition, make some baked sweet potato rounds.

      100_4013Feel free to make more for a large crowd as this will store well, covered, in the fridge for a few days. Score!

      CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the Game Day Any Day 7-layer Dip recipe

      game day any day 7-layer dip

      Prep Time: 20 minutes


      • 1-14.5 oz can fat free refried beans
      • 1-2 cups red pepper or plain hummus
      • 1-2 avocados, diced
      • 2-3 cups salsa
      • 3-4 cups diced romaine lettuce
      • ½ – 1 cup minced cilantro
      • 1 cucumber, diced
      • optional: green onions, diced jalapeños, olives


      1. Spread refried beans evenly on bottom of baking dish.
      2. Next spread the hummus evenly and evenly distributed the diced avocados over that.
      3. Pour on the salsa.
      4. If using jalapeños or olives add those next, then cover evenly with the lettuce.
      5. Finish by evenly distributing the cilantro and the cucumber.
      6. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

      Recipe Notes

      This dip will store well in the fridge for a couple of days. Make sure to cover!

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      oven-baked sweet potato chips + guacamole (vegan, oil-free)

      2009-01-18 19.13.25I grew up in a home where we ate quite a variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables. But somehow the avocado eluded us. And guacamole? The first time I tried it I was in my late twenties.

      It was love-at-first-bite.

      guacamole collage But chips, guac’s side kick, are rather low on the healthy eating spectrum, sprouted, organic, GMO-free or not. And despite their salty, crunchy tastiness, I’ve been looking beyond the vegan label to examine what I’m actually putting into my body.  Because eating a plant-based diet doesn’t necessarily = a healthy diet.

      So when I want a healthier compadre for my guacamole, I round up some sweet potatoes and put them to work. According to WebMD, sweet potatoes are full of calcium, potassium and vitamins A & C.sweet potato rounds collageBoth recipes are simple to prepare and contain a small handful of ingredients.

      But before we get to the recipes, I wondered…are there any foods or dishes that somehow eluded you in childhood that you discovered as an adult?

      CLICK TO PRINT A PDF of the guacamole recipe
      CLICK HERE TO PRINT A PDF of the oven baked sweet potato chips recipe

      oven baked sweet potato chips & guacamole (oil free, vegan)

      Prep Time: 10-15 minutes

      Cook Time: 45-60 minutes

      Keywords: bake raw appetizer snack side gluten-free nut-free oil free paleo soy-free sugar-free vegan vegetarian garlic avocado cilantro sweet potato Cinco de Mayo Mexican


        For the Sweet Potato Chips

        • Sweet potatoes
        • Salt
        • Chili powder
        • Cumin

        For the Guacamole

        • 1 avocado
        • 1- 1½ tsp. fresh lime juice
        • 1-2 T cilantro
        • 1 small garlic clove, minced
        • 1 tsp. cumin
        • 1/8 tsp. salt
        • Freshly ground pepper


        For the Sweet Potato Chips

        Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

        Meanwhile, peel sweet potatoes, then slice into rounds about ¼” thick.

        Place rounds on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and sprinkle with seasonings to your taste.

        Bake for 45 minutes to 1 hours, turning at least once until potatoes are cooked through.

        For the Guacamole

        Peel the avocado, remove pit and mash.

        Add remaining ingredients to the avocado and stir thoroughly.

        Best if served immediately.

        Recipe Notes

        Plan to prepare approximately 1-2 sweet potatoes per person depending on the size of the potato.

        Sweet potato chips are best when freshly cooked, but can be stored in the fridge and then reheated

        Avocados are ripe when their skins are black and they yield gently to the touch.

        A fork or potato masher work well to mash the avocado.

        Sometimes I add in diced onion and/or finely diced tomatoes to mix things up a bit.

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