Category Archives: Salads

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Cooling Salads for Hot Days

Warm greetings to my gentle readers who have patiently awaited a new recipe while I took some time off this summer. I’d like to reward you with a quick and easy dish to cool you off during these hot summer days—a satisfying and totally yummy Tofu Salad that even omnivores will enjoy (much to their surprise)!

You can serve this as a side dish to a summer soup, on a bed of salad greens, or as the added protein on a colorful vegetable plate. Hmmm…I’m envisioning sweet potato fries, quick asparagus or green beans, and corn on the cob with a half-cup of tofu salad in the center. If you love a sandwich for lunch, pile some tofu salad on your favorite bread. (The salad’s moisture will be a good balance to bread that has become dry, making it easier to digest.)

Summer guidance from Ayurveda

When the “dog days” of summer arrive in August (or, sadly, much earlier across the globe this year) it is important to eat cooling foods that help your metabolism avoid overheating. You’ll also feel cooler on hot days if you choose cooling foods over those that are naturally heating.

Did you know that symptoms such as irritability, headaches, itchiness and sleeplessness (if you wake 2 to 4 a.m. and have difficulty going back to sleep) are often linked with too much heat in the body? This is the ancient wisdom of Ayurveda, which may also be your intuitive understanding. Fortunately, food is our friend when we pay attention to a food’s qualities and the ways these impact our bodies, minds, and emotions.

What are cooling foods?

As you may know, Ayurveda classifies foods in several ways, including whether a food is inherently heating or cooling.

You shouldn’t be surprised to see Ayuveda’s list of cooling foods because we turn to them instinctively when the weather turns hot. Some of the most cooling foods include these:

  • Lettuce, cucumbers, celery, fennel
  • Summer squash, zucchini, asparagus, kale, and spinach
  • Coconut, apples, red and black grapes, and all melons
  • Mint, cilantro, coriander, cumin, and rosewater.
  • Tofu

Balanced cooking

Yes, on its own, tofu is naturally cooling. Combine it with other cooling foods such as fennel or celery, cilantro, and mint and you’ll create a perfect summer dish loaded with protein. However, this combination of foods is so cooling that I added some garlic to the recipe, not only for flavor but for a little balancing heat to aid digestion.

Other foods like dates, figs, cruciferous vegetables, and avocado may not seem to be obviously cooling. This is especially true of avocado because many people make guacamole by adding intensely heating ingredients such as raw onions and jalapenos to avocado—making most guacamole something to avoid during the summer! Certain legumes are also cooling, but they are more easily digested when they’re cooked with generous amounts of warming herbs and spices such as fresh garlic, fresh ginger, turmeric, and other Indian spices including fenugreek and black mustard seeds.

Just as warming spices can balance overly cooling foods such as legumes, you can enlist the help of cooling herbs and spices any time you cook foods that are inherently heating. For instance, Ayurveda classifies carrots as heating, so I serve carrots with lots of cilantro, mint, and a drizzle of coconut milk to make a perfect summer soup.

Enjoy this cooling Tofu Salad throughout the summer, and always feel satisfied at the end of your vegan meal.

PS Looking for more summer dishes? Try these summer soups: Summer Sweet Potato Soup, Corn and Avocado Soup, Broccoli Carrot Soup over basmati rice, PeanutButter Cucumber Soup, Beet and Fennel Soup, Creamy Zucchini Soup in 20 minutes or less.

 

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Easy Spring Salads that Transition to Summer

Honoring the abundance of asparagus with a new recipe each spring is a Sacred & Delicious blog tradition—and today I offer you a flavorful and colorful White Bean and Asparagus Salad. As with many of my recent recipes, this recipe is open to variation. (See my postscript below if you’re looking for more asparagus recipes.)

Here are some easy variations you can make to this recipe:

  • For readers who shy away from beans, you can switch out the beans with quinoa or rice and still have a tempting dish.
  • Serve it as a side dish with a bowl of soup for a complete meal, or just eat lots of bean salad! I suggest either my recent recipe for Sweet Potato and Spinach Soup or my favorite summer Carrot Soup, which you can find in Sacred & Delicious: A Modern Ayurvedic Cookbook.
  • If you don’t like cilantro, the salad will be equally delicious with fresh basil or dill.
  • Adding mint made the dish sing for me but the recipe still works well without it.
  • If you avoid garlic, substitute fresh ginger.
  • Serve it warm or cooled, whatever suits your taste—though I think it’s best when just a little warm or room temperature.
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Update a Favorite Recipe with Vegan Tapenade

After cooking my Elegant Green Beans recipe every week for more than a decade, I thought it might be fun to try something a little different this week. Imagine that! And so, my friends, I present you with Green Beans with Vegan Tapenade, a warm zesty side dish that can double as a salad come spring and summer.

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Fresh Salad Dressings Perk Up an Ordinary Salad

It’s official: summer is here and it’s time to welcome the season with all kinds of salads that sparkle with flavor—once they get a delicious topping like this Easy Avocado Salad Dressing! Yes, there are many commercial salad dressings that will do, but there’s nothing quite like the taste of a fresh dressing you whip up yourself just before eating.

Any simple green salad (like the salad with cucumbers, carrots, and sunflower seeds pictured here) will shine with this garlicky sauce. What about dressing up an ordinary potato salad? Or try this on a black rice salad? Bean salads transform from ho-hum to woo-hoo with this dash of delicious!

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Plan Summer Entertaining with Delicious and Inclusive Menus

This Simple Chickpea Salad is not only delicious and easy, but will also wow everyone this Memorial Day, from omnivores to vegans to gluten-free diners. I will take this holiday prelude as an opportunity to remind my omnivorous readers how thoughtful it is to provide a vegan protein when you’re serving a group of partiers with diverse dietary needs.

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Ahh…Sweet Corn!

“As American as apple pie” is the turn of phrase for most anything associated with U.S. culture, but really—if you’re counting by the pound—corn is king! For that reason, and because it’s summer when sweet corn is fresh in local farmers’ markets or ready to pick in your garden, I will offer an easy and delicious vegan corn dish.

 

I’m not talking about just any corn. I’m talking about sweet corn, the delicious corn you can eat on the cob and that, when it’s just been picked or is still reasonably fresh, almost melts in your mouth with natural sweetness.

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Fresh Food Thanksgiving with Cranberry Salad

If you incorporate Ayurveda into your life, you will still be able to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving feast—in the spirit of Ayurveda. We do this at our house by cooking everything from scratch and, as much as possible, using fresh organic ingredients. Traditional Thanksgiving spices are more than seriously delicious; they naturally balance the qualities of each dish. So, yes, bring on the pumpkin pie because it’s not Thanksgiving without a little splurge! Just make it healthier and tastier for everyone by using fresh pumpkin and unrefined sugar.

But first, there’s the main event. At our table the stars of the menu are all side dishes: sweet potatoes topped with a pound and a half of pecans; cornbread dressing with caramelized onions, shiitake mushrooms, and fresh herbs; my “Elegant Green Beans” with leeks and basil; grilled tofu (for some protein to balance the carbs); and a refreshing cranberry salad. You’ll find recipes for all of these delectable dishes in my book, Sacred & Delicious, scheduled for publication in on October 16, 2018. But today, for you, I’ll share a sneak peek of the cranberry salad recipe.

This recipe is adapted from one shared with me by my brother, who credits the dish to Andrea Amburgey’s Aunt Louise. I’ve updated what was originally a 1960s’ Jello-based recipe, using only fresh fruits and creating a wholesome addition to any Thanksgiving buffet.

Finally, let’s count our many blessings on this special day, including the abundance of nourishing food at our tables. May everyone everywhere—one day soon, in our lifetimes—have enough nourishing food to eat.

Wishing you and your families a sacred and delicious holiday!

 

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