Better Bites

My experiments in healthy eating, cooking, and living

Archive for the category “Salad”

Watermelon and Kale Salad Topped with Oil-free Cilantro and Lime Dressing

Watermelon salad 2

It seems I have lost the ability to bake. In the past five hours I’ve attempted to make vegan cornbread and blueberry scones, as well as chocolate chip scones. Yet, all I’m left with is a terrible mess (three times over) and a trash can full of baked goods that didn’t actually end up tasting good.

I made this watermelon kale salad for dinner tonight. I thought that cornbread would be a great starch to pair it with (little did I know how it would turn out). I subbed white unbleached flour for white spelt flour and while the corn muffins rose, they did not taste delicious (or even edible really). I’m blaming that cooking catastrophe on the spelt flour, which I’d used once before for baking biscuits and I was left with that same horrible flavor (maybe it had spoiled?).

The second and third baking mishaps were a mystery to me. I made the same scone recipe I’d made a thousand times before (or maybe at least a handful of times), but the “scones” (if you’re nice enough to call them that) came out perfectly flat. They looked like puffed up cookies. They’d spread so far the edges started to cook together to form one massive mama scone that looked reminiscent of Swiss cheese. As there were lots of holes in areas that didn’t manage to touch. I thought maybe the first batch was ruined by the frozen blueberries, but the second batch came out the same way. They were practically brown on the outside and yet they were flat and overly soft on the inside. The taste was not overly appealing either.

I even told myself to stop after that first batch of scones. I knew they’d turned out terrible and that wasting double the ingredients was bad enough, but I guess the third time is a charm (really it was for me and my garbage baked goods).

At this point, I’ve officially given up trying to bake dessert tonight. I’ve surrendered to my possessed oven. I’m assuming it’s the only reason for all of the unsightly baked goods that have come out of it tonight. It’s also hot, 10 pm, and I’m beginning to get tired eyes. For tonight, the oven wins, but I will surely make another batch of my favorite scones at some point.

I do apologize that none of this post actually had to do with the watermelon and kale salad recipe which you will find below. It was delicious and did not end up in the garbage, as everything else has tonight.

Watermelon & Kale Salad:

*Serves 2


7-8 leaves of kale, rinsed, dried, and roughly chopped

1/2 cup of sungold tomatoes, quartered

1 cup of watermelon, diced (and seeds removed)

1/2 cup of cucumber, diced

1/2 a jalapeno, diced finely

1/2 of an avocado, diced (or the remainder not used in the dressing recipe)

cilantro lime dressing (recipe below)


After washing the kale, dry it and then give it a rough chop. Add it to the serving bowl. Sprinkle the quartered sungold tomatoes on top of the kale. Then mix the cucumber and watermelon together and add that to the salad as well. To finish the salad, sprinkle the jalapeno pieces on top, drizzle on the cilantro lime dressing, and finally top with diced avocado pieces.

Oil-free Cilantro Lime Dressing:

*Makes enough dressing for two salads


1 lime, juiced

1/3 of an avocado, diced

1 tsp of dried cilantro or 1 tbsp of fresh diced cilantro (fresh would be best)

1/2 a jalapeno, diced

sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

2-3 tbsp of cold water


Add all of the ingredients (starting with 2 tbsp of water) to a small food processor and blend on high until the dressing is smooth and creamy. If the dressing is still too thick, add another tablespoon of water to the food processor and blend again. Add it to the top of the kale salad and enjoy immediately.


Cucumber & Chickpea Salad, as Well as a Thousand Beautiful Things

chickpea salad

My life has been moving at a quicker pace lately. It almost seems as if time is actually slipping through my fingers as summer comes to an end. In the past few weeks I’ve been savoring every moment of the end of this season. From visiting Maine and spending time on a white sandy beach, to making ginger flavored peach pie (and eating most of it for breakfast!), to finally tasting the first tomato from my garden, every day and experience has really been a joy and I feel happier than I have in a very long time.

After returning home midafternoon from a wonderful family vacation in Maine, my stomach started grumbling and I knew I had to create something out of the lack of items I had in the pantry. That is how this cool and spicy cucumber and chickpea salad came about. For a simple salad, it was very flavorful. Find the recipe below.

Peach pie

Ginger peach pie.

Peach pie 2

A slice of the pie with blueberry compote.


My very first home grown tomato.

OOB maine 1

Old Orchard Beach, Maine

Cucumber and Chickpea Salad: 

*Serves 2


1 can of chickpeas, rinsed

1 medium sized cucumber, peeled and diced

1 jalapeno, seeds removed and diced

1/2 cup of sungold tomatoes, rinsed and quartered

1 tbsp of minced fresh cilantro or 1 tsp of dried cilantro

1/2 lemon, juiced

1 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp of garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

Optional: add diced avocado (If I had some I would have)


After prepping the ingredients, combine all of the them in a bowl. Refrigerate the salad for 20 to 30 minutes if you’d like the flavors to combine more. Serve atop a bed of kale, or another leafy green, add it to a wrap, or enjoy this salad on its own.

A Recipe for a Slightly Deceiving Taco Salad & Recipes for Chili Spiced Sweet Potato Fries and Cilantro Lime Dressing

Tortilla salad

I know. There are no tacos in this salad. It’s not much more than a recipe for a wannabe taco salad. However, the flavors found in this salad are reminiscent of flavors in a taco. Flavors such as: cilantro, lime, crispy corn chips/taco shells, avocado, lettuce, and tomatoes. Those were always some of the repeat ingredients that appeared on taco night at my family’s house. Growing up, I had so much fun loading up my tortilla shells with as many toppings that would fit. This time, I was able to load up a salad instead. I also made chili spiced sweet potato home fries to serve alongside the salad. Each small piece of potato packed some heat and added a spicy flavor compared to the more mild taste of the taco salad.

Taco Salad & Cilantro Lime Dressing:

*Serves 4


1 lime, juiced (for dressing)

1 tbsp of finely chopped cilantro (for dressing)

1/4 tsp of salt, pepper, and garlic powder (for dressing)

1 clove of garlic, diced (for dressing)

1/4 cup of olive oil (for dressing)

1-2 heads of washed lettuce

*Top salad with cilantro-lime chickpea salad found in the recipe for chickpea wraps

Tortilla chips (to top the salad with)


1- In a bowl, combine the lime juice, cilantro, seasonings, and garlic. Whisk it all together. Then slowly begin adding the olive oil as you whisk the dressing. Toss the salad in the dressing once the dressing is combined. Then top the salad with the cilantro-lime chickpea salad and tortilla chips.

Sweet potato fries

Chili Spiced Sweet Potato Fries:

*Serves 2


1 large sweet potato, peeled and diced

1 tbsp of olive oil

1 large garlic clove, sliced

1/8 tsp of chili powder, cayenne pepper, salt, pepper, and garlic powder


1- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Then peel the and dice the sweet potato. Coat it in olive oil and add the spices. Mix with your hands to ensure each piece has spices on it. Then stick the pan in the oven for about 30 minutes. Serve immediately and enjoy!

Southwestern Cilantro-Lime Corn Salad Served with Quinoa

southwestern corn salad

Life is like being on a seesaw: constantly moving, changing, striving for balance, and hopefully smiling the whole time it’s happening. There is that moment where the person on the other side of the seesaw is on the same level with you, but usually it’s just for an instant and it can be hard to maintain it.

At times, I feel like I have trouble balancing all of the different parts of my life. There are so many things I’m interested in, that at times I feel like I’m pulled in so many directions. Not to mention, being preoccupied with work and feeling the stresses of everyday life. It almost feels like a wave is crashing down on me, during those times where I’m going full speed, trying to do it all, but not doing much successfully. As Publius Syrus once said, “He who chases two hares will catch neither.” I find this quote very applicable to my life.

Sometimes I need to remind myself that I need to make time for the things that are the most important: spending time with loved ones, exercising, and enjoying some of my other passions (especially cooking, eating, and reading). There isn’t enough time in life (or each day) to waste and you won’t have to waste any if you choose to make this salad dish for dinner as it’s a 15 minute meal.

Southwestern Cilantro-Lime Corn Salad with Cumin Quinoa: 

*Serves 3-4

Ingredients for the cilantro-lime corn salad:

1 can of black beans, rinsed thoroughly

1 cup of organic sweet corn, (I used frozen corn)

1 tomato, diced

1 jalapeno, diced

1/2 an avocado, halved and diced

1 tbsp of fresh cilantro, sliced finely

1 garlic clove, minced

1 lime, juiced

2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp of salt, freshly ground pepper, and garlic powder

Ingredients for the cumin-spiced quinoa: 

1 cup of quinoa, rinsed

1-2 tsp of extra virgin olive oil

1/2 tsp of cumin

1/4 tsp of sea salt, freshly ground pepper, and garlic powder


1- After rinsing the beans add them to a small pot with the corn and heat over low heat until the mixture is warm (and the corn is thawed). Remove from the heat and add to the serving bowl of your choice. Also add in the rest of the ingredients at this time. Stir well and chill in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

2- To make the quinoa, add the rinsed quinoa to a pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil over medium heat and then reduce the heat to medium-low once it begins to boil. After about 12 minutes of simmering, the quinoa should be soft and all of the water should be absorbed. Remove from the heat and add the rest of the ingredients. Stir well and serve the corn salad on top of the quinoa or mix the two together. Either way will be a delicious meal.

Feel free to post any quick-cooking recipes below. I’m always looking for tasty weeknight-friendly meals.

A Savory Pecan, Goat Cheese, & Roasted Beet Salad

pecan goat cheese salad

On Easter Sunday, I stood in line staring at the mountains of homemade food in front of me. For our holiday dinner, I decided to bring a goat cheese and roasted beet salad. My plate was full of colorful vegetables by the time I arrived at the table. Aside from roast, honey baked ham, and rosemary seasoned lamb, there was also honey-flavored carrots, mashed and sweet potatoes, and roasted asparagus. I loaded my plate with asparagus, my spinach salad dressed in balsamic vinaigrette,  carrots, and sweet potatoes. I didn’t miss having meat in the least bit. I admit it, I’m a plant eater and I love it! Read on for a salad recipe that my family members raved about.

Ingredients for balsamic vinaigrette: 

2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar

1/4 tsp of salt and pepper (adjust to taste)

1/8 tsp of oregano and garlic powder

1 garlic clove, minced

1/2 – 3/4 cups of olive oil

Ingredients for  pecan, goat cheese, & roasted beet salad:

1/2 cup of pecans, roughly chopped

1 tbsp of olive oil

1/4 tsp of salt

1 1/2 tbsp of honey

1/2 of a red onion, finely sliced (lengthwise)

4-5 handfuls of spinach, washed and dried

1/2 cup of goat cheese crumbles

3-4 beets, sliced thin


1- Add the vinegar, spices, and minced garlic to a bowl. Whisk the ingredients together and then very slowly add the olive oil as you whisk the dressing.

2- After making the dressing, set it aside and heat a half of the olive oil in a frying pan. Then add the chopped pecans to the pan. Drizzle the honey on the nuts and then add the salt. Stir it up and toast the pecans for about 5 minutes over medium heat.

3- When the pecans are finished, set them aside and reheat the skillet with the other half of the olive oil. When it is heated, add the finely sliced red onion. Sautee until the onion caramelizes. Then let the onion cool with the pecans.

4- Slice the roasted beets and wash the spinach. Add both ingredients to a serving bowl with the vinaigrette dressing (use as much of the dressing as you like). Throw in the sauteed onions and goat cheese. Toss together and you have yourself a fantastic salad!

Wife, Mother, Maker made delicious looking vegan quinoa, beet, and spinach salad that looks delicous and uses similar ingredients. What have you made recently that you couldn’t help but rave about?

Sweet Pear and Goat Cheese Salad

pear salad 2


Salad is such a versatile dish. You can have it as a side or a main meal. You can make it sweet or savory. You can dress it up with fancy ingredients like pecans and blue cheese or keep it traditional with carrots and tomatoes. As part of my effort to avoid dirty dozen produce items, I bought a package of organic baby spinach. I wasn’t in the mood for a traditional salad, so I decided to make a sweet Bosc pear and goat cheese salad. To create some texture, I toasted walnuts in a little bit of coconut oil, honey, and salt. They added a sweet crunch that was mellowed out by the soft goat cheese. The dried cranberries not only made the salad more colorful, but they also added a tart flavor that helped balance out the sweetness of the pears and walnuts, as did the tangy champagne vinegar dressing. It was simple, yet it looked elegant and it tasted delicious!

pear salad 1

Ingredients for sweet pear and goat cheese salad: 

*Serves 2 (double recipe for 4)

3 cups of organic baby spinach, washed and dried

1 Bosc pair, washed and sliced

1/4 cup of dried cranberries

1/4 cup of goat cheese crumbles

1/2 cup of walnuts

1 tbsp of coconut oil

1 tsp of honey

1/4 tsp of salt

Ingredients for tangy champagne vinegar dressing:

2 tbsp of champagne vinegar

1/4 tsp of salt and pepper

1 clove of garlic, minced

1/2 lemon juiced

1/2 cup of olive oil (not extra virgin)

1- I started off by making the dressing, which was very simple. I added the vinegar, salt, pepper, garlic, and lemon to a mixing bowl. I briefly whisked them together before adding the olive oil slowly as I whisked it in. Make sure the dressing is well combined as you add more olive oil (otherwise it will separate).

2- Make the nut mixture by adding the coconut oil to a frying pan. When the pan is hot toast the nuts for about 2 minutes over medium heat before adding the honey and salt. Stir the mixture around and let the nuts toast for another 2 minutes.

3- Take the walnuts off the heat. Prepare the other salad ingredients by washing the spinach and pear. Dry the salad and add it to your serving bowl. Slice the pear and throw that in too. Then add the cranberries, dressing, cheese, and nuts (after they have cooled for a few minutes.

4- Toss ingredients and serve.

Feel free to post your favorite salad recipes below!

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