Archive for the ‘salads’ Category

Yesterday’s post was inspired by my sister-in-law, Crystal.  Today’s post is inspired by my other sister-in-law, Cassie.  A few days ago, Cassie sent me a quick email with a recipe of a salad she found on “pinterest“.  I just so happened to have all of the ingredients on hand…except for the avocado so last night I decided to whip it together.  Thank you Cassie….and pinterest!  This salad is going into the “Hall of Flavor”!


2 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
3 ears fresh corn, cooked, cooled and kernels cut off the cob
2 red bell peppers, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons minced shallots (you’ll need one medium shallot)
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons sugar
9 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (I like Colavita)
6 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon lime zest (be sure to zest limes before juicing them)
½ cup chopped cilantro, plus more to garnish
2 Hass avocados, diced


Combine all ingredients except avocados in a large bowl and mix well. Cover and chill for a few hours or overnight. Right before serving, add avocados and mix gently, being careful not to mash avocados. Garnish with a few sprigs of freshly chopped cilantro if desired. Serve at room temperature.

You’ll notice the avocado is sadly missing in the image above….Next time, I’ll have it on hand.  I’ll also use about 4 tablespoons less of olive oil…and may even substitute it for grapeseed oil….which is better for the skin!

Anyone else on “pinterest“?!?!?  Anyone else need to admit they have an addiction?!?!  Feel free to find me….search for maxwellleec@gmail.com.  I’m open to some vegan recipe suggestions so start pinning :)

* Warning….this recipe may win the attention of everyone at your super bowl party!


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In honor of yesterday’s post about dragon fruit, I decided to stick with the theme of produce that looks really cool on the inside. If you aren’t familiar with “Okinawan Sweet Potatoes”, I have to tell you, you’re really missing out! Look closely at the photo below….do you happen to notice a hint of color coming through the outer skin of the potato?

Ta Da! Look at that vibrant purple! Have you ever seen such a thing?

Sadly, I’ve only found these deliciously sweet starches in Hawaii, so you can bet I get my fill…so much that I wonder if my skin will start to get a violet hue :) It sure is good for the skin, beta carotene all the way baby! That’s not all, this potato packs a punch in nutritional value when compared to the rest of it’s potato family. It ranked the highest especially when considering fiber content, complex carbohydrates, protein, vitamins A and C, iron, and calcium. I LOVE this because people can ask me where I get my protein, iron, and calcium from (often the misconception is that I can only get it from meat and dairy), I smile and can say “purple potatoes” :)

Okinawan sweet potatoes can be eaten many ways. In this case, I stuck them in the oven for almost an hour at 375. Too easy! You can tell they’re almost done by the smell that emits, and if you stabbed them with a fork prior to going in the oven, purple will start to ooze out. It almost resembles a thin paint. It’s gorgeous!

My good friend Sooz who hosted the vegan brunch at her home, the Bayer Estate…also “Steve McGarrett’s” house in the new Hawaii 5-0 TV series made me a delicious salad topped with the okinawan sweet potatoes, but before I get to that, let me just also tell you about quinoa….pronounced “KEEN-wah”.

Here is what quinoa looks like in it’s RAW form. When asked where I get my protein, quinoa is actually my first answer. It has a higher protein count than any other grain and contains all eight essential amino acids. Amazing the goodness in such a little grain! If you’re going to try quinoa for the first time, know that NOT all quinoa is the color red, there are other colors out there like cream and black. Most packaging states that the quinoa has been pre-washed. This means that the bitter tasting protective layer known as “saponin” has been washed away, leaving a nutty flavor.

To prepare quinoa, simply boil 2 cups of water and add one cup of quinoa. Cover and let it simmer for 15 minutes or until all of the water has been absorbed. You’ll notice that cooked quinoa looks different from the raw form.

Quinoa is a great replacement to rice. You really can do anything with it. I decided to add it to my salad that had the okinawan sweet potato on top. I’m pretty sure this salad had plenty of protein, iron, calcium, fiber, etc. on it….just incase any of you carnivores were wondering :)

And, if you were counting like I tend to do. In this salad alone, I was able to get 5 of the minimum 7-14+ servings of fruits and vegetables into my body just during lunch….and it’s a rainbow of color, which is so essential to our bodies. Switch it up, don’t eat the same things everyday. If you want to see progress don’t get in a routine of the same old things….it’s just like going to the gym.

What do you do to spice up your rainbow of color?

Lastly I just want to thank my two most recent subscribers….Jackie from “Shack Attack Shave Ice“, Kirsten from “Comfortably Domestic“, she’s a fantastic blogger! And also a big thank you to “Lesley Carter” for “liking” my last post. Lesley has done so many adventurous things, she’s actually asking for people’s input on what to do next so she can continue checking things off of her bucket list! Definitely worth checking out each of these ladies passions!

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Cucumber Mint Salad

Amazon delivered the new book I had mentioned back in this post just in time to skim through the recipes and throw together a grocery list for the week….You may recall, I challenged each of you to make it to the grocery store/farmers market once/week.  By doing this, you would make the most of your produce right away, which would then lead to eating CLEAN!

I realize for some of you, eating CLEAN may be something you aren’t very familiar with…So I’m challenging myself to share some recipes throughout the rest of August (which will hopefully keep the momentum going for the rest of the year).  At this point I already feel like the character “Julie” from the movie “Julie & Julia“, but I promise eventually I will stray from Terry Walter’s books to some of my other favorites :)  These recipes are generally quick, easy, and tasty!  With summer in full swing, its too tough to hang out in the kitchen for more than 30 minutes :)

For Cucumber Mint Salad Terry recommends “pickling cucumbers” but says any kind will do…Experiment with some you’ve never heard of before, even if they aren’t ordinary looking!



3 Medium cucumbers, any variety

1/4 Cup finely chopped red onion

1 teaspoon chopped fresh dill

1/4 Cup fresh mint leaves

Coarse Sea Salt


2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon lime juice (Rather than using about half of the lime, I used the whole)


Cut cucumbers into bite-size pieces.  Place in bowl with onion, dill, and mint.  In separate bowl, whisk together all dressing ingredients.  Drizzle evenly over cucumbers, season to taste with salt, and serve.

Terry’s recipes seem to always serve about 4 people.  Obviously this is not a meal and I should get better at suggesting what type of meal it should go with, I really really should…I’m horrible at it…sorry.

Now, for the critics review of “CLEAN START”…For the price you can’t go wrong.  Like “CLEAN FOOD” its separated into seasons so you’re getting the freshest ingredients and not sacrificing the nutrition or the taste.  “CLEAN START” includes images of some of the recipes so that is a plus.  My only two complaints are that this book doesn’t have the strings attached to the binding of book  like “CLEAN FOOD” does.  I like the strings, they bookmark the next recipe you’d like to try.  My other complaint, the texture of “CLEAN FOOD” book cover was easy to clean. If food got on your cover, you could just wipe it off.  What a brilliant idea since the book was called “CLEAN FOOD”.  “CLEAN START” is not like that at all.  There is a lot of texture going on (which looks neat), but I can guarantee it won’t look as good when I get done with it.

Enjoy the Cucumber Mint Salad!  Its very fresh, very clean, and perfect for a summertime BBQ!

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Summer is my favorite season and not just because of the warm weather and the long summer nights.  Summer produces some of my favorite fruits and vegetables, so I find myself eating RAW and CLEAN more than anytime of the year. But summer doesn’t have to be the only season I eat like this.  A while back, I introduced a fantastic book by Terry Walters.  It’s called “Clean Food” and is one of the books I recommend most often to anyone diving into the vegan lifestyle or just wanting to eat “clean”.  The reason I like it so much is that the recipes are separated into seasons so the ingredients you’re using are at the peak of their nutrition.

The idea of clean food can be summed up best in the “Clean Food” introduction: “Clean food is minimally processed, so our bodies get the maximum nutritional value needed to fuel metabolism”.  Walters later goes on by saying “Our grocery stores overflow with foods that can last on the shelves for months.  So much of our food supply is stripped of its goodness and pumped full of man-made taste, color, and nutrients”.  Her point is obviously that often we buy packaged food with little nutrition.  Like most people, I’ve been there; packaged food actually tasted good to me, it was cheap, and it was easy.  Well, so is the following recipe, but it has far more benefits than a box of mac and cheese…If nothing else, go the nostalgia route…this salad tastes like summers past :)

Baby Spinach Salad with Mustard Vinaigrette – From “Clean Food” by Terry Walters

6 cups loosley packed baby spinach

1 cup de-stemmed and sliced strawberries

1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds


2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (I used about 4 :)

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon agave nectar (I accidentally used a tablespoon and it was good :)

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard (Again, I accidentally used a tablespoon)

Pinch of Sea Salt

* I also accidentally added a shallot to the vinaigrette – because I was paying more attention to the recipe next to this one…I tend to do this, in this case it worked out well :)

Directions:  Place spinach and 1/2 cup strawberries in salad bowl.  In small bowl, whisk together all vinaigrette ingredients (including shallot if you’d like :).  Pour over salad and toss to coat.  Top with remaining strawberries and pumpkin seeds to serve.  I also tossed in blueberries, they make a great addition!

We are nearing the end of summer…in the state of Washington it seems like we only have a month left. Yesterday I challenged you to make the most of your produce, today I challenge you to eat clean for the month of August.  Enjoy the last bit of summer nutrients and experience a healthy body.  Drink lots of water, and by suggestion of Terry Walters, start a food journal of everything you consume from morning until night.  Be sure to take note of how you feel emotionally and physically.  Also, keep track of those taste buds!  You should find that you will no longer crave the pre-packaged food…that never expires!  Lastly, if you think you’ll stick to eating clean (which I’m confident you will :), get to your nearest book store or log onto amazon.com (have I mentioned before how GREAT amazon is?!?!) and buy “Clean Food“!  While looking up the link for the book, I noticed Walters has another book out called “Clean Start“, which I just purchased….Stay tuned folks, I’ll be sure to give you my opinion on that one too :)

Happy Summer!

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