• Dairy Free,  Gluten Free,  Holiday,  Recipe,  Salad,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Roasted Pumpkin & Arugula Salad with Cider Vinaigrette

    See, I actually do know what a salad is.

    You know, just in case that was in question. My family doesn’t actually live on chocolate, chocolate, doughnuts, french fries, and more chocolate……..at least not all of them.

    And yes, I’m bringing you another pumpkin recipe. Please don’t hate me if you’re getting sick of it by now cause I still have more pumpkin coming. It’s only the first week of November though, so it’s cool right? We’re good? K, thanks.

    Growing up, I never realized that people actually ate pumpkin as a vegetable and not just an ingredient for their favorite orange pie. In fact, the inside with all the sticky stringiness used to make me gag whenever we carved pumpkins. That’s understandable, don’t you think? I mean, a carving pumpkin is a whole different animal than a young, sweet sugar pumpkin. If you ask me, the small ones are indistinguishable from any other sweet squash. I’m learning to love em.

    So, salad is one of the things that I feel always looks prettier when you allow each component to visually shine. That just doesn’t happen when you toss it all in a bowl and throw it on a plate. What I’m saying is that I probably wouldn’t serve it as pictured to a 7-year-old. Not that I know any of those that would even get near a salad, but hypothetically speaking, I usually go with a more chopped salad approach for serving. The pumpkin skin is completely edible but not everyone is into it so feel free to peel the skin before roasting or before adding to your salad.

    Also, you can replace the pumpkin with any winter squash you like such as acorn or butternut squash. Another also, you can roast the seeds of any of those for putting on top of this yummy salad.

    I love this combo and the peppery flavor of the arugula goes really well with all the toppings. Personally, for actually eating it, I’d prefer it would you like some toppings-with-your-mountain-of-arugula? style because I love arugula! This is possibly my favorite autumn/winter salad ever.

    Roasted Pumpkin & Arugula Salad with Cider Vinaigrette

    Pumpkins aren't just delicious in pies and this salad is a great way to prove it.

    Prep Time 30 minutes
    Cook Time 30 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour
    Servings 4 servings


    Roasted Pumpkin:

    • 1 small sugar pumpkin washed
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil separated
    • salt and pepper


    • 4 cups fresh arugula leaves
    • 1/4 cup pomegranate arils
    • 1/3 cup roughly chopped pecans
    • 1 cup cooked garbonzo beans

    Cider Vinaigrette:

    • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinager
    • 1/4 cup olive oil
    • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
    • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
    • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


    1. Heat oven to 400F (200C) and use a large metal spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp of the pumpkin. (Rinse and save the seeds for roasting) Use a sharp knife to cut slices of pumpkin, about 1-inch thick.
    2. Place pumpkin slices on a foil lined baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and rub on both sides of pumpkin. Season with salt and roast for 20-25 minutes until fork tender.
    3. Spread the rinsed seeds out on a towel and pat dry. Toss in a bowl with olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread on a second baking sheet lined with foil. Roast in oven with the pumpkin for about 10 minutes, stirring halfway, until toasted and crisp.
    4. Allow the roasted pumpkin to cool a bit while you prepare the salad.


    1. Toss salad ingrdients together in a large serving dish and top with roasted pumpkin seeds and warm pumpkin slices (you can peel and/or chop into bites first, if desired).


    1. Whisk ingredients for vinaigrette in a small bowl until completely smooth and drizzle over salad or serve on the side.
  • Appetizers,  Dairy Free,  Gluten Free,  Recipe,  Salad,  Sides,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Grape Caprese Avocado Salad + Balsamic Reduction (Vegan+GF)

    Guess what, the sun is popping out and I think It might stay and hang out for a while today, yay! I was beginning to forget what it looked like.

    So what do think of when you hear the word salad, because it seems to be a very broad term with many different interpretations. In some places if you order a salad at a restaurant you are going to be disappointed  with a large bowl of lettuce and a few dots of something to garnish. I thinks it’s just that some consider salads only a side dish type of thing.

    To others when salad comes to mind it might be a steakhouse-style salad that’s basically a pile heavy toppings and croutons smothered in ranch. Would you like some lettuce with your dressing?

    My view of a perfect salad is somewhere in between the two. I think every salad needs to have plenty of flavors and some kind of awesome dressing to finish it off, either creamy or sweet. It also should be light enough to be a side dish on it’s own, or loaded enough that you could add some protein and make it a meal. Of course, that applies only to lettuce based salads, I’m not talking about pasta, bean, or fruit salad. Those are all completely different categories.

    One of my favorite flavors of summer is fresh basil and I happened to get a bunch of it the other day. Since it pairs so well with tomatoes and avocado it seemed only fitting to make a caprese salad and my favorite way to top that is with a balsamic reduction that is super easy. Give it a try and let me know what you think!

    Grape Caprese Avocado Salad + Balsamic Reduction (Vegan+GF)

    Sometimes the simplest things are the best and that's exactly the case with this minimal ingredient salad.

    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Cook Time 10 minutes
    Marinating Time 25 minutes
    Total Time 20 minutes
    Servings 4 servings


    Balsamic Reduction:

    • 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
    • 1/4 cup sugar


    • 3 cups loosely packed red leaf lettuce
    • 1 cup cherry tomatoes sliced in half
    • 1 cup red grapes sliced in half
    • 1 medium avocado sliced
    • 1 cup fresh basil leaves
    • 1/2 block firm tofu drained and dried of excess liquid
    • 1 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
    • sea salt and black pepper to taste


    1. Cut the tofu into small cubes and throw into a bowl and add apple cider vinegar and a sprinkle of salt. Toss to coat. Place in the fridge to marinate for 15-30 minutes
    2. For the reduction, combine sugar and balsamic in a small saucepan over low heat. Simmer for about 10 minutes until thickened, then remove from heat and cool.
    3. Combine ingredients for salad in a large bowl and toss together gently. Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.
    4. Top salad immediately before serving or serve per individual.


  • Appetizers,  Dairy Free,  Main Course,  Recipe,  Salad,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Warm Barley Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts (Vegan)

    I know a lot of you are getting ready for bathing suit wearing, lemonade drinking, and all of the other things that come with summer but down south we’re all pulling out our fuzzy sweatshirts and wool socks.

    Salads are one of the things I love about the warm half of the year. You can throw in whatever you want and it’s a great way to take advantage of all of the fresh produce available, but in the fall and winter it’s not as appealing to eat cold  veggies. I don’t know about you, but I crave cozy meals when I’m cold and warm salads are just that, super cozy. They still have the benefit of having lots of nutrition but also help warm you up.

    So barley, how do you feel about barley? I’ve always been a big fan and I’ve never understood why it’s not so popular. It’s like rice’s nerdy cousin that no one remembers. Why is that? It has awesome texture and that slight chewy bite to it that I love. When I was little my favorite canned soup was barley beef and of course the barley was my favorite part. I just think we should all eat more barley.

    Also, brussels sprouts, what’s the deal people? They’re so yummy! They have such a horrible rep and, yeah, I guess I get that if you were forced to eat bowls and bowls of slimy, overcooked ones as a kid then you may not be all over them, but the rest of you, give them a chance. What did brussels sprouts ever do to you? Look, you don’t have to love them, you just need to be on friendly terms with them.

    This salad is definitely worth trying. It’s pretty easy too and guaranteed to make you all cozy and warm.

    Warm Barley Salad with Roasted Butternut Squash & Brussels Sprouts (Vegan)

    Looking for a new side or main? This cozy and healthy salad might be just what you need.

    Prep Time 20 minutes
    Cook Time 40 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour
    Servings 6 servings


    • 2 cups cooked barley
    • 1/2 of 1 medium butternut squash peeled and diced into cubes
    • 2 cups brussels sprouts ends and dead leaves trimmed (smaller ones are best)
    • 2 tablespoons olive oil divided
    • 2/3 cup pomegranite arils
    • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
    • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
    • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme
    • salt & black pepper to taste


    1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 C) and toss squash and sprouts in a large bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and pour out onto baking tray lined with foil or parchment. Spread evenly and place in oven to roast for 30 to 40 minutes until squash is fork tender.
    2. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add remaining olive oil and barley and stir for about 1 minute to warm. Add sprouts, squash, and remaining ingredients and gently toss to coat.
    3. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve immediately.

  • Appetizers,  Dairy Free,  Gluten Free,  Main Course,  Recipe,  Salad,  Sides,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Zucchini Ribbons & Caramelized Hearts of Palm Salad with Lemon Pesto Vinaigrette

    You know what’s the greatest?

    When you get a new outfit or shirt and are really excited to wear it (because you secretly think it’s the cutest thing ever) and you show up at some event and your best friend’s cousin, that you don’t really like but are nice to anyway, is wearing the same thing. Even worse, you see someone in the grocery store wearing it with stained pajama pants and a cat purse!  Has that ever happened to you? Well, maybe not the cat purse, but you get my point. When I was younger it was always the worst if it was someone younger than me wearing the same thing as me because then I thought I must look younger in it. That’s tough when your 11 and think you are so old.

    Anyway, I was just wondering about the odds of anyone else on the planet in the history of all mankind ever eating this salad. I decided that even still they are pretty slim chances, but I guess it’s not all together impossible. It’s just such a random combination. I caramelized hearts of palm, which are very common and popular here but I’ve never seen them done like this, and then made some of my favorite walnut pesto into a dressing and through in everything else that sounded good. I made it on a bed of ribboned zucchini because I was out of lettuce. Plus, I prefer non-lettuce based salads anyway.

    It just doesn’t seem like anyone else could have made this exact thing, right? I may be over estimating my uniqueness. It’s like on Madgascar when the lion tells the zebra that he is black with white stripes while all of the other zebras are white with black stripes. I can’t help that I know this. My little siblings love those movies so I’ve seen them a few times, okay!

    Well, I’m hoping that whether or not this has ever been made before, it will be made now when I share it with you guys. The combination is really good together and, while all of the toppings are great, my sister and I had to agree that the hearts of palm are definitely the highlight of the whole thing. I really liked this dressing too. Of course, I’m the type of pesto lover that would like to drink it by itself, but I think the balance of basil, salty, sweet, and sour was just about perfect in it, even if you aren’t as crazy about it as I am.

    This is a great side salad for a diner party or it can be a main course with something like chickpeas. We had it with pizza and it complemented the flavors perfectly.

    Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Lemon Pesto Vinaigrette (Vegan+GF)

    Instead of opting for that boring salad, try changing things up with this unique and flavor loaded one with the most delicious pesto vinaigrette!
    Prep Time 25 minutes
    Cook Time 5 minutes
    Total Time 30 minutes


    Lemon Pesto Vinaigtrette:

    • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
    • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
    • 3 tablespoons one small handful fresh basil leaves, washed
    • 1/4 cup raw almonds
    • 3 large cloves garlic
    • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
    • 1 1/2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
    • 2 tablespoons maple syrup


    • 1 can hearts of palm I used pre-cut rounds but if using the longer ones just chop into smaller pieces
    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
    • 2 tablespoons turbinado sugar or regular
    • salt & pepper
    • 1 large zucchini
    • 1 large tomato diced
    • 1 medium avocado diced
    • 1 cup sweet whole kernal corn
    • 1 cup fresh blackberries
    • 1 small bunch of fresh basil leaves shredded


    1. Combine all the ingredients for the pesto vinaigrette in a food processor or blender and pulse a few times until smooth. Set aside.
    2. Melt coconut oil in a medium frying pan and add hearts of palm, sugar, and salt and pepper to taste. Saute, stirring occasionally, for about 6 minutes or until the edges turn a nice golden brown. Remove from heat and cool while prepping salad.
    3. Use a potato peeler to grate zucchini into ribbons and toss in a bowl with palm hearts and other ingredients for salad.
    4. Add dressing to taste and serve immediately or refrigerate without dressing for no more than 3 hours.

  • Dairy Free,  Gluten Free,  Main Course,  Recipe,  Salad,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    End of Summer Vegan Caprese Salad (Vegan+GF)

    Summer is slowly slipping away and turning into rainy Autumn. It’s kind of sad.

    Depending on where you live, Autumn can be a beautiful time of year. When I lived in Tennessee it was my absolute favorite season. I would spend all summer dreaming of the bright colors, crisp air, and comfortably cool weather after a few months worth of cut-the-air-with-a-knife humidity. Plus, there were always the holidays coming in their rightful seasons.

    The fall season here has its merits too. There are still some pretty colored trees and the weather isn’t very cold, just rainy. And I do enjoy the rain sometimes, but months of it is hard to deal with. I think I’ve been spoiled by the near perfect weather of this summer. If I had the holidays to look forward to then I’d be completely happy to trade seasons with the Northern Hemisphere, but as Christmas is in the summer here, there isn’t much to get excited about. It feels like eating your dessert before dinner and then wishing you had saved it.

    I’m happy for you up North, though. If I have to lose my beautiful summer than I’m glad you guys can enjoy it soon. Maybe I can hop a plane and spend the winter in Europe or something.

    I know that the changing of seasons is a good thing and I should stop complaining and get over it. Okay, okay, I’m going to but I’m holding on to the last bits of summer by making recipes that scream summer to me. Pasta salad is something that I feel I didn’t make enough of this year.

    Actually I only made it a few times, what’s wrong with me? Oh, and there are so many other things that I  wanted to make and forgot to. There’s no way I can cram it all into the next few weeks. Ah, well, next year I’m planning things out better. You know, because that always works. Uh huh (yeah right). Hey, let me dream.

    This is one of the easiest dishes to throw together and the best part is that it is great eaten cold or hot. I, of course, served it cold for the most summery version, but heat this up and toss in some chickpeas and it can become a cozy dinner for a cold night.

    I’ve never been a big tomato eater but whenever I put tomatoes in things like this I wonder why in the world not. The flavors in this complement each other perfectly. The only thing that would have made it better is some fresh basil, which I somehow ran out of right before making this. I’m putting it in the recipe anyway because it’s a must. Other than that, I don’t think I’d change a thing.

    So whip this up, add some fresh basil, and enjoy it in whatever season it happens to be where you are.

    End of Summer Vegan Caprese Salad (Vegan+GF)

    Celebrate the end of the season with this simple and delicious pasta salad!

    Prep Time 15 minutes
    Cook Time 25 minutes
    Soaking Time 20 minutes
    Total Time 40 minutes
    Servings 8 servings


    • 1 16-ounce box rotini pasta (Use gluten free if needed)
    • 4 cloves garlic minced
    • 1 small onion chopped
    • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary minced
    • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
    • 1/3 cup olive oil divided
    • 2 medium tomatoes diced
    • 1 large zucchini diced
    • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
    • 1 block firm tofu drained and dried of excess liquid
    • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
    • salt and pepper to taste


    1. Cut the tofu into small cubes and throw into a bowl and add apple cider vinegar and a sprinkle of salt. Toss to coat. Place in the fridge to marinate for 15-30 minutes
    2. Prepare pasta according to package directions. While pasta is cooking, saute onion, garlic, rosemary, and thyme with 2 tablespoons oil until browned and fragrant.
    3. Drain pasta and pour into a large bowl. Add cooked onion mix, tofu, and veggies, then toss with remaining olive oil and balsamic. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve at desired temperature

  • Appetizers,  Dairy Free,  Gluten Free,  Main Course,  Recipe,  Salad,  Sides,  Vegan,  Vegetarian

    Balsamic Roasted Veggie and Chickpea Couscous Salad

    Until yesterday I had never, to my knowledge, tasted couscous and  I know for sure that I had never made it before. Don’t give me that look. It’s not my fault I’m so uncultured and my mama dresses me funny [drying eyes and blowing nose loudly]. How come no one has ever made me some couscous?

    Well, it’s okay now because I have discovered it and how awesome it is. Who knew that it could be so easy to prep. Forget pasta and rice. Compared to cooking them, couscous is almost an instant food. I can’t believe how easy it is. Now if you’d like to make this recipe gluten free you can always substitute some quinoa and I can tell you that’s just as delicious.

    When my little sis, who is now 6, asked me what it was I told her it was like baby rice. She thought is was so cute. That’s how I got her to eat a few bites before she saw that I put zucchini in it. It was over after that. I can feel that 6 is going to be a very difficult age for her and even more for all of us. uh huh, Yep. Not sure if we’re all gonna make it. I love that kid to death anyway though. She loves to help me with all of my craziness in the kitchen.

    Omg, the other day she started taking a bunch of stuff outside; small tables, dishes, utensils, etc. Then when we asked her what in the world she was doing, she said “It’s for my blog. Where is the camera? I need to take pictures” Then she starts putting all this random stuff on the table and making a big mess. God love her.

    So what do you do with couscous? There are like so many possibilities here. I went with a salad for this recipe and you guys are going to love it. It was just one of those days that needed the smell of veggies roasting in the oven, you know what I mean? Everyone loves that smell even those that don’t eat their veggies.

    I am kind of addicted to balsamic and I not only roasted the veggies in it but then I added more to the finished salad. What? It’s so good. I couldn’t help it. Just trust me on this, you need this salad in your life. It is crazy delicious if I do say so myself.

    Balsamic Roasted Veggie and Chickpea Couscous Salad

    Summer isn't complete without making some colorful salads to compliment your favorite meals. This delicious salad is packed with flavors!

    Prep Time 10 minutes
    Cook Time 50 minutes
    Total Time 1 hour



    1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F (200 C). Toss chickpeas, zucchini, onions, and garlic, and half of the basil with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 3 tablespoons of balsamic. Salt and pepper to taste then bake for about 40 minutes to 1 hour, stirring every 15 minutes or so.

    2. While that is in, bring water to a boil and add couscous. Cover and remove from heat and allow to sit for about 10 minutes.
    3. Fluff with a fork and add roasted veggies and chickpeas, tomatoes, and remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil, balsamic, and basil. Toss and season to taste with salt and pepper.
    4. Serve hot or cold.