Red, White & Blueberry Salad

red, white and blueberry salad

Happy Fouth of July, everyone! I just couldn’t let the holiday go by without contributing something red, white, blue and edible. Now, I realize there’s just no topping last year’s American flag tart (gluten-free and dairy-free), so I didn’t even try with the desserts. I decided to go in a completely different direction instead… salad. Before I go any further, let me explain my philosophy on salad. It’s simple: Lettuce alone does not a salad make. A salad should be packed with all sorts of different flavors, textures and colors. It should look exciting, fresh, beautiful… almost like art. The taste should of course match. And the process should be fun! No more boring old lettuce and dressing salads. Blah. OK, I’ve said my piece.

Back in the early days of this blog, I wrote a post about how to make a truly satisfying salad. If the idea of making something without a recipe totally freaks you out, I have lots of tips, tricks and how-tos for you here.

salad prep

So, this salad just so happens to be what’s for lunch today. You’ll have to pardon the bowl. If I was planning ahead I would have put it in something a little more photogenic than the plastic container I use to cart my lunch to work pretty much every day. Not the prettiest, but it sure is convenient, and even has a seperate contraption in the lid for dressing (Martha Stewart does it again!). I digress…

What makes this festive are the strawberries and blueberries of course. It just wouldn’t be the Fourth without those guys. And to get some white in there I’ve added radishes and hemp seeds. Not familiar with hemp? Here’s what it looks like in seed form…


Hemp seeds (also called hearts) are an excellent vegetarian source of protein. They’re easily digested and absorbed; high in important nutrients like iron, magnesium, essential fatty acids; and a fantastic source of fiber. Hemp seeds are a great pantry staple to keep on hand to turn any salad into a complete meal. Here they’re totally optional. If you want to make this salad to bring to a BBQ or 4th of July picnic, you can take em or leave em.

Also, you’ll notice the recipe below doesn’t say exactly how much of everything to use. Just go with amounts that seem right to you. You really can’t go wrong. I’ve never heard anyone complain of a salad having too much avocado or fruit.

Whatever your plans are for the 4th I hope yours is a fun and relaxing one, complete with good company and great foods. God Bless America. 🙂


Red, White & Blueberry Salad


mixed greens
red onion, thinly sliced
radish, thinly sliced
avocado, diced
strawberries, chopped
basil, thinly sliced
hemp seeds (optional)
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper


In a bowl combine greens, onion, radish, avocado, berries and hemp seeds. To make the dressing combine EVOO and lemon juice (2:1 ratio) and add a little salt and pepper. Drizzle over salad and toss.


Banana, Peach & Peanut Butter Smoothie

It may not sound like your traditional fruit smoothie combo, but just trust me on this one… You’ll take one sip and think “OMG, this is breakfast?!” Banana and peanut butter – there’s no surprise there. And when the classic combo is frozen and blended it’s creamy, rich deliciousness. For breakfast.

As for the peaches, they’re just too good right now to not put them in everything. I’m slicing them up and adding them to salads, salsas and, like here, smoothies. Buy some peaches on sale, slice them up and put them in the freezer to blend up with your other favorite fruits. I like: blueberry + peach…. mango + peach… or peach + peach.

I usually blend in a tablespoon of ground flax seed to add fiber along with antioxidants and a dose of omega-3 fatty acid, which helps to reduce inflammation in the body. The ground flax blends in easily to where I don’t even notice it. All I taste is the next best thing to ice cream… for breakfast.


1 banana, sliced and frozen
3 slices of frozen peaches
1 tbsp organic peanut butter*
1tbsp ground flaxseed
1½ cup almond milk

*look for organic, fresh-ground peanut butter that’s made just using peanuts – no sugar.


Combine all ingredients in blender (I use the magic bullet) and blend until smooth. Add almond milk as needed to reach desired consistency.


American Flag Fourth of July Tart – Raw, Gluten-free, Dairy-free Dessert

The fourth of July just isn’t complete without something edible fashioned into an American flag. This is one of the few things required for the holiday, I think — Flag dessert, fireworks, and little kids in ridiculous red white and blue outfits. God bless America. Growing up, we’d make this — well not exactly this… it was the more traditional version out of angel food and Cool Whip. Since for me these days Cool Whip and traditional cake are out, I have to get a little creative. But I think I’ve found something 10 times better.

I bring you the raw tart… It’s made of nuts, dates, fruit, honey, coconut oil and salt. That’s it. Good for you ingredients, in their 100% raw, uncooked state. No heat exposure means the nutrients stay in tact, as well as the enzymes, which make the food easier to digest. No heat also means no heat for you – raw foods are cooling for the body. Just what we all need when it’s 100+ out there! Health talk aside, this dessert really is truly delicious. If you’re gluten-free, dairy-free, with this you’re not missing a thing. In fact, it’s even better – with higher quality ingredients, the way they come together so uniquely, the final product is greater than the sum of its parts. There’s nothing better than discovering something that’s gluten-free, dairy-free and tastes even better than the traditional version. I love that. I always think, if I never had to branch out, I might never have discovered the amazing things you can do with nuts. Even for folks who don’t need to avoid wheat or dairy, this is a real dessert.

So here’s what you do. ..I took a lot of pictures so I thought I’d use them to walk you through the process…

Start by soaking the cashews. Give them about four hours or so, then drain the water and rinse them. Soaking softens them so they’ll blend more easily into a creamy consistency. Soaking also makes the nuts easier to digest.

For the crust, you can use just about any combination of nuts. I used macadamia and walnuts. But you could go for almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, etc. depending on what flavors you want.

Put the nuts in the food processor and process until finely ground. Then add the dates (be sure to remove the pits first) through the processor’s feed tube while the machine is running. At this point, you can add the vanilla and salt as well. Process until you have an evenly blended gooey mess.

Now, transfer the gooey nut-date crust mixture into a greased (with coconut oil) tart pan and press the mixture down evenly to form the crust. I recommend getting in there with your hands to press the mixture into the corners and grooves and get it nice and even. You can use plastic wrap or baggies on your hands to keep clean… and sanitary.

Now you’re ready for the filling. Combine the cashews, honey, lemon and coconut oil in the food processor and process until smooth. Let the processor run (3-5 minutes or so) to get a creamy texture that’s not gritty. You may need to add a little water to thin it out and get the desired consistency.

Here’s how it should look when it’s done… Taste it to make sure it’s smooth — it should be light and creamy, not gritty. I love the lemon in this…

Pour the cashew cream filling into the tart pan and smooth evenly over the crust. A rubber spatula works well to spread the filling and get into the edges and corners.

Now comes the fruit. Yum, blueberries — so so good and so so good for you. A rule of thumb… the greater the potential to stain your clothes, the better it is for your body. So eat up!

Chop the strawberries into small pieces to form the stripes. I cut them in half long-ways and then sliced them in slivers, like this…

Start with the stars and make a square with blueberries in the upper left corner. Then fill in. For the stripes, layer the strawberry pieces to form straight lines across. The American flag starts with red at the top, so make a line with strawberries and alternate with white space.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in freezer for at least four hours to set. Before serving, remove from tart pan and allow to thaw at least 20 minutes.

So there you have it — The raw gluten-free, dairy-free Fourth of July American flag tart. Now all you need are some sparklers and that Old Navy t-shirt…

If you end up giving this a try, I’d love to hear how it turns out. Or if you change it up in any way, please share your variation with us in the comments.

To all, I wish you a very happy and safe Fourth of July holiday.
God Bless America.

American Flag Tart


For the crust:

  • ½ cup Macadamia nuts
  • ½ cup walnuts
  • 1 cup dates, pitted
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • Pinch sea salt

For the filling:

  • 1 cup cashews, soaked
  • ¼ cup honey
  • Juice 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil


Put nuts in food processor and process until finely ground. Add dates through feed tube while processor is running. Also add vanilla and salt. Process until evenly mixed and gooey.

Grease a rectangular (or square) tart pan with coconut oil.

Pour crust mixture into tart pan and press evenly to form crust.

Combine all filling ingredients in food process and blend until smooth. Note: allow processor to run for 3-5 minutes to get a smooth consistency that is not grainy. You may want to add a little water to get desired consistency.

Pour filling into tart pan and smooth evenly over crust.

Now you’re ready to make the flag. Wash the berries and chop strawberries into small pieces. Make a square by lining blueberries in the upper left corner. Next, start the stripes – red, then white – by lining strawberry pieces to form lines.

Cover with a layer of plastic wrap and place in freezer to set, at least four hours. When you’re ready to serve, remove tart from pan and allow to thaw 20-30 minutes before enjoying.


Smoothie Weather

I am loving this 70 degree weather in January! It’s days like these that I’m glad I live in Dallas. There are very few places on the planet where you get a day like today in the middle of winter. I’ve been out running errands and its so warm I broke a sweat! Skinny jeans were a bad idea. And my car’s AC picked the wrong day to go on the fritz. I needed a cold treat when i got home so I mixed this up with our new Bamix immersion blender — the most amazing kitchen tool ever — and it’s so delicious and cooling and satisfying as I’m sitting here in my damp skinny jeans that I just had to share. Yay for smoothie weather!

Mango Banana Orange Smoothie

1 frozen banana

Handful of frozen mango chunks

Orange juice

Blend together until smooth. Enjoy!

If you don’t have frozen fruit you can use fresh and just add ice to make it cold. I find frozen fruit gives the best consistency though. Freeze leftover banana pieces and keep them in the freezer to use in smoothies.


Organic Schemanic?

There are two different stacks of strawberries in the produce section, but one is two dollars more. Why? And is it worth the price? As if the grocery store wasn’t already an overwhelming place for the decision-making challenged there’s yet another choice we have to make. But when it comes to some foods, organic versus conventional is an important one. The latest dirty dozen list just came out. These are the foods in the produce section that have the highest concentration of pesticides on them. If you’re debating between going organic or not, this is a good place to start. But first here are a few answers to some general questions about organic….

What does organic mean?

Organic means that the food was made without pesticides, there are no synthetic ingredients in the fertilizer, and no bio engineering, genetic modification or radiation was used. When something is genetically modified that means its genes have been altered. Scientists add new genetic material into the mix to make plants and produce (even animals) last longer or become resistant to a certain pesticide.

Are the pesticides and chemicals used in conventional farming harmful?

All of the chemicals and pesticides that go into growing conventional produce ends up in the food. And when we eat it, those chemicals and pesticides go into our bodies. We are talking about agents designed to kill things here. Now consider this. Our bodies are a combination of chemical reactions. Everything from digestion to PMS is chemistry happening inside us. What happens when we add a new chemical (er, several) into the equation? That’s the thing. We don’t exactly know. Studies are being done to see just how these chemicals can interfere with digestion and absorption of the nutrients in produce.

Why is organic so much more expensive?

Organic farming just takes a lot more work for a lot less produce. Organic farmers have to do a lot more weeding by hand and also lose a higher percentage of their crop to pests and run the risk of a total loss. Organic farms also have their crops on a rotation in order to keep the soil healthy and nutrient rich. Conventional farming has gone the way of clearing land and planting large fields of cash crops every season of every year without ever giving the soil a break. You’re able to grow more food year round this way, but it depletes the nutrients in the soil because there’s never a time to replenish. That means fewer nutrients in the food that comes from it and the taste isn’t quite the same either. For instance that tomato isn’t quite as juicy and sweet. Then there’s also the costs associated with being certified organic, which can be quite high.

Then why does conventional fruit look brighter and bigger?

You know those strawberries you get at the grocery store that are the size of your fist and bright red, but when you bite into one it’s not sweet? Conventional methods breed larger strawberries, apples, you name it. They also use chemical ripening agents to bring a fruit to its peak artificially. It’s cheaper and easier when you don’t have to wait for nature to take it’s course.

How do you know you’re getting organic?

The sticker on your produce has a PLU#. If the number starts with a 9, then it’s organic. If it starts witha 4, it’s conventional meaning conventional farming methods were used including pesticides, etc. And if it starts with a 7, it’s local.

What foods have the highest level of pesticides?

As a good rule of thumb, anything that’s porous, fragile or grows 100 percent underground is more vulnerable to pesticides. So things like peaches, berries and potatoes will have a higher pesticide count than say a cantaloupe that’s fruit is protected by a tough skin. Try picking up the organic version of these when it’s available and just see if you can taste a difference.

The Dirty Dozen

  1. Celery
  2. Peaches
  3. Strawberries
  4. Apples
  5. Blueberries
  6. Nectarines
  7. Bell Peppers
  8. Spinach
  9. Kale
  10. Cherries
  11. Potatoes
  12. Grapes

Read the full 2010 Shopper’s Guide to Pesticides from the EWG.

eat your vitamins, recipes

The Green Smoothie

I know how it sounds.

But really I am not a crazy with a juicer. I’ve never even juiced anything. And I hate V8. I do realize a green smoothie sounds questionable, but if it wasn’t good I can tell you I would not have one everyday for breakfast. And I do! It’s delicious and such a good start to the day.

A few weeks ago I posted about leafy greens and how crazy good they are for you. Green = vitamins, minerals and all that good stuff. I’d heard of people who made green juice drinks as a way to squeeze in extra fruit/veggie servings. It can be part of a healing or a cleansing diet, or just a way to start the day off right. We all have those days when it’s just easier to pick up a sandwich. But when I have this smoothie in the morning I know that no matter what the day might bring (read: Chick Fil A lunch), I’ve already had my green.

I make it in the Magic Bullet. I’m sure you’ve seen the infomercial. It’s perfect for smoothies because you can just throw all your ingredients in one of the single serving cups, blend it and go.

Yes, it looks like it glows in the dark. But I swear all you taste is the mango. It’s sneaky like that. I used mangos here, but you can mix up whatever fruit you want. I like it with strawberries and blueberries too (and the darker fruit hides the green). I always use a banana because it gives it a soft, creamy texture. Frozen fruit makes a thicker smoothie too. Also, I add flaxseed for a serving of Omega-3s with its anti-inflammatory benefits.

What you need:

1 banana
a handful of frozen mango chunks
orange juice
1 tsp flaxseed (grounded or flax seed oil)
2-3 leaves kale, torn

What you do:
Put all the ingredients in a blender and blend, adding more orange juice as needed to facilitate blending.


Dragon Fruit and Conch, Oh My

Last weekend was Bride-to-Be’s bachelorette party in Mexico. Don’t worry rooms, I’ll only talk about the food here…

So, one of the nights we were treated to a personal cook and a bartender, compliments of Bride’s amazing future in-laws. It was about 4 p.m. when things got rolling. The team arrived bearing booze and fish. Alex, the bartender started mixing up some mojitos while Gabby and Joey started cooking. I think they cooked nonstop for five hours. Meanwhile, we worked on getting pretty for the evening and managed to take the power out with our hair dryers. Then out came round after round of deliciousness: shrimp and white fish ceviche, salmon and goat cheese on crackers, crab taquitos, guacamole and the best pico. ever. Truly an amazing feast. And we haven’t even gotten to dinner. Then there was this:


I love fruit so of course I picked one up and put it in my mouth without really caring or asking what it was. It had a hot pink rind and was next to a strawberry. That’s all I needed to know. It must be good. And it was. What a perfect thing to eat after everything else we had just stuffed our faces with. So what is it? It’s called dragon fruit (real name: “pitaya”) and it comes from a cactus. Whole, it looks like something out of The Jungle Book. It’s unique to Mexico, kinda like the conch that Ave-Dawg spent the afternoon pulling out of the ocean. She rounded up a grand total of 14. Check out the slimy little booger coming out of that shell. I think his brother may have been in the soup we ate next. Yum.