We have a favorite salad... at a local place called Zupas.  I found a recipe online that a lady had tweaked a little, and I've tweaked it a little more!   The original salad uses strawberries where I used blackberries, but I used what I had: blueberries and blackberries were $.99/cup at NPS.

Sometimes DollarTree has frozen mango chunks, 12 ounces for a dollar. The trick is to visit the store within a week of when they get their monthly frozen shipment.

Mango Berry Salad
Salad:
8-10 cups greens (I used green leaf lettuce)
1-2 cups chopped fresh strawberries (or other slightly sour berry)
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 fresh mango, cubed, or 1 cup frozen mango, diced and mostly thawed
1/3 cup cinnamon honey nuts
 
Combine in a large bowl in the order given.

Creamy Mango Dressing:
1/2 c.Greek yogurt* (plain or something mild like vanilla) 
2 Tbsp. lemon juice or balsamic vinegar
1 fresh mango, pitted and peeled, or 1 cup frozen mango, mostly thawed
1/4 tsp. salt

 Combine in a blender until smooth.  If too tart, sweeten with a little honey.  Makes about 1-1/4 cups. Drizzle  about 1/2 cup over salad; toss to coat.  Serve salad with additional dressing on the side, or save the rest for another day .

*for a dairy-free option, use coconut cream (NOT cream of coconut, which is sweetened)
 
 
These are delicious in a green salad with sour berries or salty cheese, or just by themselves.   
My grandmother has six beautiful pecan trees,  ones she and my grandpa planted when my dad was a little boy. When they visited recently, they brought a bagful of their shelled, fresh pecans for each of their adult grandchildren.   A treasure.  Pecans are my favorite nut; it might be because of the memories of the Christmastime harvest: my dad and uncles high in the pecan trees, shaking the branches while we grandchildren stuffed the fallen nuts into bags.  We'd sit around Grandma's big dining room table with some of those nuts and a nut cracker, talking, laughing, and eating those moist, mild nuts.  The bulk of the nuts, though, got hauled over to the local nut company, where they machine-shelled them for a fee.  A while later Grandma would pick up a now-shrunken bag of the best nuts in the world! 

I used pecans in this, but any nut may be used.

Cinnamon Honey Pecans
1 tsp. honey
1 Tbsp. water
dash of salt
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/3 c. pecans (a good handful)

Put the honey, water, salt and cinnamon in a small nonstick frying pan.  Turn heat on to medium-high.  Stir until reasonably mixed.  Add pecans and stir until the nuts are coated.  Heat, stirring often, until nuts first become dry, then begin to smell a little toasty.  

This takes somewhere around 5 minutes but can be more or less, depending on how hot your burner gets and how cold the nuts were. (I keep mine in the freezer, so mine always take on the longer side to toast.)    If in doubt, take a nut out, blow on it a bit, and eat it.  If it has a little bit of crispness to it and tastes delicious, they're done!  Remove from heat.  Cool completely before adding to a green salad.

These are a perfect ingredient in Mango Berry Salad.

 
 

Yesterday I got to have lunch with some friends at a neighbor's house.  We each brought something; Emily, whose house we met at, made Apple Butternut Squash Soup; this link goes to the recipe on her website.

I had lots and lots of Romaine lettuce on hand, thanks to another friend...  so a salad seemed in order.  I started out intending to make honey-mustard dressing, but it lacked something... so I looked around the kitchen to see what to use.  In went some orange peel and the white parts of some green onions.  

Oh.

That was good!

Next about a pound of lettuce and the green parts of three green onions were mixed with around half of the dressing; just enough]to lightly coat.  Then four or five sliced hardboiled eggs went on top, 4 oz. of cubed cheese, and a big handful of toasted pecan pieces.  
Everyone loved it, except the person who didn't try it because she's allergic to eggs and nuts. :/

This would be delicious brushed onto chicken a few minutes before done baking.

Honey-Orange Dressing  Makes about 1 cup

1/4-1/3 c. honey (depends if you want this more sweet or more tangy)
1/4 c. apple cider vinegar
1/4 c. olive oil
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper (I used 2 drops of essential oil)
2 Tbsp. onion (I used the bottom 1 1/2" from 3 green onions)
1 1/2 tsp. orange zest (I used about half the peel from a clementine)

Throw everything into a blender; puree until smooth.  


 
 
Most salads like this use so much dressing that there's a pool of it at the bottom of the bowl.  And the dressing is about all you taste.  
Not this one.  There's enough oil in the salad to help you unlock those fat-soluble vitamins; both cabbage and cashews are very high in Vitamin K.  And you can actually taste the cabbage, in a way that accents only its best features.  

If you have any left over, even though the noodles will not stay crunchy by the next day, the cabbage does.

Cabbage Ramen Salad        Serves 4-6.  Or two who really, really like it.

1 tsp. olive oil
1 package Ramen noodles
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. rice wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. honey or sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 - 1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. ginger OR 1 1/2 tsp. chopped crystallized ginger OR 1 drop ginger essential oil
1 small cabbage, shredded, OR a 14-16 oz package coleslaw mix (cabbage and carrots)
2 green onions, chopped
1 c. cooked turkey or chicken, diced
1/2 c. cashews, optional

Heat 1 tsp. olive oil in a large skillet on high heat.  Break the Ramen noodles into small pieces and add to the hot oil.  (You won't need the flavor packet for this recipe.)  Stir dry noodles constantly for about 2 minutes, until some of the noodles start turning a toasty brown.  Remove from heat and set aside. 

In a medium bowl, combine remaining 2 tbsp. olive oil, vinegar, honey/sugar, salt, pepper, and ginger. Stir well to combine.  Add the cabbage or coleslaw mix, green onions, turkey/chicken, and cashews.  Stir thoroughly, until no puddle of dressing remains on the bowl's bottom.  Serve right away for the crunchiest noodles.  

 
 
There's nothing like fresh fruit in the summer, warm off a tree, juice dripping down your chin.  
However, if you want a little variety with summer's luscious bounty, here's something simple yet delicious.  It's best with fruit from the farmers' market or your own trees, but supermarket fruit will do in a pinch, though you'll want to add about 5 minutes to the baking time and maybe add an extra tablespoon of brown sugar.

Baked Peaches with Fresh Raspberries
4 ripe peaches or nectarines
1-2 Tbsp. brown sugar (1 Tbsp. for very sweet, ripe peaches)- or use 1 Tbsp. honey
1 Tbsp. sour cream, vanilla yogurt, or good-quality balsamic vinegar
a handful of fresh raspberries (about 1 1/2 ounces, or 1/4 cup)

Turn on oven to 400 degrees F.  Spend the next five minutes washing, drying, then halving and removing the pits from the peaches or nectarines.  Set the peach halves on a baking sheet, then sprinkle with brown sugar.  Pop them into the still-heating oven and set a timer for 15 minutes.  You want them to be warmed through, just starting to soften a little, and for the brown sugar to be melted.  Set the oven to broil, and put the peaches on the highest rack in the oven for ONE minute.   Remove from the oven.

Stir the sour cream or yogurt with just enough water to make it a drizzling consistency, or use the balsamic straight.  Drizzle over the top, then add raspberries.  Eat while warm, spooning the juices from the bottom of the baking dish over the topl
 
 
Why is it almost Taco Salad?  Because there's no tostada or chips with it.  If you want full-blown Taco Salad, just add some.  Pretend they're corn-chip croutons.  I didn't use those because of a sudden urge to make roasted potatoes and didn't want a lot more carbohydrates in the meal.  Besides, if I opened a bag of chips, the whole thing would disappear, and that's anywhere from $1- 2.50, depending on if we're using cheap tortilla chips or Fritos.  The potatoes, as our carb, cost about $ .50 instead.  Yum.

Almost-Taco Salad

 ½ lb. ground beef
1 Tbsp. tomato powder
2 Tbsp. chili powder
Salt to taste
1 head of lettuce (or a half head each Iceburg and red leaf lettuce)
½ green bell pepper
½ red bell pepper
½ c. shredded cheese
1 tomato, cut in wedges
Optional: thin-sliced onion, sliced avocado, jicama cubes, cooked black beans, drained canned corn, canned green chilies....

Cook the beef until browned.  Meanwhile, wash and chop lettuce and veggies.  Put the lettuce in, then add the vegetables and most of the cheese; mix slightly.  When the burger is done, drain off grease, then add tomato powder and chili powder.  Stir to coat, taste and add salt if needed.  Spread out the meat on a plate to cool more quickly.    When it’s cool, top the salad with it and the remaining cheese.

My family thought it was good without salad dressing, but if you want something to drizzle on top, Ranch is a good choice- especially if you mix a little chili powder into it-, OR this:

Creamy Garlic Dressing:

¼ c. plain yogurt or sour cream
1 Tbsp. water or milk
½ tsp. garlic powder
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. dried parsley, optional, if you want it to look prettier

Whisk until smooth.
Serve with oregano-roasted potato wedges and vegetable sticks.

 
 
One of my children is needing to avoid dairy for a while, but I found strawberries on sale and wanted a creamy salad using them.  Add some pudding?  Not an option.  Yogurt?  Nope. Whipped cream?   No, but... I had coconut cream.  The thick, creamy, good stuff you find at the top when you open a can of coconut milk.  So I used that.  It worked beautifully.  Everyone was happy.

It's super fast, too.  If you feel like making it fancier, you can whip chilled coconut cream (yes, it whips, just like dairy cream, but goes flat faster if it warms up).

Creamy (Dairy-free) Fruit Salad
1/2 pint fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced
2 bananas, peeled and sliced
1 apple, cored and chopped (I leave the peel on)
3 Tablespoons coconut cream
3 drops lime or orange essential oil, optional
2 Tablespoons shredded sweetened coconut

Combine fruit in a medium bowl.  In a small bowl, stir together the coconut cream and essential oil, until smooth.  Pour over fruit and stir gently to coat.  Sprinkle with coconut.
(If you like things sweet or if your strawberries are sour, add 1 Tbsp. honey to the coconut cream mixture
Serves 4-6


 
 
My 12-year-old science nut convinced me to buy a red cabbage-  why?   

While walking through the produce section together, I had told him that the vegetable could be used to make a pH indicator.  He was excited.   You can see how to do this in the one-minute video, below.
Meanwhile, you don't need the whole head of cabbage for such a project, so it got chopped up into a creamy, flavorful, no-mayonnaise coleslaw.  The recipe is below this cabbage video. 
Isn't that simple?  If you don't have a coffee filter, any other absorbent paper will work, including (white) construction paper or paper towels.  My favorite is the construction paper.  You can read more about why this works here

*  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  *  * 
Coleslaw with Bacon and Buttermilk (or Kefir) Dressing
adapted from America's Test Kitchen

If you are going to eat this coleslaw RIGHT AWAY, you can skip the salting step, which keeps the cabbage from releasing water and diluting the dressing as it sits.  However, if you’re not a fan of raw onion, cook it along with the bacon; salting the onion also mellows it.

½ medium head of red or green cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot or apple, grated
½ medium onion, sliced thin
Salt
6 slices bacon, chopped, cooked and drained
½ c. buttermilk or kefir
2 Tbsp. oil (I used coconut oil)
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
½ Tbsp. caraway seeds
¼ tsp. mustard (dry or prepared)
2 tsp. sugar or honey
Black pepper to taste

Combine the cabbage, carrot/apple, and onion in a colander; sprinkle with 1 tsp. salt. Let stand over a bowl until the veggies wilt, 1-4 hours.  Rinse, drain, and pat dry.  Add in the bacon (and onion if you cooked them together.)  Stir together the buttermilk/kefir, oil, vinegar, caraway, mustard, and sugar.  Pour over the salad, and toss to coat.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

 
 
Picture
 A little of this, and a little of that... to make a brightly flavored salad! 

There are a couple ways to make this, depending on what you have on hand.

2 (29-oz) cans of sliced or cubed peaches, preferably in light syrup or juice
1/4 c. instant clear jel (like Ultra Gel)*
6-8 drops lemon essential oil *
6 oz. (1 cup) fresh blueberries


Combine the juice or syrup from the cans,  clear jel, and essential oil.  Whisk together until slightly thickened- it will thicken more within the next 5-10 minutes.  Stir in peaches and blueberries.  Flavor improves the longer it sits, but it's good right away, too.

Makes 8-10 servings. 

*If you don't have instant clear jel on hand- first, I recommend it!  You don't have to heat it to get it to thicken food.  I use it in sauces, fruit glazes, pie fillings, puddings, salad dressings, jam, cold soups (you can use it in hot soups, but flour and cornstarch are cheaper), frostings, and more-  you can substitute 1/4 c. flour instead, or 2 Tbsp. cornstarch.  Whisk it in to the juice, then bring the mixture to a boil, whisking often.  Let cool a few minutes so it doesn't cook the blueberries.

Another option is to use a 4-serving-size package of instant lemon pudding in place of the clear jel and lemon oil.  The pudding is essentially instant clear jel + sugar + flavors and colors.

This is good with all kinds of fruit.  Try it with apple, orange sections, mango, banana, pineapple, raspberry, strawberry, apricot...
Frozen fruit works as well, but frozen blueberries will release their juices and turn the whole salad purple.  Just so you know.