Salads and Dressings

Mexican Kale Salad

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Mexican Kale Salad

This recipe is from the website of our friend Sharon McRae:  except for the home-made salsa.

Serves 4


From Joe:  I used to avoid dark green leafy vegetables (kale, collards) for salads because they taste somewhat bitter. Lettuce (not very nutritious), cabbage or arugula seemed to be tastier for salads.  (Instead I got my dark green leafies in soups or smoothies).  HOWEVER, if you massage kale in lemon juice, and add a few other ingredients, it's actually delicious!  

From Sharon: This is a very versatile recipe, as you can use the massaged kale with just about any beans, vegetables, and dressing. It's also great with chickpeas and a tahini-based dressing, with some chopped onion, peppers, carrots, celery and cucumbers! It is also great topped with fresh cilantro. It was adapted from a recipe from PCRM's (Physician's Committee for Responsible Medicine) Food for Life Kickstart Program.


  • 1 small bunch of kale
  • Juice of 1 lemon (about 1/4 cup)
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 1-1/2 cups frozen sweet white corn, thawed
  • 1-1/2 cups cooked black beans (or 1 16-oz can, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 Tbs pumpkin seeds, raw and unsalted 
  • ½ cup salsa, preferably sugar and oil free and low sodium (Green Mountain Gringo is my preferred brand).  OR USE HOMEMADE SALSA - SEE BELOW 


1.            Wash kale, remove stems, and tear leaves into small, bite-sized pieces; place into a medium bowl.

2.            Add juice from ½ lemon, and massage the kale for 1-2 minutes until leaves soften and become limp and color is bright green.

3.            Add red onion, black beans, corn, salsa, and pumpkin seeds to the massaged kale, and drizzle juice from the other half of the lemon over the salad.

HOME-MADE SALSA (an alternative to store-bought):  

4 chopped tomatoes
1 purple onion coarsely chopped
1 teasp cumin
1 bunch of cilantro (unless adding cilantro separately to the salad)
(Use as much or as little as you like in the Kale Salad) 

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For me, variations of this “salad” are a staple, and my secret weapon for a healthy lifestyle.  I eat it almost every day, never get tired of it and always look forward to it.   Probably the single best advice for a healthy diet is: “Eat a salad every day the size of your head.”   I believe that this simple bit of advice, by itself, is the closest thing there is to the secret of weight loss and achieving health goals.   I see so many people struggling with their weight, trying to control food cravings . . . just because they’re not eating this every day.  It’s not that hard, people!  Most of these ingredients are super-foods: the more you eat, the more weight you *lose*!

I believe the dressing has to be oil-free to get the health benefits.  There are many variations to the dressing below.  If you made the salad very tasty with a variety of ingredients, the only dressing you may need is a little balsamic vinegar or lemon juice.  Usually, the basic dressing is (balsamic) vinegar and a smaller amount of tamari or soy sauce, with a ratio of about 3 to 1 or 4 to 1.  Common optional additions are garlic, prepared mustard (not too much) and/or tahini.    Tahini is high in fat of course, but it’s a minimally processed food: just ground sesame seeds, far healthier than oil.  And it’s very flavorful so you don’t need much. 

BTW, another category of delicious food that allows people to achieve their health goals is soup.  Studies have shown that a salad OR soup before the rest of your meal, causes people to eat less and lose weight.  Unlike a glass of water, the water in soup or veggies comes with fiber so it’s satisfying and fills you up.   The salad, soup or both might end up as your whole meal if you like.

I fear that the word “salad” may sound boring, but this dish is so versatile it’s more like a “bowl” or a “stir-fry” (without the frying), or “a heaping pile of delicious food.”   In some variations it resembles “salsa” which you can have over, or with, potatoes, beans, beans & rice, etc.

Some of the ingredients below are optional, like bell peppers, and maybe cucumber.  But IMO, I would not want to omit the carrots, tomatoes or purple onions.  And a variety of ingredients tends to make dishes better. 

The high-fat ingredients, (nuts or avocado) make this very rich and delicious.  You probably don’t need both.  If you find that the plain version isn’t exciting enough, either avocado or nuts transform this into “amazing.”   Unlike oils, these contain healthy fats, but go easy if you’re trying to lose weight since all fats are loaded with calories.  Having a small amount of fat with a salad or veggies may help to absorb some of their nutrients.  If you’re looking to get omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts are one of the best sources;  a half-handful of walnuts a day is more than enough.  You can store walnuts in the freezer to help you avoid snacking (and to keep them fresh).  If you tend to snack on nuts, it’s probably better not to keep them in your house.   You can add the nuts just to the portion being consumed so they stay crunchy.

INGREDIENTS:   (veggies should be coarsely chopped:  not too small)

Cucumber  (about half of one cucumber)
Tomato      (about three)
Purple Onion (about one, coarsely chopped)
Bell pepper   (about one)   (OPTIONAL)
Carrots     (about three large)
Large handful of chopped fresh parsley
Cut-up black olives    (about one third cup)
Walnut pieces  (about a quarter cup or less) 
OPTIONAL:  Black pepper to taste (about ¼ - ½ teaspoon)
OPTIONAL:  Dried dill weed (one or more TBSP)  (or a small pile of chopped fresh dill)
AND/OR Dried thyme to taste
Nuts (such as walnut pieces)
OPTIONAL:  Cut up avocado. 
(See “Optional Add-Ins” below)

(Note: quantities are arbitrary and way more than you would need for one salad)

3 – 4 TBSP of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice (preferably fresh)
1 TBSP of tamari or soy sauce
STOP RIGHT THERE – the other ingredients are optional.  But if you want . . .
OPTIONAL:  Several garlic cloves processed through a garlic press
OPTIONAL: Several TBSP of tahini
OPTIONAL: small amount of prepared dijon mustared
OPTIONAL:  Totally unnecessary, but a small amount of grated or diced raw ginger can be interesting.  (Don’t add too much!!)
NOTE:  Some people add something sweet to dressings, like agave (or sugar), but I don’t; not needed!


  • Cut up the salad ingredients EXCEPT THE WALNUTS and toss.  (Add the walnuts to the portion being consumed so they stay crunchy).
  • Mix the Dressing ingredients separately, only to the portion being consumed!  Mix in a little at a time; don’t over-do it, save the rest of the dressing for later.


  • Cooked beans
  • Apple or pear pieces or blueberries
  • Sliced mushrooms dry-fried in a non-stick pan, with a little vinegar, and a splash of tamari or soy sauce at the end.  Note that, if using mushrooms, olives are not needed.
  • Cooked tofu pieces (pressed and cut-up tofu dry-fried in a non-stick pan until crispy). 
  • Cooked corn
  • Pepperoncini
  • Roasted sweet-potato pieces (cubed raw sweet potato baked in oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes)
  • Salad greens: lettuce, or healthier greens like cabbage or arugula.  (Personally, I usually do not add the healthiest greens, like kale or collards, which are more bitter; I get these into my diet in other ways, especially by adding to soups).  
  • Cooked whole-wheat macaroni (not the healthiest ingredient, but not bad and can add flavor or variety)


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All Purpose Oil-Free Dressing*

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(For salads, stir-fries, veggies, potatoes, tofu, etc.) 


  • This dressing is for salads, veggies, tofu, stir-fries and "bowls" of various kinds.
  • The ratio of vinegar to tamari (or soy sauce) seems to be about 3 to 1 or 4 to 1.
  • We usually mix it up on the spot in the bottom of the bowl of whatever we're making.  Or you can keep some in the fridge; a 1 cup Pyrex container with a lid is handy. 
  • Tahini is a seed butter (ingredients: ground sesame seeds).  We recommend that, right after purchasing, you pour off the extra oil that has risen to the top.  Tahini seems to be particularly delicious, but you could use nut butters in it's place, such as walnut butter, almond butter, etc. 
  • With a spice grinder you can grind up help seeds, chia seeds, etc. and make your own seed butter. 
  • For something sweet, soaked, blended dates, or "date sugar" (available in healthfood stores = ground up dates) is an option, but doesn't seem necessary to us.    
  • A manual squeeze-type citrus juicer is quicker than the type where you rotate the fruit on the juicer.
  • For garlic, you can mince garlic or use a garlic press, which makes a more mixable garlic, but garlic powder is OK too. 
  • Balsamic and rice vinegar are a little sweeter (about 20 cals/TBS), compared to other vinegars (0 cals/TBS).

BASIC DRESSING INGREDIENTS:   (Note: quantities are arbitrary and much more than you would need for one salad) 

3 – 4 TBSP of balsamic vinegar or lemon or lime juice (preferably fresh)
1 TBSP of tamari or soy sauce 

STOP RIGHT THERE – the other ingredients are optional.  But if you want . . . 

OPTIONAL:  Several garlic cloves processed through a garlic press
OPTIONAL: Several TBSP of tahini
OPTIONAL: small amount of prepared dijon mustard (not too much!)
OPTIONAL:  A small amount of grated or diced raw ginger can be interesting.  (Not too much!)
NOTE:  Some people add something sweet to dressings, like agave, sugar, ground fruit, or dates (see above), but really not needed. 


Mix the ingredients together

(Toss with your salad / food a little-at-a-time to avoid adding too much).



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Beet and Apple Salad*

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Several Beets, sliced
Several Granny Smith apples, peeled & sliced
Walnut pieces
fresh parsley
red wine vinegar


Boil the beet slices until tender, drain.

Measure beets by volume or weight, so you'll know how many apple slices to use.  Use slightly more apple slices than beet slices.

Combine all ingredients in a bowl, using the amounts that you feel are right.  Toss.






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Easy Bean Salad

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Modified from the DVD:  ‘Eating Right for Cancer Survival’ produced by The Cancer Project (a project of PCRM, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine)

NOTES: The dressing makes it.  A store-bought "low fat Italian dressing" might taste good, but is likely to be pretty high in fat and sugar.  Try some home-made dressings in this section.    See the variation below "Bean Salad 2."


One can kidney rinsed & drainedone can pinto beans rinsed & drained
About 1.5 cups (or one 10 - 15 oz can) of cooked lima beans
1 cup cooked corn
½ purple onion – coursely chopped
1 large red bell pepper chopped
two to four teaspoons, or to taste, of dried “Italian seasoning” or fresh or dried herbs of your choice
Small amount (1/8 – ¼ cup) of low-fat Italian dressing, or dressing of your choice
Optional:  handful of cut-up walnuts
(optional):  ½ - 1 teaspoon salt   (probably not necessary if using canned beans which contain salt)
ground black pepper to taste


Toss together
Allow to sit so the flavors develop.



A variation I made recently after tasting a simple, but awesome, bean salad.

INGREDIENTS     (amounts are not critical – adjust quantities to your liking)

2  15-oz cans of beans (such as pinto and black beans) rinsed & drained.           
             (Or 3 cups of any combination of cooked beans;    One 15 oz. can =  1.5 cups of cooked beans)
3 TBSP Vinegar: balsamic, or other. 1 lg celery stalk chopped = ½ cup

1 large purple onion, or 2 large Vidalia (sweet) onions, chopped (2 cups of purple, or 4 cups of sweet)

½ + teasp ground pepper
Optional:   2 – 3 tomatoes, chopped into large pieces.
Optional:  1 – 2 dashes of tobasco sauce.
Optional but not recommended:  small amount of olive oil or salt
               (healthier than oil would be nuts either chopped, or as nut or seed butter mixed with vinegar) 
Optional:   Up to 1 cup of chopped fresh parsley,  or ½ - 1 cup of chopped fresh chopped cilantro


Mix ingredients together in a bowl.   If liquid forms, drain in a strainer.  
(Great with brown rice as a side)
Freezes well


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Hearty Pasta & Bean Salad*

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Here’s an example of a “salad” with so many flavorful ingredients that it doesn’t need a dressing.   Normally, any available veggies are thrown in without measuring, but you may want to measure the first time.   There’s something about the combination of the key ingredients, which we believe are:   pasta, beans, lightly cooked veggies, raw greens, and crunchy sweet onion,  that makes this special.   Some variations on this theme are ‘Mango Lime Bean Salad,’  and ‘Pasta, Beans & Veggies.’    Even with unsalted pasta and beans (if you dare) it still tastes great!   Needs some red & green ingredients for visual appeal.  Great with hummus on the side.   You can really fill up on this with amazingly few calories; we could have called it “weight loss salad.”

SUGGESTED INGREDIENTS  measures are approximate:

2 cups Vidalia onions, raw, chopped (more attractive with purple onions, or a mixture of purple & Vidalia, since purple onions are stronger). 

One mango, cut up  (about 1&1/4 cup) or other fruit such as apple (if using apple, sprinkle the cut-up apple pieces with lemon or lime juice to prevent them from browning).

2 cups chopped cabbage (a mixture of white & purple cabbage enhances the color)

1&1/2 cups cooked beans such as pinto, black, kidney, etc.

1 cup whole wheat cooked macaroni or other pasta

2 cups cooked broccoli (do not overcook)

1 cup cooked corn kernels


¼ cup chopped olives

¼ cup chopped almonds or other nuts

juice of 1 -2 limes, preferably fresh.

Fresh or dried herbs, such as mint or dill, etc. 


DIRECTIONS:   Toss together


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Thai Dressing

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(from:  The McDougall Quick & Easy Cookbook)

We tried this with cole slaw:  Very good!

3.5 TBSP fresh lime juice
2 TBSP soy sauce
½ - 1 teaspoon ground chili paste
1 TBSP or less of minced fresh garlic

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Cole Slaw with lemon Tahini Dressing*

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A big pile of chopped cabbage.    (That’s all, if you want).

(And / or other greens – but then you might not be able to call it "cole slaw").


Optional:   Cut up some apple, toss the pieces with lemon juice (to keep them from browning, and add.

Optional:    Add some whole or chopped nuts (pecans, walnuts, almonds – whatever).  

Optional:    You can add grated carrots for traditional cole slaw if you want.


Mix together:

Some Tahini (not too much – has a lot of oil).   Or use "Low Fat Tahini."

Some lemon juice:  fresh (ideally) or bottled

Combine these ingredients in a small jar with a lid.  It's easier to mix them by shaking the jar. 

Fresh ground pepper

Optional:   some garlic powder 

Wait until soon before serving to toss the cabbage with the dressing, if possible.    Mix it up with a little of the dressing at a time so you don’t over-do it.


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Lemon Tahini Dressing*

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Dr. Joe:  I first encountered this in a delicious meal at the 'One World Cafe' in Baltimore, with tofu and roasted veggies.  FYI www.Food.Com has a recipe for this.

It's fabulous on veggies, veggie-burgers, and salad, including cole slaw.  I'm sort of shocked that some vegans consume "vegennaise," which is basically oil, in an effort to recreate the beloved mayonnaise, but this is far tastier and far healthier!  

Tahini (sesame seed paste) is an ingredient for other recipes.  When you buy it in a glass jar you can see that the oil has separated and risen to the top. You're expected to mix this back in, a slightly messy process.  I strongly recommend that you dump the oil down the drain, and mix it up with water instead.  The resulting 'low-fat tahini' still has some fat, but dramatically less, and tastes fabulous.  The low-fat version doesn't keep as long; I sometimes divide it into small containers stored in the fridge or freezer -  since I always want to keep them handy.   In a pinch you can thaw them in the microwave on a low setting.


Lemon or lime juice - stirred up until the right consistency is achievedgarlic powder
ground pepper

garlic powder
dried dill weed
salt (optional)

Mix ingredients until smooth. 
You usually will not need a blender (or an immersion blender) but occasionally it might be needed.

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Mango Lime Bean Salad*

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contributed by Joe Adams, M.D.,    from Forks Over Knives (the book);  originally from Ann Crile Esselstyn:  'Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease'

Ann Esselstyn:  "It vanishes in a flash. It's our all-time favorite summer salad.  Make sure there is PLENTY of lime - it makes the difference!  This is also good as a salsa."  

Dr. Joe:  Fresh limes are best; use the juice and the pulp.  Occasionally too much zest can be bitter, which would ruin the dish.  Don't zest too deep, or to be on the safe side, don't zest at all.  A small lime yields about 3 TBSP of juice - if you want to cheat with bottled juice.  More would be OK too.

Serves 2:

1 mango, peeled and diced
One 15-oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed.   [one cup, a little less, also works; amount is not critical]
Red onion, diced, to taste (about a half an onion
Cilantro . . a lot  (1/2 cup or more!)
Zest of 1 lime
Juice of 1 juicy lime, squeezed.  

Combine all ingredients and serve in a bowl or on a bed of arugala or baby lettuce, or mache if you can find it.  

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