Summertime Salads

As a Registered Dietitian, Personal Trainer, lover of all things vegetable based, and a salad connoisseur, I am often asked, “Don’t you EVER get sick of salads?”  My answer is a firm NEVER , since they are so super versatile.  But I do love salads the most in the summer, when the weather is HOT, so the crisp veggies are extra refreshing.  Not to mention, the fruit tastes like candy (to me!), and adds an additional great element to a savory salad.  You just can’t beat that salty sweet combination!

Below I’m sharing a couple of my homemade recipes, to which you can add your own favorite proteins (anything from burgers, to hard boiled eggs and fish) and switch up the fruits and vegetables.  I’ll also show you some of my favorites from both local and destination restaurants that you can visit to enjoy, or copy for your own at home.  Happy creating!

Massaged Kale and Mango Salad with Grilled Chicken

This one has superfoods that can help naturally detox against extra summer cocktails and ice cream!

  • Avocado: contains glutathione, a compound that blocks fat absorption and helps in cleansing the liver.   It’s also high in fiber to improve digestion.
  • Kale: binds to bile acids to get rid of them and eliminate from the body, thus lowering cholesterol levels.
  • Lemon: detoxes the liver, aids in digestion (increased saliva with its sight, smell, flavor), and stimulates pancreatic juice for digestion.


  • 1 bunch of kale (black, also called Lacinato, works great): remove stalks, and chop leaves thin
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • ¼ cup olive oil, with extra for drizzling
  • Himalayan pink salt
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 cup mango diced
  • 2 heaping tablespoons roasted pumpkin seeds (pepitas)
  • 2 grilled chicken breasts
  • 1/2 avocado diced


  • In a large bowl, add kale, half of lemon juice, a drizzle of oil and a little salt. Massage with hands (or add these ingredients to Ziploc bag and massage in bag) until the kale starts to soften up. This takes about 2 to 3 minutes.  Set aside while you make dressing.
  • In a small bowl, whisk remaining lemon juice with maple syrup and a generous amount of freshly ground black pepper (to your taste). Stream in the 1/4 cup of oil while whisking until dressing is well mixed.  Add the dressing to the kale, and toss thoroughly.
  • Add the mango, pumpkins seeds, chicken breast, and avocado.
  • Toss again, serve, and ENJOY!

This recipe serves 2-3 people depending on your appetite!

Spinach Berry Salad

This salad is great for your SKIN!

1.5 cups spinach leaves
8 raspberries
8 blackberries
1/4 avocado diced
1 tbsp sliced almonds
Dressing: 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tbsp lemon juice, salt and pepper to taste

Toss all ingredients together and ENJOY!

Here’s why this salad has super skin powers:

  • The spinach is very high in Vitamin A. With more than the Daily Value of Vitamin A just in one cup, it can help promote cell turnover, inhibit oil gland activity, and help prevent acne.  Without sufficient Vitamin A, skin can become dry, rough and scaly. Vitamin A is fat-soluble and spinach contains no fat, BUT the olive oil and avocado help for the best absorption.
  • The spinach, berries, avocado AND almonds all contain FIBER. Fiber improves digestion, helps rid the body of waste and decreases inflammation, all of which is great for the skin.
  • Spinach, berries, lemons, and avocados are great sources of Vitamin C, which is an antioxidant that protects the skin from environmental pollutants + toxins and prevents bruising. It also aids in collagen production and improves blood vessel dilation, which brings more blood and nutrients to the skin.  It helps with quicker healing.
  • Spinach is one of the best sources of Potassium, which helps with fluid balance, and skin is healthiest when hydrated.
  • Almonds and avocados are high in Vitamin E, which is an antioxidant that helps repair and protect the skin. It helps protect skin from UV light and free radical damage.
  • Avocados (and olive oil) contain healthy fat, which helps keep skin moisturized from the inside out. They also have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits that are great for the skin.

Healthy “Hot Dog” Salad

One afternoon when the kids were having hot dogs on the grill, I had an Organic Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage from Trader Joe’s.  I sliced it, placed it on top of a salad and added gut-healthy sauerkraut and some mustard.  These toppings have so much flavor that this salad doesn’t even require salad dressing!

Salmon Salads

Wild salmon is one of my favorite proteins.  I love the flavor and it’s very high in Omega 3s, which are anti-inflammatory and great for you skin, brain, and even sore muscles.   Here are the details for these three summer salmon salads:

  1. Terrain Café Westport: Their Strawberry and Asparagus Salad is made with:  frisee, pickled celery, shaved carrots, marcona almonds, almond vinaigrette.  I added salmon.
  1. Water at 1 Hotel South Beach:  These salads were so good I had them everyday I was on vacation in Miami last month.  The first one was the Organic Green Salad with greens, cherry tomatoes, radish, alfalfa sprouts, soy nuts, and key lime dressing.  The soy nuts added an interesting crunch (almost like a crouton!) that I would add to other salads in the future!  The second one was the Edamame + Carrot Salad made with purple and green cabbage, avocado,, scallions, sesame, Serrano pepper, cilantro, and carrot cumin dressing.  Using cabbage instead of lettuce is a fun switch, full of fiber and nutrients.

Watermelon Salad

There is nothing better in the summer than cold, sweet, juicy watermelon.   Not only does it taste amazing, it is high in water content, lycopene, antioxidant Vitamin C, and potassium.  This all means it’s great for summer skin!  I love how it tastes paired with a strong cheese, such as feta, and placed over greens.  This salad here was from a Mediterranean restaurant in NYC called Amali.  It had greens, watermelon, feta, radishes, and cucumber with a honey vinaigrette.  Try making this one at home!

Kale Mango Salad

This salad is from Mystic Market in Westport.  I served it multiple times and work and family events.  It was a hit every time.  The sweet mango compliments the strong kale flavor perfectly.   The edamame and quinoa make it a delicious complete meal.  You can order from Mystic Market OR try your own at home.


Super Bowl Swaps

It’s almost game time!  Although you and/or your guests may enjoy and be looking forward to all the traditional football fare, you can try some of these tips to keep everyone healthy and happy!

Crush it with Crudités 

Instead of a couple of celery and carrot sticks to compliment the wings, make chopped veggies a colorful centerpiece. Use bell peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, tomato, asparagus, cucumber, jicama, zucchini or any other vegetable you like. Serve with healthy dips.  I love Cava brand for hummus/tzatziki as it lower in calories. Make sure there is no sugar added to your salsa.  Serve fresh guacamole or make your own. Try your own creamy creation using Siggi’s plain Icelandic yogurt as a base.  I love adding: olive oil, lemon juice, and Everything but the Bagel Seasoning for a savory snack.  Choose healthy alternatives for ranch dressing/dip. I like Sir Kensington’s and Tessamae brands for ranch. 

Root for Fruit!  

Whether it’s part of the cheese board, on its own, or for dessert, fruit is high in fiber to keep you full and sweet to curb that sweet tooth.  Add dried fruit to your cheese board (make sure it has no added sugar or oil) as well as all natural fruit spreads (Trader Joe’s, St. Dalfour, Polaner All Fruit are all good!). 

Change up the Cheese Board

Some of my favorite cracker brands are: Simple Mills, Mary’s Gone Crackers, Flackers and GG Fiber crackers. All are high fiber and made with healthy ingredients.  Many other crackers out there are made with white flour, hydrogenated oils, sugar and other additives/preservatives.  Choose some cheeses that are lower in fat: Parmesan, feta, mozzarella, goat, Camembert to name a few.  Add fruit as mentioned above: fresh and/or dry. Also add nuts. Make sure there is no oil or anything added to the nuts, expect a little salt.  

Salty Snacks

Select healthier versions of chips and popcorn for that crunch.  I recommend popcorn that is organic and contains ONLY popcorn, olive/coconut/avocado oil and salt (Note that non-organic popcorn is often made from GMO corn!)  Lesser Evil is a favorite brand in my house.  The same goes for potato chips: I recommend those made ONLY with potatoes, olive/avocado oil and salt.  My boys and I love Kettle Brand Chips made with avocado oil.  For tortilla-style chips, my favorite are Siete. They are grain free made only with cassava flour, avocado oil, coconut flour, chia seeds and salt!  Serve with salsa and guacamole as recommended above. 

Bites of Buffalo

Is it really SuperBowl without some sort of Buffalo something?!  I love recipes that use chicken breasts (instead of thighs or wings with skin because those have higher calories, fat, saturated fat and cholesterol). Try almond (you can substitute almond for regular flour in recipes), oat, brown rice or whole wheat flour for white flour. Use avocado or olive oil instead of vegetable oil. Also use ghee, coconut oil or olive/avocado oil in recipes that call for butter. Select a Buffalo sauce or hot sauce with all natural ingredients. I LOVE Siete foods hot sauces. And I like Noble Made Mild Buffalo sauce. It’s here but I found at Whole Foods. 
I really like these two Buffalo chicken recipes:
You can also sauté shrimp in Buffalo sauce. 
For my friends who prefer a vegan or vegetarian option, try these Buffalo cauliflower recipes! 
If you don’t have an air fryer, cook at 400 degrees in the oven for 10 more minutes!

Chill with Chili

There’s nothing better than a warm cup of chili on a cold winter day watching the Super Bowl.  Instead of traditional chili that can be high in saturated fat, made with ground beef, sour cream and cheddar cheese and mostly carbs (just beans), you can lighten it all up!  Even if you want to add meat (lean ground beef, chicken or turkey), I recommended starting with a mostly vegetable-based one like this one:
You can add the meat PLUS 2 cups baby spinach leaves (I always add more greens to all my cooked saucy dishes!) after step 1. 
For toppings try plain Siggi’s yogurt (instead or sour cream), shredded Parmesan or mozzarella instead of cheddar cheese, avocado, lime, or scallions to garnish. You could also dig in with your Siete chips! 

Not your Typical Nacho!

You can often enjoy the flavor of a favorite food with a twist on the traditional recipe. I love this Turkey Nacho recipe that doesn’t actually contain nachos. The turkey meat is placed inside mini bell peppers:
This paleo version is made with potatoes instead of chips and skips the cheese:

Pizza Power!

Why not try cauliflower pizza?!  Lots of your guests will thank you!!  I love the Cali’flour crusts that you can buy on Amazon. These are the best in my opinion. BUT I also have a super simple recipe where you can make your own. Check it out here:



Chicken Bolognese

I make some version of this sauce at least once a week-it’s really pretty easy and quick.  Sometimes I use ground turkey, sometimes chicken and different veggies end up in the pot. Traditional Bolognese often has carrots, mushrooms, red wine, tomato paste, but I often use what I have on hand and what is quickest. This meal is FULL of veggies (think tons of #antioxidants and #fiber .) The #lycopene – great for skin, bone, and heart health – in the tomatoes is made more bioavailable (meaning it works better in the body) by being cooked with olive oil, since it’s fat-soluble.

Tag me if you try and ENJOY!  

Don’t forget to make extra for leftovers. The sauce is even better the next day!

1 medium sweet onion chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil 
1 pound ground chicken breast 
1 bottle Rao’s Tomato Basil sauce (24-ounce size)
3 cups baby spinach leaves
1 Tbsp oregano 
1 tsp chili flakes (or to taste)
1 cup cauliflower rice (I used frozen organic from @traderjoes
1/2 cup steamed broccoli 🥦 (see my blog for the best way to cook!)


  1. Pour olive oil into large pot/saucepan on medium heat. Sauté onions until they are browned. (I love the caramelized onion flavor so I cook them awhile!) 
  2. Add ground chicken and break apart/cook until all pink is gone and it is just about cooked through (about 4-5 mins if fresh, longer if you start with frozen, which I often do.)
  3. Add in the sauce. 
  4. Add in spinach and stir until it wilts into the sauce. 
  5. Add oregano and chili flakes to taste. 
  6. Simmer on low for at least 20 minutes ( I sometimes do 30-40 minutes or make earlier in the day then reheat for dinner. This blends all the flavors together and helps develop a richer taste as some of the water evaporates.)
  7. In a separate pot or pan warm up or cook cauliflower rice. I use olive oil spray so it doesn’t stick. Both fresh and frozen only need 3-5 minutes to cook.
  8. Steam broccoli. (Recipe on my blog under  “Simple Solutions”.)
  9. Layer sauce and broccoli over cauliflower rice and enjoy! Top with grated Parmesan as desired. (My husband enjoyed his over whole wheat pasta. You can use zoodles too!)

Cranberry Sauce with Pears

Yield: Serves 8


  • 12 ounces fresh or frozen cranberries
  • 2 medium pears, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/4-inch chunks
  • 3/4 cup coconut sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons agave
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


Combine cranberries, pears, coconut sugar, water, agave, orange juice, and salt in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally until berries start to pop, about 5 minutes.   Press berries against side of pan with wooden spoon and continue to cook until berries have broken down and sauce thickens to a jam-like consistency, about 5 minutes more.  Remove from heat and let cool for 30 minutes.  Adjust consistency with water as needed.  Stir in crystallized ginger.

Serve immediately or place in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator. Can be served cold or reheated.


Butternut Squash + Pomegranate Quinoa Stuffing

YIELD: Serves 8


  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 ounces olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 6 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 tablespoon fresh sage
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ cup chopped hazelnuts
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  • ½ cup roasted butternut squash cubes
  • ½ cup cubed whole wheat sourdough bread toasted in oven with olive oil, salt and pepper


  1. Roast cubed butternut squash tossed in 1 tbsp olive oil in a 400 degree preheated oven for 25-30 minutes until browned. Set aside. 
  2. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  3. Combine the stock and 1 cup water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil over high heat. Stir in the quinoa and bring back to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 12 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed all the liquid.
  4. Meanwhile, pour olive oil into large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the onion and celery and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 10 minutes.
  5. Remove the onion mixture from the heat and add the quinoa to the pan. Stir in the sage and salt and pepper and mix thoroughly. Transfer the stuffing to an 8-inch square pan. Add bread and roasted butternut squash.  Bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Toss with hazelnuts and pomegranate seeds before serving.
  7. Garnish with parsley and ENJOY!

Baked Apple Recipe

Try this sweet, healthy alternative to apple pie on Thanksgiving or any time during the year.

  • 6 apples (choose your favorite variety!)
  • 1/2 cup raisins and/or dried apricots
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts OR pecans (or other nuts)
  • 3/4 tsp grated orange zest
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 3/4 tsp powdered cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp powdered nutmeg 

Preheat oven to 350F.  Remove apple cores and peel around core opening.  Place apples in shallow baking pan.  Stir together raisins, nuts, and zest in a small bowl.  Add water and spices to saucepan and heat until it boils.   Simmer at low heat for 2 minutes.  Fill each apple core with nut mixture.  Spoon the hot mixture over each apple.  Place pan in oven for 30-35 minutes or until apples are soft.  Enjoy!

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