I have released four recipe books so far:

The Best of the Sunny Raw Kitchen
The Best of Raw Freedom Community
Delightfully Raw and
Deliciously Raw

These feature some of the most delectable creations to have come out of my raw kitchen and will appeal to anyone interested in a healthier diet, regardless of their level of knowledge and experience. From easy one-step everyday fare to more elaborate and involved gourmet dishes and layered cakes, they offer something for everyone and every occasion. Incredibly tasty smoothies, creamy and comforting warm soups, sexy salads, delicious nut cheezes, satisfying entrees and scrumptious guilt-free desserts...

Healthy food never tasted so good!

To learn more about my recipe books, click here!

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Splendid Salads

I don't know about you, but when I was growing up, raw foods played a very small part in my family's diet (read infinitesimal!) In spite of my mother's attempts to include some raw (or 'rabbit food', as my dad used to call it) on our table, the choices were rather bleak (the true benefits of raw foods were - and still remain - not well understood.) There'd be slices of tomatoes or cucumbers, a few veggies to dip in some sketchy sauce made out of a package, or a teeny, anemic-looking lettuce salad, drenched in bottled dressing. (Even Caesar salads were a little too exotic for my household...)

Sadly, in terms of diet, that pretty much set the tone for the first thirty years of my life. I was lucky if my daily raw food intake reached 10 % (and I'm probably being generous here!) I mean, how SAD is that, really?! My body sure told the tale. I was anything but 'vibrant' and full of 'Life'. In fact, 'Zombie-like' would probably be closer to the truth.

Not surprisingly, I was never a huge fan of salads prior to getting into Raw. Even then, SILT (Severe Iceberg Lettuce Trauma) had taken its toll and I stayed wayyyyyy clear of plain lettuce salads. For the whole first year or so on the raw diet, my daily fare consisted of a simple salad made of spinach, grated carrot and beet, avocado, alfalfa sprouts, sometimes green onions, with a little flax oil, Braggs, Spike and nutritional yeast. For some reason, I just didn't get tired of the stuff, well, at least for a while anyway. (I guess I was making up for lost time!)

Eventually, I began to include lettuce back into my diet. Still, come wintertime, my body just wouldn't crave cold leafy greens. But that all changed this past year, when I got back to eating fully raw (after 4 years or so on a high raw diet of perhaps 80%.)

Mommy, Mommy, Gimme My Greens!
More often than not, real changes are subtle and gradual, to the point that they may be hardly noticeable on a day-to-day basis. I am always fascinated when, faced with certain situations, I no longer respond the way I used to. And so, this winter, after a few months of being 100% raw, Don and I were surprised to find ourselves actually craving greens.

In her much acclaimed book "Green for Life,"Victoria Boutenko (who will be giving a series of lectures in BC and Alberta this month) explains how greens are absolutely key to optimum health. But that's another story (and a real good one at that!) which I'll keep for another time. Now, it's as though we can't get enough of them: greens in our smoothies, greens in our soups, and of course, major greens in our salads. Sometimes I wonder if we're gonna turn into leprechauns!

Bye-Bye Boring
Salads are the perfect complement to the dehydrated gourmet dishes I now prepare, which have come to replace the cooked meals we used to have in the winter. If you think that salads are boring like I did, think again! In fact, we can turn them into a fun and creative endeavor.

Here are a few tips we have discovered to help make your green salads interesting and keep boredom at bay.

Garden Salads Gone Gaga
The easiest and most effective way of perking up your salads is variety. Happily, the days when iceberg lettuce monopolized the shelves of the produce section are over. As you probably know, you can now find a wide selection of leafy greens in most supermarkets or health food stores, all making terrific salad material. Nowadays, there is also a simple answer to turning your salads into an epicurean dish: Baby field greens aka mesclun mixes. It allows you to enjoy a gourmet salad in a snap, with minimal effort. (The stuff is even pre-washed!)

Surprise Me
As Nomi Shannon points out in her Holiday Celebration Guide, another key to a great salad resides in adding an element of surprise. Fruits, seeds or nuts can really work wonders. Try adding some diced pears, pineapple, or mango, orange or grapefruit sections, or perhaps some walnuts or pecans. There are also so many ingredients that will add both texture and flavor to your salads: avocado, broccoli florets, cabbage, cherry tomatoes, bell or hot peppers, corn, jicama, Jerusalem artichokes, olives, marinated veggies, sea vegetables, sprouts, fresh herbs... Just take your pick! So don't be shy to experiment!

The following is one of our absolute favorite, simple salads, and a perfect example of how a few unexpected ingredients can make all the difference:

Baby Spinach Salad with Bosc Pear and Pecans
By Woody Harrelson

1 firm bosc pear, sliced into thin wedges (I used Bartlett)
4 green onions
1 teaspoon celtic or sea salt
4 tablespoons good olive oil
2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1-½ tablespoons balsamic vinegar (opt)
½ lemon, juiced
1 tablespoon raw honey or maple syrup
1# baby spinach leaves (I just used a blend of fresh spinach, spring mix greens and arugula)
½ cup parsley and cilantro leaves, chopped
⅓ cup chopped pecans
Celtic or sea salt to taste
fresh ground black pepper
Peel pear and cut in to slices, cutting away the seeds and core.

Chop green onions finely. Toss pear and green onions with sea salt, olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice and honey or maple. Allow to marinate for 5-10 minutes.

Add baby spinach leaves, chopped herbs and pecans and gently toss with salad severs. Season with salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Carmella's Notes: You can also use lettuce to replace part or all of the spinach. YUM!

We recently discovered this unusual, yet delicious and beautiful salad:

Sauerkraut Salad
From Kate Wood’s Eat Smart, Eat Raw
Posted on OrganicFood.co.uk

Sauerkraut is cabbage that has been grated and allowed to ferment. A traditional German dish, it is full of enzymes and beneficial bacteria, and wonderful for the digestion.

200 g / 6oz lettuce leaves, torn
200 g / 6oz spinach leaves, torn
1 avocado, diced
3 tomatoes, diced
250 g / 8 oz sauerkraut
30 g / 1 oz dulse, rinsed
30 g / 1 oz alfalfa sprouts
1 tsp kelp
1 tbsp nutritional yeast flakes
a dash of Braggs Liquid Amino’s
a dash of sesame oil

Toss all ingredients together.

Serves two to four

Carmella's notes: If, like me, you don't intuitively relate to these measurements, not a problem! I always just eye it and it turns great every time! I also like to add a 'smidge' of lemon juice for extra tartness.

She's Got The Looks, Babe

As we've seen, the fine art of making truly great salads is about variety, surprise, flavor, and texture, but it is also in the presentation.

Looks are extremely important as we eat with our eyes as much as with our mouths. If something isn't visually appealing to you, chances are you won't be too thrilled about eating it, either. In this regard, I like Frederic Patenaude's approach. In "Sunfood Cuisine," he writes: "Make your meal look so good that you do not want to start eating it."

An easy and fun way to achieve this is to play with color. Why not add a little grated or spiralized beet or carrot to your salad, or some diced red or yellow pepper? Try decorating your salad with thinly sliced cucumber swirls, pomegranate seeds or edible flowers. Turn your salad into a work of art. It will be so much more enticing, especially to non-raw foodists and children.

Dress 'em Up
Almost as important as the salad ingredients themselves is what you're going to dress them up with. Once I'm done preparing the rest of the evening meal though, I usually don't have a great deal of creative energy left for whipping up salad dressings. Fortunately, these normally fall under Don's department. (By the way, he is also in charge of the morning's juice and smoothie, as well as the dogs' partly raw meals, but that, too, is subject for another post...)

Not every raw chef, however, has a full-time assistant in their 'sunny kitchens.' A little trick I read somewhere (and one that always comes in handy) is to experiment and find a few different dressings that you really like. That way, when the time comes to dress up your salads, you don't have to search hi and lo for something suitable.

You may also want to consider investing in a salad spinner (if you don't already have one); a cheap and useful kitchen tool that will drastically improve your success in making wonderful salads. As Nomi Shannon says:"No dressing will ever taste right if is tossed in wet greens."

We usually like to use as little oil as possible in our salad dressings, preferring to use nuts or seeds, or a little avocado instead. If a recipe calls for some fancy vinegar, we simply sub with apple cider vinegar or lemon juice. Here are a few awesome dressings we've been having lately.

Don's Creamy Citrus-Herb Dressing
½ avocado
1 sm. orange
2 cloves garlic
1 tbs olive oil
½ large lemon, juiced (or to taste)
½ large lime, juiced (or to taste)
1 tbs tahini
1 tsp sweetener

Handful fresh parsley and/or cilantro
Dill or dried herbs of choice
Salt, Braggs or tamari (to taste)
⅓ cup water (or more)

Blend until smooth. Add water until desired consistency is reached.

Yields approx. 2 cups

Miso-Dill Dressing
1 tbs brown rice miso (tamari or Braggs work good too)
2 tbs lemon juice
2 tbs olive oil
1 tbs dried dill weed
1 tbs tahini
1 garlic clove minced

Combine ingredients in a small bowl or in food processor. This dressing is very tangy. I use it on everything.

Carmella's note: I like to at least double this recipe as it's enough for only 2 or 3 servings.

Sandy's Grapefruit Dressing
1 cup chopped tomato
½ cup grapefruit juice
½ cup olive oil (I use less)
¼ cup carrot
¼ cup celery
2 tbs. apple cider vinegar
3 dates
2 cloves garlic
2 tsp poppyseeds
½ tsp salt

Blend until smooth and refrigerate in glass container.

Skinny Dipping... and Dressings Too
Frederic Patenaude, author of the best-selling e-book "The Raw Secrets", has lots of awesome oil-free dressings. In one of his articles, he was sharing his basic method for making them:

"Start with tomatoes. Take 1-2 tomatoes, and put them in your blender, with the juice of half a lemon or some apple cider vinegar. Add in some sort of fatty food such as avocado. Then throw in some herbs of your choice (dill, chives, etc.), and some seasonings of your choice (if desired).

The result will be an incredibly tasty dressing you have spent about 2 minutes and half to prepare!"

Green Dill Dressing
By Frederic Patenaude

3 medium tomatoes
6 Tbs. tahini
2 cups spinach
1 orange, juice of
1/2 cup dill

Blend all ingredients together in your blender until smooth. Season if desired.

Carmella's note: I added the juice of 1 lemon, 1 garlic clove and some Braggs. Yummo!

Here is another fabulous dressing of his which looks and tastes amazing! It actually doesn't contain an once of fat. You gotta try it to believe how awesome it is!

Amazing Tomato-Mango Dressing
From Fred's "Instant Raw Sensations"

In your blender, blend :
1 cup of tomato (in chunks)
1 cup of mango (flesh only)
1/4 cup of water
2-3 Tbs of balsamic vinegar

'Where's the Lettuce' Salads
As you already know, salad doesn't need to contain lettuce at all to live up to its name. We are all familiar with coleslaw or some version or another of cucumber salad. There are tons of interesting lettuce-less recipes that are sure to jazz up any meal.

Have you ever tried a marinated salad? Mmmmmmmm... The marinating process really works magic! We used to not like raw kale, finding it too bitter and tough for our taste. But that was until we finally mustered the courage to prepare a marinated kale salad. You can find many, many variations of it, including Russell James' delicious Wilted Kale Salad with a Creamy Chipotle Dressing.

Here is the first kale salad we tried, and one of my personal favorites:

I love Kale Salad
Posted in RawGuru's Newsletter - Issue 16

1/2 bunch green kale (chopped fine)
1/2 bunch dino kale, aka Russian kale (chopped fine)
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1/4 cup nut butter (almond or cashew butter is best)
1 cup parsley (chopped)
1/2 cup soaked goji berries
1/2 cup sunflower sprouts
1 avocado (chopped)
1 tomato (chopped)
2 tbs. lemon juice
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper

How to: Combine all the ingredients in a large bowl and massage this mixture until soft and creamy. :-)

Carmella's notes: I've been making this salad with only Dino kale and replacing the nut butter with a couple of tbs of olive oil. I also like to throw in some seeds on top such as hemp or spicy dehydrated pumpkin and sunflower seeds. I made it once with goji berries (although I put way less) and it was delish but it's just as yummy without.

Earth & Sea Salad
By Woody Harrelson

A lovely medley of sea vegetables and land vegetables. Arame is a great, nutty, mild-tasting seaweed to use and hijiki is a bit stronger and takes a longer time to soften. Serve on a bed of mesclun greens or field mix.

2 cups dried arame
1/2 cup finely chopped green onion
1/2 cup sliced red onion
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons minced ginger
1 cup sliced mushrooms, crimini, portobello or shitake
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
2 tablespoons good olive oil, sesame oil or flax oil (or a combined blend)
2 tablespoons nama shoyu
1 tablespoon umeboshi plum vinegar or brown rice vinegar
1 lemon, juiced
1-1/2 tablespoons maple syrup, brown rice syrup, agave syrup or raw honey or alternatively: 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 cup shredded carrot
1 cup steamed broccoli or (to keep it all raw): 1 cup zucchini, quartered and sliced thinly
1/2 cup sliced red bell pepper or shredded beet
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
pinch sundried sea salt

Soak the seaweed in 3 cups of fresh water just until soft. Drain off the soak water. (It is best to drain off the soak water before the seaweed is thoroughly soaked as it will then absorb some of the delicious marinade.) Mix in chopped green onions, minced garlic and ginger, sliced mushrooms, parsley, cilantro, oil, shoyu, vinegar, lemon and sweetener.

Toss together with shredded carrot, broccoli or zucchini, bell pepper or shredded beet, pumpkin seeds, sesame seeds and a pinch of sundried sea salt. Allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes for flavors to marry.

Serves 2-6

And last, but not least, another delicious salad with a stunning color, perfect for the Holidays:

Kelly’s Magenta Salad

I'll give a rough idea of measurements, but really it's a dump, taste and add type of recipe.

1 beet
2-3 apples
1 carrot
1/2 a cup of raisins
1/2 a cup of walnuts
1 tbsp. Olive oil
1 lemon juiced
1/2-1 tsp. Cinnamon
1/2-1 tsp. Raw Honey

I like to use an electric chopper or a food processor. I shred or finely chop the beet and the carrot. The apples I dice up by hand so that the textures vary. I finely chop the walnuts. Add these all together in a bowl. Then add the raisins, olive oil, cinnamon, raw honey and juiced lemon.

If it is too dry add more olive oil or lemon depending on your likes and tastes. If the apples are really sweet you may want to leave out or cut back on the honey. Depending on your likes, you can add more raisins and or walnuts.

Beets are generally pretty strong in flavor, so you want to have a greater ratio of apple and carrot.

This is a very pretty colored salad and looks beautiful in a crystal bowl.

Another really great tasting and beautiful variation on this is to use yellow beets (Can't quite call it Magenta Salad though! ). I grow them in my garden and they are awesome. They have a milder sweeter flavor than red beets. The yellow is really pretty against the orange carrots.

Even if you are not a beet fan, you may find yourself liking this recipe. I have fooled many people by not telling them it was a beet salad. They just thought it was a great fruit salad.

These are just a few ideas to help brighten up your salad bowls. The great news is that there are virtually thousands of great dressings and salad recipes available on the net, as salads are enjoyed by Raw and SAD Chefs alike. As always, the resource-full Raw Food Talk Forum is a good place to start.

Sunny Raw Tip
We keep a constant supply of dehydrated seasoned pumpkin and sunflower seeds. To make them, simply soak seeds overnight, then spice them up with your favorite seasonings and dehydrate until very crunchy. A simple, tasty addition to any salad.

Here are a few yummy seasoning ideas:
- Garlic & Herbs: a few squirts of Braggs or salt, garlic powder, dill
- Italian: a few squirts of Braggs or salt, your favorite Italian herbs
- Mexican: a few squirts of Braggs or salt, cumin, chili powder
- Curry: a few squirts of Braggs or salt, cumin, curry, dash of cayenne

Photo Credits:
Eat Your Greens by Kemaha
Garden Salad by GreenPixel

Avocado Citrus Salad by photomaven
Spiralized beet and avocado salad by RawVeganMom
Grapefruit by uncommonmuse
Sesame seeds by Nate Steiner

Wilted Kale Salad by Russell James


  1. Carmella,
    Your posts are so wonderfully informative and I love all the great pictures. I check your blog often to see if you've added new information. I've taken a lot of good tips from you and learned such good inforation. Thanks for sharing!
    (aka Coonlie from RFT)

  2. Hey Pam,
    I'm so glad you're enjoying my blog and find it helpful along your raw journey. What you are reflecting back at me is exactly what I intended The Sunny Raw Kitchen to be about.

    Do you know that you can sign up to be notified automatically of any new blog post? All you have to do is enter your email address at the top right corner of the page and then follow the instructions to confirm with Feedblitz. It's totally safe and would avoid you having to constantly check back manually.

  3. Hi Carmella,

    Ditto with what Pam said. I still love reading your blogs and copying down your recipes. Tell Don he makes great dressings!
    I have been e-mailing Heather and we will meet up in Sydney next month sometime. Her desserts look awesome, eh?

    Talk to you soon,
    Love, Sandy

  4. Wow--great post on salads. I had a great salad today for lunch at my co-op: mixed baby greens, sprouted legumes, cauliflower, purple cabbage, raisins and shredded carrot. I love the sweet chewy texture of raisins in salads. Thanks for all the delicious-sounding recipes!

  5. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm... Thanks for sharing, Roxy. Sounds yum!

  6. I thought I'd share with you this comment I received from a reader:

    "Thanks Carmella!

    And please give props to Don for the citrus-herb dressing. It is delish! Like diving into a burst of sunshine. Either the lime or a combo of flavors hits the taste buds in a different way than usual. I'm totally savoring it.
    It's creations like this dressing that encourage me to stay raw. The flavors (and sensations) of this mixture are truly *sparkly*.

    I am looking forward to making some other dishes from the recipes on
    your blog.

    Thank you, sincerely, for the encouragement and education you provide through your blog and posts.

    Jean aka Raw Creator"

  7. I've read several books that say that you should eat fruit alone (not combined in a salad) since the fruit digests differently in the stomach than other foods. They say that if you eat fruit with other foods then the other foods won't digest properly.

  8. Yep, that's true. Fruit digests faster; this is why it's recommended to eat fruit before a meal.

    But once in a while I'm sure it's worth "paying that price". ;-)

  9. What a very cool post on Salads. If you really want to up the nutritionional content of your salads with no extra junk, sprinkle some MILA on your salad. It's a whole raw food which has 8 x the omega 3's of salmon, without all the risk of contaminants one might get from eating fish. It's vegan friendly too. You can learn more about MILA at http://www.lifemax.com/stefanp