The Salad Challenge


I’ll be the first to admit I’m not the biggest salad fan. My husband, on the other hand, could eat a salad every day and be happy. I know, weird. Here’s photo proof — Scott’s salad/BLT combo and my gluten free fish and chips. The few times we can eat out, there’s a wiring in my brain that says “You better splurge. Don’t waste this opportunity on a salad! Get something filling.”

Well, sad to say that this type of thinking has led to me pack on 8 of the 14 pounds I initially lost when I went gluten free in December of 2010. Ugghh.

In the past year and a half, I’ve explored all types of gluten free diet approaches, watched countless documentaries on food in America and become COMPLETELY overwhelmed. Grains or no grains? Meat or no meat? Dairy or no dairy?  I really don’t think it’s supposed to be this hard. What I know for sure is that I DO need to eat more vegetables and whole foods. Period. I remember thinking back to when the 14 pounds melted off me that it wasn’t so much what I was cutting out as what I was adding in. It was leafy greens. After awhile, laziness and lack of planning led me to forgo healthy choices in favor of quick, filler foods — albeit gluten free.


One of our family’s favorite meals is steak salad with a balsamic vinaigrette. It’s one of the quickest meals for me to prepare and every single one of us loves it. That’s a good starting point. My next step comes from one of my favorite blogs that I follow. It’s a vegan blog called Oh She Glows. She’s put out a friendly salad challenge for the month of June that I plan to participate in.

Why don’t you give one of her salads a try? Maybe participate in the challenge too? I’m looking forward to having more energy this summer and experimenting with my own salad creations. It should be fun. So instead of trying to restrict myself to a certain way of eating (i.e. vegan/paleo/primal/etc…) I’m simply going to incorporate more veggies. Period. It will be delicious ; )


Split Pea Pesto Salad

Spinach was on sale this week. So I stocked up — 2 tubs for the price of 1. Now we have to use it up before it goes bad. Luckily, we all like spinach (although two out of the four of us would deny it. Any guesses as to who the two are??)

When I dished up this plate to photograph it, I got a couple of boos from the under 10 crowd. Yes, even Kid Foodie balked at the prospect of an entirely green dinner. But then he tasted it. Added a bit here, took away a bit there and he was s.a.t.i.s.f.i.e.d! I wolfed down this plate and loaded up another one. Dad came home and helped himself to two complete servings. And the kicker — after trying many avoidance tactics, Little Brother finally determined to choke his serving down. Imagine his surprise when after the first bite he realized he too liked it. His plate was CLEAN. It might have been a first.

Split Pea Pesto Salad


1½ cups dried split peas, rinsed and picked over

1 teaspoon fine sea salt, divided

1 cup sunflower seeds (raw), divided

1 cup lightly packed cilantro leaves and stems

⅓ cup freshly grated Parmesan Cheese

3 garlic cloves, peeled

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

⅔ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 cups spinach


1. In a large saucepan, bring 5 cups water to boil. Add split peas and simmer, uncovered, about 25 – 30 minutes until tender. Drain and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt.

2. Make the cilantro pesto: In a blender or food processor, combine ⅓ cup of the sunflower seeds, the cilantro, Parmesan, garlic, lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon salt and a splash of olive oil and puree until smooth. Continue blending while gradually drizzling in the remaining olive oil until the pesto becomes a vibrant green sauce (makes about 1 cup).

3. Make the salad: In a large bowl, toss the cooked split peas and the remaining ⅔ cup of sunflower seeds with two-thirds of the pesto. Continue tossing until everything is well coated. Lay down a bed of spinach on a serving plate, top with split pea mixture, drizzle with some of the additional pesto to taste and sprinkle more Parmesan to taste. Serve immediately.

This recipe was based on this one I found via Pinterest.

For my second serving, I crumbled a bit of gorgonzola over my greens and warmed it up just a tad. It tasted truly decadent. Not sure what the nutritional value is when you start adding rich cheeses, but I figure I’m eating an enormous amount of greens so that’s got to count for something right? In all seriousness, though, this was a highly satisfying meal and very quick and easy to make. It may make another appearance this week or next — depending on how quickly we can go through my stockpile of spinach. I don’t think I’ll hear any complaining the next time I make this dish!

  • Kid Foodie

  • About This Blog’s Authors

    Even before his diagnosis of Celiac Disease in 2010, Kid Foodie was passionate about food. Although the diagnosis brought some restrictions, his appreciation and appetite for good, healthy food has only skyrocketed.

    For me, his diagnosis of Celiac opened up a world of food possibilities and a new way of thinking about what we eat. It has absolutely been a joy to overhaul our family's food choices and we all continue to benefit from it. We write this blog to help our family and friends understand how to cook gluten free and to provide them recipes to try out themselves.

    Kid Foodie now has his own blog:

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