Chimichurri Quinoa Salad |vegetarian | gluten free

The star of this hearty summer salad is most definitely the dressing. A triple-threat of bright and flavoursome herbs with a splash of lime juice this chimichurri inspired dressing soaks into every bite and unites all the other ingredients in summery perfection.Chimichurri Quinoa Salad | vegetarian | gluten free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeChris and I arrived in New Orleans after a very long day of travelling. Our lovely Air BnB host Georgia recognised two weary and hungry travellers and took us on a tour of the neighbourhood, which ended at the gorgeous St. Roch Market.St Roch Market New Orleans | Thoroughly Nourished LifeIf you are staying anywhere in the St. Roch neighbourhood or nearby, you need to stop by the marketplace. Walking inside you are welcomed by a line up of vendors on either side of the historic building each offering a different taste experience or regional cuisine. Chris fell in love with the ‘Dirty Mac and Cheese’, which features smoked gouda, crawfish, and bacon. My heart, however, belonged to the team at JuiceNOLA from the very first bite of their Greek Goddess Salad. When I tasted their Chimi Chimi Bang Bang Salad for lunch one day, and had to return for a second round at dinnertime that night, I knew I had to find a way to keep getting this salad in my face when I returned home.Chimichurri Quinoa Salad | vegetarian | gluten free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Chimichurri Quinoa Salad | vegetarian | gluten free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeThe base of this salad is quinoa and your favourite green. I used oak leaf lettuce because I have a serious leafy green crush on it that will never end. To this you add butter beans. The team at JuiceNOLA used black beans so mix it up as you wish. The magic is in the dressing. Chimichurri is essentially a mix of parsley, coriander, chives, and basil with a spark of bright acidic sharpness and garlic. It is absolutely what makes this salad such a stand-out.Chimichurri Quinoa Salad | vegetarian | gluten free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeThe magic dressing aside, there are just so many bits and pieces in this salad that make every nibble unique and moreish. Into our solid base of quinoa + greens + beans we add chopped roasted capsicums and a healthy dose of pumpkin seeds. Toss everything together with the dressing and make sure all the nooks and crannies are coated in green deliciousness, and then top the bowl with avocado and feta. I may not be in New Orleans anymore, but I can bring some JuiceNOLA magic to work in my lunchbox everyday!Chimichurri Quinoa Salad | vegetarian | gluten free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Chimichurri Quinoa Salad

Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Serves 3 generously | Leftovers will keep for up to two days in an airtight container in the refrigerator


  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable stock
  • 1/2 head of oak leaf lettuce (or 4 cups of your favourite greens)
  • 400 gram can butter beans, drained and rinsed well
  • 1/2 cup chopped roasted capsicum
  • 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds
  • 1 medium avocado
  • 1/3 cup crumbed feta

For the chimichurri dressing

  • 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1/3 cup fresh coriander leaves
  • 1/3 cup fresh Italian parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped chives
  • 1/4 cup lime juice (about 2 limes)
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly diced
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (or use oil from roasted capsicums)


  1. Rinse quinoa thoroughly and place in a medium saucepan with vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, then cover with the saucepan lid and reduce heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes then remove from the heat and let the quinoa stand, covered, for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Cool to room temperature before proceeding with the recipe.
  2. While the quinoa is cooling, prepare the dressing. Place basil, coriander, parsley, chives, lime juice, garlic, and olive oil into the bowl of a small food processor. Process until everything is finely chopped and then pulse until pureed.
  3. To assemble the salad place cooled quinoa, lettuce, butter beans, roasted capsicum, pumpkin seeds and dressing into a large bowl. Pour chimichurri dressing over the top and then toss gently but thoroughly until everything is well mixed and coated in dressing.
  4. Thinly slice the avocado and place on top of the salad. Crumble feta over salad and serve.

Chimichurri Quinoa Salad | vegetarian | gluten free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Cherry, Lentil, and Quinoa Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free

Plump summer cherries are the highlight of this hearty salad that celebrates the height of summer and the end of the cherry season. Sweet cherries contrast with salty feta, and pair perfectly with puy lentils, quinoa, toasted almonds and spinach for a vegetarian dish sure to please all palates.

Cherry, Lentil, and Quinoa Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeSeeking balance can be hard. Adjusting your sails is necessary on a daily basis to counter the winds that seek to knock you off your middle path. Sometimes I feel like I am balancing on a high wire trying to keep it all together and not lose my footing and plummet to the depths below. Some days I win, some days I lose. And down I fall, down, down, down into the depths from which escape is a hard climb up slippery walls. As I’m climbing I fall again, and wail, and cry out in the darkness, but I keep climbing towards the light. And there, just when hope seems lost, someone throws me a rope. I climb, and they pull, and then out I come into a sunset so beautiful I wonder whether this is why our eyes were created.

Cherry, Lentil, and Quinoa Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeWe’re all on a journey, and sometimes balance is hard. Balance between work and life, balance between rest and activity, balance between inner pressures and a happier outer world, balance between healthy choices and indulgent bites. This salad is here to help you with balancing those last two.

Cherry, Lentil, and Quinoa Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeCherry season is fast approaching the end, but before we bid farewell to this dark temptress of stone fruits, we must celebrate its beauty one more time. Here, the cherries are merely stoned and halved, and then combined with basic store cupboard ingredients to ensure that the natural beauty of fresh fruit shines through. Hearty lentils and quinoa are cooked (together, to save time) and allowed to cool before being tossed with baby spinach, and topped with roasted almonds and crumbled, savoury feta. A simple dressing completes the dish. When you take a bite of sweet cherry flesh, salty feta, and crunchy roasted almond you will taste the halcyon days of summer when all is still, spare the breeze, and balance is oh so easy to find.

Cherry, Lentil, and Quinoa Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished LifeCherry, Lentil, and Quinoa Salad

Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Serves 4 generously | Leftovers will keep refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days

Note: to roast almonds preheat oven to 180C (350F) and spread almonds on a baking sheet. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool completely before proceeding.


  • 3/4 cup dried Puy (French) lentils
  • 3/4 cup quinoa
  • 3 cups salt-reduced vegetable stock
  • 4 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 1 1/2 cups cherries, pitted and halved (I use this method)
  • 60 grams feta, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup almonds, toasted, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon raspberry jam
  • Generous pinch salt and black pepper


  1. Rinse lentils and quinoa well, and then place in a medium saucepan with the vegetable stock over a medium-high heat. Bring to the boil and allow to boil for 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low, place a lid on top and simmer without stirring for a further 15-20 minutes or until lentils and quinoa are firm to the bite, but cooked. Allow to sit for 5 minutes before stirring with a fork. Place in a large bowl and cool to room temperature.
  2. While quinoa and lentils are cooling, make dressing: place olive oil, balsamic vinegar, jam, salt and pepper in a small bowl and whisk until combined. Set aside until required.
  3. Once quinoa and lentil are cool add spinach leaves, cherries, and dressing and toss well to combine.
  4. Place in bowls and sprinkle over crumbled feta and chopped almonds.

Cherry, Lentil, and Quinoa Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Spiced Eggplant and Chickpea Salad with Paprika and Roasted Garlic Dressing

Quick announcement: Thoroughly Nourished Life now has a Facebook page. Come and join me at the table for the latest updates, interesting articles, and recipes.

On Saturday I went to see The Hundred Foot Journey. In addition to being a great story about love, family, and the power of the human spirit, this movie made me want to do nothing but cook for a week. The wide panning shots of fresh market vegetables, and watching the characters prepare and devour delicious dishes with the same intense love I feel for food got my cooking brain hungry for some time in the kitchen. Having this in my head when I went grocery shopping after the movie may have been a bad idea. I ended up with a basket overflowing with lush spring vegetables and fruits. Luckily I have so many ideas for recipes to enjoy them in, and share with you.

Spiced Eggplant and Chickpea Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

I couldn’t resist this beautiful eggplant while I was shopping on Saturday, especially after the French market scenes of tables laden with eggplant and its summertime brethren. Eggplant is one of those foods that falls into the ‘love it or hate it’ category of vegetables. I’m a lover. I’m hoping that after you try this salad you will be an eggplant lover too.

Spiced Eggplant and Chickpea Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

The first important step to take when approaching an eggplant dish is to pick out the perfect eggplant. You want to find one that has tight shiny skin with few marks and no soft spots. Eggplants can vary in skin colour from dark purple to the stripy version I found in the fruit market on Saturday. They are all tasty and delightful. I think there’s a metaphor there somewhere. Our eggplant is cubed and coated in a mix of warm spices and oil and then spends some time roasting in the oven before meeting our other ingredients: roasted almonds, brown rice, and mixed green leaves. The whole bowl is then coated generously with a paprika and roasted garlic dressing. The honey and garlic based dressing is worthy of the hearty ingredients in this salad.

Spiced Eggplant and Chickpea Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

If you are searching for a sturdy salad to fill your lunchbox throughout the week then you have found it. I found that the flavours of the dressing developed and intensified over the week. You can also leave the dressing separate and add it just before eating if you are worried about the greens becoming soggy. I’m hoping that once you take a bite of crunchy toasted almonds, nutty brown rice, crispy fresh greens and olive oil softened eggplant you will fall in love with this salad, and make room for some eggplant in your next dish.

Spiced Eggplant and Chickpea Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Spiced Eggplant and Chickpea Salad with Paprika and Roasted Garlic Dressing

Serves 3-4 | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Vegan option: replace honey with maple syrup or agave nectar


  • 1 medium eggplant
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 cup almonds
  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 400 gram tin chickpeas, rinsed thoroughly and drained
  • 4 cups mixed baby greens
  • 3 stalks spring onion
  • 1/4 cup (packed) basil leaves

For the dressing:

  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 200C (400F). Line a baking tray with baking paper and set aside.
  2. Top and tail eggplant and dice into two centimetre (1 inch) cubes. In a small mixing bowl mix eggplant with olive oil, paprika, salt and pepper. Place on prepared baking sheet. Wrap the cloves of garlic in aluminium foil and place on baking tray too. Bake for 45 minutes or until eggplant is softened.
  3. In the last ten minutes of baking spread almonds across another baking tray and roast. Remove from oven and cool then roughly chop.
  4. While the eggplant is cooking, place brown rice and vegetable stock in a medium size saucepan. Bring to the boil. Once boiling, cover with a lid and reduce heat to medium low. Simmer rice for 30 minutes or until all water is absorbed and the rice is cooked but still firm to the bite.
  5. In a large mixing bowl toss together eggplant, almonds, brown rice, and rinsed chickpeas.
  6. Finely chop spring onions and basil and add to the bowl along with the mixed greens. Toss well.
  7. To make the dressing whisk all ingredients together. Add to salad and mix well so that the dressing can permeate every bite.

Spiced Eggplant and Chickpea Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

So, dear reader, have I convinced you to try eggplant in your next salad? Have you seen The Hundred Foot Journey yet?

Moroccan Roasted Pumpkin and Quinoa Salad

Today I read a wonderful article on The Chalkboard about breaking away from healthy habits. The author was not talking about abandoning all sensibilities of health and just living free and large, but rather about what it means to be truly healthy. She enlightened readers with the dictionary definition, which includes no prescriptive advice about diet, exercise, weight, or the evil/not-evil status of carbohydrates. I enjoyed the article because it spoke to the message about health that I live by. True health is about nourishing your body not punishing it. True health is about being the steward, the caretaker, the advocate for whatever is healthiest for your mind, body, and soul. True health is about practising the inner tenets of what health means to you on an individual level, in a holistic way, that leads you to feel like a thoroughly nourished person.

Moroccan Pumpkin and Quinoa Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

If you have found the best way for you to eat/exercise/socialise then that is a wonderful gift to yourself, but it does not mean that this is the best way for someone else to live their life. You might be a gluten free vegetarian who runs, but that doesn’t mean everyone should be. Don’t preach, share knowledge when you are asked, but mostly share the knowledge that true health is about being happy within yourself and with yourself. Happiness begets kindness, which begets true health.

For me, true health, my own healthy habits, include both running and nights on the couch, quinoa salads and five layer brownie cakes, time spent trawling Instagram and time enthralled by translated Danish fiction. True health is about being realistic about the time and resources you have at hand while striving to be the healthiest version of you. True health is about being kind to yourself and others on their own parallel paths to their own versions of healthy.

Moroccan Pumpkin and Quinoa Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

This salad is for the times when I need to balance out some of those cakes with some quinoa. This Moroccan spiced salad is hearty, and suitable on its own as a lunchbox or dinner bowl filler. If you want to use it as a side dish it would pair quite nicely with some grilled salmon or chicken (or tofu for the veggie-minded of us). I made this salad at the beginning of the week and it served me for desktop lunches for a few days. I used butternut pumpkin, which when roasted yields sweet chunks of flesh that hold up well with briny olives and a heavily spiced yoghurt dressing. If you are going to keep this salad for a few days I recommend storing the dressing separately and dressing the salad only as you are about to eat it, that way you can avoid the dreaded soggy salad leaf (yuck). This is a perfect depth-of-Winter salad, but I can imagine it being just as popular on a picnic table in summer. The beauty of this salad is that you can make it ahead and save yourself some time when entertaining. The pumpkin can be roasted in advance and the quinoa can be boiled in advance too. Come serving time you just need to toss the remaining ingredients together and shake up the quick flavour-boosting salad dressing (which would be great as a dipping sauce for other things too). This salad is about true health. Follow with a slice of pie.

Moroccan Pumpkin and Quinoa Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

 Moroccan Roasted Pumpkin and Quinoa Salad

Serves 3-4| Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Vegan Option – in dressing replace yoghurt with soy yoghurt and honey with agave

Note: Leftovers will keep covered in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.



  • Medium butternut pumpkin (about 1kg)
  • 1/2 cup quinoa (I used red, but feel any other colour will do)
  • 1 1/4 cups water/vegetable stock
  • 1/2 cup split green olives
  • 1/3 cup chopped chives
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 6 cups rocket leaves


  • 2 tablespoons plain/natural or Greek yoghurt
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  1. Preheat oven to 200C (400F) and line a large baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Peel and chop butternut pumpkin into inch-square cubes (here’s a great tutorial if you are unsure how). Place on prepared baking sheet and bake in oven for 30-40 minutes or until pumpkin is soft all the way through. Cool to room temperature.
  3. Rinse quinoa thoroughly and place in a deep microwave safe bowl with water or vegetable stock. Cover loosely with plastic. Microwave for 3 minutes. Remove and stir and microwave for another 3 minutes. When the white spiral ‘tail’ starts to pull away from the quinoa seed it is done. If the quinoa isn’t cooked at this stage place back in microwave with another tablespoon of water for another 2 minutes. Remove and allow to cool.
  4. When pumpkin and quinoa are cooled place in a large bowl with olives, chives, pumpkin seeds and rocket leaves and toss well.
  5. To make dressing: place all ingredients in a small airtight jar. Shake vigorously until combined.
  6. Divide salad among bowls and dress as desired.

Moroccan Pumpkin and Quinoa Salad | Vegetarian | Gluten Free | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Apple, Celery, and Walnut Salad with Mustard Dressing

This salad is a fancy plate salad. If we were at a restaurant where you could order this salad I would probably be wearing a dress, and perhaps a hat. In my fancy lady fantasies I am always wearing a hat. We would be sipping on something bubbly with fruit in it, and talking about what we are going to do in the summer. The tablecloths would be starched white linen and the plates rimmed in gold and painted with colourful flowers. The waiters would go by in their pressed shirts and black bowties and the sound of a grand piano would be drifting in the background as the perfect accompaniment to our light and fancy lunch.

Apple Celery Walnut Salad 2

It’s worth dreaming isn’t it? In reality I ate this salad while sitting on our back porch with a winter breeze tickling my knees and a bright patch of sun warming my back while I looked out at the ocean and listened to a podcast. Not a bad alternative to a fancy plate place in my opinion. The second helping will be eaten at my desk at work, hopefully followed by a walk along the dusty industrial estate sidewalk outside my office. But in my mind I will be sitting on a breezy verandah with starched tablecloths and fancy plates.

Each bite of this Apple, Celery, and Walnut Salad brings something different and each mouthful is filled with crunch. The apple and celery provide salty sweet fresh dynamic with the lemon juice balances it all out with some acidity. The roasted walnuts are my favourite part of this salad, that and the mustard and yoghurt dressing that finds its way into the crevice of every soft buttery leaf of lettuce.

Apple Celery Walnut Salad 1

Apple, Celery, and Walnut Salad with Mustard Dressing

Serves 2 | Gluten Free | Vegetarian


  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 apple of choice (I used a Sundowner)
  • 2 sticks celery
  • 4 cups chopped butter lettuce
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yoghurt
  • 1 heaped teaspoon seeded mustard
  • 1 heaped teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Spread walnuts over a sheet pan and roast at 180C (350F) for ten minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  2. Core apple and dice into small chunks. Chop celery across stem into medium slices. Place into a large bowl.
  3. Add half the lemon juice to the apple and celery and toss to coat well.
  4. Roughly chop walnuts and add this to the bowl along with the lettuce. Toss until completely mixed.
  5. To make dressing whisk together remaining lemon juice, yoghurt, seeded mustard, Dijon mustard, salt and pepper.
  6. Divide salad among plates and top with dressing.

photo (2)

Spicy Thai-Inspired Kale Salad

The past three weekends have been majorly food-centred: weddings, birthdays, Easter…to be truthful it’s been going on for the past two months…or maybe there hasn’t been a break since Christmas… In light of the season of skinny jeans and tight sweaters I am feeling the need to lighten up a little.

Let’s have a little more balance around here readers, a few weeks of salads and complex, vitamin-filled nutritious stuff, shall we?

Spicy Thai-Inspired Kale Salad | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegan | Gluten Free

I’m not talking crash-diets, fad diets, or paleo anything; rather, I am talking about reducing my dessert every night habit to a once a week treat. I am talking about increasing my incidental exercise, squeezing in a few more weights sessions, and being more mindful in my food choices.

Don’t worry, this is not about to become a weight loss blog – I have a coconut ice recipe coming your way on Friday – I am just getting back on track to a thoroughly nourished life in the most delicious way possible of course.

This salad came at the beginning of the Easter feasting. Luckily, because I ate more than my fair share of brownies, cookies, and peanut m&ms… This Spicy Thai-Inspired Kale salad is filled with crunchy green kale leaves and raw capsicum, soft baked sweet potato and salty cashews. Everything is coated in a spicy thai-inspired dressing that soaks into every fold in the frilly leaves. I felt bright and light and full after finishing my lunch. The protein from the chickpeas and cashews keeps you full for hours. You could add some leftover cooked quinoa for a bigger protein boost and to make this a more substantial meal for dinner.

Spicy Thai-Inspired Kale Salad | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegan | Gluten Free

Spicy Thai-Inspired Kale Salad

Gluten Free. Vegetarian. Serves 2-3. 

If you do not like kale try another dark leafy green or even baby spinach would work. To make this vegan replace the honey with agave syrup.


  • 1 medium bunch of kale
  • 1 medium sweet potato
  • 1 small red capsicum
  • 1 small Lebanese cucumber
  • 400 gram tin chickpeas
  • 1/3 cup roasted cashews

For the dressing

  • 2 tablespoons Gourmet Garden Thai  Seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Salt and Pepper


  1. Preheat oven to 200C (400C). Peel and dice medium sweet potato. Spread out on a baking paper lined baking tray and roast for 30 minutes or until soft all the way through when pierced with a toothpick. Remove sweet potato from oven and allow to cool.
  2. Rinse kale well and pat dry with paper towel. Cut thick rib out of each leaf and then roughly chop the leaves. Place in a large bowl.
  3. Chop capsicum and cucumber into a large dice. Place into bowl with kale.
  4. Rinse chickpeas well and add to bowl.
  5. Once sweet potato is cool add to kale mix. Toss all ingredients well.
  6. To make dressing place all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk vigorously.
  7. Add dressing to bowl and toss well so that all is coated.
  8. Sprinkle cashews over the top and serve.
  9. This salad will last well overnight in the fridge but will become softer as the dressing soaks into the leaves.

Spicy Thai-Inspired Kale Salad | Thoroughly Nourished Life | Vegan | Gluten FreeChris is definitely not a kale fan, which is fine by me because I get it all to myself. Are you a kale salad fan? No? 

Anyone else trying to lighten up a little after Easter feasting?

Currently…Haloumi, Date, and Almond Salad

Here at Thoroughly Nourished Life I am currently:

Thinking: I wish I could have a vacation to Los Angeles in the early 90s. With Richard Gere. At the Beverly Wiltshire. With a credit card I didn’t have to repay. Yes, I am watching Pretty Woman. The rest of this list will be peppered with references. My apologies.

Enjoying: The combination of salty, squeaky haloumi, sweet dates, and vinegary dressing. Perfect for a mid-shopping lunch date at a fancy Beverly Hills cafe.

Haloumi Date Almond Salad | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Feeling: Satisfied after a flavoursome dinner salad that was a little naughty (fried haloumi anyone), a little nice (spinach, almond). and thoroughly nourishing.

Wearing: In reality? A pair of jean shorts that Chris hates, a singlet with a mustard stain (please don’t judge), and a cardigan (pre-Autumn continues). In my Richard Gere fantasy? Probably this dress, because, who wouldn’t?

Needing: More dates, almonds, spinach and haloumi so that I can make another batch of this salad next week. Also, one of these to follow. And a bubble bath while listening to Prince (or is that the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince?).

Haloumi Date Almond Salad | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished Life

Wanting: This Pretty Woman print for our new home. And to go and pick at the leftovers of this Haloumi, Date, and Almond Salad that are currently residing in my fridge.

Planning: What I am going to bake over the Easter long weekend. Large bowls of salad will be required to counteract the forecast sugar consumption. I may also be planning on binge-watching Pretty Woman and singing ‘Wild Women Do’ on my long weekend runs.

Drinking: A cup of green tea. Every morning. Every night. All day. It keeps me going.

Haloumi Date Almond Salad | Gluten Free | Vegetarian | Thoroughly Nourished Life


Haloumi. Date, and Almond Salad

Gluten Free. Vegetarian. Serves 2.

Inspired by Shutterbean’s Spinach Salad with Dates and Almonds


  • 1/2 medium red salad onion
  • 1 tablespoon seeded mustard
  • 2 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • Generous pinch each salt and black pepper
  • 75 grams haloumi
  • 1/3 cup raw almonds
  • 120 grams baby spinach leaves


  1. Thinly slice red salad onion and mix with seeded mustard, balsamic vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Set aside until needed.
  2. Slice haloumi into small squares bout 2cm square and 0.5cm thick (about the size and thickness of a scrabble tile)
  3. Heat a small non-stick frying pan over medium heat and add haloumi and almond. Fry, stirring occasionally until the haloumi is browned on both sides.
  4. Place baby spinach leaves into a large salad bowl. Add haloumi and almonds and pour over onion dressing. Toss well until everything is coated in the vinaigrette.
  5. Serve and enjoy.

Now, currently I am finishing my cup of tea and off to fantasise about a shopping spree on Rodeo Drive. Wild women do, and they don’t regret it.


Roasted Carrot and Mountain Rice Salad

I was asked recently to seriously consider these questions: What do you want from your life? What would you like people to say about you at your 90th birthday party?

I was being asked to think about my life goals in reverse. What do you want to be able to say when you reach the end? Let that lead your life goals rather than looking out from the situation you find yourself in at the moment. The glasses looking from here into the future are murky and smudged, but the lens from that future point back to where you are anchored at present is sharper.

When I (hopefully) reach that milestone birthday and have blown out the candles on my three-tier chocolate cake (you know it) what would I like people to say about me? What would I like to be able to say about my own life?

Firstly, I would want people to say that I lived, I didn’t just survive or exist, I lived my life. I took risks and played the game of life. I didn’t sit on the sidelines. I was the adventurer, the discoverer, the unafraid.

I would want people to know that I lived my life with love. I let love guide my actions and decisions. It might not always be the wisest of actions, but letting love guide your life will lead you to more unexpected blessings than letting logic guide your every step. I would want the people gathered around my armchair to know that I loved them, for them to be able to say that we never parted on an angry word, that they always knew I loved them, that I showed my love through service to the people around me.

I would want the speeches to say that I was leaving work behind that mattered; I had created something that would endure long after my name had been forgotten by my descendants. I had crafted something that touched people’s lives, not in a grand way, but in some small way that was unique to me.


I would want people to reminisce about the meals we had shared at the kitchen table. Our home had always been open to any travelling past, any lonely soul, any celebratory moment, and there was always a spot at the table for the ones who wanted to stay. I would want them to talk about the simple nights, the rowdy nights, the late into the morning nights, the breakfasts, the long lunches, and the smell of baking wafting from my ever-busy stove. I would want to look over at Chris and see in his eyes the shared memory of nights when it was just the two of us, hungry after a walk, with a bag of mixed rice and a few carrots, that became nourishment and a moment stolen from a day dictated by the world’s demands. That too speaks of love, of what my life goals really are.

This meal came together in the middle of a busy week. Chris was waiting at the door for me when I got home, and suggested that we go for a walk along the harbour. We walked along, hand in hand, the most timeless expression of togetherness, of being tethered heart to heart. We talked about now, about then, about the future. We arrived home relaxed and I carried that spirit of simple joy into the kitchen. Some mixed rice, a few sweet carrots, some basil freshly picked from my co-workers garden, some honey, and a dollop of mustard, added together we had dinner fit for two.


Roasted Carrot and Mountain Rice Salad

I used a mountain rice blend (from here) because Chris doesn’t like brown rice, and white isn’t quite right for a salad. You could of course, replace the mountain rice with the same amount of brown rice or even spelt. Cooking times may vary from those listed below. Replace honey with agave or maple syrup to make this a vegan meal.

Serves 2-3. Gluten free. Vegetarian. Vegan option.


  • 1 cup mountain rice blend (see note)
  • 4 cups water
  • 6 small carrots
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon local honey
  • Ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup flaked almonds
  • 2 cups rocket leaves

For the dressing

  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon local honey
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 2 tablespoons seeded mustard
  • 1 handful fresh basil, finely chopped
  • Salt and black pepper


  1. Preheat your oven to 200C (400F) and line a medium size baking sheet with baking paper.
  2. Place rice and water in a medium size saucepan and bring to the boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 30 minutes. Drain rice, return to pot and cover to keep warm.
  3. While rice is cooking. slice carrots lengthwise into long fingers. Place into a bowl with olive oil, honey and pepper and toss to coat. Spread out onto prepared baking sheet and roast in the oven for 30 minutes or until carrots are tender.
  4. Spread almonds onto a small baking sheet and toast in the oven for 3 minutes or until lightly browned. Watch them carefully because they will cook very quickly. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
  5. While the rice and carrot are cooking make the dressing. Place all ingredients into a small bowl and whisk vigorously with a fork. Set aside until needed.
  6. To serve: spread rocket leaves onto a large platter. Spread rice over the rocket. Place carrots on top. Pour over the dressing and sprinkle with toasted almonds.

I served mine with some toasted chickpeas while Chris enjoyed his with crispy skinned salmon. This salad is equally pleasant and filling as a meal in itself.

Charred Corn, Capsicum, and Quinoa Salad

You need to make this salad. You need to make this salad because no one really wants another iceberg lettuce concoction on the buffet table at Christmas time (except the one your Aunty makes because it tastes just like it did when you were a kid). You need to make this salad because when you bring it to a party all spread out on a pretty white platter it looks so festive and everyone thinks you put in way more effort than you did. You need to make this salad because while you are making it you have time in between to shower, find your prettiest party dress, and put on some mascara and shiny earrings. You need to make this salad because between the sweet baked concoctions that abound at this time of year you need to eat something fresh and healthy and equally delicious.


The mix of red and white quinoa is probably unnecessary, but it adds a festive touch, in my humble opinion, and the grilled capsicum and corn a sweet jewels hidden among salty fetta and deeply toasted almonds.

You need to make this salad because it will help you keep a healthy festive glow and keep you in fitting into your pretty party dress. And, it makes an acceptable midnight snack when you get in from a holiday party that went exceptionally well.


Charred Corn, Capsicum, and Quinoa Salad (gluten free and vegetarian)

You can of course use 1 ½ cups total of either red or white quinoa instead of half and half. Serves 6-8 as a side dish. This salad will keep for 3 days in the fridge.


  • ¾ cup white quinoa
  • ¾ cup red quinoa
  • 3 cups room temperature water
  • 1 teaspoon powdered vegetable stock (ensure this is gluten free)
  • 230 gram jar red pepper relish (I love this new one by Always Fresh)
  • 1 red capsicum (bell pepper)
  • 3 cobs of corn
  • ¾ cup almonds
  • 3 cups baby spinach leaves
  • 100 grams Greek-style Fetta
  • Olive oil spray


  • 1 tablespoon white balsamic
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper


  1. Rinse quinoa and drain well. Place in a medium-size saucepan along with the water and powdered vegetable stock. Bring to the boil over medium heat then reduce to a simmer and cover. Cook for fifteen minutes. Remove from heat and stand for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork. Allow to cool completely.
  2. Heat a grill plate to high and oil lightly with olive oil spray. Grill corn for 10 – 15 minutes turning regularly until the kernels have turned darker yellow in colour and there are charred spots. Remove from grill and allow to cool slightly. Chop kernels off the cob and place in a large bowl.
  3. Meanwhile, remove core from capsicum and cut into four large pieces. Place skin side down on grill with corn until the skin is blackened. Remove from grill and place in a plastic bag for 5 minutes before peeling off the skin. Slice into thick ribbons and add to the large bowl.
  4. Heat oven to 180C (356F) and spread almonds on a baking sheet, when the oven is heated toast almonds for 5 minutes. Remove and chop roughly and add to bowl.
  5. To the corn, capsicum, and almond mixture add the cooled quinoa, baby spinach leaves and red pepper relish. Mix carefully with two spoons. Use a lifting and fluffing motion.
  6. For the dressing: whisk together all ingredients and pour over the quinoa mixture.
  7. Spread out on a platter and crumble fetta over the top. Serve immediately.


PS: You should also make these Spirit of the Season Blondies to take along to the party as well because, more is always more.

Hot Kipfler Potato, Capsicum, and Basil Salad (gluten free, vegetarian)

Let’s talk about potatoes. I am a picky potato consumer. My mother is Danish and my father Tasmanian (i.e. two of the biggest potato-based cuisines on earth), so as a youngster there were a lot of potato-related dinner time issues. Luckily I have matured and come to realise that it is not that I don’t like potatoes, just that I am particular about the type of potato and how it’s carbohydrate laden beauty is prepared in a dish.

My rules aren’t complex: I like potatoes that have flavour: Kipflers, Dutch Creams, ‘New Potatoes’, and Royal Blue are among my favourites.

I am not a fan of boiled potatoes at all. I love buttery, piled high on the plate mashed potatoes and crispy-skinned roast potatoes. Potato salad and I used to have a loving relationship, but now the thought of mayonnaise coated potatoes makes my stomach turn.

See – not a potato hater, just a picky potato consumer.

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This warm potato ‘salad’ is more like a potato sauté.  The potatoes are first cooked until just firm, but not crunchy, then they join a host of other vegetables and the final flourish is provided by fresh basil, crunchy pine nuts, and a coating of crumbled feta.

I piled my plate high with this salad for dinner and Chris paired his with some grilled lamb chops. By the way, this man has a secret talent for food styling – just check out his artfully arranged lamb chops.

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Hot Kipfler Potato, Capsicum, and Basil Salad

If you cannot find Kipflers, or already have some other potatoes hanging around the house, you can substitute another kind of potato. Preferably a potato that hold up well and doesn’t turn to mush when cooked – try Coliban, Desiree, or ‘New’ Potatoes.

Serves 2-3. Easily multiplied.


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 6 medium kipfler potatoes (about 750 gram total)
  • 1 medium red capsicum
  • 1 cup button mushrooms
  • 1 small brown onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • Large handful basil leaves, torn
  • 75 grams Greek fetta, crumbled
  • Salt and black pepper


  1. Scrub potatoes very well to remove all the dirt. This is important as we are leaving the skin on. Slice potatoes into rounds about 1.5-2 cm thick. Place in a large microwave-safe container. Add about 2cm of water in the bottom. Cook for 10 minutes on ‘High’ in the microwave stirring halfway.
  2. If potatoes are still a little crunchy in the middle microwave for a further 2 minutes. Once cooked drain very well and reserve until needed.
  3. While your potatoes are cooking prepare capsicum by slicing in half, removing core and seeds, and halving again and thinly slicing. Quarter button mushrooms, and thinly slice the onion. Peel and crush garlic.
  4. In a large fry pan heat 1 tablespoon of oil over a medium heat. Add capsicum, mushroom, garlic, and onion. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 minutes or until the onion is translucent and the capsicum has softened.
  5. Add potatoes, remaining oil, and pine nuts and cook until potatoes are starting to crisp, about 10 minutes.
  6. Remove pan from heat. Season with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle basil leaves and crumbled feta on top and serve.
  7. This is delicious re-heated the second day as well.

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This dinner is perfect if you are busily preparing for the end of the working/school year and just want something healthy, simple, and delicious for dinner. Naturally gluten free, vegetarian, vegan (if you leave out the feta), and hearty enough for the omnivorous there is something for the whole family to like.

 Tell me dear reader, are you a potato lover?