Mediterranean Salad

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Are you looking for an easy to prepare, full of flavor salad that is hearty enough for the main meal and flexible enough to serve as a side? Then you will LOVE this fresh Mediterranean salad that is vegan and Blue Zones compliant.

My younger daughter Adriel shared this delicious salad with me. The original recipe contains feta cheese and mint. I adapted it slightly to make it vegan and substituted one of my favorite herbs, fresh dill, for the mint.

Try it and let me know if you enjoy this good-for-you Mediterranean salad as well.

Mediterranean Salad title

Mediterranean Salad

I’ve lived a plant based lifestyle for eight years. That change in diet made an incredible impact on my health and life.

A couple of years ago, I discovered the Blue Zones, areas around the world where people live the longest. It has been a natural progression to combine the two to create a 100% plant based Blue Zones lifestyle that seems to suit me the best. I frequently use my Blue Zones Cookbook to prepare delicious, hearty meals. And when a recipe comes to my attention that fits my parameters, I’m happy to include it too.

You can learn more about the Blue Zones HERE and about the beginning of my plant based lifestyle in this POST. Read on for the easy to make recipe for Mediterranean Salad.

Mediterranean Salad delicious

Mediterranean Salad

Fresh, plant based, Blue Zones inspired salad.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Salad
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 8

Ingredients
  

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Salad

  • 1 15 oz cab chickpeas, drained
  • 1 15 oz can white beans, drained navy, great northern or cannellini
  • 1/4 cup kalamata olives, halved use pitted olives
  • 1/3 cup roasted red peppers, drained and chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, diced
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 small English cucumber, chopped
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 handful fresh dill, chopped

Instructions
 

Dressing

  • Combine ingredients in a shaker jar or small bowl. Shake or whisk until ingredients are combined. Set aside

Salad

  • Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Pour dressing over salad and mix gently. Store in refrigerator. Makes approximately 8 servings.
Keyword Blue Zones, Mediterranean, Salad, Vegan

 

Mediterranean Salad Tips

This recipe is so easy and also very adaptable.

I use a small mason jar with a lid to mix the ingredients for the dressing. After shaking the jar well, I set the dressing aside or pop it into the refrigerator.

To make quick work of chopping and dicing veggies, I use a mini food chopper for the green pepper, red onion and English cucumber. And I’ve found a pair of kitchen scissors works well for snipping fresh herbs and the green onion tops.

Use your favorite type of white beans. I’ve tried the recipe with cannellini beans and navy beans.

Kalamata olives are Greek olives. Buy them pitted and then simply slice in two. If you really like Greek olives, add more. Roasted red peppers are found in the pickles section at the grocery store. I drain and chop with a knife. And I slice the cherry tomatoes with a serrated knife, cutting them in half or quarters.

I love the fresh parsley and dill! Add your own favorite herb such as mint or oregano. If you like a hint of spiciness, add crushed red peppers to the dressing.

Mediterranean Salad bowl
All of the Mediterranean salad ingredients, prior to add the dressing.

Enjoying Mediterranean Salad

This salad easily makes a main dish meal with the beans providing protein. Add sourdough bread if desired. And the salad makes an excellent side dish. I included it with a baked sweet potato and quinoa last night for a delicious dinner.

This is one of those salads that tastes even better the next day, after all of the flavors have combined. I love it so much that I typically buy enough ingredients to make it twice in the same week.

Do you enjoy Mediterranean food? Try this tasty salad and let me know what you think!

Mediterranean Salad with Sweet Potato
Mediterranean salad with quinoa and baked sweet potato.

 

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Lentil Potato Stew

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I enjoy soup year around. However, I especially appreciate it during soup season…the winter months when temperatures drop and the days are short.

I’m also always looking for a new soup recipe. I tried this one recently, Lentil Potato Stew, and declared it a success. This simple recipe is adapted from one I saw online. With a few changes I made it vegan, gluten free and perfect for those on the Blue Zones lifestyle.

Lentil Potato Soup title

Making Lentil Potato Stew

This recipe uses readily available ingredients. You probably have everything needed in your pantry. And it comes together in minutes. Because lentils and potatoes cook quickly, you can have this delicious stew on the table in about 45 minutes.

Lentil Potato Stew bowlful

Lentil Potato Stew

Hearty stew that comes together in minutes.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Soup
Cuisine American
Servings 6 Servings

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 large potatoes, diced
  • 16 oz dry red lentils, washed and drained
  • 1 cup kale, washed and stemmed May substitute baby spinach
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 14 oz cans diced tomatoes
  • 32 oz vegetable broth
  • 2 cups water

Instructions
 

  • Heat olive oil in large soup pot, over medium high heat. Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Saute until veggies are soft.
  • Add lentils, potatoes, kale, turmeric and black pepper. Stir to coat lentils and potatoes in oil.
  • Add tomatoes, broth and water. Bring to a boil, cover pot and reduce heat. Simmer 20 - 30 minutes or until lentils are tender. Add salt and additional black pepper, if desired. Makes approximately 6 servings.
Keyword Potatoes, Red Lentils

 

Lentil Potato Stew ready to eat
Lentil Potato Stew simmering

Lentil Potato Stew Tips

This stew is easily adaptable. Switch red lentil for brown. Remove the greens or substitute baby spinach for kale. Fresh greens or frozen work equally well.

Decrease or increase turmeric, as desired. Make your own vegetable broth or purchase ready to use. And you could add chopped squash if desired.

I use a mini vegetable chopper to quickly create diced veggies. This one HERE is similar. And I own a set of three stainless steel soup pots. I used the middle one for this recipe.

Lentil Potato Stew spoonful
Lentil Potato Stew – ladling it up

The Taste Test

Greg and I tried this recipe for dinner and found it full of flavor, satisfying and filling. I like using lentils for protein and pairing lentils with potatoes so I really enjoyed this stew. I also shared the stew with my mother and she liked it as well.

I’ll definitely serve this stew again. It’s easy to make, uses simple ingredients and I love that it’s perfect for my plant based, Blue Zones lifestyle.

Do you love soup during the winter months? Give this nourishing stew a try!

Lentil Potato Stew bowlful
Lentil Potato Stew – bowl full of goodness

 

Other lentil recipes you might like:

Lentil Shepherd’s Pie

Madras Curried Lentils

Lentils & Brown Rice

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Gluten Free Mediterranean Pasta Salad

 

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I love a good pasta salad! On the first day of fall, with cooler temps ushering in the season, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to try a new one.

This Gluten Free Mediterranean Pasta Salad makes a great meal or side dish. The recipe fills a large bowl so you can save the leftovers for the next day.

This vegan dish is rich in flavor, with lots of veggies to create a variety of tastes and textures and pops of color. And, it comes together quickly.

Gluten Free Mediterranean Pasta Salad title meme

What’s In This Pasta Dish?

I adapted this recipe from The Mediterranean Dish and what I love about it is how adaptable it is.

Because I’m gluten free, the first change I made was to switch to gluten free pasta. I used brown rice rotini. If you are not gluten sensitive, use regular pasta. Not sure if gluten is affecting you? Check out the symptoms of gluten intolerance HERE.

In addition to the pasta, the dish includes crunchy green bell pepper, red onion, cherry tomatoes and fresh basil. And to give it that Mediterranean flavor, toss in marinated artichoke hearts, olives and pepperoncini. I also added shredded plant based mozzarella cheese, for creaminess.

And finally, Gluten Free Mediterranean Pasta Salad has an easy homemade dressing to finish it off.

Gluten Free Mediterranean Pasta Salad plated

Gluten Free Mediterranean Pasta Salad

Mediterranean Pasta Salad full of veggies and flavor
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Mediterranean
Servings 6

Ingredients
  

Dressing

  • 1/4 cup high quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp Rice Vinegar
  • 2 garlic cloves, minces
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp dried red pepper optional
  • sea salt and black pepper to taste

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

  • 16 ounces gluten free rotini may use regular rotini
  • 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, finely diced
  • 1 cup marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1 cup pitted black olives
  • 1/2 cup chopped pepperoncini may use sliced banana peppers
  • 1 cup shredded plant based mozzarella cheese optional
  • 1/2 cup fresh basil, chopped

Instructions
 

Dressing

  • In small mason jar, combine all dressing ingredients. Cap, shake well and store in refrigerator while prepping pasta salad. Dressing may be made the night before and stored in refrigerator until ready to use.

Mediterranean Pasta Salad

  • In a large pot, bring 8 cups of salted water to a boil. Add rotini, stir and bring back to boiling. Lower heat and cook until tender.
  • While pasta cooks, dice green pepper and red onion, halve cherry tomatoes and chop fresh basil. Set ingredients aside in a small bowl.
  • Drain marinated artichoke hearts, black olives and pepperoncini. Set aside in another small bowl.
  • When pasta is tender, drain but do not rinse.
  • In a large bowl, add the plant based shredded mozzarella cheese, if using. Dump warm pasta on top of cheese. Add diced veggies and artichoke hearts, black olives and pepperoncini. Combine all ingredients, gently. Pour dressing over pasta salad. Stir to coat pasta. Serve warm. Or chill and serve cold. Store leftovers in the refrigerator. Makes 6 - 8 servings.
Keyword Gluten Free, Mediterranean Pasta Salad, Pasta Salad

 

Gluten Free Mediterranean Pasta Salad ingredients
Gluten Free Mediterranean Pasta Salad ingredients

Helpful Tips

Tips for making this pasta salad.

Make dressing ahead of time, up to 24 hours prior, if desired. Add other seasonings if you want. I highly recommend Nina’s Olivar Almeria Gold Olive Oil, a superior quality oil from Spain. Link to order from Amazon at end of post. This full flavor olive oil is my absolute favorite!

There are a variety of gluten free pastas available, made from brown rice or chickpeas or vegetables.

You may use any color of fresh pepper. I chose a green bell pepper however red or yellow peppers work well too. And try a yellow onion or chopped green onions instead of the red onion, if desired. If fresh basil seems to strong for you, substitute fresh Italian parsley…or add both!

Swap kalamata olives for the black olives, banana peppers for the pepperoncini and plain artichoke hearts for marinated. Omit the red pepper, dried or flakes, if you don’t want any heat. I found 1/4 teaspoon just right, however I like a little spiciness.

And finally, omit the shredded plant based cheese, if desired. I felt it added creaminess to the pasta salad but it’s not really necessary.

Gluten Free Mediterranean Pasta Salad
Gluten Free Mediterranean Pasta Salad

The Taste Test

I served up the pasta salad warm, immediately after gently combining all ingredients.

This Mediterranean salad was SO good, full of flavor in every delicious bite. I loved the combination of fresh, crunchy veggies with the softer artichoke hearts, olives and pepperoncini. I won’t change a thing, the next time I make it. And I will definitely make this pasta salad again.

The best part…I have leftovers in the fridge, for tomorrow’s lunch. I’ll see how the salad is cold. I expect it to taste just as good and maybe even better, with all the flavors mingling overnight.

Do you enjoy pasta salads? Do you prefer to eat them warm or cold?

Gluten Free Mediterranean Pasta Salad plated
Gluten Free Mediterranean Pasta Salad ready to eat

 


 

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Easy No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

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October 14 is National Dessert Day. This unique holiday celebrates indulging in the sweets. For many people, dessert is the best part of the meal. Over the years, sweet after dinner treats transformed from simple candied fruits and nuts to more elaborate concoctions. Today anything from store bought cookies to made from scratch pastries to a fancy mousse tower qualifies as dessert.

To participate in this special day, celebrants are encouraged to enjoy a sweet treat.

I decided to seize the opportunity to make a vegan, gluten free treat that didn’t require a lot of prep time.

I found this delightfully simple dessert on Pinterest. Check out the original recipe HERE. With a couple of slight alterations, I made these easy no bake peanut butter chocolate bars in minutes.

Check out my contribution to National Dessert Day!

Easy No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars title meme

Easy No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

This quick and easy recipe is perfect for an occasional snack. Using just six ingredients, these bars are vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free. And the ingredients are common, in my kitchen. I typically have them on hand.

The peanut butter base combines pure maple syrup, gluten free flour, vanilla and creamy peanut butter. I use a sugar free peanut butter, Crazy Richard’s 100% Peanuts. It’s found in the jelly section at Wal-Mart and health conscious grocery stores.

Any gluten free flour will work. I normally use gluten free oat flour. However, I happened to have on hand a one-for-one gluten free flour so I used that. This brand is Cup4Cup Multipurpose Flour gluten free. A cup of this four replaces a cup of regular flour.

And pure maple syrup makes an excellent substitute for sugar. Tonight I used the Natural Grocer’s house brand.

The topping is unsweetened cocoa powder, coconut oil and pure maple syrup.

Easy No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars mixing
Two bowls and six ingredients for easy no bake peanut butter chocolate bars.
Easy No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Easy No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars

Vegan, gluten free, refined sugar free and dairy free simple dessert.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Servings 12 bars

Ingredients
  

  • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter I used no sugar added
  • 1 cup gluten free flour such as oat
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla

Chocolate Topping

  • 1/3 cup cocoa powder
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

Instructions
 

  • Line a square pan with parchment paper.
  • In a large bowl combine peanut butter, gluten free flour, pure maple syrup and vanilla, stirring until smooth. Press into prepared pan.
  • In a small bowl, whisk together cocoa powder, pure maple syrup and melted coconut oil. Pour topping over peanut butter base, smoothing with a knife.
  • Chill in freezer for 15 minutes to set. Score and cut with a knife. Store left overs in a covered container in the refrigerator. Makes 12 - 16 bars.
Keyword Bars, Chocolate, Gluten Free, No Bake, Peanut Butter, Vegan
Easy No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars
Easy No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars ready to go into the freezer.

The Taste Test

These bars took 10 minutes to prep. I popped them into the freezer and then prepared dinner. So easy!

After dinner, while a cup of peppermint tea steeped, I cut bars to sample. This simple recipe yields a delicious dessert, perfect with my cup of hot tea.

The bars have the consistency of fudge and they are just as rich. One bar satisfies completely. I enjoyed celebrating National Dessert Day with a wonderful treat that does not include guilt or unwanted foods.

I don’t indulge in dessert often. When I do, this is exactly what I want, a simple treat without sugar, dairy, gluten and eggs.

I won’t wait until next October and National Dessert Day, to make these easy no bake peanut butter chocolate bars again!

Do you have a favorite dessert?

Easy No Bake Peanut Butter Chocolate Bars tea time
Easy no bake peanut butter bars perfectly complement a cup of peppermint tea.

Try These Other Vegan Desserts:

Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Raw Wild Blueberry Pie

Vegan Gingerbread


 

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Vegan Black Bean & Corn Salsa

I was looking for a healthy salsa to share at my family’s Christmas Day Smorgasbord. I contributed plant based snacks, sides and desserts. My family members brought their favorite sides or main course dishes, however, they got to sample my plant based recipes too.

I had in mind to make my sister’s Cowboy Caviar. But when I saw that the recipe called for bottles of salad dressing, I opted for this easy to make salsa that includes the fresh juice of two limes instead.

The recipe, from SparkPeople, on my first official Try This Tuesday, is not only quick to throw together, and healthy, it is pretty to look at too! And, it is incredibly delicious, as the flavors all blend together.

I omitted the cilantro, because of a family member’s dislike of it. And the salsa was still excellent. In fact, the recipe made a large bowl of salsa and I brought home a very small bowl of left overs. I used only organic, non GMO canned goods. Del Monte brand now has non GMO canned goods, as do other brands found in health conscious grocery stores, like Natural Grocers. I diced the avocado and added it right before serving.

The salsa was accompanied by organic, non GMO tortilla chips, made by Tostitos, and available in the chips aisle at any supermarket. These bite sized scoops are perfect for dipping.

The black bean and corn salsa was so good that I will be making this recipe often. It is a great side dish to take to parties or family gatherings. I can know that I am contributing food wise, and also to the health of everyone present!