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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Cauliflower

Today’s featured food belongs in the cruciferous vegetables group, along with cabbages, broccoli, kale, collard greens and Brussels sprouts. As a group crucifers help to prevent a variety of cancers and they are especially good for lung health, due to their sulfur rich nature. Individually they have their own unique properties.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower is extremely high in vitamins C, K and B-complex, and the minerals boron, calcium, tryptophan and molybdenum. It’s also a source of high quality protein that is easily assimilated by the body.

The cancer fighting compounds insole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane in this vegetable help to prevent breast, cervical, ovarian, prostrate, stomach and colon cancers.

Cauliflower

Cauliflower has proven effective in treating HPV and cervical dysplasia. Its anti-inflammatory properties help those suffering from chronic inflammation, fibromyalgia, arthritis, Alzheimer’s, hepatitis, cystic fibrosis, IBS and cardiomyopathy. It helps the thyroid and the rest of the endocrine system to stave off the viruses that are the cause of issues such as thyroiditis.

And in aiding the digestive system, cauliflower protects the lining of the stomach, preventing bacterial overgrowth of H. pylori. It detoxifies the liver and spleen and aids in cleansing toxins from the blood, lymphatic system, tissues and organs.

Cauliflower can be enjoyed raw, added to salads, steamed, baked, roasted or included in stir fries. Raw it can be substituted for white rice by pulsing it in a food processor until the cauliflower is the size of grains of rice.

And that is what I have planned for my lovely head of cauliflower. Tonight I will make cauliflower rice for the first time, and use it in a “fried rice” recipe featuring healing veggies and herbs. Watch for the recipe and photos of the results on Tuesday!

Cauliflower

Eating Plant Based On Vacation

One of the reasons I switched to a plant based lifestyle last summer was because of a planned trip to Italy this year. Before I embraced eating healthier, I had trouble walking without pain and I was using a cane. My hope was to walk without a cane and without pain, during the trip. 

Eating Plant Based on Vacation
If you’ve followed my healing journey, you know my health has been transformed by adopting a plant based lifestyle. No more cane and no more pain have been just two of the positive outcomes as a result. However, as the trip drew closer, I wondered if it would be possible to eat plant based in Italy.
Eating Plant Based on Vacation
Breakfasts were easy while in Italy. Every hotel we stayed in offered a large breakfast buffet. I could choose from a selection of fresh and baked fruits, juices and even veggies such as green beans, mushrooms and tomatoes. 

Eating Plant Based on Vacation
But what about lunches and dinners, in a country famous for pasta? A Divine opportunity brought the answer. Because of severe weather in the US and being diverted to London rather than Rome, we missed the welcome dinner the first night of the tour. The next day, catching up with our tour director, Fabi, I asked if it was considered rude to request gluten free pasta at restaurants. 

My daughter Elissa, grandson Dayan and I were about to head out into Rome for our first dinner. Fabi happened to be giving Dayan directions to nearby cafes. Otherwise, I would not have asked my question. I felt reluctant to ask at a restaurant. I didn’t want to be perceived as a picky eater. That was my issue though, I realized. It is always appropriate to ask! 

Fabi assured me that most restaurants did indeed offer gluten free pasta and vegetarian or vegan meal options. My first dinner was in a delightful cafe with outdoor seating, located on a narrow street lined with restaurants. I enjoyed roasted potatoes and freshly grilled veggies. No one looked at me oddly or questioned my selection. 

Eating Plant Based on Vacation
The ease of ordering that first meal encouraged me to stay within my plant based diet during the entire trip. However, I have to praise Fabi for taking charge of my meals. Our tour included some lunches and dinners, at various restaurants and two different vineyards. Without me asking her to, she called ahead to each venue and explained that I was following a restricted diet. 

Eating Plant Based on VacationA five course totally plant based, gluten free meal!

Without exception, at each place I was served delicious, freshly prepared plant based meals. No gluten. No meat. No sugar, dairy or eggs. Instead of a sweet dessert, I was presented with a bowl of sumptuous fruit. The chefs or head waiters introduced themselves to me before the meals, delivered each course with a flourish and a smile, and checked with me after to make sure I was happy with the food. 

Happy? I was thrilled! And those who brought me my special meals did so with a noticeable sense of accomplishment and pride that was endearing. I felt so well cared for, and not at all a burden. 

Eating Plant Based on VacationGluten free pasta with pesto

When we were free to eat on our own, I did fine ordering from the menu. Dayan noticed the small print that read gluten free available. From Rome to the coastal villages in Cinque Terre to Venice, gluten free pasta and/or vegan options were readily available, making it easy for me to stay plant based. 

Eating Plant Based on Vacation
Was it difficult, eating differently from everyone else? Not at all. Was it boring? Absolutely not. I enjoyed a variety of delicious foods. And it was crucial for me. If I had abandoned my plant based lifestyle, even for a few days, I would have risked feeling unwell or opened myself up to discomfort. It was important to me to feel my very best. 

And I did do well. I walked with ease, 4-6 miles a day. I flew for hours and hours, without my legs locking up. I climbed stairs, which a year ago would have been impossible. While stairs can still be a challenge for me, due to years of pain and inflammation that has caused muscle tightness around my knees, I am continuing to improve. I kept up with the tour group and I was extremely pleased with my level of fitness. 

Eating Plant Based on Vacation
My experience was encouraging. I found that it is possible to eat a plant based diet while on vacation. My tips for a healthy vacation are: 

Make healthy eating a priority, because health IS a priority

Drink plenty of water. It is easy to become dehydrated while traveling. 

Get enough rest. Jet lag is a real thing! Stay awake during the days and get to bed early the first couple of nights to adjust to a different time zone. 

And don’t be afraid to ask for specially prepared meals. Express sincere appreciation and gratitude to the waiter and chef. 

I am so grateful for Fabi, who went above and beyond to ensure that I ate healthy meals. And I am grateful for each chef who took the time to create magnificent meals for me. I’m also so thankful for my grandson and daughter who frequently asked if I was finding healthy options on the menus and often checked ahead before choosing a cafe, just to make sure I could find something to eat. 

Eating Plant Based on VacationBlack lentils and vegetables, beautifully prepared. 

Surrounded by such caring and conscientious people, how could I not do well on this trip? And that would be my last suggestion for maintaining a diet while on vacation…surround yourself with supportive people. They may not eat what you eat, but they can certainly offer encouragement and love and compassion as you care for yourself.  

Healthy eating is a choice…a daily choice. Whether dining in my own home or in a fine restaurant in Venice, I am the one who decides what I will eat. I chose well. And my body thanked me for it. 

Eating Plant Based on Vacation

Dandelion Tea

Warm temperatures today and the arrival of spring tomorrow lured me outdoors this afternoon. I enjoyed the meditative task of transferring young flowering plants to clay pots, and strolling through my awakening gardens. One of the harbingers of spring is the appearance of bright yellow dandelions. For the first time, I gathered tender green dandelion leaves, and the sunny blooms, and created a healthy tea. 

Dandelion Tea
Most people consider the dandelion to be an obnoxious weed. However every part of the plant is edible and there are many health benefits associated with this spring flower. 

According to Anthony William, in his book Life Changing Foods, the dandelion’s defining characteristic is bitterness, and it is that very property that is restorative to the body. Says Anthony, “Dandelions shake you out of hibernation, getting your blood pumping and your organs cleaning house from radiation, toxic heavy metals, DDT, and other poisons.” 

Dandelion Tea

The dandelion flower, which is mildly bitter, cleanses the hollow organs such as the stomach, intestinal tract, gallbladder, bladder, lungs, uterus and heart. The leaves, being slightly more bitter, purify the blood and cleanse the lymphatic system. 

The stem, more bitter still, cleanses dense organs such as the spleen, liver and brain. And the root, which is the most bitter part of the plant, purifies those dense organs at a deep level. 

These cleansing properties make dandelion helpful for conditions such as lymphoma, kidney stones, obesity, blood disorders, inflammation, infections, liver disorders, digestive problems and fluid retention. 

Dandelion Tea
I was excited to try a healing tea, made from the tender young plants popping up in the backyard. I plucked six yellow blossoms and four leaves to make dandelion tea. I soaked the flowers and leaves in cold water while I heated a cup of water, and then rinsed them well. 

I have found that using a mesh wire basket in a tea mug is a great way to brew fresh herbs. You can pick up your own handy set through the link below. I steeped the flowers and leaves for 20 minutes, covering the mug with its lid. 

Dandelion Tea
Dandelion Tea
Curious about the degree of bitterness, I chewed on a dandelion leaf, and then popped a whole flower into my mouth, while the tea brewed. Although the blossom was slightly sweeter, both were fairly bitter, and yet entirely edible. I didn’t mind the taste at all. 

After 20 minutes, I cautiously sipped my hot tea. What a wonderful surprise! The tea wasn’t nearly as bitter as the fresh leaves and flowers. Light and refreshing, the tea had an earthly taste that was pleasing and grounding. I didn’t add raw honey, choosing to drink it without. 

In the past, I have been diligent about removing dandelions from my yard and garden. I will still remove them. But what a bountiful harvest I will have, for soups, salads and the healthy and cleansing dandelion tea. It is the perfect spring drink. 

Dandelion Tea
Check out Life Changing Foods for more incredile heslth information. And get your own tea brewing mug. I love the ease of creating teas from freshly picked herbs and plants. 

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What Do You Eat Following a Plant Based Lifestyle?

This is by far the most frequent question that I get asked, when people learn I’ve adopted a plant based lifestyle. They are curious, or incredulous, or considering a change in diet themselves. I am always happy to answer questions! Today’s post covers a typical day for me, following a plant based lifestyle. 

What Do You Eat Following a Plant Based Lifestyle?
My morning routine is important. I have rested and there are toxins ready to be flushed from my body as I rehydrate and prepare for the day. 

There are so many benefits from drinking a cup of warm water with the juice from half a fresh lemon, that it warrants its on blog post. Soon. This drink wakes up my body as it provides hydration, and necessary minerals and vitamin C. 

What Do You Eat Following a Plant Based Lifestyle?

After lemon water comes a glass of freshly prepared celery juice. I began drinking this juice about a year ago, after reading the Medical Medium’s post about its many health benefits. Celery juice heals the digestive system by alkalizing the gut. It is a powerful anti-inflammatory that flushes toxins and debris out of the intestinal tract. More about the amazing healing properties of celery in an upcoming post. 
What Do You Eat Following a Plant Based Lifestyle?

Breakfast smoothies are my favorite meal of the day.  Fruits can be blended together in endless combinations. I have a different smoothie every morning, using a banana as the base. I add fresh fruits, such as strawberries or an orange or a chopped up pear, and add a cup of frozen fruit, such as wild blueberries or pineapple chunks, and 3/4 cup of water. I also like to add chia or hemp seeds.
What Do You Eat Following a Plant Based Lifestyle?
What Do You Eat Following a Plant Based Lifestyle?
Lunch is a simple, raw salad such as this grapefruit, avocado delight. Or it might be a fresh fruit bowl. I typically eat raw for lunch, however a platter of cooked veggies is a possibility too. 

What Do You Eat Following a Plant Based Lifestyle?
What Do You Eat Following a Plant Based Lifestyle?

Afternoon snack is fresh fruit, such as sliced apples, an orange, and dates with a cup of hot herbal or Scottish tea. 

What Do You Eat Following a Plant Based Lifestyle?

Dinner is a bowl of cooked and raw veggies with brown rice, or vegan pizza on gluten free crust, a bowl of vegetable soup or brown rice pasta with my own marinara sauce. Again, the possibilities are many, and can be as simple as oven roasted potato wedges or more creative, like lentil curry. 
What Do You Eat Following a Plant Based Lifestyle?
What Do You Eat Following a Plant Based Lifestyle?
What Do You Eat Following a Plant Based Lifestyle?
I finish the day with a cup of hot herbal tea and a small snack if I’m hungry. That might be raw fresh fruit, celery, dates or a handful of unsalted cashews. 

What Do You Eat Following a Plant Based Lifestyle?
This is an average day. On busy mornings I may skip the lemon water or celery juice, but I would rather not. I might have salsa and non GMO gluten free chips for a snack. I read labels on everything and avoid most cooking oils such as canola. I’m aware of my NO list, which includes meat, dairy, eggs, sugar, corn, soy and gluten. 

I remind myself daily that I have made this choice and this commitment for improved health and well being. I take 18 supplements a day, herbs primarily, to support my immunesystem  and destroy viruses in my body. 

This has not been a difficult transition to make, as there is such a variety of fruits and vegetables available. What I eat is not boring or bland. It is full of flavor and life nourishing nutrients. I am highly motivated to continue this journey because of the good health I am experiencing and the amazing changes in my body in a relatively short amount of time. 

The next most frequently asked question I get is How long are you going to eat this way?

My answer is, for the rest of my life. Simple enough, right? I am not missing any foods or missing out on any celebrations or life events. Trust me, I am eating well and loving what I eat. I have a very healthy relationship with my food. And a very healthy relationship with myself. 

I am plant based. And I love it. 

What Do You Eat Following a Plant Based Lifestyle?