Noontime Nirvana Noodle Salad


Noontime Nirvana Noodle Salad

noodle salad, lunches for grownups

What is it about making lunch? To me, it feels like a chore of epic proportions. I like cooking dinner. I like baking things. I like busting out my waffle-and-tofu-scramble moves for weekend brunches. But making lunch can really get me down.

It's not even the thought of packing lunches for the kids - that, I find easier, maybe because they are perfectly satisfied with a combination of sandwiches, fruit, and baked goods, like some kind of throwback to the 1980s. It's lunch for me that I find difficult. Oftentimes noon rolls around and I find myself making myself a smoothie and grabbing some nuts, because it's quick and easy.

I just realized how inadvertently risque that sounds. Believe me, lunches aren't THAT exciting around here!

This noodle salad, though, can bring lunchtime excitement back into your life! The recipe yields two large servings, is chock-full of vegetables, and is topped with nuts for a nice protein boost. Feel free to use any vegetables you like - it's a great way to clean out your crisper!


1/2 package (250 grams) rice vermicelli noodles
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons hoi sin sauce
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 teaspoons lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more, if you like it spicy)
2 small carrots, grated
1 red or orange pepper, chopped 
1/2 cucumber, chopped
1/4 cup cashews or peanuts


  Prepare noodles as per package directions, and rinse well with cold water.

  Whisk together sesame oil, hoi sin sauce, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic, and crushed red pepper.

  Toss noodles with dressing and the vegetables. 

  Just before serving, top with cashews or peanuts.

Yield: 2 large or 4 small servings

 Want more healthy and delicious lunchtime ideas? Try my Quinoa Salad-in-a-Jar, my Fiesta Confetti Mexican Salad, or my Bruschetta Quinoa Salad.



All Kale Caesar!


All Kale Caesar!

kale caesar salad with roasted chickpeas

It's no secret that I love kale. In fact, my husband took the kids camping without me, and my first thought - right after I can watch unlimited episodes of NYPD Blue and drink wine straight out of the bottle - was that I could have a giant kale salad for dinner and no one would protest. 

The truth is, my husband and kids are not huge kale fans. If kale was a sports team, I would be sitting in the bleachers waving a giant foam finger pronouncing "We're Number One!" and cheering, whereas my family would be sighing and checking their cell phones to see what's happening on Facebook. 

One of my favourite aspects of kale is that it doesn't wilt with the addition of dressing; you can dress the salad in advance, which is nice if you want to make a giant bowl of it and then eat it all day long while watching NYPD Blue and drinking wine. Or, if you want to take it to a potluck dinner, whichever works for you.

The addition of roasted chickpeas, in lieu of croutons, turns this kale Caesar salad into a protein-rich bowl of superfood. The roasted chickpeas should be added at the very last minute in order for them to maintain their crispness; they are addictive in themselves, so be sure to reserve some for the salad! 

Kale Caesar Salad 



1-355mL can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
1 tsp olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp sea salt

1/4 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
1 clove garlic
2 tbsp tahini
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
1 large head kale, destemmed and cut into bite-sized pieces



  Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  In a medium bowl, toss chickpeas with 1 teaspoon olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon each garlic powder and sea salt. 

  Arrange chickpeas in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet, and roast in oven for 30 minutes, flipping and tossing chickpeas halfway through. Allow to cool.

  In a blender, mix together olive oil, red wine vinegar, soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, garlic, tahini, salt, and pepper. Pour over kale pieces and, using your hands, massage the dressing into the kale. Allow kale to sit, refrigerated, for at least 30 minutes. 

  Top with roasted chickpeas when ready to serve.



ROASTED CHICKPEAS. I could eat these all day. And I did!

 Are you like me and you can't get enough kale? Try my Roasted Squash, Kale, and Quinoa Salad, or my favourite snack, Kale Chips Two Ways. Not convinced? Try the salad that got my kale-hating husband to say, "Huh, it's pretty good," my Kick-Ass Kale Salad.


Nut-Free, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Vegan Energy Bars


Nut-Free, Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Vegan Energy Bars

vegan sugar-free nut-free gluten-free energy bars

My best friend's daughter has Celiac disease, and one day when we were chatting about school snacks and lunches, she mentioned the difficulty of finding really tasty gluten-free "grab and go" snacks that were also nut-free.  The wheels in my head started turning, especially after talking with another friend whose daughter is allergic to dairy and sugar cane, in addition to gluten and nuts. I was thinking about them both as I found myself in the kitchen, trying to create an energy bar that would fill all those needs. Was it possible? Gluten-free, nut-free, added sugar-free, and vegan seemed to be a pretty tall order for an energy bar, but I was determined.

What I came up with was an energy bar that not only ticked off all those boxes, but also tastes great and is a snap to put together. This would be an excellent addition to any school lunch, as well as a perfect after-school snack to fuel the kids (and yourself!) through the frenzy of weekday activities, events, and carpooling. These bars deliver a burst of energy, but are packed with protein to keep you going...and going...and going...


2 cups Medjool dates, pitted
1/3 cup coconut oil
2 tablespoons cocoa powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 cup hemp seeds
1 cup pumpkin seeds 


  Line a 9x9 baking pan with enough parchment paper so that the paper hangs over the edge of the pan.

  In a food processor, process dates and coconut oil together until crumbly.

  Add cocoa, cinnamon, coconut, and hemp seeds and process until mixture resembles a thick, crumbly paste.

  Add pumpkin seeds and pulse until combined.

  Scoop into prepared pan, and press VERY FIRMLY to flatten. It's very important to press firmly so that the bars stay together. HINT: rub a little coconut oil on your hands so you can flatten the mixture without it sticking.

  Place in the freezer for an hour, until firm. Lift the parchment paper to remove the mixture, then cut into bars.

  Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Coconut oil: hey, wanna date?

This is what a crumbly paste looks like.

After slicing, watch out for thieves.

 Want easy and delicious school snack ideas? Try Nut-Free School-Safe Granola BarsVegan Oatmeal Chocolate Chip MuffinsPumpkin Chocolate Chip Snack Loaf