This is the kitchen where we talk about food, life, and recovery—a spiritual path to healing and peace.

You are invited to keep coming back to A Cup of Kindness to share your experience, strength and hope; fears, doubts and insecurities; and to pick up information, inspiration … and have a little fun!

My story
In January 2007, at the age of 51, I joined a 12-step program and began my recovery from food addiction, losing 75 pounds in the process. Read more…

In January 2011, at the age of 55, I began my recovery from a multi-trauma accident, 36 fractures, damaged lungs, and post traumatic stress. Read more…

I am deeply grateful for all the kindnesses, large and small, offered to me in recovery. Here I am... alive… still making progress … still not perfect … finding a new way forward in a growing community of women and men who share a lot in common around food and life.

I hope you'll join me in this kitchen and let me know what's cooking with you.

A Cup of Kindness

Open Heart Project



Cukes by Dana.

I enjoy the same simple salad just about every day and it’s completely satisfying to me, but every so often I get more creative whether it’s a weekend when I have a little extra time, a holiday or when company is coming for a meal.

I go for organic foods, including Paul Newman’s organic extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil is one of the healthiest foods for my body, so it makes sense to me to spend more for organic.

Salad dressing is my excuse for using my absolutely favorite kitchen utensil. It’s a small whisk introduced to me on Nigella Lawson’s cooking shows. It’s great for stirring yogurt, scrambling eggs, and emulsifying salad dressing. At some point we’ll get a photo up so you can see it.

Measure 1 tablespoon olive oil into a wooden salad bowl; and whisk in about 1/3 of a tablespoon balsamic vinegar, or fresh lime or lemon juice. Put the salad fixings on top of the dressing and toss it up. That’ll do you.

Recently, I’ve been attempting to recreate my late father’s salad dressing. It was something he did very well. He would finely mince a clove of garlic on a wooden cutting board and then mash it with the edge of a big knife into coarse salt, making a sort of paste. Into a clean Grey Poupon Dijon jar, he would add the garlic and salt to a 3 to 1 ratio of olive oil to apple cider vinegar; with freshly ground pepper, dried herbs and a dollop of the afore-mentioned Dijon mustard. Then shake-shake-shake up the dressing; pour it onto the washed and dried salad; toss-toss-toss, serve and eat!

Some salads make a great take-along one-dish meal with protein, cooked vegetable, grain, fruit, and/or dairy added.

Then there are times when it feels more like a meal to me to have my salad on its own with the other elements of the meal on a separate plate.

The foods with a comment in parentheses are other non-salad elements of a meal—protein, grain, cooked vegetable, fruit and dairy. Not everyone has all of these elements in their food plan, so if you get ‘em, eat ‘em. If not, never mind…

A Daily Salad

  • 2 oz romaine lettuce
  • 6 oz mix of cherry tomatoes, cucumber, carrot, radishes and mushrooms
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil and a good squeeze of fresh lemon or lime—I like it tart!

Southwestern Salad

Make this salad ahead so that the flavors of the dressing infuse the other ingredients. It’s a great one-dish meal and it travels well.

  • 6 oz black beans (protein)
  • 4 oz frozen corn (grain)
  • 8 oz chopped vegetables (salad) – carrots, cucumber, radishes, all colors of bell peppers, red onion, perhaps a diced jalapeno (check for spiciness), cilantro leaves, plus some cherry tomatoes
  • 6 oz steamed green beans (cooked vegetable)
  • 6 oz fresh pineapple (fruit)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil and a good squeeze of fresh lime, a pinch of cumin, salt,pepper, and Tobasco to taste

Middle Eastern Salad

  • 2 oz of romaine lettuce
  • 6 oz of raw veggies, including fresh parsley chopped with some leaves of fresh mint, 7 small Moroccan pitted olives, and enough artichokes, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion
  • 6 oz of roasted eggplant or beets (cooked vegetable)
  • 4 oz cooked bulgur (grain)
  • 6 oz garbanzo beans (protein)
  • 2 oz feta (dairy)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, lots of fresh lemon juice (1/2 lemon works for me) with a good shake of Herbamare—a seasoning salt with organic herbs; or a dash of ground cumin, coriander, salt and pepper

Asian Slaw

  • 2 oz shredded red and green cabbage
  • 6 oz raw veggies, including julienned carrots, fennel bulb, red peppers, chopped spring onions and basil leaves
  • 1 oz dry roasted, unsalted peanuts (protein)
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil, 1 tablespoon lime juice, small clove of garlic minced, a little crushed red pepper

Cajun Slaw

  • 2 oz shredded red and green cabbage
  • 6 oz julienned carrots, fennel bulb, and jicama
  • 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise, squeeze of lemon and a dash of Tabasco Sauce.

Dutch Cool Slaw

  • 2 oz shredded green cabbage
  • 6 oz mix of shredded fennel bulb and julienned carrots
  • 6 oz green grapes cut in half (fruit)
  • 1 tablespoon of mayonnaise and a squeeze of lemon

Summer Salad

  • 2 oz iceberg lettuce
  • 6 oz carrots, cucumber and radishes
  • 4 oz cooked seafood, such as crab, lobster or shrimp (protein)
  • 4 oz corn (grain)
  • 6 oz blueberries (fruit)
  • 1 tablespoon ranch dressing

Salade Nicoise

  • 2 oz Frisee, endive, and romaine
  • 6 oz tomatoes, cucumber and red onion
  • 6 oz steamed French green beans (cooked vegetable)
  • 4 oz tuna (protein)
  • 4 oz boiled white potato (“grain”)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and a little Grey Poupon Dijon mustard

Toss the lettuces and raw vegetables with the dressing and then artfully compose the salad and its accompaniments on a plate.

French Lentil Salad

  • 2 oz Frisee, endive, and romaine
  • 6 oz tomatoes and red onion
  • 6 oz steamed French green beans (cooked vegetable)
  • 6 oz cooked green lentils (protein)
  • 1 rough chopped pear (fruit)
  • 2 oz goat cheese (dairy)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and a little Grey Poupon Dijon mustard

This is great with a bowl of polenta on the side (grain–weigh 2 oz dry before cooking). I cook the corn grits in 8 oz of water with a grind of nutmeg and a slight dash of cayenne. Watch out with that cayenne! It’s hot!

French Riviera Salad

  • 2 oz romaine and arugula
  • 12 oz grilled peppers, mushrooms, onion and tomatoes (combining amounts of raw and cooked vegetables)
  • 4 oz sardines or steamed mussels (protein)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1/3 tablespoon balsamic vinegar, and a little Grey Poupon Dijon mustard

Love & Light,


8 Comments to Salads

  1. Susan's Gravatar Susan
    January 18, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

    Thanks for these Valerie- can’t wait to try them!

  2. LaDawna's Gravatar LaDawna
    January 18, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    I am really looking forward to more of your recipes, including your musings and details on each one of them. When I see this list of salads here I am inspired but I can’t help think that every one of them, and the wonderful dressing recipe (THANK YOU!) each deserve its own posting, in good time, to be considered and savored in each of their glory.

  3. Cindy's Gravatar Cindy
    January 19, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

    We’re on the same weighing and measuring of food (and life) plan that you are, Valerie. Thanks for these salad ideas. They meet my need for variety as well as sustenance in a beautiful way. Love your site, BTW!

  4. Sandy's Gravatar Sandy
    January 29, 2012 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

    What an inspiration you are. I love this blog, recipes and all. I wish you continued strength and a complete recovery, love and peace. You’re a light to so many of us and I thank you for that.

  1. By on March 8, 2012 at 11:54 pm

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