SOS Stevia: Crunchy Green Salad

Nobody loves dessert more than I do (well, except maybe in New Zealand, where they eat more ice cream per capita than anywhere else in the world. . . as I’ve said before, I really must move to the antipodes).  I’ve been known to eat dessert for breakfast, for snacks, for lunch, or for dinner.  I’ve had dessert at 3:00 AM; I’ve ordered dessert before dinner in a restaurant. I like dessert even more than nutroast (that’s saying a lot) and more than sweet potato (though I do often include the former in the latter).  And, in my younger years, there were times when I ate more than one dessert at a time (gasp!).

But even I was a little surprised to see that almost every submission for our SOS Stevia event this month was a dessert recipe (thanks, Alex, for breaking the streak). Like any other sweetener, stevia can be used in savory dishes, too.  Wherever you’d add a touch of sugar, or honey, or maple syrup, you can usually use stevia.  In fact, if you’ve been reading DDD for a while (or if you browse through the archives), you’ll probably note rather quickly that more than half my recipes tend to use this herbal sweetener in one way or another.  And so, just under the wire, I am going to submit this second SOS entry tonight.

For most of my adult life (and believe me, that’s a long time), I’ve thought of salad as “boring” or “bland.”  Perhaps it was due to the insipid, somewhat anemic lettuce and tomatoes (with a texture and flavor of raw potato) that are the only ones available during Ontario winters. Maybe it was that I associated salads with the constant dieting of my youth (and the lack of any gustatory pleasure during those episodes).  Or it may have been that my passion for dessert was so powerful as to outweigh any appreciation of vegetable matter during all those years (not likely, as that would have ruled out kale, and peas, and sweet potato, and every other veggie I like as well).

No, the real reason I was so meh on salads was my father.

You see, my dad eats salad Every. Single. Day.

That’s right: Every.

Single.

Day.

Not only does he eat salad Every. Single. Day.- -he also eats the exact same salad– Every.

Single.

Day.

Are we getting bored yet?

My dad’s idea of “salad” harks back to the 1950s or so, when my mother, like any good wife of her generation, first tossed together that mix to accompany the salmon patties she served for dinner.  The so-called “salad” consisted of a quarter of an iceberg lettuce, chopped (not torn) into bite-sized pieces; one third of a cucumber (peeled), sliced; half of a factory-farmed, barely blushing orb,(labelled a “tomato” in the grocery store), sliced; and a few slices of yellow onion scattered over top.  This mass of water and fiber was then topped with a spoonful of Miracle Whip, all stirred together, and eaten. And that is precisely what he has eaten as “salad” ever since.  And also–

Every.

Single.

Day.

No wonder I considered salad to be tasteless and dull–and steered clear for years, even after I lived on my own.

After I moved to Toronto in the 1980s, I discovered the joys of raw leafy greens and other veggies, including many I had never eaten raw before that (kale, parsnip and–for the first time this very month–fennel, to name a few).  After an epiphany eating warm spinach salad in a Mason jar (all the rage at the old Mr. Greenjeans on Adelaide), I moved on to classic Caesar at Joe Allen’s (tossed together in a huge wooden bowl right beside your table); bean salad courtesy of my friend Carol during our PhD years together; quinoa salad in its many  guises; and the now-iconic raw kale salad, a discovery made during nutrition school.

These days, I’m willing to try pretty much any kind of salad as long as it conforms to the strictures of the ACD (ie, no mushrooms) and doesn’t contain slimy creatures or animal parts.  And though I’ve read that iceberg is back in vogue these days, for me it still evokes memories of those flavorless piles of pallid greenery that my dad continues to consume;  I guess that after all those years, I just can’t escape my conditioned response to it.  (“Well, you can say that again, Mum. And if anyone knows about conditioned responses, it’s us. Was that a bell I just heard?”).

This salad, a recipe I adapted from the venerable Bonnie Stern via The National Post, is aptly named “Green Crunch.”  Almost every ingredient is, indeed, green–as well as crunchy.  The slices of Granny Smith apple offer up a lovely, sweet and juicy contrast to the grassy crunch of the celery and mild fennel.  Avocado provides richness and a creamy foil for the veggies, all bathed in a light and tangy citrus dressing. You can toss in any combination you please of greens and lettuce as a base.

But please, just be sure it’s not iceberg.

[As seen here, the salad is missing the avocado (which I added after the photo was snapped).]

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Comments

  1. Not a big stevia fan although I do love it with lemon water. But that would have made a pretty boring entry. Maybe even more dull than your dad’s salad. I have heard stevia leaves are good in salad. Perhaps I will get a plant this summer to try it. Ever had that?

    • I have never tried the raw leaves in salad, just as tea–but now I’m intrigued! It would be a fairly sweet salad, for sure. 🙂 And lemon water sounds great to me!

  2. Oh, this looks and sounds so wonderfully crisp and summery and perfect! I’ve almost always had fennel roasted, not raw, and have never considered using stevia in a salad dressing. Thank you for the wonderful idea/s!

    • It reminded me of summer. . . probably why I liked it so much. 🙂 And stevia is great in salad dressings! (look no further than every one of my salad recipes). 😉

  3. Stevia in a salad eh? Fascinating idea. I must admit that though I use stevia all the time, it is almost always in dessert – I don’t add much sweetener to non-dessert things, gotta save up all the sugar for one big kick with the dessert. You’re inspiring me to try stevia in other dishes!
    I actually kind of like iceberg lettuce, but I know exactly the salad to which you refer (that bland, wilted staple of cafeterias and bad restaurants all over), and it is ick. Good thing there are much better salads, like this one!

    • It works beautifully, I promise. 🙂 I think if I gave iceberg another try now, I might be okay with it. But I keep resisting. 😉

  4. I’m an old fashioned girl who prefers my crunch from iceberg rather than fennel but I love an interesting salad and rarely have lettuce in my salads these days – much prefer a bit of crunch and interest – I had enough garden salads (which is what we called the sort of salads you dad has) in my childhood to never want one again

    • Didn’t mean to impugn iceberg–it’s a personal thing. 😉 And I think you nailed it: I got overloaded as a kid and just can’t bring myself to eat it now.

  5. Hi Ricki!

    I just discovered your blog, and i must say: wow! I’ve never seen a blog with so many detailed stevia recipes. I will definitely come back often to get some new ideas.

    I run an informational site on stevia myself and I’m always on the lookout for new quality material to introduce to my readers. Hope you will find my site useful as well.

    Have a healthy and radiant day!

    Jo

  6. We must be twins of some kind. I can eat dessert all day long, too and totally would, if it wouldn’t mean sugar coma and vitamin deficiencies. And my boyfriend eats salad every day, too. Fortunately he does it at work 😉 I once did sweetend my salad dressing with stevia, so I must give yours a try, too!

  7. Beautiful salad, Ricki! There’s only one salad I eat Iceberg in (that thing called 7-layer salad that has mayo in my version) and that’s like every 7 years … or longer. LOL I should eat salad every day and if someone makes it and puts it in front of me I will happily do so. Otherwise, I get most of my salad greens in my green smoothies. I do eat salad out a lot. I have never used Stevia with salad, but will give it a try. And, I’ll certainly try stevia in my lemon water as bitt mentioned. 😉

    Shirley

    Shirley

    • I’ve never heard of that 7-layer salad. . . hmmm! I also tend to get a lot of my greens in smoothies. But sometimes, you just want to crunch on a salad. 🙂

  8. Eselepee says:

    In savory recipes (such as chili or the cabbage rolls I recently made), a bit of sugar is frequently called for. I always just ignore it, but I bet a drop or two of stevia would do the trick!

    Maybe I will finally use up that little dropper jar of stevia in my cupboard for years!

    • That’s exactly how I use it. It does help to mitigate the acidity in tomato-based pasta sauces, for instance, or even in a sweet-and-sour type BBQ sauce. 🙂

  9. Thanks for the post. Hubby has candida and has been just drizzling olive oit and lemon juice on his salads. This dressing sounds yummy. I’ll pick up some liquid stevia today. I didn’t know you could grow the plants either-I’m gonna do that for sure!

  10. This looks so good Ricki!! Is apple cider vinegar ok for ACD? I miss my balsamic 🙂

    • It depends who you ask, Gillian, but many ACD diets do allow it. Apparently, apple cider vinegar has anti-fungal, anti-microbial qualities (but it’s the only vinegar that does–so no balsamic. Boo hoo! I miss it, too). 🙁

  11. Just the name makes me want this salad right now! CRUNCH. I love a crunchy salad. The only ingredient missing from your Dad’s salad is radish. That reminds me of terrible buffet salads. I just can’t get on the stevia train Ricki. Why? I don’t know. I’m a slow adopter? No. I think you should bring me something yummy on Saturday baked with stevia. Don’t you?

  12. Okay, your dad needs to mix things up … just a little.

    I was just thinking about using stevia in salad dressing today! I’m on another sugar-free challenge, but have been craving nut butter in the mornings (that I usually add a little maple too). So I added two drops of vanilla stevia to some freshly ground cashews and walnuts, yum!

    • I know! He’s that way with pretty much everything (same breakfast every day, too). 😉

      Good for you on the sugar-free challenge. It gets easier as you go along. I love nut butter sweetened with stevia–the walnut with cacao nib I posted is probably my all-time favorite. 🙂

  13. Wow — your dad’s salad sounds like the exact same salad I grew up with, except maybe for the Miracle Whip. The salad was our “vegetable,” unless my mother was making frozen string beans or canned corn, too. And here we are, vegetarians. That’s the real miracle.

    I had a stevia plant in my last garden in Wisconsin, and the leaves were soooooooo sweet, they tasted like candy. I never really figured out quite what to do with the them.

  14. this looks so light and refreshing! I am a salad freak and I can’t wait to try this one. MMM

  15. why do you say not iceberg lettuce?

  16. Hi Rickie – great post! I haven’t ever used stevia, although I’ve been trying to incorporate more ACD foods and avoid the pro ones into my diet (so much going on, not sure if that was my core issue, but figured it couldn’t hurt since I’ve had many of the same symptoms). My only experience with Stevia has been in protein powders which, I have to admit, I didn’t really like, but I love how most of your recipes use it in conjunction with other sweeteners so you get the benefit of it without being hit over the head with it’s distinctive qualities. I really like the idea of using it in the salad dressing though, such an easy switch I’ll have to try that! I also noticed your post from “this time last year” (I couldn’t open the link for some reason). Anyway, if you’re ever in Sarasota again, It would be really cool to meet up, my guess is you managed to make it to Veg while you were here last? Please feel free to email me!

    • Thanks so much for your comment! I think you’ll find that stevia is much more pleasant when you do combine it with something else. I’m not sure why the link isn’t working–I tried it and it worked for me? Maybe just a temporary glitch (I’m hoping–)? Sadly, no, didn’t make it to Veg. I’ll look forward to it next time, though.

  17. Ricki, this looks so good! I’ve promised myself that I’ll eat more salads this spring and summer, and this looks like a great one to add to the new routine!

  18. this dressing sounds so flavorful, and I HAVE to have a good crunch in my salad! yum!

  19. I eat salad most days, but I always mix it up. I can’t imagine eating the same one every day! I love variety, and this salad looks delicious!

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