Simply Fresh by Julie Wern

The Lighter Side of Winter Vegetables

Its funny, but even with all this snow and cold, I find myself craving light, cleansing, fresh foods to counteract all the heavy winter braises and stews we’ve been eating. This month I discovered a few gem salads that satisfied these cravings but still allowed me to use up a lot of items in the winter distribution.

One salad I fell in love with is a delicious combination of shaved parsnips, carrots, and turnips over fresh greens tossed with a star anise and allspice-spiked maple vinaigrette. The sweetness and light spice in the dressing nicely compliments the sweet earthy notes in the root vegetables. Even if you don’t want to bother making this vinaigrette, try using the shaved root vegetables in your favorite salad. Check out the original recipe on (click here)

The other salad combination I am loving this winter is a vegetarian version of taco salad. I came up with this idea after finding an interesting recipe for walnut burritos in the cookbook Nourishing Meals—Healthy Gluten Fee Recipes for the Whole Family by Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre. I am including my adapted recipe below. It is highly flexible and can include any vegetable combinations you have on hand.  The recipe makes a lot of filling so if there are just two of you, consider halving the filling ingredients.  In addition to a salad, the delicious walnut filling is also terrific served in cabbage leaves for a low carb raw “taco”(this winter’s Holcomb cabbages are the perfect size for this).  To make these tacos really special, add a few thin slices of watermelon radish, a bit of avocado, and maybe even some taco sauce.  YUM!

The last recipe I wanted to share with you this season is a parsnip “rice” pilaf I came up with after researching how to “rice” parsnips.  It goes great as a substitute for rice, especially with any dish that has a sauce to it. I served it with chicken and mole sauce. The combination of the sweet salty mole with the slightly sweet parsnip “rice” was simply delicious. See below for the recipe for the pilaf. If you are interested in the mole recipe you can find it here (click here)

Wishing you all good health and happy hearts throughout the rest of the winter season.  Looking forward to writing for you again come June!


 Raw Walnut Taco Salad               Serves 4-6


– 3 cups raw walnuts

– 1 cup fresh cilantro

– 4 green onions, coarsely chopped

– 2 cloves garlic, crushed

– 2 teaspoons ground cumin

– 2 teaspoons smoked paprika

– 1 teaspoon Herbamere salt and herb blend (or just sea salt)

– 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

– lettuce mix

– mild vinaigrette (e.g. white wine vinaigrette)

– 2 carrots, shredded

– 2 watermelon radishes, cut into matchsticks

– 1 cup green cabbage, shredded


– avocado

– salsa

– shredded cheddar or Jake cheese


  1. Soak walnuts in water for 6 hours. Drain. Place walnuts, cilantro, green onions, garlic, cumin, paprika, Herbamare and lime juice in the bowl of food processor. Process using on/off bursts until mixture resembles ground meat. If not using immediately, transfer to a container with a tight fitting lid and refrigerate for up to 4 days.
  2. Toss greens, carrot, cabbage, and radishes lightly with vinaigrette (you don’t want it too heavy, just enough to barely coat the greens). Place on plates and top with walnut taco mixture and any desired optional items.


Parsnip “Rice” Pilaf with Toasted Walnuts


– 1-2 teaspoons coconut oil or oil of choice

– 3-4 large parsnips, peeled and coarsely chopped

– 1 large clove garlic, minced

– 1/2 cup vegetable or chicken broth, or more if needed

– 1/4 cup toasted walnuts , chopped

– salt and pepper to taste

-fresh herbs, if desired.


Place parsnips in a food processor (preferably a small one) and pulse every 3-4 seconds until parsnips are cut into rice sized bits. You do not want them too big or you will lose the rice effect with its more subtle flavor.

Heat coconut oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and stir constantly for 1 minute. Add parsnips and cook, stirring constantly for 1 minute. Add broth and any desired herbs and mix well. Allow to come to a boil. Simmer, stirring frequently until broth has mostly cooked off and parsnips are crisp tender (you want them to have a little bit of bite left). If liquid cooks off before the “rice” is tender, add more broth.  Remove from heat. Stir in walnuts and and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve.

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