Grapefruit and Toasted Walnut Salad

Grapefruit and Toasted Walnut Salad

Thanksgiving Salad. Yay or nay? Joy the Baker says No Salad on Thanksgiving! While I do see her point, as long as it’s not a run-of-the-mill everyday salad, I say yes!! You know what, it doesn’t even have to be salad. But please, I implore you, serve at least one green-ish vegetable at your Thanksgiving Table. It can be green beans, it can be brussels, or it can be this beautiful, mouth-watering Grapefruit and Walnut Salad.

On Thanksgiving Day when everyone is posting their Turkey Day dinner plates all over facebook and Instagram, I see so many monochromatic plates of white-tan-orange. Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, turkey, roll. Just imagine what a lovely pop of green and red will do for your eyes, your tastes buds, and even your waistline!

Grapefruit is in it's peak season right now! Look at how juicy and flavorful they are!
Grapefruit is in it’s peak season right now! Look at how juicy and flavorful they are!

When I see these sad looking plates, my veggie loving dietitian soul is crushed. On this day of thanks, I will not ask you to make half of your plate veggies (although I do think it’s a great idea), I will not ask you to skip dessert (Never!) and I will not ask you to abstain from alcohol. I just ask one thing, serve at least one non-starchy vegetable dish. You can do it!

Grapefruit and Walnut Salad
If you don’t want to turn your oven on you can totally skip this step!!

If you choose to not make this salad for Thanksgiving (I will assume you are going with green beans) I understand. Conveniently, it is super healthy and makes a great, post-Turkey Day “Detox” Salad. Yes, I hate that word detox, but all I really mean is, this salad is super healthy, super delicious, and you can and should eat it all the time. No matter the day, no matter the meal. Breakfast salad anyone? OK, sorry I’m taking this too far.

Grapefruit and Toasted Walnut Salad

Tell me, do you usually have a green salad at your Thanksgiving? A different type of salad? Or, are you one of those veggie-less brown plate FB poster’s that gives me rage? If not a salad, what are you bringing to the feast this year?

If you are looking for other healthy ways to enjoy Thanksgiving check out my article on Real Living Nutrition. Recipe inspired by Ina Garten’s Avocado and Grapefruit Salad. 

Happy Turkey Day everyone! I have ALOT to be thankful for this year!


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Grapefruit and Toasted Walnut Salad
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Salad
Serves: 6
  • 1 bag mixed greens or 1 head Romaine Lettuce
  • 2 grapefruit, sliced into wedges
  • 1-2 avocadoes, sliced
  • ½ cup toasted walnuts
  • ½ white onion, sliced and caramelized
  • ¼ cup pomegranate arils (optional, but beautiful)
  • 1½ tsp Kosher Salt
  • ¾ tbsp Dijon Mustard
  • juice of one medium lemon
  • fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 to toast the nuts and onion. (you can skip this step if you prefer and omit onion in order to save time)
  2. While the oven is heating, slice grapefruit and avocado. Collect pomegranate seeds.
  3. Toast the walnuts on a baking sheet for 10 minutes. Place onion on the same baking sheet as shown in the picture.
  4. Drizzle onion with olive oil and brown sugar if desired. Cook onions for 20 minutes in oven, or until begin to brown and caramelize.
  5. For the dressing place the mustard, lemon juice, maple syrup, salt, and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in the olive oil until the vinaigrette is emulsified.
Serves 6 as a side dish or 2-3 three as a main course.
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten Avocado and Grapefruit Salad

Lessons Learned from Traveling in Panama

Actually, this should be titled “lessons learned in Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua” but that just doesn’t flow as well.12079625_467789510069037_1720374198056508204_n

  1. You can wear your shirt as tight as you want. No matter your size. In fact, the tighter the better. But if you want to wear shorts, oohh girl, you are going to attract a lot of the wrong kind of attention.
  2. A four person taxi is actually meant for six adults and three babies. Who needs personal space?
    Not a taxi, but a very crowded bus
    Not a taxi, but a very crowded bus
  3. Public singing, dancing, and drum playing are highly encouraged. ESPECIALLY at 6 AM in the morning. Especially in Nicaragua.12189679_478797748968213_3213092950659413667_n 12234963_478797812301540_1818992691576079635_n
  4. River rafting guides are the hottest. River rafting guides that cook for you are even hotter. No matter what. No matter the country (even in America!). Ziplining guides are a close second.22507989207_07c7bbfeed_k
Boquete Tree Trekkers!
Boquete Tree Trekkers!

5. You should never ever make fun of someone trying to learn another language, no matter how bad their accent is. Learning another language is hard, unless you’re German. I think Germans have like 5 languages programmed in them since birth. If the speaker says something completely ridiculous such as “I bought my lover on the plane, but I left him in Nicaragua because it was hot” perhaps its ok to laugh a little. Oopsy, I got amante “lover” and manta “blanket” confused. Other great phrases included “I feel sad when they don’t eat dog” Instead of, “I feel sad when they don’t feed their dog.”

6. When you hear or see a new Spanish word, and you can’t find it in the dictionary, it probably means pussy. That rule has about 90% accuracy in my experience.

Learning Spanish with one of my favorite teachers!

7.You actually have to carry cash. Luckily restaurants don’t seem to mind if you have to leave to go to the bank and pay later. Yes, it happened. They were nice. I was prepared to give up my ID, cell phone or anything while I went to the bank. You know what they greeted me with “tranquila, todo esta bien joven.” Calm down, everything is good.

8. Don’t even bother looking for a seat belt in a taxi. The driver will look at you like you’re psycho. And again, you will get “tranquila, tranquila.”

9. The second after you hang your clothes on the clothesline, it will rain. Hard. And your clothes will probably smell like mildew for a week. 12247867_480670295447625_1356730335614358696_o

10. Peanut butter is the only travel food you really need. When you have peanut butter, you have everything.

11. You will meet some of the most amazing people in your entire life. Today I met an Argentinian woman traveling by bicycle from Argentina to California  (Do you know how far that is??!!) and back again. She told me she loved San Luis Obispo, Ca. Me too chica! You will learn more about other cultures than you ever thought possible and gain a deeper understanding of what it’s actually like to live outside of America. From my fellow tourists and the locals, I have learned invaluable lessons and made amazing friends that I know will last a lifetime.

My fam in Nicaragua
My fam in Nicaragua
Friends in San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua
Friends in San Juan Del Sur Nicaragua
Surfing friends in Santa Teresa Costa Rica! Pura Vida!
Surfing friends in Santa Teresa Costa Rica! Pura Vida!
Best friends in Boquete, Panama!
Best friends in Boquete, Panama!

The One Thing Missing From Your Thanksgiving Table

turkeyIs it the Green Bean Casserole? The mashed potatoes? Uncle Fred? Nope, the one thing missing from your table, is The Thankful Basket! The Thankful Basket has transformed our Thanksgiving dinner from ho-hum to probably my second/third favorite holiday. Fourth of July provides some stiff competition 🙂

Okay, I know what you are thinking, either 1) I don’t know what a Thankful Basket is but it sounds totally lame (those were my sentiments exactly when I heard about it. or 2) I don’t need a basket to be thankful. This is probably also true, but I’m telling you, the Thankful Basket only sounds lame. With the Thankful Basket your friends and family will have more fun, be more thankful, and I dare I say it, eat just a little bit healthier too.

How it works: Get a nice bread basket, cookie jar, or any container-type thing. Label it “The Thankful Basket” and put small pieces of paper and pens next to it. Tell your guests they need to write what they are thankful for on the paper, fold it in half and put it in the basket (don’t write your name on it). They will probably groan and complain, its fine, just make them do it. Next year they will understand the magic and happily oblige.

After you eat your fabulous meal you bust out the Thankful Basket. Please, please make sure that the room is well lit and everyone is wearing their glasses! Otherwise there is just too many poorly read, misconstrued thankful messages. One by one, each person takes a and paper reads it out loud.  Then the whole table tries to guess who wrote it. Whether the message is heart-felt or hilarious everyone has a good time guessing who wrote what and playing along. Here are some examples of past favorites…

“I am Thankful for family, both the one I grew up with and the new one I’ve come to know and love. I am thankful for my fiance too!”

“I am thankful my pants fit”

As you can see, sentimental or silly, they both get the job done! I’m feeling particularly nostalgic this year because I won’t be with my family at home in California this Thanksgiving. As most of you know, I’m in Panama. But I Am looking forward to celebrating with my Panamanian family, and you can bet that I’m going to make them do the Thankful Basket.

In other news, here are some fabulous recipes that may very well be missing from your Thanksgiving Table as well…

Green Bean Casserole from Nourished Simply


Grandma’s Corn Casserole

Green Chile Corn Casserole

Thanksgiving Salad by Pinch of Yum


Vanilla Bean Sweet Potato Casserole by Well Plated


Healthier Oatmeal Pecan Pie

oatmeal pecan pie
I love you pecan pie

Sweet Potato Cake with Marshmallow Frosting


Hey Mom and Dad,

P.S. I’m coming home for Thanksgiving!! I can’t wait to spend the day cooking with you 🙂

Do you have any fun Thanksgiving traditions? If you decide to use the Thankful basket this year let me know!

5 Food Labeling Myths You Are Falling For

Food Labeling Myths

Have you heard about the lawsuit over Cheerios Protein? General Mills is being sued by the Center for Science in the Public Interest because Cheerios Protein doesn’t actually contain as much protein as the front of the package claims. Not to mention, when you eat cheerios Protein you also get a lot more sugar and calories. Sometimes we are tempted to buy a product just based on that front of the box health claim, but often times those claims are misleading. Here are five food labels you should think twice about.

1. Protein. We are a nation obsessed with protein. I also bought that box of Cheerios Protein because I figured, hey, Cheerios are good, Cheerios with a little more protein must be better, right? Wrong! The problem is that when foods have protein added to them they don’t taste good. And no one wants to eat bad tasting food, no matter what health claim it has. Enter our lovely friend’s sugar and salt. In order to mask that yucky synthetic protein taste, General Mills adds sugar, and lots of it. I’m talking 17 grams of sugar versus one (in original Cheerios). I’m not trying to hate on General Mills, I actually love cereal. I’m simply saying that you shouldn’t buy a product just because it is high in protein (because it is likely high in other things too).

2. Clean-Eating. Health nuts love to eat “clean.” They also love to talk about clean eating and post pictures on Instagram of their #cleaneating #paleo meals. While I do appreciate healthy eating, I do not appreciate calling your food clean. Your kitchen counter should be clean, not your food. Sally at Real Mom Nutrition understands exactly how I feel about this subject. Check out her post “Why I don’t Love the Term Clean Eating.”

3. Hormone-Free. If you see the label hormone-free on chicken you are being tricked. All chicken in the United States is free of added hormones (of course, chickens produce their own hormones in a similar way as humans). Additive hormones are banned by the FDA in poultry and have been for the last fifty years. Yes chickens are far bigger than they were 50 years ago but this is primarily due to selective breeding (1).

4. Natural. I have written about the problem with the natural label before, and I will probably write about it again. There is no standard definition of what natural is or isn’t. To me, an apple picked off of a tree is natural, but to others, grape flavored aspartame water is natural. You decide. But I implore you, do not let the front of the package decide for you.

Aquaball naturally flavored water drink
Aquaball naturally flavored water drink

5. Sugar-free. If something is labeled as sugar-free they likely are not deceiving you. The problem is sugar-free products are usually heavy in artificial sweeteners. There is a lot of mixed research on artificial sweeteners (2). Some studies claim they can be an effective weight loss aid, while many conclude the exact opposite. My take on artificial sweeteners is proceed with caution. It is important to remember that just because something is labeled sugar-free does not give you the green light for an all-out binge.

What do you look for on the label? Have you been fooled by any of these products or claims? I would love to hear from you!