living salad with lemon-sesame dressing

living salad

I’ve been thinking a lot about living foods recently. There are a lot of definitions out there of what it means for a food to be “living” but to me, it means that it’s a food that was once alive (or, maybe still alive in the case of the sprouts in this salad) and is as close to its living state as possible. That means things like raw, freshly-picked fruits and veggies, sprouted grains, seeds and legumes, and raw dairy products. It doesn’t mean that processing or cooking those things is bad for you, but I do notice that when I try to focus on keeping things as close to the way they come out of the ground as possible, I feel my best. I know a lot of folks go completely raw, but I’m a big believer in all things in moderation, and making sure I have a strong raw component in my diet is one of the ways I stay feeling my best.

living salad

And of course, there is the opposite of living foods, too. I’ve heard mention of dead foods. Foods that maybe once were living (say, sugar cane) and are beaten and processed and assaulted until they create a product that might be 100% natural but is also 100% dead. Again, I’m all about moderation, so I’m not about to cut cupcakes out of my life forever, but I think the concept of focusing on more living foods and less dead foods is a nice way to guide yourself through the tricky landscape of healthy eating.

living salad

I’d consider this salad to be a pretty good picture of a living food. Admittedly, I’m not a huge salad fan. I know some people who eat giant mixing bowls full of salad for lunch everyday and say it’s super yummy and incredible, but that just isn’t me. I’d always rather have a bacon cheeseburger, fries and a beer for lunch (yum). Usually, for me, salad is something I tack onto dinner when I realize we don’t have nearly enough veggies. And then, when we do sit down to eat it, I scarf through it first so I can get it out-of-the-way before starting on my real dinner.

This salad is definitely not a scarfing-because-you-have-to-get-in-your-veggies salad. It’s a sit-in-disbelief-because-you’re-actually-enjoying-a-salad-almost-as-much-as-a-bacon-cheeseburger kind of salad.

living salad

The original inspiration from this recipe comes from The Growing Season (an incredible little whole foods restaurant in Babyface’s hometown, which I’m sure you’re sick of hearing about). They have a standard house salad that includes sprouts and a really delicious tahini dressing that I just couldn’t get out of my head.


When I was checking out their menu later, I also saw they had a “Living Salad” on the menu. Really, their living salad and my living salad are similar in name only—my version is closer to their house salad—but I just loved the concept of calling a salad living. I mean, is there any question that a salad is stupendous for you when it’s got the word living in its name? No, probably not.


Living Salad with Lemon-Sesame Dressing

by Cassie Johnston

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: None

Makes: 4 servings


    For the Salad
    • 2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
    • 2 cups chopped baby spinach
    • 1/2 large cucumber, sliced
    • 1/2 cup lentil sprouts
    • 1/2 avocado, cubed
    • 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
    • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
    • 1/2 cup shelled pumpkin seeds
    For the Dressing
    • 1 tablespoon tahini
    • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
    • Pinch of red pepper flakes
    • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
    • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
    • 1 teaspoon honey
    • 1/4 teaspoon salt
    • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
    • 1/4 teaspoon oregano
    • 1 clove garlic, minced


    1. In a large salad bowl, mix together the lettuce and spinach until well-combined. On top of mixture, sprinkle cucumber, sprouts, avocado, tomatoes, parsley and pumpkin seeds. Set aside.
    2. In a jar with a tight-fitting lid, combine all the dressing ingredients. Tighten lid to jar and shake until well-combined—making sure the tahini has mixed in. Pour dressing over salad and serve immediately.

    Nutritional Info

    Serving size: About 1-1/2 cups salad and 2 tablespoons dressing. Servings per recipe: 4.


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    Are you a big salad fan? What’s your favorite kind of salad dressing?


    1. says

      I love salad and have been known to eat it straight out of the bag without dressing. I keep dressing simple, a splash of extra virgin olive oil, same with balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper. I generally just pour both in and mix with my hands to make sure that it gets on very leaf and moisturise my hands at the same time! I love cheeseburgers but I could totally eat a salad every day for lunch!

    2. says

      I used to feel the exact same about salad. Now I enjoy it, but only if I add enough other flavors that make me feel like I’m not just eating rabbit food. I’m totally with you on the “everything in moderation” thing too – extremes can make you feel… extreme. I have sprouts growing on my counter right now, so I’ll have to give this one a try once they’re ready!

    3. zoe says

      LOVE salad! We never ate it when I was growing up, and I can’t figure out why not. It just totally “makes” a dinner, in my mind. And when I’m stressed from work, or just too overtired to make a salad, I definitely feel less healthy, and less excited about my meals. I’m definitely going to try this!

      Some of my favorite combos:
      * Arugula, chopped dried apricot, thinly sliced red onions, and just a tiny sprinkle of feta. Basic lemon vinaigrette.

      *Crunchy chopped salad with radish, romaine hearts, and apple.

      *”Green” salad with arugula, mache, avocado, and crisp-steamed hericot verts. And your avocado vinaigrette, of course.

      And I’m excited for summer to try and make meal-salads out of the veggie Nicoise salad from Cookie and Kate.

    4. Agnieszka Hansen says

      I found this through your food prep article and was wondering if you add the avocado to the mason jars? Does it turn brown? Can’t wait to try it!

      • Cassie says

        I don’t usually—they do turn brown. I just normally pack an avocado and then slice it up and add it right before eating.

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