Summer Kale Salad

Summer Kale Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

Baby Kale Strawberry Avocado Salad

Man, it is seriously steamy in Boston right now. Humidity has been hovering around 90%, my hair is in full-out rebellion, and the little makeup I was wearing yesterday all but melted off my face. Thank goodness I skipped the mascara, because there’s no way I wouldn’t have been walking around with it caked under my eyes looking like a racoon. I don’t know how women in places like Florida manage to look put together with the heat and humidity, but I’m guessing economy-sized bottles of hairspray are involved.

Baby Kale Salad

Despite the soupy weather, Aaron and I decided we would take our stir-crazy dogs on a long walk on Saturday, right around lunchtime. Not only was this kind of a dumb idea from a temperature standpoint, but I also didn’t bring any water and hadn’t eaten in almost four hours. Crappy planning on my part meant that halfway into our walk, I started to get that ravenous, shaky feeling and have a meltdown. Anyone know what I’m talking about? It’s like that point little kids hit where they can’t control their emotions and throw a fit…except I’m twenty-eight.

Strawberry Kale Salad

Fortunately, we were right near a bench and a little indie bakery. The dogs and I collapsed on the bench (Honey actually sitting on it because she thinks she’s a person) and Aaron went inside to get us a snack and some water. He returned with some sort of cinnamon roll, which without thinking, I devoured. It was definitely not vegan, gluten-free, or anything except empty calories. And about thirty minutes later, I paid the price with stomach cramps that lasted for the rest of the day.

It was a reminder that I need to do a better job with my meal planning (which I tend to get more lax about on the weekends) and carry a snack with me for situations where there aren’t good food options available. A significant part of the reason I eat a vegan diet is health-related, but a large part is also ethical for me – I don’t feel well when I eat animal products, physically or emotionally.

Raw Kale Salad

I’m not sure if it was the eggs, butter, gluten, or all of the above that made me sick, but all I wanted for the rest of the weekend were big salads and coconut water. Well, I always want coconut water.

Kale Avocado Salad

This salad was inspired by one of my favorites – a simple kale, avocado and grapefruit salad that was on weekly rotation this past Spring. I traded the grapefruit for summer strawberries, added in a generous handful of raw pumpkin seeds, and swapped a lemon dressing for lime with fresh cilantro from the window box on my porch. I also used baby kale, in part because it doesn’t require any chopping or stem removal, but mostly because I find baby anything adorable.

This salad is light, slightly sweet, a little bit crunchy, and exactly what I needed to make my stomach and my heart happy. No more cinnamon rolls for me, thank you.

Summer Kale Salad

Do you have moments like mine where you let yourself get too hungry and then eat something you know your body won’t like? What’s your motivation for your style of eating – health, environmental, ethical, a combination?

I’m curious to know whether I have legit food intolerances/sensitivities and what, specifically, is the problem, but the little research I’ve done about testing seems to suggest it’s not very reliable. I’m thinking I may want to try an elimination diet, although I’m not sure how I’d approach that just yet either. Any suggestions? I need to give it some more thought.


Summer Kale Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

Summer Kale Salad

Summer Kale Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing

Gluten Free, Vegan,

Serves: 2

Prep Time: 10 mins

This simple and summery kale salad is light, slightly sweet, a little bit crunchy, and sure to make your stomach and your heart happy.

Summer Kale Salad

Summer Kale Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing



For the salad:

  • 6 C. Baby Kale (or regular kale chopped into bite-sized pieces)
  • 6 Medium Sliced Strawberries
  • 1/2 Large Avocado, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 C. Raw Pumpkin Seeds (Hemp Seeds would also work well)

For the dressing:

  • 2 Tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Juice of 1 Lime
  • 1 Tbs. Fresh Cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1/2 Tbs. Agave Nectar (or Maple Syrup)
  • 1/8 Tsp. Sea Salt

Cuisine: Gluten Free, Vegan Servings: 2

Prep Time: 10 mins

This simple and summery kale salad is light, slightly sweet, a little bit crunchy, and sure to make your stomach and your heart happy.


  • Place the kale, sliced strawberries, chopped avocado, and pumpkin seeds in a large bowl and set aside.
  • Prepare the dressing by adding the olive oil, lime juice, cilantro, agave, and sea salt to a small bowl. Whisk to combine.
  • Pour the dressing over the salad. Toss to combine and enjoy!

Copyright © 2022 Amanda Maguire for Pickles & Honey

Leave a Comment

  1. Usually when I eat something crappy that I know will make me feel bad later, I think about it and consciously decide that I’m ok with the mild discomfort (I don’t usually eat something that will result in serious discomfort). Milkshakes make my stomach and sinuses unhappy, but as long as I only have them occasionally it’s not too bad (and sometimes a delicious milkshake is worth it to me). The times I mindlessly indulge, or indulge to the point of feeling really crappy, are the times I really regret my actions. Fortunately, they don’t happen too often.

    1. I couldn’t have said it better myself!

  2. The salad looks beautiful!! And I have every one of those ingredients on hand right now. Hmm…
    I don’t really eat fried food because it makes my stomach feel incredibly bloated and heavy, and I just feel like crap. That’s not saying that I don’t have the occasional french fry- only if they’re REALLY good though. 😉 I have definitely learned to always carry a bar with me or an apple- something that will tide me over if need be. I get a huge headache when I’m hungry- and I get REALLY nasty!

    1. Amanda says

      I used to get so sick from fried food when I was younger. All of my friends would eat it and I’d be the only one with a stomach ache. I used to think it was so unfair! haha

  3. Lauren says

    I definitely have times where I overeat and give myself stomach trouble. I’ve heard of a test that you can do called the Coca Pulse Test to test for food allergies that you may want to check out!

    1. Amanda says

      I hadn’t heard of that test. Thanks for the suggestion, Lauren!

  4. This looks great! I have that exact same problem when I don’t eat for too long. I had a moment a few weeks ago, I hadn’t eaten for 6 hours and I was in Whole Foods and started having a complete meltdown. I was sweating profusely, my hands were shaking and I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it across the parking lot without my legs collapsing. I impulsively grabbed some chocolate in the checkout and then sat in my car eating the chocolate, an unripe banana and an entire bag of kale chips. I felt so nasty after. TOTALLY hear you on that!

    1. Amanda says

      6 hours is a long time to go without eating. I completely understand grabbing that chocolate in the checkout! I got a kick out of you eating the unripe banana, but hey – whatever you gotta do to keep from passing out in the parking lot!

  5. I love kale, but never even think to make a salad with it. This looks great!

  6. Amberly says

    Ugh I was dealing with sweltering heat in Portland this weekend too! I am so not used to the whole no A/C thing in Oregon, I was dying! So this salad looks do cool and refreshing. I’ve also been wanting to eat a lot more kale so I will definitely be trying this out. I love it uncooked.

    I find myself eating unhealthy when I don’t plan meals out for the workweek on Sunday. And of course, if any happy hours or dinners with friends get thrown into the mix, it all kind of goes out the window. This week I’m on track so far (yes, I’ve only had breakfast) and I am looking forward to continuing my healthy choices into the week.

    By the way, are there any blogs you would recommend that focus on the informational side of nutrition and clean eating? I enjoy learning about these subjects so much and would love to do so through a blog!

    Happy Monday and have a great week 🙂

    1. Amanda says

      I hear you on the Portland thing. I remember when I was living in San Francisco it hit close to 100 degrees a couple of days and people could. not. handle. it. I loved it because it wasn’t humid heat (and the summer had been so cold!), but the lack of A/C was a problem after a little while.

      Probably my favorite nutrition-related blog is Choosing Raw. Gena’s posts are really well-articulated and thoughtful, and I often learn about new ingredients from her recipes.

      1. I also like A Black Girl’s Guide to Weight Loss. She isn’t vegan but she IS a huge proponent of clean eating. And despite the name, anyone and everyone is welcome (she legit wrote a whole post about it). My trip into veganism actually began by learning from Erika about clean eating….and then I put the rest together. 🙂

      2. Amberly says

        Okay, I will be checking out Choosing Raw then, thank you!!

  7. Now that I’ve taken over your comment section…

    I try to keep something on hand, or at least choose the “least damaging” option (usually pretzels or something like that). And yes, if I don’t eat enough during the day (or don’t get enough protein over several days) my body freaks out a little bit. It’s no fun and I reach for something with sugar (preferably fruit but sometimes you need the straight hit from something less healthy) asap.

    1. Amanda says

      haha Take it over any time – I always appreciate your comments. 🙂

      Yeah, I’m generally good about choosing something like fruit, but that all went out the window when Aaron put a pastry in front of me! I need to just make sure I keep a protein bar or some trail mix with me so I don’t cave to things that end up making me feel terrible. I’ve always had a sensitive stomach and even things like vegan milkshakes can make me sick…although I have yet to turn one down. Like Katie said in a previous comment, sometimes it’s worth it. 🙂

  8. yumgoggle says

    There are times when I gulp a lot of milky-fruity shakes, though I am very sensitive to too much dairy…perchance the what they call the palate wants but the tummy doesn’t…I will of course anticipate a little discomfort, but I take meds in advance to stop the discomfort. My husband cannot understand why i still keep on gulping knowing what will happen afterwards.
    Well, this looks like something I want to try and I am sure I will feel really good even after munching a lot. Kale is always adorable in salads.
    Anyhoo, we have been keeping an eye out for unique and interesting bloggers with phenomenal photography skills, and yours caught our attention! We have just recently launched a food photo submission gallery that allows you to showcase all your great work and share it with all of our visitors. We’d be proud to have your work as part of our growing collection to continue to have a larger reach and further inspire all fellow food lovers out there!

    1. Amanda says

      A lot of people seem to have a tough time digesting dairy. I am definitely one of them too, although there are so many awesome non-dairy options available now, I very rarely miss it. I do wish, however, that more self-serve fro yo places had dairy alternatives. I am a sucker for ice cream!

      I just recently heard about YumGoggle – it’s a beautiful gallery! I submitted a couple of photos and will be sure to continue to do so. Thanks for the sweet comment about my blog! 🙂

  9. Rebecca says

    I used to travel a lot for my job and I would often find myself in a very vegan-unfriendly airport, ravenous with nothing to eat. Since then I’ve learned to stash some snack bars (larabars are my favorite) in my bag or purse anywhere I go. Even now, though I don’t travel as much, I always have a snack with me just in case… The kale salad looks delicious!

    1. Amanda says

      I hear you. Airports are definitely getting better food-wise, but there are still some that basically only offer a bowl of iceberg lettuce. When I was driving cross-country between Boston and San Francisco, there were quite a few times where I ate Larabars for my meals, and when there was a Whole Foods, I went to town at the salad bar! I had never been so happy to see a healthy grocery store. 🙂

  10. jess says

    i hear you on the hungry meltdown thing! m knows me well enough now that when we’re out and i don’t have anything in my purse he senses a little tantrum coming on he suggests we stop in somewhere for a little snack! a girlfriend of mine recently referred to it as getting “hangry” – so hungry you become angry. hahaha, yep, that about sums me up! 😉

  11. Oh, I get the crazy shakes, and get lightheaded, quite a lot, even when I do plan ahead. I’m quite sensitive, and it’s really a fine line for me. Even eating too much fruit will do it.

    I actually really tried the vegan thing for a while, but the only thing that got rid of the shakes for me is adding some dairy back in! Funny, I know. But I only use small amounts of raw or cultured dairy, usually local.

    Everyone’s body is different I guess. And that salad looks quite delicious!

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks for sharing, Elizabeth! I completely agree that there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to diet. I think it’s really important to determine what works best for us as individuals.

  12. carrie says

    Just devoured this salad, Amanda! I used 1T pumpkin seed oil and 1T olive oil and deleted the cilantro because I’m one of those cilantro haters 🙂 and it was wonderful!
    I tried going vegan for a few months and felt great at first and then ended up extremely fatigued every afternoon. I’ve never been so tired in my life! Anyway, after months of trial and error I’ve finally been testing eliminating gluten. A few days into it my energy completely returned. I also ate a bit of red meat for the first time in 9 months (bison) since my red blood cell count was low. So, I’m not yet sure which of those is the solution. I have to agree that there definitely is not a one-size-fits-all approach to healthy eating! Everyone is unique and needs to find what works best for them.
    Love your blog!

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks, Carrie! I’m so glad you liked the salad! I love cilantro, but I understand it tastes like soap to some people. 🙂 Pumpkin seed oil sounds really good. I just bought some hemp oil online and I’m really excited to try that on my salads.

      I think you’re right that figuring out a style of eating that makes us feel our best takes a lot of trial and error. I’m curious to see if I’ll feel better if I’m more strict about eliminating gluten, although I’m sure part of it is simply not eating processed carbs. I’ve also had low red blood cell counts in the past (mine were on the low end of normal last year), so I’m making an effort to eat more iron-rich foods like pumpkin seeds, amaranth, lentils, etc. I’d be curious to find out if my numbers have improved.

  13. carrie says

    Yes, I think it may be more than just gluten, but I wasn’t ready to eliminate all my grains and carbs yet. My morning oatmeal is my weakness! I also wonder if I have difficulty absorbing non-animal iron. I have been filling up on those plant-based iron sources for months with little success 🙁

    1. Amanda says

      I would be very sad if I had to give up oatmeal too! That’s an interesting question about the iron though. I’d be curious to learn more about the absorption from plant-based sources…

  14. Genevieve says

    This salad looks awesome, and I plan on making it tomorrow when I pick up fresh Kale from our CSA! Now, about your blood sugar issue….. I carry around Simply bars with me at all times! I even tend to find some in odd pockets, kind of like random 5$ bills. They are vegan, and gluten free, and dare I it? Tasty! Here is a link to their site if you would like to know more:

    P.s. I do not work for them… I am in healthcare 😉

    1. Amanda says

      haha Thanks for the link! I hadn’t heard of those bars and will have to check them out. I need to swap the lip gloss I have stashed everywhere for snacks. 😉

  15. Oh the salad looks so yummy. I dont know why but i have been shying away from eating raw kale. I think its because I read that people with thyroid dysfunction should not consume raw kale. I need to check on that again, I’d like to give it a try. I get the same way if I don’t eat for a while. Before grabbing the first thing of the shelf I try to remind myself that I will regret it later.

    1. Amanda says

      Thanks, Kathy! I’m not sure about the raw kale, but that’s worth looking into…I’d be curious to find out the reasoning if that’s true.

  16. Mary Jane says

    Can you tell me the nutritional information for your recipe, “Baby Kale Strawberry Avocado Salad with Lime Cilantro Dressing?

    Mary Jane

    1. Amanda says

      I don’t have nutritional information calculated for my recipes, but you can probably do a Google search for a calorie tool to input the ingredients.


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