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Our final FUEL cooking workshop for the spring term featured Simple Salads, Sandwiches, and Snacks.  We focused on some very flavorful but less familiar vegetables, fruits, whole grains, and plant proteins that are all a snap to prepare.

Check out these tasty recipes below:

  1.  Arugula Salad with Fennel, Pears and Lemon Vinaigrette.  Our first recipe featured some of my favorite vegetables that all pack a ton of flavor.  Arugula is a peppery salad green that pairs nicely with lemon, olive oil, and Parmesan cheese for a simple salad.  Thinly sliced pears add a little sweetness while thinly sliced fennel bulb adds a little crunch and hint of black licorice flavor.

If you have never used fennel  before, simply cut off the tall thin stalks from the top and set them aside.  Pull off the thin little fronds (leaves) from the stalks and set them aside to garnish the salad.  Cut a small slice (about 1/2 inch) off of the bottom of the bulb to remove the woody portion.  Then place the bulb cut side down on a cutting board.  Cut it in half lengthwise and then crosswise to make four quarters.  There is a very woody center core that will need to be trimmed off of the inside of each piece.  Simply slice the raw fennel quarters crosswise to make thin strips.  Fennel can be eaten raw, roasted, braised with tomatoes, steamed, or stir-fried.

To make the salad, toss together the fresh arugula, thinly sliced pears, and fennel.  We used a store-bought lemon olive oil dressing from Wishbone but you can also make a quick dressing with olive oil, lemon juice, honey, and a pinch of salt.  Top with Parmesan and the reserved fennel fronds.

2.  Mediterranean Farro.  Farro is one of my favorite whole grains because it is really soft, tender, and fluffy like white rice.  Except farro is a form of whole wheat so it has more nutrients than white rice.  Boil the farro in salted water according to package directions.  This may vary from 10 minutes for pre-cooked varieties (Trader Joe’s) up to 30-40 minutes for traditional farro.  If you can’t find farro, substitute your favorite whole grain such as quinoa, brown rice, or whole grain couscous.

Once the farro is cooked and cooled, simply add your favorite ingredients.  We used some colorful Mediterranean flavors with diced mini-cucumbers, grape tomatoes, smoked sun-dried tomatoes, sliced green olives, diced multi-colored bell peppers, chopped parsley, red onion, and feta cheese.  Dress with either a store-bought balsamic vinaigrette or make your own with olive oil, balsamic/ red wine vinegar, garlic, and a pinch of salt.  This can be served immediately or chilled.  For a complete meal, add garbanzo beans or chicken and serve over salad greens.

3.  Watermelon Salad with Blueberries, Jicama, and Fresh Mint.  Jazz up watermelon and blueberries with diced jicama  (HICK-ah-mah) and fresh mint.

Jicama is a brown root vegetable that is also known as a Mexican turnip.  It looks like a potato but tastes like a cross between an apple, potato, and celery.  That may sound strange but I find the crunch and flavor of raw jicama terribly addictive.  My kids love snacking on raw jicama cubes or sticks.  We also add little diced cubes to fruit salad or cold black bean salads with red bell peppers, corn, cilantro, and lime.   It is really simple to use– just peel it and cut it into desired shapes.  What is so special about jicama?  It is low in calories, high in prebiotic fiber, and is a great source of vitamin C.

To make this fruit salad, simply combine the watermelon, blueberries, diced jicama, and fresh mint.  Serve immediately or chill in the refrigerator.

4.  Asparagus and Tomato Tabouleh with Lemon and Feta.  I love prepacked whole grain mixes because they are quick and inexpensive.  We used boxed tabouleh for this recipe which contains a whole grain called bulgur (cracked wheat).  Other mixes with brown rice, quinoa, or whole grain couscous work well here also.  If you want to reduce the sodium, simply use half of the seasoning packet.

Simply prepare the tabouleh according to package directions (combine it with boiling water and let it sit for 20 minutes).  While it steeps, saute some asparagus and halved grape tomatoes in a little bit of olive oil and garlic for 5-10 minutes or until desired texture.  Add the vegetables to the tabouleh, squeeze in some fresh lemon juice, and top with a little feta if desired.  Enjoy this warm or cold.  For a complete meal, add garbanzo beans or chicken and serve over salad greens.

5. Smashed Chickpea Sandwich with Avocado,Cilantro, and Lime.  Most folks stick with traditional processed meats and cheese for sandwiches.  But it really is wiser to try to use healthier sandwich fillings.  Processed meats have been identified as a human carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.  They are actually placed in the same high risk category as asbestos, tobacco, and estrogen replacement therapy.  According to the IARC, sufficient evidence suggests that processed meats contribute to colorectal cancer which is the third most common cancer among American men and women.  Time to rethink those sandwiches fillings.

For this workshop, we tried two plant based sandwiches and one with fresh chicken.  Workshop participants loved the fresh flavors and hearty fillings.

For the Smashed Chickpea and Avocado sandwich, rinse and drain canned garbanzo beans and add them to a medium bowl.  Add the flesh of one ripe avocado and mash them together with the back of a fork or a potato masher.  Squeeze in the juice of a lime and stir in some fresh chopped cilantro and a pinch of salt.  Use as a sandwich filling with whole grain tortillas (pictured above) or bread (pictured below).  We used Ezekiel 100% whole grain sprouted bread which has a really hearty texture.  Top with lettuce, red onion, and tomato slices, if desired.

6.  BBQ Tempeh Sandwiches.  This plant based sandwich always seems to be a crowd pleaser.  We have made it at a local men’s homeless shelter, OLLI cooking class for retirees, culinary workshop for Furman students, and countless FUEL workshops.  I love it because it is quick, cheap, and easy and reminds me of a Carolina BBQ Sandwich.


This plant based sandwich features tempeh– a “vegan powerhouse” due to its high protein and fiber content.  Tempeh is usually made with fermented soybeans and/or whole grains.  It also boasts impressive roles as both a prebiotic (which encourages the growth of healthy bacteria in the gut) and a probiotic (which contains live active healthy bacteria for the gut).  A healthy gut flora may improve multiple aspects of health such as cognitive function, heart disease, metabolism, diabetes, and cancer risk.

To make this tasty sandwich, saute some diced onion and carrot in a large skillet over medium heat for about 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, grate the tempeh on a box grater or finely chop it to make little crumbles.  Add the tempeh to the skillet and saute for a few minutes until lightly golden.  Drizzle in some BBQ sauce and simmer for a few minutes longer.  Make a quick coleslaw with shredded coleslaw mix, a little bit of light mayonnaise, and a bit of minced onion.  Serve the BBQ tempeh and coleslaw on a whole grain bun and enjoy.  Leftovers are fantastic for lunch.  For variety, serve the BBQ tempeh and coleslaw over a baked sweet potato.

7.  Balsamic Chicken and Strawberry Sandwiches with Walnuts and Goat Cheese.  Saute chicken breasts in a little bit of olive oil with salt and pepper.  Let cool slightly, cut into strips, and toss with store-bought balsamic vinaigrette.  Serve it on a whole grain tortilla with lettuce, sliced strawberries, diced red onion, diced walnuts, and goat cheese.  Wrap up and enjoy.

8. Easy Banana Oat Cookies with Coconut and Chocolate Chips.  The world’s easiest cookie recipe never fails and is a perfect way to use up ripe bananas.  In a medium size bowl, mash two ripe bananas with the back of a fork or a potato masher.  It is important to use ripe bananas that are yellow with little brown “sugar spots” on them.  This means that the starches have turned to sugar and the bananas will be naturally sweet so you don’t need to add sugar.

At this point, you can drop little spoonfuls of the mixture on a lightly greased baking sheet.  Or you can add your favorite toppings such as mini-chocolate chips, shredded coconut, raisins, nuts, or flaxseed.  Bake for 10-15 minutes at 350 degrees F until they are lightly golden on the bottom.  Store them in the refrigerator and enjoy them for breakfast, snacks, or dessert.

Interesting in trying some new healthy recipes?  The Furman Employee Wellness Program will be sponsoring two free cooking workshops for Furman employees, spouses, and dependents this summer.  We will feature Easy Farm to Table Recipes with local produce on Monday, June 26 and Simple Make Ahead Meals (perfect for busy individuals or families) on Monday, July 17.

Both workshops will be held in the Herring Center classroom from 11:30 a.m.- 1 p.m. and include lunch.  Registration is required by contacting Kelly Frazier via email at

Can’t make it?  Be sure to check back for the recipes and photos.  We also have over 4,000 healthy recipes on our Live Well Furman Blog Pinterest page at