Gluten Free Review: Cook Simple Ancient Grain Salad

Hello everyone! Another gluten free review today – hopefully no one’s getting bored with these! I was pretty excited when I found this at my local Lucky in the pasta salad mix aisle. Is that the proper term for that isle? Maybe it’s just the pasta aisle? Hmm, not really sure on that one. At any rate it’s the aisle with tons and tons of boxed pastas!

So yeah I bought this and a zesty ranch pasta salad mix (by the same company) because it seemed like a potentially awesome side dish!

Cook Simple Gluten Free Ancient Grain Salad

Ancient Grains Salad Plated


Dressing Packet from Box
1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
1/4 Cup Greek Yogurt
2 1/2 Cups Water
Grain & Bean Packet from Box

Ancient Grains Box & Ingredient Spread

Ancient Grains Directions


1.Add the dressing packet, mayonnaise, and yogurt to a medium mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Once the dressing is a nice smooth consistency set it aside.

Ancient Grain Dressing Unmixed Ancient Grain Dressing

2. Bring your water to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan and break open your grain packet.

Ancient Grains Grain & Bean Packet

3. Once the water has come to a boil add in the grain and bean packet. Turn the heat to medium and allow the mix to simmer for around 40 minutes or until all the moisture has been absorbed. The time will vary depending on your stove top, mine finished around 36 minutes.

Boiling Water With Grains Cooked Grains

4. Now all you need to do is take your grains off the heat and spoon them into the mixing bowl with your dressing. Fold together the grains and dressing until well combined and pop this into the refrigerator until it’s well chilled throughout.

Ancient Grains Unmixed Ancient Grains Salad
Okay so my thoughts on Cook Simple’s Ancient Grain Salad are rather mixed – in the end I’ve got positive feelings, but I’m definitely going to be doing some recipe adjusting the next time I cook this.

First things first, the quinoa smells incredible whilst cooking. Seriously, this stuff just smells mouth wateringly good. So even though I really really really wanted to dig in before finishing the recipe I held myself back. The struggle haha. Anyway this brings me to my next point which is… I didn’t really like the dressing very much. At all actually. The flavor was very heavy on dill and garlic. However, I’m nearly positive the main reason I didn’t like it was because of some weird texture thing I have going on with this particular type of food.

Let me explain.

I’m really not keen on deli salads. So this isn’t really a leafy salad issue, but much more a pasta or chicken or potato or tuna salad type problem. I just do not go for those types of salads when they are overly saturated in dressing. Now, knowing that there was mayonnaise in the recipe for this you would think I would have made some sort of compensation effort. Usually yes, but this time I was trying to follow the recipe exactly so I could give an honest review and honestly I will be changing the way I make that dressing the next time around. I think I might substitute the mayonnaise (not my favorite ingredient to be honest) with a bit of olive oil and make a small addition of lemon juice. I think olive oil might do the trick in lightening up the dressing and I wanted to add the lemon to help brighten up the flavor of garlic.

I think if I were to give this a rating it’d have to be three out of five. It’s definitely got promise, but the dressing really needs some tweaking to make it a staple product in my pantry. If you get a chance to try this for yourself leave me a comment and let me know what you think!


Lemon Garlic Asparagus

Here’s another quick and easy recipe for when you’re lost on the side dishes front! This is very similar to my simple green beans, but instead of keeping the veggies warm you shock the asparagus immediately after blanching to stop the cooking process – which is actually my favorite thing about this recipe because the asparagus turn out awesomely crisp and fresh. Because honestly the worst thing you can do to yourself is eat overcooked asparagus.

1 Bunch Fresh Asparagus
¼ Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice
3 Cloves Garlic (Pressed)
Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Start by cleaning and cutting the ends off the asparagus.

2015-07-02 17.24.58 2. Evenly distributed the prepped asparagus across a shallow pan with a lid, I used a sauté pan, and add enough water to just cover them.2015-07-02 17.28.22 3. Cover with a lid, and set them on medium high heat until the water comes to a light boil. While waiting for the asparagus to come to a boil create an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water. When the water in your pan begins to boil pierce one of the asparagus with a fork to make sure they are cooked – it should be crisp, but easy to stick your fork into.

2015-07-02 17.36.12 4. Drain the water from the pan and put the asparagus into the ice bath to stop them from cooking further.

2015-07-02 17.37.14 5. In a small mixing bowl whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, and pepper to create the dressing.

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2015-07-02 17.45.54 6. Pat the asparagus dry and place them in a covered serving bowl. Toss the asparagus on the dressing and chill in the refrigerator for 20 minutes before serving.

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Poppy Seed Cobb Salad

This salad is probably – scratch that – definitely not for the person looking to lose weight. I’m sure if you eat only a taste of it then perhaps it could qualify, but the chances of you eating only a bite after tasting this are slim to none. I mean honestly it’s less of a salad and more of a lettuce fueled protein transportation device covered in sweet poppy seed deliciousness. Hmm yes, sometimes I astound myself with the elegance of the verbal imagery I create of my food. So if that mental picture made you ready to just dive into this salad, you’re in luck because here’s the recipe.


2 Chicken Breasts (Filleted)
½ Teaspoon Adobo All Purpose Seasoning
½ Teaspoon Salt
½ Teaspoon Pepper
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tablespoon Vegetable Oil

  1. Clean any fat or cartilage off the chicken breasts and fillet them into four thin pieces. Rub an even amount of the Adobo, salt, and pepper into each fillet.
  2. On medium high heat melt your butter and oil in a fry pan. Sauté the chicken fillets until they are fully cooked, around 10 to 15 minutes. Set the chicken aside on a cutting board, once cooled cut into bite sized pieces.

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4 Medium Eggs (Hard Boiled, Diced)
½ Package of Bacon (Fried, 2014-08-01 17.14.05Crushed)
2 Hearts of Romaine
12 Cherry Tomatoes (Halved)
1 Avocado (Diced)
½ Yellow Onion (Sliced)
2 Tablespoons Poppy Seed Dressing (I used Newman’s Own)

  1. To hard boil your eggs set them in a pot and fill it with water so the eggs are just covered. Heat the water on high until it begins to boil. Once the water is boiling cover the pot and reduce the heat to low (if using an electric stove turn off the heat). Let the eggs rest in the water for 12 minutes. After, drain the eggs and cool them under cold
  2. Wash your romaine under cold water and pat dry. To cut your romaine into four pieces slice vertically from root to tip all the way through, then turn 90 degrees and do the same. Keep the cut romaine tightly together and cut through horizontally to create bite size pieces. Set aside in a large bowl.
  3. Diced, crush, halve, and slice your respective ingredients until all of them are prepped into bite size pieces for the salad.

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To plate, I arranged all the ingredients on a cutting board next to the bowl of lettuce and serving plates. This way everyone was able to create a salad with however much of each topping they wanted. I first had this salad when I was 10 years old and haven’t been able to find a replacement favorite since. Despite my earlier teasing about it basically being entirely composed of proteins this salad is actually quite light and will keep you from feeling grossly full on a hot day. Hmm, and now that I think about it this recipe is also great for busy days because it keeps you energized after eating. So maybe all that chicken, egg, bacon, and avocado is a good thing after all.


Mango Salad


¼ Red Onion

1 Mango

1 Heart of Romaine

½ Cup Cilantro

1 8 Oz Pack Super Firm Tofu

2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

1 Avocado

  • Remove the pit of the mango by slicing vertically along the center (around from the stem). Then carefully slice between the pit and the flesh of the mango.
  • Once you have the flesh removed slice it into long, thin strips.
  • Cut the red onion into halves and then halve one of those. Vertically slice the face of the onion (where you can see the rings) so it is in long strips.
  • Chop the romaine into bite size pieces and chop the cilantro very small.
  • Combine the mango, onion, romaine, and cilantro in a large mixing bowl.
  • In a large pan heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat.
  • Cut the tofu into bite size chunks and stir fry it until it is lightly browned on all sides.
  • Cool the tofu to room temperature and toss it into with the rest of the salad.
  • Remove the pit from the avocado and slice it into long, thin strips (similar to the mango).
  • Set the avocado aside and squeeze some lemon juice over it to avoid browning.

Citrus Dressing

½ Cup Orange Juice

1/3 Cup Lime Juice

2 Tbsp Olive Oil

1 Garlic Clove

1 Tsp Cilantro

1 Tsp Fresh Ginger

  • In a cup or small bowl whisk together orange juice, lime juice, and olive oil.
  • Finely chop the garlic, cilantro, and ginger; add these to the juice mixture and whisk until thoroughly combined. Re-whisk if the dressing separates.
  • Serve with a spoon so you may use as needed.
  • If any is left over put in a container, store in fridge, and re-whisk when ready to use.

Drizzle salad dressing over the salad, set some avocados (season with a dash of salt and pepper).

Serves around four to five people.


Citrus Summer Salad and Simple Seared Chicken

The salad is based off pictures and recipes I’ve seen circulating around Pinterest – it’s a savory fruit salad that light and refreshing. The chicken is the product of my first trip to Benihana. I loved their simple, buttery chicken so much I had to try making some of my own. Anyway I hope you enjoy!

Citrus Summer Salad and Simple Seared Chicken

Citrus Summer Salad

1 Orange
1 Grapefruit
1 Mango
1 Avocado
5 Slices Red Onion
½ Beefsteak Tomato
4 Sprigs Cilantro

  • Peel orange and grape fruit – removing the rind and pith. Cut into sections according to the veins of the fruits then cut sections in half.
  • Remove the pit from the mango and chop into bite size cubes. I left the skin on, but feel free to remove it.
  • Cut five circular slices from one red onion then cut those in half – should look like rainbows.
  • Cut the avocado in half – moving around the pit. Carefully twist each side until one frees itself from the pit. To remove the pit from the other side very carefully stab your knife into the pit and twist until it comes free from the avocado. Chop the avocado into bite size cubes.
  • Remove the cilantro leaves from their sprigs and bunch together. Make sure the leaves are tightly packed and begin chopping, starting at one end of the bunch and moving to the other. When finished, cilantro should be in very small to fine pieces.
  • Add all the fruits and cilantro to a bowl and mix together.

2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Fresh Cracked Pepper
1 Packet Goya Salad & Vegetable Seasoning

  • In a small bowl or cup whisk together oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, and seasoning
  • Pour the dressing over the salad and mix together; serves around three to four people.

Simple Chicken

2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 Tbsp Butter
2 Tsp Onion Powder
2 Tsp Salt
2 Tsp Fresh Cracked Pepper

  • Begin heating up butter in a pan on medium/high heat.
  • Horizontally halve (like a hamburger bun) chicken breasts.
  • Rub onion powder, salt and pepper into the meat.
  • Add the chicken to the pan, searing on both sides for about five minutes each.
  • Cover the chicken with a lid and cook through.
  • Serves around three to four people.