The other day we went to a friend's house for a barbecue. Fish and steak tacos were on the menu, so I wanted to bring something Tex-Mexy. April weather in Chicago can be touch and go, but we were absolutely blessed with an amazing 70-degree afternoon. The sun was shining, the grill was hot and the Cubs were playing just down the street. The stage was set for a fun-filled get-together involving lots of really great food.

Salads are always an easy thing to prepare ahead of time. They're even better when you can add the salad dressing an hour or two in advance. Not only do all the delicious flavors gets soaked up by the vegetables, but there is no chance I'll forget to grab the dressing on the way out the door (which I've done before!).

As our kids get a little older, the conversations about food have grown from why sugar is bad, for instance, to the specific nutrients in vegetables and how they can benefit our bodies.  I'm also trying to get my oldest daughter familiar with preparing food. She offered to help make the dressing, so I jumped at it.

Southwestern Veggie Salad Elly Helping

Cilantro Lime Detox Dressing
When it comes to salad dressings, I almost always use an extra virgin olive oil as the base. From there, the possibilities are endless. No Tex-Mex dressing could possibly be complete without cumin. Cumin is such a warm spice, and so healthy, too. Did you know that cumin can help improve digestion, fight cancer and reduce inflammation? Yes, yes it can! I also added plenty of garlic and cilantro to the dressing - both known to help detoxify the liver.

Southwester Veggie Salad Detox Dressing Ingredients

The veggies I used for this salad are pretty basic: peppers and onions. I also added more cilantro and a healthy amount of black beans. Belly peppers and onions are pretty spectacular when it comes to nutrition. Bell peppers contain loads of immune system-building vitamin C and mood-lifting B6...two very good reasons bell peppers should be in your fridge at all times. Like cumin, onion is also a much-touted cancer and inflammation fighter.

This is the perfect picnic recipe. It lasts in warmer weather, is full of fiber and will be very good to your body. Let me know what you think the next time you make it. If this recipe sounds good to you, check out the rest of my body-lovin' recipes in The Belly Burn Plan.

Southwestern Veggie Salad_prepared

Southwestern Veggie Salad With Cilantro Lime Detox Dressing
Serves 8

Dressing Ingredients
1 lime, juiced (juicing is so easy using this gadget!)
1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c cilantro, coarsely chopped
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp sea salt

Salad Ingredients
2 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 orange bell pepper, seeded and chopped
3/4 c red onion, diced
3/4 c canned black beans, drained (FYI: Organic La Preferida is BPA-free)
Small handful of cilantro, coarsely chopped


1. Blend all dressing ingredients in a blender until dressing is smooth. Some flecks of cilantro will remain. That's okay! Set aside.
2.  In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients.
3. Toss with salad dressing. Refrigerate for one hour until chilled and serve.