When I was a nipper growing up in the Garden of England – aka the county of Kent (although technically I was never a nipper since I am a girl)  – I was regularly served up sardines on toast for supper, as I suspect a significant number of British kids were.  I’m not sure it’s as popular nowadays, but back then – YUM.  I loved when sardines on toast popped up on the menu.  Oftentimes the sardines were in tomato sauce.  I think I loved those times even more, which is a little odd because I am not really a tomato sauce kinda gal.  Except ketchup on my eggs, but that’s another tale.

Of course, these days I don’t eat the toast, but I do down sardines like they’re going out of fashion.  Except, in the US I don’t think sardines have ever been in fashion.  Whenever I mention sardines, noses wrinkle and a chorus of “Ewwws!” can be heard.  Sardines do not seem to have much of a following stateside.

It seemed perfectly natural to me that Mr. Bailor would at some point mention the outstanding virtues of a humble can of sardines on our podcast.  After all – they are one of the best sources of omega-3 fatty acids.  Have you noticed how I always leave the geeky science stuff to Bailor?  I chimed in with enthusiastic stories of how a tin of sardines is perfect road-trip fodder, and how you can keep a couple stashed in the glove box of your car in case of emergency.  I joyfully explained how to fashion an eating implement out of the tin lid, if you were ever caught without a fork when you were about to down a tasty sardine snack.

Tomato Sardine Salad  |  Carrie Brown

I guess it was bound to happen once the sardine podcast aired that there’d be some sardine Q & A coming down the pike.  So it was no surprise when the other week, Lorrie posted on the Marmalade HQ Facebook page asking for ways to eat sardines.  Lorrie is a faithful SSoS’er who, with her friend Dawn, run a Downsizers Group over in Oberlin, Ohio.  They meet every week to share success, tips, tricks, and recipes.  They also have a lot of fun.  I know this because they invited me to join them one evening and I Skyped into their get-together.  SO. MUCH. FUN!  Turns out Lorrie was taking sardines along to the next Downsizers meeting, and never having eaten them before, needed some sardine assistance.  Having been raised on the things it never occurred to me that Sardine Virgins may appreciate knowing what they might do with them, other than rip off the lid and eat them straight out of the tin.  It’s like I never remember to explain to people how to open doors, because like sardine-eating, it’s just something I assume we all know how to do.  You know what they say about assuming. Tomato Sardine Salad | Carrie Brown

When I am on road trips I eat sardines a lot.  They are just so portable.  In the evening when I get back from driving and shooting for 14 hours, I toss sardines, halved cherry tomatoes and quartered hard-boiled eggs on a plate, sprinkle with salt and call it dinner.  When I am at home I make a rather prettier  and greener version.  This is another one of those very simple “what Carrie Brown really eats at home” dishes.  It takes 5 minutes to throw together and makes you a perfectly balanced SANE meal.  When I get home too late and too tired for thought, this is one of my go-to’s.

If you’re new to sardines, try this salad first.  I really think you’ll like it.  And Jonathan and I will be so very happy to get some more of you on the sardine trail with us.

Tomato Sardine Salad
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 - 2
  • 2 small tins sardines
  • 8 oz. / 225g cherry tomatoes
  • 3 hardboiled eggs
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Fresh spinach
  • ½ English cucumber
  • Ground black pepper
  1. Drain the sardines, chop into bite-sized pieces and place in a bowl.
  2. Halve the cherry tomatoes and add to the bowl.
  3. Cut the eggs into quarters lengthwise and then each quarter into 4 pieces.
  4. Add to the bowl with the tomatoes and sardines and mix gently.
  5. Salt to taste, mixing as little as possible to avoid the sardines and eggs becoming mushy.
  6. Spread fresh spinach on a serving platter on 2 plates.
  7. Slice the cucumber and then quarter each slice.
  8. Spread the cucumber pieces over the spinach.
  9. Spoon the sardine salad over the veggies.
  10. Grind black pepper over the top and serve.

Tomato Sardine Salad | Carrie Brown




What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!
  • Gordon - Hi Carrie. I’m so glad you (surprisingly) posted on sardines! I love to buy mine from Lidl here in the UK and they’re so cheap. I never thought of making a meal like you have,so quick,easy and cheap, you clever lady! I’m really gonna try this and I’m going hiking with some friends in a few weeks in Brecon Beacons just for two days and you’ve given me a good thought for the trip. Thanks. Oh, what do you think about hard boiled eggs still in their shelves keeping fresh for a few days out of the fridge?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hi Gordon – I have kept hard boiled eggs in their shells for a couple of days on a road trip with no issue, except they are harder to peel :-). Enjoy the Beacons!ReplyCancel

  • Janknitz - I like sardines but I really have to be in the mood for them. Your photos are definitely putting me in the mood! Looks yummy and a great meal for a hot summer day when you don’t want to cook!

    My one caveat about sardines is that they are smelly, so they are not a good lunch to bring to school or work. But in the privacy of your own home or car, they are great.ReplyCancel

  • Diana - Yum! Thank you! I think I may need to eat this very soon. And maybe even add BACON. I had sardines and egg and spinach just the other day, with red wine vinegar and mustard. But this sounds even better.

    And thanks for the shoutout to the Downsizers!

    Downsizer Di, loving SSOSReplyCancel

  • Lorrie - Thank you for another wonderful recipe. I feel honored that you shared my first sardine experience! I am so glad that I was brave enough to finally open the tin that sat in the cabinet for a few months. I wasn’t sure what I would find inside and only had visions of cartooned pictures of little fish looking at me! To someone who’s never had sardines, give them a try!ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hurrah for sardines, Lorrie!!!ReplyCancel

      • Lorrie - Sharing this story and recipe once again with the new bunch of SANE Ladies here in Oberlin! Thank you for your recipe creations. <3ReplyCancel

  • Kiki_D - Great recipe , reminds me of my Friday Night Pizza

    A Wheat Belly Wrap topped with tomato and herb paste
    Mashed sardines
    Finely chopped herbs, spring onion, spinach etc,
    Dusted with grated Parmesan

    Then a few minutes in the ovenReplyCancel

Little did I know when I created – in utter desperation one cold, wet and wild November morning – a hot cereal to fill the gigantic void left by a bowl of porridge (oatmeal), that it would be turn out to be 1) the most popular recipe post of all time, and 2) become the starting point for a number of other recipes, including this Creamy Lemon Coconut Cereal.

You lovely, lovely people just LOVE that Hot and Nutty Cereal.  I’ve had notes from all over the world about how it makes your porridge-less mornings delicious again – and that makes me feel all warm and goofy inside.  Not only that, but you’ve bombarded me with ideas on how to use that same mix in different ways.  You’re awesome!

I used it as a starting point for my Cinnamon Raisin Muffins, which is also a Top 15 most popular recipe, and I have another couple of recipes I am working on.  This Creamy Lemon Coconut Cereal idea came when Lori, a delightful and wonderfully enthusiastic follower in California, posted that she had woken up craving my Hot and Nutty Cereal one day, but because it was a warm day she wanted something cold.  She stirred the Hot and Nutty Cereal mix into a cup of Greek Yogurt and voilà!  Lori’s favorite cereal – but cold.  Not to mention the added protein.  Needless to say, as soon as I heard that I ran off to try it.  Delicious! Creamy Lemon Coconut Cereal | www.carriebrown.comSince I am me, my brain promptly exploded, and lots of ideas for bright, sunny flavors started ricocheting around all over the place.  I am always thinking about coconut these days – I blame studio time with Bailor for that one – so I started there and went with my favorite citrus flavor to make a cold, creamy bowl of sunshiny cereal for you.

This Creamy Lemon Coconut Cereal is one of my new favorites, and easy to whip up in bulk at the start of the week, spoon into lidded bowls and stack in the ‘fridge to grab on the way to the office each week-day morning.  It’s extremely filling, but with a light, refreshing taste.  Would also make a great summertime dessert.

Thanks, Lori, for getting me started on this one!

5.0 from 1 reviews
Creamy Lemon Coconut Cereal
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
  • 1 TBSP chia seeds
  • 2 TBSP sunflower seeds
  • 4 TBSP unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 oz. / 28g vanilla protein powder
  • 1 TBSP xylitol or erythritol (add more to taste)
  • ½ TBSP lemon zest (1/2 lemon)
  • ½ tsp lemon extract (essence)
  • 1 cup / 8 fl oz. Greek yogurt
  • ¼ cup / 2 fl oz. unsweetened thin coconut milk
  1. Grind chia, sunflower seeds and coconut until very fine in a coffee grinder or high-speed blender (be careful you don't end up with sunflower butter!).
  2. In a bowl add ground seeds, vanilla protein powder, xylitol or erythritol, and mix well.
  3. Add the lemon zest, lemons essence, yogurt and coconut milk and stir thoroughly until completely mixed.
  4. Sprinkle extra lemon zest on top to serve.

Creamy Lemon Coconut Cereal | www.carriebrown.com

Measuring out and grinding all those seeds every day got old really fast, so here’s an instant mix that you can make in bulk and store in the ‘fridge ready to go when you want it.

  • 10 TBSP chia seeds
  • 1 1/4 cups sunflower seeds
  • 2 1/2 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 10 oz. / 280g vanilla protein powder
  • 10 TBSP xylitol or erythritol
  • 5 TBSP lemon zest (5 lemons)

In batches, place chia seeds, sunflower seeds, and coconut in a coffee grinder and grind until fine. (If you use a blender such as a Vitamix be careful you don’t end up with a paste!) Pour ground mix into a large bowl, add vanilla protein powder, xylitol or erythritol, and lemon zest. Mix very well until completely blended. Store in an air-tight glass jar in the ‘fridge.

Then, when you stumble into the kitchen, bleary-eyed from your 7 hours of shut-eye, here’s the recipe for 1 serving of instant Creamy Lemon Coconut Cereal:

  • 1/2 cup instant cereal mix
  • 1/2 cup / 4 fl oz. Greek yogurt
  • 2 TBSP unsweetened thin coconut milk
  • 1/4 tsp lemon essence

Place cereal mix in a bowl, add yogurt, coconut milk, and lemon essence and stir very well.





What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!
  • Ellen - This looks yummy! But, I need to checking the “translation” to Americanese – is ‘lemon essence’ the same as lemon juice? Or would it be lemon extract?
    ;) Thanks, Carrie!ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Sorry Ellen – Lemon extract :-) I’ll update the recipe to bi-lingual!ReplyCancel

  • Janknitz - Tried it this morning. Yum! Reminded me of a lemon poppyseed muffin.ReplyCancel

  • danielle - HOLY YUMMMMMMMMMMM!!! This is awesome! I just order the SSOS book so I haven’t read it…I thought it was out of print, but just found it~ my question is….is this all you have for breakfast or do you have a green smoothie with it too? would you add protein to your smoothie?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Danielle – your commment made me smile!! It depends what the rest of my day is going to look like. If there’s veggies at lunch and dinner I’ll have this on it’s own. You could add a smoothie without the protein – I’d like to see you try and eat both if you kept the protein in!!! So glad you loved this recipe.ReplyCancel

  • Katie - Delicious! This is now my go to for breakfast! I made a double batch to have it for the week. It tends to thicken if you let it stay in the fridge for a few days, which I did because I wanted to have it for the week, I think because of the chia seeds, so I added a little bit of skim milk to thin it out because I like my cereal a little more runny. I also added some blueberries to it, delicious! YUM!! Thanks Carrie!


  • sandy - I ended up using my hot and nutty cereal mix (since I had made up a bunch) and then 2% greek yoghurt and 2 tbls. coconut milk then topped with tbls. sunflower seeds for extra crunch. I do not add any xylitol to my hot and nutty cereal and its plenty sweet.

    It was delicousReplyCancel

This isn’t a real post.  This is a “let’s get ready for a real post” post.  It’s a calm-before-the-storm post.  An “on-your-marks-get-set…” post.  Yes.  One of those.

You may have heard the rumors.  You may even have heard the screams of delight all the way from the Marmalade HQ kitchen.  There’s been an awful lot of dancing, and whooping, and cheering, and clapping going down at the Brown house this weekend.  The “kids” all hid behind the couch at one point, when I got more than a little loud and rambunctious.  Just what is all the excitement about?  I’ll give you a hint.  It’s ice cream.  ICE CREAM??  No, wait.  SANE ICE CREAM!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now, because it will take me a little while to get you a recipe posted, and because I am always thinking ahead, and because I am a planner, and because I love you, I wanted to make sure you were ready when the real post – the one with an ice cream recipe in it – hits your screen.  Because {great} ice cream takes planning and preparation.  You’ll thank me when the time comes.  I mean, who wants to have a recipe for SANE Ice Cream and then NOT BE ABLE TO MAKE IT??  Not you.

Here’s what you’ll need to make your adventures in SANE Ice Cream making easier and more successful. In the equipment department, the only thing you MUST have is a churner, so don’t panic thinking that you’re going to have to mortgage the house to make SANE ice cream.  You’re not.  Everything else just makes it easier, quicker, and you’ll get a better result.  This is what I use, because I know you’ll ask me anyway.


Ice Cream Churner

There’s lots to choose from, ranging from super-duper, super-spendy commercial models, to buckets with rock salt round them.  I am only going to tell you which ones I have because these puppies are brilliant (I have two churners and 4 freezer bowls), and between them they have churned hundreds and hundreds gallons of ice cream perfectly.  And I don’t mean any old ice cream.  I mean “that was the best ice cream I’ve eaten in my life” ice cream.  So don’t think for one second that you have to go all big and fancy here.  You don’t.  This one is all you need.  It’s a Cuisinart ICE-20 Automatic 1 1/2 Quart Ice Cream Maker(If you use these links to purchase stuff it will help to offset the SANE Ice Cream Recipe Development Budget, which is not insignificant.  Then I won’t have to send Dougal out on a paper route for the summer.  You don’t pay any more, they just send me a few pennies for getting you there, and it all adds up.  THANK YOU!)

High Powered Blender OR Blender OR Food processor (if you have one of the three you’ll be good)

A Vitamix or Blendtec will be your very best friend for ice cream. Smooth, smooth, smooth. These machines smash everything that goes in them into liquid – except raspberry seeds – and believe me, I have tried to pulverize those suckers on numerous occasions. You will still need a sieve, even with a Vitamix. Second jug for Vitamix / Blendtec – I find having a second blending container incredibly handy. Or maybe I just don’t like washing up when I am on a roll in the kitchen.

I have a KitchenAid blender in addition to my Vitamix, for those times when I don’t want to pulverize everything into oblivion. Some recipes don’t require the extra power. I use this Kitchen Aid blender when I don’t want or need to use the Vitamix. Grinding nuts is a great example – try this in a Vitamix and you’ll have awesome nut butter, but you won’t have any ground nuts.

I love this Cuisinart Food Processor because it comes with three bowls that sit inside one another so you can do three different things before you have to wash up. Love that. It also has a large capacity, which I find very useful when making large batches. I find some ice cream recipes easier to get out of a food processor than a Vitamix.

Melamine pouring bowls

The next most important thing after my churners are my melamine pouring batter bowls. The melamine means they do not transfer flavors and colors like plastic, but they are way lighter than glass. They have handles and spouts, and they are the perfect solution for ice cream because you use them to store the ice cream custard in while it’s in the ‘fridge, and then you can pour it straight from there into the ice cream churner when it’s chilled.  This saves time, and more importantly, a lot of wasted ice cream custard because you are not transferring from one container to another.  Plus, they make pouring your custard into your churner super-easy and super-clean; which means less clean up.  I know you want less clean up.  I have lots of these bowls.  They even stack neatly when not in use.  I make them stackable in the ‘fridge by putting a dinner plate on the top of them.  When you make as much ice cream as I do, making them stackable in the ‘fridge is essential.  If you hadn’t realized – I LOVE these bowls.

Rubber Spatulas

You can never have too many of these lying around when you’re in the middle of ice cream production.  You specifically need spatulas that will not damage the inside of your ice cream maker freezer bowls when you’re removing the ice cream.


I am a perfectionist, so I use sieves a lot. A lot. Strawberry seeds in the sauce? Sieve. Hazelnut skins? Sieve. Cocoa powder? Sieve. Nut dust in the nuts you just chopped? Sieve. Ice cream custards? Sieve. I sieve everything in the name of texture perfection. And when it comes to ice cream, in my little world, texture perfection is mandatory.  I’ll forgive you for not having sieve-itis with most things, but not when it comes to ice cream.  You need a sieve (or two).  And you need those sieves to be really good fine mesh sieves.  These are not your regular flour-sifting sieves.  When I say fine, I mean *really* fine.  The kind of fine that will stop strawberry seeds in their tracks.  With regular ice cream I sieve every single custard.  You won’t need to do that with all of my SANE ice creams, but some of them you will.  I have 3 fine mesh sieves in different sizes.  Please buy at least one really good fine mesh sieve.  Thank you.

Pyrex storage

I am not a fan of plastic for storage. At all. I use these glass Pyrex lidded dishes for storing my ice cream in the freezer.  If plastic is capable of absorbing colors and flavors, then that means the plastic is not impermeable. The thought that the chemicals in plastic are therefore capable of transferring back into my ice cream is highly unpleasant to me. In the Brown house, it’s gotta be glass.  Specifically, I use the 7-cup round ones for ice cream.


Those are the main things.  Of course there is always other miscellaneous equipment – detailed here – such as microplanes, measuring spoons, scale, measuring cups, etc.



I am only listing here things that might not be in your SANE arsenal of kitchen staples yet.

Full-fat Coconut Milk (canned)

Full-fat Coconut Milk that comes in a can is coconut meat made into a thick, creamy milk that solidifies in the ‘fridge. The brand I use is Thai Kitchen unsweetened (of course), and you can find it in most grocery stores in the US.  It is often located with the Asian and/or Indian foods.

Nut Milks (carton)

I use a combination of almond, coconut, and hemp milks in my recipes.  Always buy the plain unsweetened versions, or vanilla unsweetened if there is no plain.  These milks come in cartons and are thin like cows milk.

Guar Gum

Guar Gum is an emulsifier and thickener. It is readily available online. I use Bob’s Red Mill brand. In the US you can find it in most stores that carry Bob’s Red Mill products – PCC, Whole Foods, Safeway, IGA, etc. It is not cheap, but you use tiny amounts in recipes so it will last you a long, long time. Store in an air-tight jar.

Whey Protein Powder

Whey Protein is one of the best sources of protein, and it is extremely useful in increasing our protein intake. Beware – protein powders are a minefield. Most of them are not SANE and not particularly healthy. Luckily, Jonathan has done all the leg work for us here. We use Optimum Nutrition brand 100% Whey Gold Standard. It comes in a variety of flavors and sizes. I only use vanilla in my recipes. You can purchase this at Super Supplement stores, but it is usually cheaper online. I buy it in 10lb bags to further reduce the per pound cost.


Xylitol is a natural sweetener to replace sugar. It is readily available online. I use Xyla brand. I buy it in bulk because I get through so much of it in recipe development that it is a lot cheaper per pound that way. Make sure that you get xylitol that is made from birch bark and not corn. In stores I have seen Xyla in PCC. NOTE: Like chocolate, xylitol is harmful to dogs, so please be sure to keep any xylitol-containing goodies away from them!


Those are the main things.  Everything else is perishable or something that I think you will already have on hand, like vanilla extract.




Great ice cream is a process.  The {really} good news is that SANE ice creams are a lot less of a process than regular ice creams.  Woohoo!  The not-so-good news is that it is still a process.  There’s lots of waiting involved.  Once you’ve made the custard you get to wait.  Then you churn the ice cream and you get to wait again.  Then before you can make another batch you need to re-freeze the freezer bowls and you get to wait again.  So you are going to need patience.  There will be waiting.  If you choose to forego the waiting, you will end up with a not-so-great ice cream, or a dollop of soft-serve.  Then you’ll be sad.  I’ll be sad too.  Because I want your SANE ice cream to be the best ice cream you’ve ever eaten in your life.  I promise you it’s totally worth it.


Plan for AT LEAST 24 hours to go by from when you get the blender out to when you’ll have a scoop of fabulous SANE ice cream in your bowl.  Two days is even better planning.  I typically plan a week in advance, especially if I am making large quantities or a lot of different flavors at once.  Yes, I know the box the ice cream maker came in says you can have frozen treats in 20 minutes, and you can.  But don’t expect a fantastic scoop of ice cream in a bowl in 20 minutes.  They’re fibbin’.  My recipes are not recipes for soft-serve.  I’ll probably get to some of those at some point, but first the real stuff.


I am SO RIDICULOUSLY EXCITED for you to have SANE ice cream I can barely stand it!!!  If you’ve been around for a while and know how fastidious I am, when I tell you I am beside myself with excitement over how these came out, you know that means they’ll be SO worth the wait.

Get ready, ice cream lovers.  It’s nearly time.

PS. Please don’t get mad with me if it takes a little while to post the first recipe.  I am doing the best I can here.  The upside is that two days ago we had no SANE ice cream in sight – anywhere on the horizon.  Now we do.

I’m still screaming!!



What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!
  • Lorna Broad - Just want to thank you for your fantastic dedication to the ice cream cause… I am soooooo ready, let’s just say I have the ice cream freeser bowl already in the freezer cooling

    thanks again

    • carrie - Lorna – TOTALLY my pleasure!! Selfishly, I find ice cream making very therapeutic ;-)ReplyCancel

  • Gary Moss - Carrie, Optimum Nutrition whey is only available flavored. Is this going to be acceptable for all the different recipes that call for whey? If so, which flavor do you recommend, vanilla?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Gary – yes, vanilla. I am trying to keep the “new purchases” to a minimum for everyone. This is the same whey I use for smoothies and other recipes.ReplyCancel

  • Heidi - Costco is now carrying Optimum Nutrition Whey it does not say “Gold Standard” it says (Performance) do you know if this protein is considered Sane? I also looked at an ice cream maker at Costco today 2 qt for $50.00. I think after a little research I will purchase this machine when I go back to Costco. Can’t wait for SANE ice cream. Thank you!ReplyCancel

  • Sigi - Carrie, your enthusiasm is infectious! Bring on the recipe! BRING IT!!ReplyCancel

  • Gary Moss - I also just checked: The Vitamin Shoppe carries the five-pound containers in some stores (check yours if there is one near you) at the same prices as Amazon. http://www.vitaminshoppe.com/store/en/browse/sku_detail.jsp?id=OP-1018#.UZGW1ZUSmFUReplyCancel

    • carrie - Good to know, Gary! I buy the 10 lb bags, because with all the recipe development I get through it fast!ReplyCancel

  • Suzie Price - Hey Carrie, I ordered some of the things I didn’t have – based upon your list and your links. Yea. Eager to make ice cream! You are the best. Love your personality, thoughtfulness, care and genuine ways. Thank you Carrie. Bring on the ice cream!!ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hurrah for ice cream, Suzie! THANK YOU for you kind words. I’m just me :-)ReplyCancel

  • Gary Moss - They don’t carry the 10-lb bags, in my store or online. fyiReplyCancel

  • Sharon - Hubbie says it’s time to buy a churner!!! YAY!!! ***HAPPY DANCE***ReplyCancel

  • Lorrie Heist - I’m making some of your wonderful ice cream as a treat for Thursday’s meeting to share with the Downsizers & HCFM ladies!! Yum! Can’t wait to try it.ReplyCancel

  • Dillon Dale - Dear Carrie,

    Is Stevia a possible substitute for Xylitol? I am allergic to the latter.

    Thanks for your cookbooks… can’t wait for the next one.


    • carrie - HI Dillon – I cannot give you a guarantee on stevia because I haven’t trialed it. If you can eat Erythritol I would suggest using that instead of xylitol. I would recommend using Swerve (erythritol + stevia) as you cannot swap out erythritol for xylitol 1:1 (xylitol is sweeter than erythritol). Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

Many of you have asked me what I really eat at home – when I am not creating a SANE recipe for you – so I thought I’d start to share some of my really simple meals with you.  Heads up – they’re not wild and exciting.  They’re just simple plates of food – more assembly than cooking – that I sling together on the days when I have run out of leftovers from my recipe experiments.

Do you ever have those evenings where you just want a pile of highly nutritious food that tastes great and is ready in 5 minutes flat?  Oh, only ALL THE TIME, I hear you cry.  Me too.

This is one of my favorite dinners – Turkey Burger Salad.  Now I realize that seeing the word “burger” may have got you feeling all unmentionable.  Please stay calm.  I am not leading you astray here.  There is absolutely no bun involved.  I call it Turkey Burger Salad because I make it with these awesome turkey burgers.  You could also use chicken burgers if they are more readily available where you are.

Here is why JB and I particularly *love* Costco Turkey Burgers:

Just look at that ingredient list!  Turkey. Seasonings.  That’s all, folks.  And then look at the nutrition label!  There’s 35g of protein in every single burger – so you’re over Bailor’s magical protein synthesis threshold in one beautiful, tasty, round patty.  What else is so great about them?  They cook in 5 minutes from frozen, they are very cost effective, they taste great, and they can live in your freezer ready for action year round.  And even more upside – they are extremely low in fat so you get to eat cheese!

JB and I both cook up these burgers in bulk and store them in the ‘fridge ready for a portable lunch or snack.  These burgers rock on many levels. Turkey Burger Salad | Carrie Brown

The recipe uses 2 burgers and a whole head of lettuce.  I would imagine that for most people this would feed two; my legendary appetite and I downed the whole thing.  I should point out that I definitely had no room for dessert.  If you make it for one and can’t get through it all, there’s your lunch set for tomorrow.

Turkey Burger Salad | Carrie Brown

I eat this salad at least twice a month.  It’s perfect for when my schedule gets me home later than anticipated, and I always have the ingredients lurking without any planning or grocery store run.  If you are super-prepared you could cook up the number of burgers that you need in advance, store them in the ‘fridge and then whip this up in 3 minutes.

This is as *SANE and simple as they come!

Turkey Burger Salad
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 1 - 2
  • 2 turkey burgers
  • 1 head Romaine lettuce
  • 1 oz / 28g sharp cheddar cheese
  • 2 oz. / 55g dried cranberries
  • Ranch dressing
  • Ground black pepper
  1. Cook the turkey burgers. You can grill, broil or griddle them.
  2. While the burgers are cooking, slice the lettuce crosswise while whole to make shredded lettuce.
  3. Spread the lettuce in the bottom of a serving dish.
  4. Grated the cheese evenly over the lettuce.
  5. When the burgers are nicely browned and cooked through, slice them into ¼" slices, turn 180 degrees and slice again into ¼" slices to give you cute little turkey cubes.
  6. Spread the turkey pieces evenly over the salad.
  7. Spread the cranberries over the salad.
  8. Drizzle your favorite SANE Ranch dressing over the top and season with ground black pepper.

Turkey Burger Salad | Carrie Brown






What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!
  • Margaret - One of my go to meals has been hamburger salad with lettuce , hamburger, dill pickles (yes, dill pickles!) chopped onions and ranch dressing mixed with a very small amount of mustard. Sounds strange but tastes just like a hamburger. Now I can make it with the turkey burgers! Can’t wait to try this with the cranberries.ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Margaret – this made me laugh! Thanks for sharing your hamburger salad story!ReplyCancel

  • Jessika - Any suggestions for SANE ranch dressing? I haven’t been able to find anything that is sold in stores that fits the bill. It seems like every dressing nowadays has soybean oil as the first ingredient.ReplyCancel

  • carrie - Hi Jessika! I have found that the best way with Ranch is to buy a packet mix and make your own using non-fat Greek yogurt or fat-free sour cream – or a mix of the two. Add a little extra salt if there is still a yogurty tang that you don’t like. Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

  • Danielle - I SO APPRECIATE you Carrie! Thank you for your passion and sharing your knowledge. I can imagine you pour lots of hours into helping us! I need help with the cranberries. I am having a heck of a time finding dried UNSWEETENED cranberries. Are you using the sweetened kind?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - HI Danielle! Thanks for all the love :-) I use unsweetened IF and when I can find them. If not I use the lowest added sugar ones I can find. It’s just a few – don’t stress! Hope that helps!ReplyCancel

Oh happy day!!  It’s all double rainbows and prancing unicorns over at Marmalade HQ today!!  Cheese Sauce Lovers unite!!  I perfected SANE Cheese Sauce.

It only took me in excess of 21 pints worth of fiddling and eating to get to this point; but let me tell you, you’re worth every last spoonful.

Before you go getting all twitterpated, and sprint off to the kitchen – a word of caution: I’ve thrown another funky new ingredient into the mix.  AKA you’ll need to go shopping first.  Now I don’t want you to be mad with me – so I promise, – if you like think life is simply terrible without cheese sauce, you’ll want to stay with me here.  If you’ve followed along for a while you’ll know I use guar gum and xanthan gum for most thickening purposes, depending on the application.  They work brilliantly in baked goods, smoothies, and a host of other things; cheese sauce isn’t one of them.  They are tricky to use in simple white sauces that are intended to end up silky-smooth.  They also tend to get rather “gluey”.  Several of my attempts ended up veritably slimy.  Not the result I was after.  At all.

This, however, was exactly what I had in mind when I was thinking about dinner last night.  Rich, smooth, creamy cheese sauce crammed full of fantastic vegetables.  YES. Leek, Mushroom and Cauliflower Casserole  |  Carrie Brown

All it required was a perfect cheese sauce; which I’d been working on for months.  Months!  Apart from the gums (difficult to get right, slimy, gluey, odd taste), I’ve tried coconut flour (inconsistent in its ability to thicken), almond flour (just wrong), garbanzo bean flour (grainy), and who-knows-what-else.

After countless hours of cheese sauce hell, I stumbled upon Konjac Flour – also known as glucomannan.  It’s what they make shirataki noodles out of, and it’s basically soluble fiber that swells, and swells, and swells.  And then it swells a bit more.  It is tasteless, absorbs other flavors readily, and – with a little attention – will make a super-silky-smooth white sauce that is virtually indistinguishable from a traditional white sauce made with cornstarch (cornflour).  It is easier and quicker to make than a white / roux / béchamel sauce.  Plus, you only need a very small amount to do the job.  Is that enough {very} brilliant reasons to make you go out and get some?  Perfect white sauce shall be yours!  Hallelujah!  Can you tell I’m a little excited here?

Leek, Mushroom and Cauliflower Casserole | Carrie Brown

This is intended to be a side dish served up with the protein of your choice, although I have a tendency to just eat the whole thing on its own and call it good.  I blame it on being single.  Or lazy?  As I have no problem consuming enough protein, I am not at all worried if I end the day with just veggies every now and then.  If you find getting enough protein eaten difficult, then I suggest you grill up a chicken breast, a lovely pork chop, or a gorgeous slice of salmon, and have this on the side.

I find this every bit as comforting as a big old bowl of mac ‘n’ cheese.  Somehow cheese sauce magically makes veggies seem naughty.  I love that.  All the comfort without the diabetes, cancer and heart disease.  Perfect!

PS. You can find Konjac Flour – also known as glucomannan online.  In the US you can find it at SuperSupplements; I am sure you would find it at other health and nutrition stores if you do not have a SuperSupplements locally, or live outside the US.  It may seem expensive, but you use just 1 tsp for a typical recipe, so it will last you forever.  Store in an airtight jar so it stays fresh.


5.0 from 3 reviews
Leek, Mushroom, and Cauliflower Casserole
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 - 6
  • 1 large cauliflower, divided into florets
  • 2 TBSP coconut oil
  • 10 oz. / 280g leeks, very finely sliced
  • 10 oz. / 280g mushrooms, chopped into small pieces
  • Sea salt to taste
  • Lemon pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp konjac flour / glucomannan powder
  • 2 cups milk (whatever mik you prefer - coconut, almond, hemp, cows...)
  • 6 oz strong cheddar cheese, grated
  • 1½ TBSP white wine vinegar (do not leave this out!)
  • 1 oz. / 28g roasted sunflower seeds
  1. Place the cauliflower florets in a steamer and steam until just tender.
  2. Meanwhile, gently sauté the leeks and mushrooms in the coconut oil over a low heat until they are just soft.
  3. Season with salt and lemon pepper and stir.
  4. In a small bowl put the konjac flour.
  5. Using a small whisk, add 1 cup of milk to the bowl and immediately whisk quickly to disperse the flour thoroughly.
  6. Pour into the pan with the vegetables and stir thoroughly and continuously until the sauce thickens.
  7. Add the other 1 cup of milk and stir well.
  8. Stir 5½ oz of the cheese into the sauce, and continue stirring until completely melted.
  9. Add the white wine vinegar and stir well.
  10. Remove sauce from the heat.
  11. Place steamed cauliflower in a single layer in a casserole dish (pretty side up :-) )
  12. Pour the veggies in cheese sauce over the florets to cover them completely.
  13. Sprinkle remaining cheese evenly over the top.
  14. Sprinkle roasted sunflower seeds evenly over the top.
  15. Broil (grill) under high heat for a few minutes until brown and bubbling. Watch it - it catches easily.






What does SANE mean? Click here.Want more scrumptious recipes? Click here to check out my SANE Cookbooks!
  • Matilda - Printing this off right now. Omg Carrie this looks to die for. I can’t wait to try it out.ReplyCancel

  • Nat Karamanavis - Hi Carrie! I’ve listened to you and Jonathan forever on the podcasts during the nights I can’t sleep.Its only today that I decided to check out your website and I’m so thankful that I did, your recipes will help me put into practise what I’ve thought about for ages …going sane!! Yay!! Thank you so much I can’t wait to start cooking tomorrow love from Melbourne AustraliaReplyCancel

    • carrie - Welcome, Nat! We’re so happy to have you here!!! Love from Seattle, USA :-)ReplyCancel

  • Kara - Carrie,

    Like you I’ve been experimenting in the kitchen. I’ve been trying to modify my family’s favorite mac ‘n cheese recipe. I’ve tried garbanzo flour (very grainy), okra (yuk), guar gum, greek yogurt (too strong a flavor) and believe it or not even gelatin.

    Glucomannan WORKS beautifully. Thick,creamy and luscious. They were completely unaware that what they were eating was healthier! They had the sauce as mac ‘n cheese. I had it as cauliflower cheese.


    • carrie - Kara – isn’t it AWESOME??!!!! Can you imagine the glee at Marmalade HQ the first time I tried it? LOVE! :-)ReplyCancel

  • Joe Wojtuniak - I was wondering if I were to replace Konjac Flour with almound flour would it alter the taste or cosistency enough to ruin this recipe?ReplyCancel

    • carrie - In my opinion, Joe, yes. THe sauce will be grainy and it will not thicken as well. It will also have a weird flavor. But then I am super picky :-)ReplyCancel

  • Lorna - Hello Carrie,

    had a bash at this tonight but can’t get konjac flour here along with no cheddar so used grana cheese instead (an italian cheese similar to Parmesan, but better for cooking…oh yes and didn’t have any leaks so I used onions. Chucked some mustard seeds in the creamy sauce and it tasted pretty good…. and the best bit of all is that I’ve got left overs for tomorrow…yehhhhh

    thanks :o)ReplyCancel

    • carrie - Hi Lorna – what did you use to thicken? Mustard seeds sound yum!! Any cheese is good :-D And we LOVE leftovers!!!!!ReplyCancel

  • Lorna - Hello Carrie,

    I used some agar agar, it was the only thing I had in the house and loads of cheese. Wasn’t as thick as a normal cauliflower cheese type sauce but tasted yum. The ‘better cheese comment didn’t sound nice, what I meant was Grana is tastier for cooking than Parmesan… unfortunately I can’t get cheddar here…perhaps I should try this with some Gorgonzola…


    • carrie - Hi Lorna – I don’t care much for Parmesan, so I totally understand your comment!! You could have lots of fun playing with different cheeses in this dish. I do hope you manage to get some glucomannan though. It’s awesome!ReplyCancel

  • Matilda - So as you would be aware from twitter post to you Carrie, I made this. Oh and how delightful it was.
    the kids where away at their dads :( but that’s one of the reasons Why I wanted to try out this recipe, because they don’t like mushrooms.
    I must also say, that I cooked a recipe I have never tried before for my inlaws (the recipe was perfect as the father in law is a vegetarian). am I crazy to try out a recipe that could possibly fail? Oh course, cause it’s a Carrie recipe. And wow it was a success *phew*. I didn’t have konjac flour so I had to use corn flour (not exactly sane, I know, but I was not cooking in my own kitchen, and I forgot to bring an alternative flour like chickpea flour).
    It still came out wonderful. I was pleasantly surprised at the crunch of the sunflower seeds, they added a great element to the dish.
    I’ll be making this again, but most likely as a side dish… I could see it greatly teamed up with a chicken dish of sorts.
    Thanks again Carrie


    • carrie - Matilda – you are right – this would be great as a side for chicken. I am so happy you loved it :-)ReplyCancel

  • Mallory and Carrington - We made this tonight but replaced leeks (Whole Foods didn’t have any) with broccoli. It was so wonderful! Thank you for making such an impact in both of our lives. We love SOS and eating smarter, exercising smarter, living better! We are so ready for that(insert adorable English accent)!


    • carrie - THANK YOU, Mallory and Carrington! I so appreciate all the recipe love :-)ReplyCancel

  • Cheese Sauce » Carrie Brown | Living a SANE Life - […] wrote about the happy day it all went down here, but I’ve had several requests to post the basic Cheese Sauce […]ReplyCancel