Cauliflower and Apple Salad with Radicchio

It’s official.  My husband and I are two months into our decision to change the way we eat and guess what?  It works!  Works, as in, we feel pretty darn good and have lost weight.  His loss of 18 lbs. has been steady and sure with minor plateaus here and there, and true to my personality, my loss has been a series of ups and downs — most recently dipping to 14.5 lbs. then back up to my goal of 12 lbs. total for the two months.  Six pounds a month.  That’s all I need.  Only six.  I can do that for the next six months, right?


When I catch myself analyzing it all too much, he patiently reminds me we said we weren’t going to turn any of this into a crazy hair-splitting quest to starve ourselves to thinness in as little time as possible, or to beat ourselves up over numbers on a scale.  And no, we weren’t going to count every single calorie we ingest.  Instead, it is more to consider that we do have to exercise more consistently and appropriately, and also monitor the types and quantities of food we eat throughout each day to balance everything out.  I guess I just need to do all of that while waving my arms about in the air.  But, we can already see changes in one another, and that’s fun.  Did I say fun?  All right, then.  Motivating.

Although there isn’t a book, or a plan we’re using, we do read lots of information based on nutrition and exercise in general and keep one fairly straightforward guideline in our heads:  calories in, calories out.   We eat lots of produce — especially the green stuff, try to eat small amounts of protein throughout the day from a variety of sources  (think nuts, hummus, peanut butter, yogurt, lean turkey or ham, cheese, quinoa, eggs), and smaller amounts of whole grains.  Dinner is often only a protein and a salad or vegetable, or soup.  Three meals a day with a morning and afternoon snack are what we shoot for, but he’s better at pulling that off than I am.

When it comes to exercising, again, he is far more steady than I am, often going to the gym after 7 pm when he gets home.  Me?  I don’t like being in a gym, so opt for walking out and around our area mapping different routes.  Most of them are doozies ranging from 3.5 to 6 miles I try to complete at least four times a week, but it’s a challenge.  Last week, I logged over 18 miles and this week I barely made 10 –most of it yesterday.  Today, my knees are screaming in agony. This is not a small thing considering I need pretty close to an hour of cardio every day.  I’m working on loving the idea of that.  I really am.  My knees?  Not so much.

Are we doing without?  Yes, and no.  We’ve had dessert — but rarely and in very small quantities.  He’s confessed to hitting In-n-Out for a burger and fries before a basketball game, and I have wine after I say I’m not going to, but it doesn’t get much more dramatic than that.  I can do without pastry, we’re not candy eaters, and I haven’t missed butter on toast.  It may seem small, but I’ve given up powdered coffee creamer for 1% milk because coffee creamer is full of  bad things I shouldn’t have been putting in my coffee to begin with.  I think what we’re “doing without” most often is eating without thinking about it.

If there’s one thing we can’t do without, it’s salad.  In much the way that soup can pack lots of good flavors into one bowl, the possibilities are limitless if you consider that a salad doesn’t have to be the stereotypical lettuce, tomato, and a sprinkle of onion.  Nor does it have to be something enjoyed only for lunch or at dinner.  I’ve always enjoyed playing with different ingredients, but what has really helped over the years is to know what ingredients work best with one another.  Most often, the logic behind this is seasonal.

I’ve heard that winter hasn’t been nearly as harsh for most as it was last year, but I know that doesn’t always mean the leafy, fresh vegetables of spring and summer are available.  If that’s the case, then this salad is perfect.  The combination is unusual, but the flavors work extremely well with one another and it is definitely a complete meal.

Cauliflower and Apple Salad with Radicchio

Salad Ingredients

1/4 head of a 1 lb. raw cauliflower, sliced thin

1/4 head radicchio, shaved

2 stalks celery, sliced thin

1/2 apple, cut into matchsticks

1/4 c. pecans, coarsely chopped

2 T red onion, minced

Dressing Ingredients

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1 tsp. honey

1/4 c. walnut oil

salt & pepper


  1. Make the dressing first by mixing the Dijon with the honey, then drizzling the walnut oil into the mixture while whisking until completely blended.
  2. Season with salt and pepper to taste and set aside.
  3. To prepare the cauliflower, separate into florets and then either run through the slicer on a food processor, slice with a mandoline, or slice with a knife as thin as possible.
  4. Prepare the radicchio in the same fashion and add both to a large bowl.
  5. To prepare the apples, leave the peelings on, core it, and cut into thin slices.  Stack them and cut through the stack to make the matchsticks.
  6. Mix all the salad ingredients in the large bowl and drizzle over the dressing.  You’ll have leftover dressing.
  7. Toss and serve.


  • This is an extremely satisfying and very crunchy salad!  It’s perfect for lunch and would also be great for a barbeque or pot luck.  There will be no wilting of anything in this salad.
  • If you’ve never thought of eating raw cauliflower, do. It’s got a slightly sweet taste to it — quite pleasant, actually.
  • As much as a food processor can be a time saver, the slices mine makes are good sized, so a mandoline would make a prettier salad if that matters to you.  Otherwise, if you have the time, making nice slices with a knife works great.
  • There are quite a few versions of this salad around which actually surprised me.  Cauliflower and apples aren’t something I’ve considered in a salad before, but mine is adapted from a variety — especially this one which I thought needed some help.
  • On the radicchio:  I constantly strive to get color into our diet with brightly colored veggies and fruit, so often use radicchio in salads for interest and taste.  It’s on the bitter side so a little can go a long way for some, but I truly enjoy it.  Although it resembles a small purple cabbage, its texture is more fine with the leaves being far more tender than cabbage — and that’s just the beginning.  For a great comparison of the two, read Food Blogga’s
    “What’s the Difference between Red Cabbage and Radicchio?” written as only Susan can.
  • Maple syrup instead of honey would be good in the dressing.  And if you don’t have the walnut oil, extra virgin olive oil is fine, but walnut oil — even a smaller quantity really makes this salad delicious.
  • The original recipe calls for pears and walnuts — also a lovely combo, but just as classic as apples and pecans, right?  The goal is to get a bit of sweet and crunch from fruit, and the savory crunch from the nuts.
  • A sprinkle of some nice blue cheese would be the perfect touch to this as well.
  • If you want a bit more sweetness, add some dried cranberries.
  • If you’re more in the mood for leafy greens, then just add them, but I’d choose something that contrasts with these flavors and textures — something like mache or any tender young mesclun blend.

More cauliflower salads from around the web:

The Healthy Foodie“Cauliflower, Apple and Cashew Salad”

Love Your Greens“Cauliflower Waldorf Salad”

Smitten Kitchen“Cauliflower Salad with Green Olives and Capers”

Food Porn Daily“Roasted Cauliflower and Edamame Salad”

Steamy Kitchen — “Cauliflower and Kale Salad”




24 thoughts on “Cauliflower and Apple Salad with Radicchio

  1. Thanks for sharing your change in lifestyle story – it’s nice to have a partner do it with you. Love this wintry salad you put together.

  2. I love your mentality towards eating healthier! Life and food choices are always going to be up-and-down…I know that (especially the latter) all too well. I try to tell myself that it’s the average that counts. 😛

    Salads are definitely a go-to of mine for when i’m trying to eat better, but they have to excite me. With all these non-traditional ingredients, this is DEFINITELY exciting!

  3. What a lovely salad – and your mention of pears ( along with, say, toasted pecans and that roquefort ) has me adding to today’s grocery list. Thank you ! I’ve been reading about your slow but sure path to losing weight and getting fit , and gradually noticed I was adopting your methods. Forbidden foods? That doesn’t work for me at all! I have managed to cut back on my beloved carbs, and buying a pedometer encourages me to go a little further every day (that would be the competitive side of me:) This morning I discovered I’d lost 3 pounds in the last two weeks ! 12 more to go, I think, to feel comfortable in my jeans. I also had knee surgery, and have a lower back issue that limits walks over 1.5 miles, but that’s on a flat straightaway. But it doesn’t bother either to go up and down stairs and back and forthing from the kitchen to the office. I’m at around 5000 steps a day, each day going up to, I hope, 10,000 steps daily. Be careful with your knee!
    Thanks again for sharing your struggles and sensible eating habits, Kelly – it works!

  4. This looks like a beautiful salad and I love the ingredients especially the radiccio. You know it just kills me how men always seem to drop mor pounds than women in the same time period. Congrats to you though that is very good for just two months.

  5. Congrats Kelly! You look great. That salad is screaming my name. I will be doing the matchsticks per your directions.. I almost killed myself with the matchstick gadget on my recent mandoline. 🙂

    1. Thanks, Jenny 🙂 And I hear you on the mandoline. I use one of those cut resistant gloves and it works wonderfully to keep my bits and pieces together. But honestly, for this amount of work, I found the knife to be easier and was saved the time of having to clean the mandoline which is always a royal pain.

  6. So wonderful for you and the hubs to undertake such a huge journey! It’s definitely life-changing. I’m going to share with my parents in hopes of helping my mom lose some weight… it’s so much easier for her to do it when my father joins her. I get you on the exercise thing, girlfriend. No fun at all. I found that dancing at home is far more fun and effective for me! And, I love it! 🙂 Love the salad. I was just thinking about using some radicchio this week! A salad is great start—b/c I was seriously inclining towards a rich pasta! 🙂

    1. Good to hear fron you, Bren! You know, I’ve thought about dancing and I’m so out of practice listening to music anywhere but the ball I sit on in front of my Mac, I just forget. I need to change that. I’ll confess, a bowl of rich pasts sounds pretty wonderful right now. Measuring a half-cup serving can be a let down but is made easier with having a huge salad before.

  7. Congratulations. Sounds like it’s going well. I have to thank you. You inspired me to the point where I gave up chocolate for 2 weeks. It may not sound like a big deal but it was becoming a food group in my house. Doing this one small act for 2 weeks helped me feel in control of all mindless eating, not just chocolate. Now cravings don’t seem monumental. All I have to do is distract myself and I’m amazed at how quickly they disappear. Thank you to you and your husband! Now, I must try that salad…

    1. El, that’s AWESOME! I completely understand because I’ve had no trouble at all avoiding anything sweet. It’s all about having the right things to eat and having a plan ahead of time balancing everything throughout the day. Good for you!!!

  8. This is my kind of salad! I’ve been striving for similar healthy changes in recent months. It’s always inspiring to read about someone else doing it and having success. I have to remind myself that small losses will add up over time and these changes are for a lifetime and not just ’til I get there. This was a very timely post!

  9. I love a crunchy salad that makes you forget it’s healthy because you’re so busy taking in all of the flavors and textures.

    I’ve been noticing all of your Facebook posts about walking, weight loss and mindful eating. I’m so happy that the changes you’re making are yielding such positive results! 🙂

  10. Phillip and I are both working on losing weight right now as well – basically just watching calories and exercising more. It helps to have a partner in this! My weight loss journey has been ongoing for quite some time, but I’ve taken breaks for months at a time where I work on just maintaining until I feel I have enough willpower to get back to actively losing. While diet change of any sort is difficult, actual weight loss is hard work! Congratulations on what you’ve accomplished so far (I just read your most recent post) and thanks for sharing with us! I have a hard time enjoying a gym routine so I’ve been trying to mix it up as much as possible. Some days I’m at the gym splitting time between different cardio machines, some days I walk/jog outside, some days I go for a bike ride. After a few months of being inactive, I’ve been pretty good at exercising 5-6 days a week lately and feel SO much better.

    1. Nicole, that’s pretty much what the hubster (Philip also!) and I are doing and we’re both amazed. I like your idea of taking breaks for maintenance and think that’s definitely where I’ll be in September after I treat myself to that camera. I look in the mirror now and feel so good already I’m wondering what it will be like with another 30 lbs. gone. Can’t imagine right now! Good for you on your consistence with exercise. I’m still not that good. I’ll have a great week, then totally slack off. Always have a good feeling of changing for the positive, tho…

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