Smashed Cucumber Salad

Smashed Cucumber Salad

I am a big cucumber fan — the type that will take a bite straight from a whole cuke - but you don’t have to be to enjoy this salad.

Smashed Cucumber Salad is a Chinese side dish, and I’ve adapted that dish into a recipe I can make any old day. The salad base is still just cucumber (a GREAT way to mix it up when you’re in a salad rut). The dressing is where the rubber really meets the road here. You could use this dressing on other salads, too — but I never have leftovers 😁

The perfect balance of salt, acid, and sweet: rice vinegar, soy sauce, and honey come together here. I haven’t yet watched Salt Fat Acid Heat (or read it), but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate a dish that balances all of it’s flavors well. What do you think — should I jump in and watch the show?

Either way, this dressing is golden. Garlic and chili flakes add punch. Cucumber is plain and simple; but simple is just right with the dressing.

Smashed Cucumber Salad
Smashed Cucumber Salad

Smashed Cucumber Salad

Published April 2, 2019 by
   Print This Recipe

Serves: 6   |    Active Time: 50 minutes


  • 2-3 english cucumbers 
  • Sprinkle of salt
  • 3 tablespoons avocado oil or other neutral oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes 
  • 1 teaspoon honey (or white sugar)
  • 3 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon ginger juice or minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce 
  • Garnish: 1 tablespoon minced cilantro, 2-3 small sprigs of mint (optional), lime wedges (optional)

  • Directions:

    1. Slice ends off of cucumber, and slice in half the long direction. Lay halved cucumbers seed-side down on a cutting board. Roll a rolling pin over cucumbers, smashing them just until the start to crack. Chop into bite-sized pieces.
    2. Place cucumber in a bowl and generously sprinkle with salt. Set aside.
    3. Place avocado oil, garlic and chili flakes in a small sauté pan and warm over medium heat until garlic begins to sizzle. Stir occasionally, and allow garlic to turn golden. Remove from heat.
    4. In a jar, combine honey, rice vinegar, ginger juice, sesame oil, soy sauce, and the chili-garlic oil. Stir (or close jar and shake) to combine.
    5. Toss cucumber in dressing. Top with minced cilantro, and optionally garnish with mint and lime wedges. Serve.


    Zoodle Chicken Chow Mein

    Zoodle Chicken Chow Mein

    I was having a really bad case of writers block for this post. I love the recipe, but wasn't sure how to put words to it. The post that follows is only slightly connected (Chow mein, Chinese food, Beijing... you'll get it in a few more sentences. I hope. 😬), but once I started writing it the words flowed. Despite being almost unrelated to Chow Mein, I hope you'll like it! And the recipe is below, of course. 

    The Beijing Olympics opened the fall of my Senior year of high school. I was in the thick of my gymnastics obsession, and could name every competitor that was going to compete in the event on the women's side. Honestly I probably knew their age, floor music, and home town at the time too. 

    My entire high school gymnastics team crowded into a single living room to watch the all-around event. As I remember it, the competition was no easy win--the Chinese team had a load of talented athletes. My own team, piled on the couch, yelled at the TV as if the athletes in China could hear us. "Stick it!!!!!" and we'd cross our fingers as if we had as much riding on this competition as the athletes themselves.

    Zoodle Chicken Chow Mein

    Even though I don't keep track of the US National team anymore, I cherish those memories because they mark a time in my life where I had truly found my passion. It wasn't until I started gymnastics that I had any desire to participate in sports at all, so when I think back on the sport I see it as transformative. 

    I had no interest in athletics at a younger age--I remember my dad lecturing me in fourth grade that I had to do something. But I disliked most of the sports that were available, and found that when I ran track in gym class I usually wound up coughing until my lungs bled. Soccer and running were the two big sports at my school, and I didn't want a slice of either of them, not even in gym class. 

    When I took up gymnastics (late for a gymnast--at the age of 9 or 10), I don't think I even thought of it as a sport. It felt like play time. Being upside down became my favorite thing in the world. Our living room became my jungle gym, much to my mother's chagrin. I was sold. 

    Zoodle Chicken Chow Mein

    The 2008 Olympics felt especially important because they happened to take place during my last year as a competitive gymnast. I had no plans to go on to NCAA. While I wasn't in the Games (or even close to them,) it felt like this was it. And what a competition it was! Team USA took Silver (women's) and my favorite two athletes went 1 and 2 in the all-around (Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin). 

    When I stopped competing, I found that gymnastics had given me a launching point (a trampoline, if you will 😉) to actual enjoy other sports. I took up running--something I had despised previously, and eventually trained for a marathon. I was never going to be an Olympic athlete but that's not what I was meant to get out of gymnastics. Instead I learned that if you simply do the things you enjoy, exercise doesn't feel like a chore. Sometimes I hear people refer to it like this, and I hope that they will just find the one thing they are passionate about, because that is life changing. Do what you love

    Zoodle Chicken Chow Mein

    Three years after the Beijing Olympics, watching gymnastics competitions was far from my mind. I had shoved it in a corner, along with other things I "used to do." Some how the headline made it to me--perhaps on Facebook, or maybe a magazine: Nastia Liukin announces retirement. I think I broke out into tears. While I did very little gymnastics any more, this was a sort of final page on the gymnastics chapter in my life. It was silly. The emotional piece of it is almost impossible to explain. It felt like good bye, but a good bye I couldn't articulate. I started reading gymnastics articles again for a short stint, and then I remembered: just do what you love. 

    Following that passion led me to Acro Yoga, climbing, and biking--while I probably wouldn't have loved them years ago, gymnastics had taught me how to make exercise feel like playtime. And that's still how I think of it. 

    Zoodle Chicken Chow Mein

    P.S., I just learned that crossing chop sticks and leaving chopsticks in a bowl are both big no-nos. Of course I would learn this after shooting these images 🙄 Will have to remember for next time! 

    Zoodle Chicken Chow Mein

    Paleo, Primal, Grain-Free    |       |    Print This Recipe

    Chicken and veggies are sautéd with a savory sauce and tossed with zucchini noodles for a lighter, more nutritious take on the classic take out dish. And while this recipe does call for chicken, you could mix things up by swapping in shrimp or pork instead.

    Serves: 2   |    Total Time:


    • 4 chicken cutlets (about a 1/2 pound), chopped into bite-sized pieces
    • 4 cups zucchini noodles (I use this Spiralizer)
    • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
    • 1/2 onion, sliced
    • 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
    • 1 cup green beans, stems removed
    • 1/4 head napa cabbage, sliced thin
    • For serving: Sliced green onions, Sriracha or red pepper flakes

    • For the Sauce:
    • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
    • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
    • 1 teaspoon garlic, minced
    • 1/4 cup chicken broth
    • 1/4 cup soy sauce
    • 1 teaspoon tapioca starch (or corn starch)


    1. Heat coconut oil in a skillet or wok over medium heat until it glistens. Add diced chicken to skillet, and brown on each side.
    2. Add onion, garlic, mushrooms, and green beans to the skillet. Sauté until the onions are translucent and the green beans are bright green. Add cabbage, and stir.
    3. Make the sauce: in a small bowl, whisk all of the sauce ingredients together. Pour sauce into pan, and toss with vegetables to coat. Allow to simmer for 3-5 minutes.
    4. Add zucchini noodles last, cooking just until tender.
    5. Serve in bowls and top with slices green onion and Sriracha or red pepper flakes as desired.