So, the holidays are fast approaching.  When you have food allergies or sensitivities in your sphere of cooking, it can become stressful.  However, find key foods for your allergic eater that you can serve others and it makes everyone feel more comfortable.

This mandarin salad is a hit at our house.  It meets all of our dietary requirements of being dairy free, gluten free and nut free.  This salad shows up on the table at almost every holiday meal at our house. My kids will even prepare and eat it for breakfast when the mood strikes them.  (Really?!! What kids eat romaine for breakfast?!! I’m amazed! 🙂 )

Mandarin & Sugared Sunflower Seed Salad

Mandarin & Sugared Sunflower Seed Salad


  • Ingredients:
  • ½ c. raw sunflower seeds
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • ½ head iceberg lettuce
  • 1 heart of romaine lettuce
  • 1 c. 1/4" diced celery (optional)
  • 4-5 table onions, sliced into 1/4" round slices - about 1/4 c.
  • 1 11 ounce can of mandarin oranges
  • Salad dressing
  • 1/4 c. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • pinch of pepper


In a small pan over medium heat, cook sunflower seeds and sugar, stirring constantly until sunflower seeds are coated in lumps and sugar is dissolved. Watch carefully as they will burn easily. Pour sugared sunflower seeds into a glass container to cool. Careful, they are snackable, but very hot to the touch and can burn your mouth quickly.

Let cool and use for the recipe above. Extras can be store in air-tight container and placed in the freezer for longer storage.

In a jar with a tight sealing lid, add all the dressing ingredients together. Shake well to combine before each use. Dressing can kept in a well sealed container in a dark cupboard.

Cut up lettuces, celery and onions. Mix well in a large bowl. Just before serving, toss salad with dressing and top with mandarins. You can toss in the sugared sunflower seeds into the salad just before serving, but the sugared sunflower seeds have a tendency to "melt" into the salad. If the seeds aren't added before serving, there will be the crunch of sunflower seeds on the top.


Keep the dressing mixed in a jar in the cupboard for quick use. Just remember that it’s 1 part sugar, 1 part vinegar, 2 parts oil with salt and pepper to taste. Also, you can make a double batch of sugared sunflower seeds and freeze them. Then, it’s easy to prepare: cut the vegetables, add salad dressing, toss, add mandarins. Serve with sunflower seeds. And, it looks so gourmet!

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