Viva Recipe: Spicy Southwestern Salad

Recipe by Leigh Hopkins, Viva Institute

Just when you think you can’t eat another salad, this one will add spice to your repertoire!

Eating salads is one of the easiest ways to make a fast, wholesome meal while maintaining a healthy diet. But they can also get old, quickly, which can tempt you to grab a fast food alternative. Before you grab the phone and order take-out, give this recipe a try.

Spicy Southwestern Salad is a delicious salad any time of the year, but for raw food or live foodists, it’s particularly nice during the winter because the spices are very warming. The resulting dish is both filling and festive—red, yellow, green, purple—and tastes like a southwestern fiesta!


  • 4-6 Romaine leaves, washed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 2 cups of baby greens, preferably arugula or mixed wild greens
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced julienne (long, thin strips)
  • ½ yellow bell pepper, sliced julienne
  • ½ cup purple cabbage, chopped
  • ½ to whole cucumber, sliced in big pieces on a diagonal
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro
  • ½ to whole avocado
  • Handful of raw sunflower seeds or pumpkin seeds for garnish


  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil (use your discretion)
  • ½ lime, juiced
  • 1 teaspoon of ground chipotle pepper (best) or ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper
  • Dash of cumin
  • 1 teaspoon of course sea salt
  • Ground pepper (optional)

Optional garnish

  • Handful of fresh alfalfa or clover sprouts
  • Lime wedge


  1. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a large bowl, mix well and set aside
  2. Wash (and spin, if you have a salad spinner) all salad greens and set aside
  3. Slice the red pepper and place it in the bowl with the dressing, and toss well. Do the same with the cabbage and cucumber. This will allow the spices to saturate the vegetables, which will give your salad the spice you’re aiming for
  4. Add salad greens, parsley and cilantro and toss with the vegetables until coated.
  5. Arrange salad on two dinner plates (for entrée-sized salad)
  6. Top salad with sliced avocado, a sprinkle of pumpkin or sunflower seeds, an additional sprinkling of olive oil and some ground pepper. Add sprouts for more liveliness and color, and serve with a lime wedge.
  7. Tip: toss the pumpkin seeds with olive oil and a dash of chipotle and warm them on low heat before serving.
Serving suggestion: This recipe combines well with Mango Parfait or Banana Sorbet.

6 thoughts on “Viva Recipe: Spicy Southwestern Salad

  1. Maria Paula Navas

    This is one of my favorite saldas! and the presentation is awesome, it is my “take to BBQ” start, and people just to see it wants to taste it and eat it!

    1. vivainstitute Post author

      This is so great to hear! It’s been a favorite of a lot of people who have done this challenge…and you’re right, it DOES have a BBQ flavor to it. So glad you liked it. Thanks for the review. :)

    1. vivainstitute Post author

      So glad! I sort of threw this one together one day before work…just wanting something to warm me up and give some crunch. It’s funny how those last minute “inventions” often end up being the ones that stick!

  2. Jenny Gray

    I just made this salad for lunch and it is my favorite recipe so far! I made just a few changes. I used spinach instead of romaine and only 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Nice and spicy and very filling. I swear this is better than any salad you buy at a restaurant!

    1. vivainstitute Post author

      Awesome! This was an invention of mine when I first went raw. I was craving warm and spicy, plus a bit of crunch, and this did the trick. It’s always better to go light on the olive oil, so I’m glad you did that.

      Now you are officially a Salad Expert. ;)

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