Berry Walnut Salad {Gluten-Free, No Refined Sugar}

Berry Walnut Salad {Gluten Free, No Refined Sugar}


Salad for me used to mean lettuce and a bottle of msg-laden ranch dressing. With delicious and healthy options like this berry walnut salad, I don’t even miss the bottled ranch dressing and watery lettuce. Instead, this berry walnut salad is made with spring mix lettuce and topped with fresh berries, red onion, homemade candied walnuts, and a strawberry lemon dressing. It’s simple and pulls together quickly for the perfect side dish any time of year.

Berry Walnut Salad Recipe

This salad is good on its own, but I like to add some protein to make it a full meal. My favorite is shredded chicken breast, but turkey or a mild-tasting fish (like flounder or salmon) are also great options. I’ll often use leftover chicken from the night before in a salad like this. We eat a lot of salads for lunch since they’re simple and an easy way to pack more veggies in the day.

Sometimes salads aren’t the most nutritious choices when they’re loaded with sugar. This berry salad is completely free of refined sugars. I used a few different sweetener options in this salad to make it taste as delicious as it looks!

The candied nuts use Wildly Organic Raw Agave, but you could easily use Wildly Organic Coconut Sugar as well. I chose Wildly Organic Coco Monkey Sweetener for the salad dressing though to help reduce the sugar load in the salad. While I don’t avoid natural sugars entirely, I always feel better when I choose a low-glycemic option. The Coco Monkey sweetener tastes great in the dressing and doesn’t leave a funny after taste like artificial sweeteners. Coco Monkey is low carb and made from natural ingredients, like organic inulin.

How to Make Candied Walnuts

If you’ve never made candied nuts before it may seem a little intimidating, but I promise it’s really simple. There’s just three ingredients and some stirring involved. I used Wildly Organic Walnuts in this salad because I like their slight bitter edge combined with the sweetness from the agave. However, pecans or even almonds would also taste good. Be sure to chop the almonds before candying them though, or you might risk breaking a molar!

Although the process is simple, I’ve found there are a few tricks to the perfect batch of candied nuts. The syrup will start to bubble but can quickly burn if the heat is too high, it’s cooked too long, or the nuts aren’t stirred constantly. You want to cook the nuts just until the sweetener has coated them and there’s oily residue left in the pan.

Once the candied nuts are finished the sugar hardens quickly so it’s necessary to work fast. I always have a baking sheet lined with parchment paper ready to go. You don’t want to be fussing with getting this set up while your nuts are hardening on the skillet! After the nuts are on the tray I immediately pour some water into the skillet so the syrup can soak for easier cleanup.

The nuts can be cooled at room temperature or the fridge, but my favorite way is to pop them in the freezer for a bit. It only takes a few minutes though and they’ll be rock hard if they’re accidentally left in there. … I may or may not have made that mistake a few times.

Need more salad inspiration? Try these recipes!

Will you add chicken or salmon to this Berry Walnut Salad?

Berry Walnut Salad
This refreshing summer salad features juicy berries and sweet, candied nuts. Spicy onions and tangy feta round out the flavors for a delicious salad that can be eaten as a side or main dish.
    Servings4 people
    Prep Time20 minutes
    Cook Time5 minutes
    • 1/2cup fresh blueberries
    • 1cup fresh strawberriessliced
    • 5cups lettucespring mix type blend
    • 1/3 red onionthinly sliced
    • 1/3cup feta cheeseor vegan cheese if preferred
    Strawberry Lemon Dressing
    Candied Walnuts
    1. Put 1 tsp of coconut oil into a skillet (preferably cast iron) and set the heat to medium-low. Once the oil is melted, add the walnuts and agave nectar.
    2. Stir constantly with a metal spoon until the agave has coated the nuts, about 3 minutes. Immediately scrape the nuts out onto a parchment-lined tray.
    3. Let harden in the fridge, or put them in the freezer to speed the process.
    Strawberry Lemon Dressing
    1. Zest and then juice the lemon. Add the lemon zest and juice to a blender.
    2. Add the strawberries, coco monkey and extra virgin olive oil to the blender. Blend until smooth.
    1. Place the greens into a mixing bowl, pour the dressing over the top, and toss to coat. Reserve a little bit of the dressing to drizzle on top.
    2. Sprinkle the onion, cheese, candied walnuts, and berries on top of the lettuce. Drizzle the remaining dressing on top.

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