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This Hearty Salad Has An Immune-Boosting, Anxiety-Reducing Secret Ingredient 

Caroline Muggia
November 27, 2018
Caroline Muggia
By Caroline Muggia
mbg Contributor
Caroline Muggia is a writer, environmental advocate, and registered yoga teacher (E-RYT) with a B.A. in Environmental Studies & Psychology from Middlebury College.
butternut squash
Photo by Helen Rushbrook / Stocksy
November 27, 2018

With the holidays come more gatherings and, for some, more sickness and anxiety. A great way to enhance your immune system and your mood is to incorporate this unexpected ingredient into your diet. Lemongrass improves blood circulation, boosts the immune system and metabolism, and helps calm the nervous system.

When you think of lemongrass, you may think of lemongrass tea (which we love), but there are ways you can get this ingredient into your appetizer or main dish. Nina Olsson, art director of Buffé, Sweden's most-read monthly magazine, and author of Bowls of Goodness, is all about innovating with unusual ingredients in the kitchen. In her new book Feasts of Veg: Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes for Gatherings, Nina urges us to celebrate and come together with delicious easy-to-make vegetarian recipes for joyous times.

At mbg, we say that food is medicine, and in this case it really is. Nina's creative and healthy twist on a traditional salad will leave your nervous system feeling Zen and your stomach much happier.

Photo by Nina Olsson / Contributor

Pumpkin, Wild Rice & Lemongrass Salad

  • 1¼ cups wild rice
  • 1 medium pumpkin or delicata squash, halved, seeds and membrane removed, peeled, and cut into wedges
  • Peanut or vegetable oil, for drizzling
  • ⅓ cup toasted hazelnuts
  • 2 avocados, sliced
  • A handful of mixed cilantro and flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Lemongrass Dressing

  • 6 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons shoyu soy sauce or tamari
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons coconut sugar
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, white part only, tough outer layers removed, finely chopped
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
  • 1 teaspoon minced red chile
  • Salt, to taste


  1. Cook the wild rice according to the package instructions (usually simmered for about 45 minutes), then drain.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Put the pumpkin or squash wedges in the bowl, drizzle with oil, and sprinkle with salt and pepper, then toss to coat.
  3. Arrange in a single layer on the lined baking sheet and roast for 25 minutes. Flip the wedges over and roast on the other side for 10 minutes or until golden and tender.
  4. Meanwhile, whisk together all the ingredients for the lemongrass dressing in a bowl until well-combined.
  5. To serve, toss the roasted pumpkin or squash with the cooked wild rice; top with the toasted hazelnuts, avocado, and herbs; and drizzle with the lemongrass dressing.
  6. Serve warm with lime wedges for squeezing and shiso leaves, if you wish.
Based on excerpts from Feasts of Veg: Vibrant Vegetarian Recipes for Gatherings by Nina Olson, with the permission of Kyle Books, an imprint of Octopus Books. Copyright © 2018.
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Caroline Muggia author page.
Caroline Muggia

Caroline Muggia has a B.A. in Environmental Studies & Psychology from Middlebury College. She received her E-RYT with Yoga Works and is a graduate of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition. A writer and environmental advocate, she is passionate about helping people live healthier and more sustainable lives. You can usually find her drinking matcha or spending time by the ocean.