One of the most common questions I get from interstitial cystitis (IC) patients is, “What can I put on my salad?” The answer is, “Plenty!” The trick is to pile the salad itself with flavorful vegetables, herbs, IC friendly fruit, cheeses, and nuts so that you aren’t relying solely on the salad dressing for that burst of flavor. You can also try herb‐infused oils for salad dressing or create homemade dressings with suitable substitutes for the vinegar or mayonnaise base. You can even make your own croutons. Finally, as always, rely on your own instincts and experience with various ingredients. Here are a couple of salad dressing recipes from Confident Choices: A Cookbook for Interstitial Cystitis and Overactive Bladder to get you started:

Basil Blueberry Non‐Vinaigrette Salad Dressing
1 c. frozen blueberries, partially thawed
1/2 c. organic, pure blueberry juice
1/2 c. olive oil
1 t. lemon zest
1/2 t. sugar
2 t. finely chopped fresh basil (may substitute thyme)
Pinch salt
Pinch white pepper as tolerated to taste

Place all ingredients in blender. Blend using one‐second “pulses,” checking consistency after every couple of pulses. May also be made without using frozen berries. Simply increase juice to 1 cup.

Homemade and Healthy Ranch Salad Dressing
1 c. fat‐free plain yogurt (try organic Greek yogurt!)
1/2 c. low‐fat cottage cheese
1/2 t. lemon zest
1 t. dill
2 t. parsley
1/4 t. minced garlic
Pinch onion powder
Pinch sugar
Salt and pepper to taste, if tolerated
Blend all ingredients in blender or food processor until smooth. Store in refrigerator for up to one week past “sell‐by” dates on yogurt and cottage cheese.



Prep time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Salad with honey-drizzled pears and goat cheese rounds. Shown with optional peaches if tolerated.

¼ cup (s) almonds, toasted, finely chopped
½ tsp kosher salt, divided
4 oz goat cheese
4 oz OR 6 cups salad greens – arugula or spinach, any other
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium lemon – zest only
4 medium pears, fresh (ripe but firm) or canned
2 tbsp honey

Ground black pepper (optional)
*substitutions: peaches if tolerated

1. Place almonds in shallow dish. Season with ¼ tsp salt and optional pepper. Roll goat cheese log in pecans to coat. Refrigerate the log until firm, if necessary, then cut into 8 rounds.
2. Place greens into medium bowl. Add oil and lemon zest and toss to coat. Season with remaining ¼ tsp salt and optional pepper.
3. Divide the salad greens among 4 shallow bowls. Nestle 2 pear halves into each portion or greens, top each half with a round of almond crusted goat cheese and drizzle each salad with honey.


recipe adapted for IC Diet by Elizabeth Braun, MSRD from

Here’s a tasty green salad for the holidays.


  • 1 16-ounce bag broccoli slaw
  • 2 bunches green onions, chopped (if tolerated)
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 2 tablespoons butter or margarine
  • 1 package Ramen noodles, dry, uncooked, and crushed (discard seasoning packet)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds


  • 1/2 cup vegetable or olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons sugar
  • 4 tablespoons honey
  • Salt & pepper, if desired


  1. Melt butter in fry pan, stir in almonds and crushed Ramen noodles.
  2. Lightly brown and cool on paper towel.
  3. Mix broccoli slaw and green onions in bowl.
  4. Add almond and noodle mixture with desired amount of dressing just before serving.
  5. Enjoy!


Makes 4 main course servings or 6 side dish servings.


  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 handfuls baby spinach leaves, washed and drained
  • 1 large, ripe pear – washed, stemmed, cored & cut into pieces
  • 1/2 cup canned white beans, rinsed and drained (Navy or Great Northern)
  • 1/2 cup cut-up fresh vegetables (bell pepper, cucumber, zucchini, sweet potato, etc.)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped parsley for garnish
  • chopped or slivered almonds for garnish


quinoa spinach salad



  • 5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup (more if desired)




  1. Place quinoa in a saucepan.  Add the 2 cups water.
  2. Cover & cook on a low simmer until water is evaporated and quinoa is tender – roughly 20 minutes.
  3. Fluff with a fork & place in a large salad bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients (except parsley and almonds).
  4. Whisk the olive oil & maple syrup together, pour over salad & toss gently to coat. Chill in refrigerator.
  5. Just before serving add the parsley and almonds & combine gently.



This sweet dish gives a good mix of fruit, veggies and protein (greek yogurt), and serves as a nice salad to make ahead and bring in your lunch to school or work, or to bring as a dish to pass at a gathering.

Makes six one-cup servings.


  • 5 cups thinly sliced cabbage (Packaged angel hair cabbage works well).
  • 2 cups chopped Fuji apples
  • 1/2 cup pure plain Greek yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons honey (or more to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Combine cabbage and apples in large bowl. 
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in small bowl; stir or whisk well. 
  3. Add small bowel mixture to cabbage mixture, tossing to coat. 
  4. Cover & chill. 


  • To add a little crunch, you can add a nut of your choice — almonds or walnuts work well and are IC friendly.
  • Sliced or shredded radish and/or carrots may add some color as well.
  • Raisins can add some sweetness.
  • Try adding shredded or chopped fresh fennel; or replacing cabbage all together with fennel.

Here a recipe for Quinoa Salad with Apples  from one of our IC patients Patti. Quinoa is a grain-like seed originating from South America and is available in most grocery stores usually near the rice. It is higher in protein than most grains and contains minerals like calcium and iron making it an ideal choice for vegetarians and is IC friendly!

Prep time: a few hours (quinoa needs to cool)
Serves: 6-8


  • 1 cup quinoa (keen-wa), rinsed
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp lemon zest or 1 tsp lemon extract (if tolerated)
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium fuji apple, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped toasted almonds
  • 1/3 cup organic or untreated raisins, brown or golden (if tolerated)


  1. In a medium-sized saucepan bring quinoa, water and a tsp olive oil to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 15 minutes until quinoa is tender and water absorbed stirring occasionally to prevent sticking. Remove from heat, transfer to a loosely covered dish and cool.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together honey, lemon zest or extract and salt. Gradually whisk in olive oil until blended.
  3. Add apple, celery parsley, almonds and raisings to cooled quinoa. Mix well.
  4. Pour dressing over mixture and stir. Serve or refrigerate.  

Ideas for substitution or addition:

  • exchange walnuts for almonds
  • exchange brown raisins for golden
  • exchange parsley for mint
  • add spinach or kale
  • add coconut shredded or flaked

Chickpea & Broccoli Pasta

August 15, 2012

Yield: Makes 4 main-course servingschickpea broccoli pasta salad
Active Time: 15 min
Total Time: 25 min


  • 6 garlic cloves, chopped (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1 small chopped onion, if tolerated
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried hot red pepper flakes, if tolerated
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil plus additional for drizzling
  • 2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped broccoli (not thawed)
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 pound whole-wheat fussili, or favorite pasta noodle
  • grated parmesan, for topping before serving

*Alternatives — in place of or in addition to chickpeas, try navy or great northern beans


  1. Cook garlic and optional onion and red pepper flakes in oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until garlic is golden, about 1 minute.
  2. Add broccoli and salt and cook, breaking up frozen chunks and stirring occasionally, until broccoli is thawed and crisp-tender, 5 to 7 minutes.
  3. Stir in chickpeas and cook until heated through.
  4. Cook pasta in a 6- to 8-quart pot of boiling salted water until al dente.
  5. Reserve 1/2 cup pasta cooking water, then drain pasta in a colander.
  6. Add pasta and reserved cooking water to broccoli and chickpeas in skillet and cook over moderate heat, tossing, until combined well.
  7. Serve drizzled with additional olive oil, and optional parmesan.
  8. If not sure of your tolerance for red pepper flakes or onion, do not use. If others who will be eating with you would like red pepper flakes, they can always be added with the parmesan at the end.

 *This recipe has been adapted from