Cucumber and Coconut Salad with Sweet Basil Dressing

by Gena on July 7, 2009


Hello friends,

Wow! What a response to food combining! I am so excited that you all found my explanation helpful. I hope those of you who feel compelled to will give the whole thing a shot, if only for a few days: you will truly be amazed, I think, at the difference it makes.

So, I just had one of those proverbially lousy days. Nothing grave, nothing to pity myself for, just a heavy dose of stress. You’ve all probably noticed by now — or maybe you haven’t, in which case I applaud myself for keeping up a good front — that I’m a bit of a stress monkey. Having two jobs, while totally exhilarating, can contribute to the stress monkey tendencies.

So when stress knocks, what do I do? I seek order. I seek it out in music, in poetry, and in the devising of recipes. Un-cooking — and imagining things to un-cook — is always a soothing experience for me.

I wish I had more time to say more about this recipe — to tell you how simple and delicious it is, or to wax poetic about my love of young coconuts (as if I haven’t done enough of that already). But it’s late here, so I’ll conclude this very long day by sharing the following recipe: cucumber and coconut salad with sweet basil dressing. The coconut flesh is what makes this unique, but it would taste pretty darn great with cucumbers alone, and the dressing is a total keeper.

May you all try it and love it, and may it — or another recipe — bring a touch of order to the chaos of the everyday.


Cucumber and Coconut Salad with Sweet Basil Dressing

For the dressing (yields 1 cup or so):

3 limes, skin and pith removed
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup basil, packed
4 tbsp raw honey or agave (you can substitute stevia here for a low-sugar variation!)
1/2 cup olive oil

Put all ingredients except the oil in a blender or food processor and blend on high until well combined. Next, with the motor running, add oil in a thin stream, until the mixture is rich and emulsified.

For the salad (serves 1-2):

1 cucumber, julienned or spiralized
Meat of 1 young coconut, chopped into thin strips*
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
2 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

*See my post on opening young coconuts here

Toss all ingredients together. Dress with about 1/4-1/3 cup of the dressing (or to taste).




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{ 52 comments… read them below or add one }

Briana (aka Trilby Drew) July 7, 2009 at 8:57 pm

This salad looks beautiful! And I hear you on the stress monkey thing. I’m a stress monkey, too. So I know of whence you speak. ;)


Maria July 7, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Oooh cucumber + coconut + basil sounds like a refreshing combination. A great base for a lovely salad! Love that the cucumbers and the coconuts are the same shape :)

I understand the stress monkey tendencies–I am a major stress ball myself. Cooking/un-cooking is amazing for the soul, isn’t it?


Gliding Calm July 7, 2009 at 10:47 pm

beautiful!!! thanks for another awesome recipe!!

and sorry you are so stressed mama! get some rest!!!!!!!


Gena July 8, 2009 at 7:49 am

Thanks GC!


Chaz M. July 7, 2009 at 10:57 pm

Gena, this recipe looks delicious. I will try it as soon as I get some more cucumbers. You are so helpful and inspirational.

I have been vegan for two years now and now that I am stepping toward 22 (my birthday is in September), I am looking toward adapting a high raw lifestyle.

Do you think it will be okay to substitute my usual cooked breakfast and lunch for something raw, saving the cooked meal for dinner? (I just can’t get rid of my Indian vegan meals which are always cooked)

Thanks, Gena.


Gena July 8, 2009 at 7:55 am

Chaz —

Raw till dinner is a great approach. Many of my clients feel that it’s what works best for them, and it allows lots of restaurant leeway.



Sarah (LovIN My Tummy) July 7, 2009 at 11:55 pm

I’m sorry your day was less than stellar, Gen. I hope tomorrow is MUCH better. Your salad looks phenomenal. I have yet to see a young coconut in these here parts, but I’m willing to try that dressing on just about anything.


Casey July 8, 2009 at 12:25 am

That dressing sounds fab! Look forward to trying it. Hope you have a better day tomorrow x


Chocolate Covered Katie July 8, 2009 at 2:52 am

Gena Beena!

Recipe sounds good as always :).

Random question: Have you ever been to Quintessence? My mom and I are taking a day trip into NYC soon, and its menu looked delish… so I thought I’d ask the NYC-raw expert!



VeggieGirl July 8, 2009 at 4:09 am

Let me just say again that food combining works wonders for me, so maybe it can help other folks!! :-)

I just received my new spiralizer in the mail yesterday (!!!), so I’d love to try this recipe (just like all the other recipes, haha :-D ).

Gena, I wish you nothing but the BEST days ahead – hang in there!! xo


Gena July 8, 2009 at 7:54 am

YAY, spiralizer!!!!


Katherine July 8, 2009 at 4:44 am

This recipe sounds so refreshing!! I might just have to take the plunge and try opening a young coconut for this one :)


leslie July 8, 2009 at 5:15 am

devising and trying out recipes is my therapy too. i really believe that food can be medicine for both the body and mind. this recipe looks fabulous, as always! if i could figure out how to crack a coconut , i would love to try it. :)


Gena July 8, 2009 at 7:53 am

Read my tutorial, Leslie!!


leslie July 8, 2009 at 8:59 am

ha, of course my eye passed over the important instructional part! you always cover all the bases gena! :)


Shelby July 8, 2009 at 5:35 am

Oh man, this recipe is so perfect! I have a whole bunch of basil growing in the backyard!

Wishing you less stress babe!!


Lauren July 8, 2009 at 5:38 am

Hey Gena

I hope you get a chance to relax soon! Maybe a little yoga is in order?

That dish sounds fab. I am going to have to add to my “recipes by Gena to try” folder..haha!


Gena July 8, 2009 at 7:53 am

Yoga is so ridiculously in order, darlin.’ I had a long run before work this AM, which helped.


Metta July 8, 2009 at 5:58 am

I don’t know how you do it, but even with your stress you have always have an air of grace.

I finally decided to admit to myself yesterday that I just don’t like young coconut. I’ve never been a huge fan of coconut anyway (unless drenched in sugar and chocolate :D). The picture does look yummy though.


Emily (A Nutritionist Eats) July 8, 2009 at 6:19 am

That sounds awsome Gena!


MarathonVal July 8, 2009 at 7:21 am

Thanks for the recipe Gena! Once I overcome my fear of how to open and manipulate coconuts, maybe I’ll try this one ;)

I was wondering: I have a ton of the Chocolate Amazing Meal (which contains rice protein, hemp protein, and cane juice), Amazing Grass Wheatgrass, and some Sun Warrior “raw” rice protein. Are these acceptable? I like to make a Green Monster with almond milk, but I can’t decide of this is miscombining or not. I hate to have all these products go to waste!!

Also, I was wondering if almond butter is only raw when you grind it yourself from Whole Foods ($$$$), or if it is acceptable to buy a jar of it if it is labeled “raw”? I assume you are going to say that anything jarred is not cool :)


Gena July 8, 2009 at 7:52 am

V —

My, you are full of questions! ;-)

I think those grass products are nonsense. But there’s nothing “wrong” with them, per se, so go ahead and finish them if you like them! I also don’t believe in using a protein supplement unless you are an athlete who feels a strong personal need to, but it’s really your call. They would, though, be a miscombination — probably not enough to upset your stomach too much, but technically a miscombination.

Almond butter at whole foods is made from roasted almonds. I buy raw in the jar. It’s not packaging I have a problem with — it’s what is done to foods BEFORE they go in the package. Most raw nut butters are made with integrity.

Hope this helps!



Cindy July 8, 2009 at 8:49 am

This salad looks so refreshing! Can’t wait to try it!

Sorry about your stresfull day!


Kelly J July 8, 2009 at 8:59 am

Hi Gena,

You never cease to amaze me with the quality and frequency of your posts! Not to mention that you make up these recipes on your own….can’t wait to try them….like a comment said earlier, I have a list of “Gena recipes” I still need to try. I don’t know how you do it all, I can’t get around to trying new simple recipes, much less creating them and posting about them!

Thank you for your fabulous site, it’s inspiring to me every day…



Gena July 8, 2009 at 6:23 pm

Thank you Kelly! SO glad I’m inspiring you!


Katharina July 8, 2009 at 10:27 am

I love coconut and all those ingredients are so refreshing tasting! Sounds like another perfect summer recipe :)

I hope your day starts looking up! Atleast it’s Wednesday, so you’re only a few days away from being able to wind down and be a homebody.


Kristin July 8, 2009 at 11:50 am

That looks great, and simple. I am definitely going to try this one out.

Thanks Gena!


Special K July 8, 2009 at 12:01 pm

This looks DIVINE! I just found your blog and love it…there is something to longing for rest in your post, and it’s funny that your ingredients suggest that…do you like raw food bars? Check out my giveaway for them!


Bianca- Vegan Crunk July 8, 2009 at 1:30 pm

This sounds like a really great idea for a soothing summer salad! Good news: I made it through a whole raw day yesterday without craving cooked food. Of course, I ate cooked food today, but I didn’t CRAVE it like I normally do. Maybe cause it’s so hot outside now that raw food makes more sense to me.


Gena July 8, 2009 at 6:23 pm

That is AWESOME, B!! I’m so glad!


emily July 8, 2009 at 4:48 pm

This looks so fresh and tasty, I would never have thought to put coconut with cucumber although now the combo sounds light and refreshing. I still don’t have a blender so my “raw recipes to try” folder grows and grows!


Molly Z. July 8, 2009 at 8:35 pm

Hey Gena,
I can onlyl echo what everyone else has said – hope the stress dies down a little. You do so much, and you do it so well.

And the recipe looks beautiful and sounds amazing! A nice nod to Thai cuisine. Good thinking! I’ll have to try it soon. xo


Pearl July 8, 2009 at 10:02 pm

omnom nom gena!


Meghan (Making Love In The Kitchen) July 9, 2009 at 4:16 am

What a fresh and delicious sounding summer salad. Going to pick up some fresh herbs at the market this afternoon!


Kimberly@Living Free July 9, 2009 at 5:50 am

Mmm, that salad look so refreshing! Also, I didn’t comment on the food combining post, but it was very helpful. I also went and bought ‘The Raw Food Detox Diet’ book. I am mainly interested in the food combining because of my Celiac and IBS symptoms. It makes perfect sense as to why you shouldn’t combine certain foods–especially if you have tummy troubles:) Thanks for all the valuable info.!!


Jenna July 9, 2009 at 7:30 am

this recipe looks great! I have never tried a young coconut before and I”m working up the nerve to buy one and crack it open with out injuring myself or someone else ;) lol


Gena July 9, 2009 at 12:22 pm

Do it, lady! They’re awesome.


Heather McD (Heather Eats Almond Butter) July 9, 2009 at 2:14 pm

What a refreshing recipe for the summer – thanks for sharing. Makes me want to go out and buy a young coconut right now. Maybe I will. :)


Nancy July 9, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Gena, I made this salad tonight, and it is SO DELICIOUS! Many thanks for sharing this — I have a feeling that this will become a summer staple because it’s so refreshing, light and sweet.

I have a question for you. I noticed that you use a lot of cashews; but what exactly is your opinion on cashews, which aren’t really raw and supposedly encourage mold or yeast-growth (?) in the system?

I’m moving to New York in a couple weeks and hope to meet you at some point at BeamGreen and other raw events. Thanks so much for your posts. They’re fabulous.


Gena July 10, 2009 at 6:48 am

Glad you loved it, Nancy!

Ya now, I agree that cashews are NOT an ideal nut and are never to be found raw (I pretty much believe that most “raw” almonds aren’t raw either — try sprouting a few and see what happens). But the truth is, I’m not the sort of raw foods purist who really cares whether my thai coconuts are really organic or nuts are really raw. If they haven’t had the s**t roasted out of them, they’re OK — I don’t LOVE the fact that cashews are yeast prone, but then, I don’t eat them constantly, and they are so versatile that I do consider them an essential for me.

Can’t wait to meet you, I hope!


Laurene Ross July 9, 2009 at 11:07 pm

Gena, I have been reading your blog for the past two weeks and find it tremendously informative. I am a mother to four and wife to one. All who eat minimal veggies {not for lack of me trying} I do get the kids to drink a pint of green smoothies every day so at least that is something. We don’t eat beef or pork, in fact the kids don’t really like fish or chicken that much. No processed foods here. I make most everything homemade. They are not big eaters, so I am trying to find some delicious recipes to solve my problem. We sit down as a family for dinner every night and I want them to learn to enjoy good food and good conversation.

My question is do I really need a juicer? i mean they get the smoothie with all it’s delicious greens and nutrients… plus the fiber. I am trying to figure out if a juicer is more important or a good food processor. I am on a budget and want to get the biggest bang for the buck.

If you could help me with this question I would really be grateful:)
Thanks for you thoughtfulness in writing this blog…excellent!


Gena July 10, 2009 at 6:46 am

Ay, that’s a toughie, Laurene. There is truly no substitute for juicing — nothing else delivers that much nutrition while allowing your body rest and recuperation. You can read more on my thoughts here:

This said, a food processor is, in my mind, not only a basic raw tool, but a basic kitchen essential for anyone, period. So it’s very hard to advise you! I guess it depends on your needs right now. Sorry I can’t be more directly helpful!


Laurene Ross July 10, 2009 at 8:57 am

Thanks so much for the reply. Your post have been very enlightening. I look forward to reading more:)


melissa July 10, 2009 at 4:53 am

Feel better! Read some inspiring quotes…if you’re into that.

I happen to be enjoying the best english cucumber ever right now in the warm south african sun! If only I had a coconut ;)


Gena July 10, 2009 at 6:48 am

Ah, so jealous!


brittany meenach July 10, 2009 at 6:03 am

I know how you feel, and what helps me get through the day is knowing I can come home and read all your wonderful blogs, yours always makes me smile.


Gena July 10, 2009 at 6:54 am

Awww, thank you!


Kathleen July 10, 2009 at 3:22 pm

Gorgeous meal as always. I am sending good thoughts to you through cyberspace! Stress is tough. You seem to juggle all of the people and events in your life so graciously though. Here’s to a break for you really soon!


Emily Eats July 28, 2009 at 5:23 am

I do so love your frequent use of limes, Gena :)


Rita August 3, 2009 at 9:09 am

I’m a little sad because this sounded so delicious. I tried to make this last night and it ended up WAY too sour and very runny…not like a dressing at all. Any suggestions?

-Rita F.


Buy Wheatgrass October 29, 2009 at 12:43 am

I am being told that wheatgrass has 3 times the VIT C as oranges. Really???


Elaine (Get RaWcous!) March 19, 2012 at 4:21 pm

On it like a car bonnet!


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