purple potato 5 greens salad w/ creamy sweet basil dressing {RECIPE} + weight loss dilemmas


A recipe for a super delicious, nutrient dense, high-alkaline, low-glycemic, protein-rich salad coming up, but first.

A few random thoughts.

(It’s been awhile.)

A new vegetable market opened up just a few minutes from my house.

It’s located on the pier, the marina right next to it & the ocean right there. I love going there because I’m usually the only customer & whomever is working there is anxious to help me. I also get to try out my Japanese, & without fail, flub up & realize I don’t actually know much. But it’s enough to communicate, & if they know any English at all, they want to speak it to me. This is where I got all the awesome veggies for the salad I’m excited to share with you.

So, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to be a blog more regularly.

But here we are, middle of January & this is my first post.

Salem started a new preschool this month.

It’s a private, Japanese Christian school.

She’s the only American, & aside from the principal & two Philipino students, she’s the only English speaker.

It’s been interesting to dive head first into this world of Japanese education (which is very, very different from American & deserves an altogether different blog post). It’s all day, & she seems to be doing great & doesn’t mind the language barrier, but she’s at an age where language is still developing & that part of her brain is still quite malleable. Plus she is an independent spirit & up for the adventure.

My other kids are involved with dance, karate, baseball, cub scouts, & piano lessons. Plus there are playgroups & storytime for Tyndale, in addition to bills, laundry, grocery shopping, dates, & of course sex (yes, I just said sex–it’s important too!)

Life is busy.

I know I have said this before, but I *really* mean it this time. I feel so blessed that we are able to do all of these extra-curriculars (I explain in this post how we’ve been able to fit it into our budget) & love that my kids have the opportunity to pursue skills & hobbies, but it doesn’t come without a cost–both in terms of time & financially.

I guess I’m writing all of this to explain why I’m finding it so hard to pursue my hobbies–primarily recipe development, writing, this blog! But, I’m not going to give up–I will find a way to continue to share with you on a regular basis.

I actually have a stack of recipes & photos just waiting for me to do something with them. I even have another ebook & meal plan that have been sitting on the back burner for over a year now. I have so many blog post ideas, that are already written in my mind but not the time I need to execute it all. But you know, sometimes things take longer when you’ve got other things going.

Like, this little man.


Can you believe it’s been 2 years since this happened?

Here’s the crazy thing. I’m still nursing him. He LOVES nursing.

I only nurse 2 or 3 times a day & keep telling myself I’m going to wean, but every time I try, I cave because he still wants to nurse, I don’t want to force it, & you know, it’s just easier.

And, of course the nutritional components of breast milk still kick the pants out of any other food he’s getting.

I know plenty of women have breastfed toddlers, but the idea seems a bit foreign to me, if I’m being honest. Culturally, it’s not just something Americans do.

But here in Japan, apparently it’s quite normal to breastfeed until 2 or beyond (& I think I mentioned it before, they’re big co-sleepers, which if you’re wondering, is something I would personally never do–I like my husband, my sleep, & bed too much, in that order).

With Tyndale, I feel like I’m a new mom all over again, but in the best way. He really lights up our life. Every day his curiosity & fun-loving spirit just makes us all so happy. He is such a cuddle bug (he gives hugs that last minutes). He makes me love being a mom more than I thought possible.

So here’s another thing.

You know last month I had a miscarriage, & I mentioned that of course, I gained weight with that pregnancy. So I’m trying to get back to square one. And it hasn’t been easy.

I never had a follow-up appointment with my physician after I had gestational diabetes, which as a gestational diabetic I was “supposed” to. Anyway, the long & short of it is that I am at greater risk of developing diabetes because of the G.D.

Exercise & eating a “balanced diet” along with returning to my pre-pregnancy weight (you can follow that long weight loss journey here) was the prescription my OB gave me after I had Tyndale. Yes, yes, yes, blah, blah blah. I exercise! Even if I didn’t exercise, I’m an active person! I eat a mostly whole foods, plant-based diet! I’m fine.

But the thing is, the past six months, particularly the past month since I’ve been trying to lose weight & the scale hasn’t budged. In fact, I’ve gained a few pounds (& no it’s not muscle!) since I had the miscarriage. This has been incredibly frustrating.

Believe me, I have been pulling out all the tricks & eating super de duper FSL–low calorie density, nutrient dense, plant-based. Getting 15K steps a day or more + strength training. You guys, I have done the weight loss thing so many times, I know how to do it like the back of my hand.

But it doesn’t seem to be working this time around.

Maybe I need to give it more time (I know this one to be true from past experiences).

Maybe my scale is broken? (Hahahahaha.)

Maybe I’m not actually creating the calorie deficits I think I am.

Maybe I just need to focus on consistency & be patient.

I know I’m getting old (we all are), but I’m only 32 & I’m pretty sure the weight loss wall hits at 40, or 35, but not 32 (said slightly tongue in cheek here).

The thing is, this is not just quibbling over a few pounds. My BMI is now 25 (typically 21), which puts me in a less ideal place for pregnancy. It’s not just a few pounds I’m worried about. It’s my health, particularly in light of my last full-term pregnancy.

I’m not sure what is going on, but I met with an R.D. & she suggested that I have my primary care doctor (which in the military, is an endless rotation of M.D.’s) run some tests to make sure I’m not insulin resistant (which I should have done after I had Tyndale), pre-diabetic, or have any thyroid issues.

I gawked at that suggestion.

But I also gawked when I had to take the glucose test when I was pregnant with Tyndale (& avoided taking the test until I was 32 weeks & found out later than I should have taken it when they wanted me to). I’d like to think I’m above these things. I admit, I know that’s a form of snobbery that only hurts myself.

So I went to the doctor.

Explained my situation.

Also mentioned that we’d like to try getting pregnant again sometime soon & wanted to just make sure things were in good order for that.

She ordered some labs. I got my blood drawn, & in 3 weeks (that’s medicine on an island–they have to ship everything to the states to be analyzed) I’ll have a follow-up & we’ll see how things stand. She also is testing my B-12, vitamin-D, & iron levels so I’ll be interested to see those.

Anyway, I don’t have answers right now.

But I know I’m not going to throw in the towel.

I’m going to keep on doing what I know is both healthy & compassionate & good for weight loss–a nutrient dense, low-calorie plant-based diet.

Which brings me to the recipe.

This is something I actually made for a client. Did I mention I’m doing a little free lance work too?–making meals 3x’s a week for a client. I love cooking for other people!

Anyway, I do all of my produce shopping at the above mentioned vegetable stand & love to see what they’re going to have. The vegetable stands are nothing like American supermarket produce sections.

There is typically a smaller selection, smaller inventory, & everything is seasonal. I can get a lot of greens, cauliflower, & broccoli, something I wasn’t able to do a few months ago.

→ Need some inspiration in the kitchen?
Check out my 28 day vegan, gluten-free, whole-foods based meal plan!


The Okinawan purple potato, or beni imo, is a local staple here.

(They actually have several varieties of sweet potatoes.)

I roasted the potatoes (you can do this with or without oil), served with a plethora of greens & veggies, & paired with the sweet basil dressing with a drizzle of lemon–it’s a satisfying FSL meal.

I love cashew based dressings (one of my fave’s I use on my classic sweet potato & kale salad).  This one is addictively yummy, the basil really adding a pop of flavor.


purple potato 5 greens salad + creamy sweet basil dressing
Recipe type: salad
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4 servings
A recipe for a super delicious, nutrient dense, high-alkaine, low-glycemic, protein-rich salad. Vegan + gluten-free.
  • 4 small/medium purple or sweet potatoes
  • 1 TBS. olive oil (optional)
  • 5 different types of greens (spinach, sweet potato greens, spring mix, romaine lettuce, kale, green lettuce, cilantro, etc.)
  • radish or alfalfa or other type of sprouts
  • 1-2 carrots shredded
  • ½ head large cauliflower, chopped
  • 6 stalks celery (including leaves), chopped
  • ½ head medium cabbage, thinly sliced
  • 1 English or regular cucumber, cubed
  • ½ lemon
  • ¼ c. sunflower seeds
  • ¼ c. pumpkin seeds (or more sunflower seeds)
  • ¾ c. raw cashews
  • 1 c. water
  • 2 TBS. agave nectar
  • 1 TBS. raw apple cider vinegar
  • pinch salt
  • small handful fresh basil
  1. The fun part about these kinds of recipes, is it's very hard to mess up! The key is this salad is in making sure you properly wash & dry (I use a salad spinner) your greens. Also, use a variety of greens--whatever variety you can get your hands on. We're all used to the predictable blanket of romaine. It does make it a lot more interesting when you use several types of greens as your base.
  2. Preheat oven to 350F. Peel, wash & cube potatoes. Toss in olive oil, or if going oil-free, make sure you're using a non-stick baking sheet. Spread potatoes on the baking sheet. Bake for 30 minutes, tossing half-way through using a spatula.
  3. While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the rest of your ingredients. Peel & shred carrots, chop cauliflower (into bite sized pieces), chop celery into small pieces, thinly slice cabbage, cut cucumbers into cubes. Wash, dry, & cut or tear greens. Toss all greens with cabbage.
  4. Once potatoes are done, remove from oven & let cool for 15-20 minutes.
  5. Assemble remaining ingredients on top of greens.
  6. When ready, drizzle with freshly squeezed lemon & dress with sweet basil dressing.
  7. TO MAKE THE SWEET BASIL DRESSING: Combine all ingredients into a high powered blender (you may reserve a few basil leaves to mince & throw into the finished product). I put it through 2 cycles of the dips/dressings settings on my Blendtec. Blend until smooth. IF you don't have a high powered blender. Blend cashews & water first, chop basil finely, then add the basil & rest of ingredients & blend until smooth. For a thinner dressing, add 1 TBS. of water at a time, until you get the desired consistency.
Additional Nutritional Info: 8 WWP points per serving (includes olive oil) SWEET BASIL DRESSING: per 2 TBS, or 1/12th of recipe--59 calories, 4 g fat, 2 WWP points
Nutrition Information
Serving size: ¼ recipe Calories: 327 Fat: 9 g Carbohydrates: 53 g Sugar: 11 g Sodium: 370 mg Fiber: 17 g Protein: 13 g

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  1. Emma
    on January 18, 2016 at 9:15 pm said:

    Hi Janae,
    After reading this post, I was wondering WHY exactly you need to lose weight. You mention health, but there is evidence that suggests that health behaviours are far more predictive of health outcomes than weight or BMI. ie. what you do matters more than how much you weigh.

    So it might pay more to focus on that instead. And it sounds like you’re pretty sorted in that respect anyway! (Although there’s obviously more to health than just what you’re eating and how much you’re exercising, like sleep and stress etc.)

    Of course there is often an aesthetic aspect to weight loss as well, and I don’t blame you if you feel pressure because of that. It is so, so, so hard to ignore those messages.

    Anyway, I hope you have a great week. Just thought I’d offer that other perspective 🙂 I’d be keen to hear your thoughts.


    • Janae Wise
      on January 18, 2016 at 10:03 pm said:

      Emma, what a great comment.

      In truth, I have struggled with this myself. Does an extra 15-20 lbs. matter, especially with someone my height (I am 5’9″)?

      I think this is part of the reason why I haven’t lost any weight. Part of me thinks that I should (so I can get down to my “normal” weight or an “average” BMI) & part of me just doesn’t care–I have so many things to worry about & this at times seems like the least of my worries. But, I do want to get pregnant again soon & I think it would be ideal to start out that pregnancy at a lower weight especially in light of all the weight gain that occurs with my pregnancies (especially the last one with the G.D.). The doctor I just consulted with said that at my current weight I shouldn’t gain more than 15-25 lbs. with a future pregnancy. I can’t imagine that as I have gained 40-50+ lbs. with each of my pregnancies (believe me, I would love for it to be less). Honestly, I wish I didn’t have to even think about it. But, I do. I do want to get pregnant again & I do want to do my best to be in a good place–both physically, mentally, & emotionally.

      I have read a lot of conflicting stuff about BMI. Currently I’m at 25. 6 months ago I was at 21. Anything lower than that & I am quite skinny to the point of looking malnourished. In fact, according to the charts I could get down to 19 & still be “healthy” but I know I would be skin & bones at the point & know that would not be a healthy place. So, how much of it really matters when it comes to health?? Who knows. I mean, we do have quite a bit of research that can give us insight into risk factors, ect., but beyond that, it seems to be everyone’s interpretation of the data.

      So to answer your question, as to WHY–I don’t know if I can give a definitive answer beyond, hey, they say this BMI is on the edge & so I should lose 10 pounds to be in a healthier place. Also, this weight is quite a bit above my normal, non-pregnant weight. Regardless, you’ve given me something to think about for sure, perhaps I’ll delve into it more in a future post, with more insights & hopefully more answers.


  2. Melissa
    on January 18, 2016 at 9:12 am said:

    Thanks for sharing my only advice is to trust yourself. You know your body better than anyone and only you can receive inspiration on how best to care for it. Also, your life makes me tired! So many good things going on. I’m glad you’re following up on the blood work, sometimes genetics trumps lifestyle. I was just talking yesterday with my friend whose son runs 5 miles a day and still has high cholesterol. Best to know what you’re dealing with and go from there. You got this!

    • Janae Wise
      on January 18, 2016 at 6:52 pm said:

      Ha! My life makes *me* tired 🙂 But in a very good, mostly happy way. I like to be busy & challenged, & those needs are definitely being met. Also, there’s a reason kids (usually) come out one at a time–I didn’t have five at once & worked my way up to this level of madness.

      Thanks for the encouragement! I think your advice is spot on. I do know my body better than anyone & I know what I need to do to get in a better place. I think I just like to whine a bit about why things don’t magically change for me without doing all the grunt work necessary to get to those changes. I also like to whine about how unfair it is to have to go through the grossest part of pregnancy (the first trimester) only to have nothing come of it. But enough whining, I’m ready to move on from that & just get it done.

      I am anxious to hear back on the lab results. If nothing else, I can have a better picture of my health, as well as my iron, b-12, & vitamin D levels, which I’ve never had checked & honestly all vegetarians should get on a somewhat regular basis.

  3. Joya
    on January 18, 2016 at 5:36 am said:

    Just wanted to say “hi”, Janae! Sounds like things are going very well, and you’re all keeping busy! The salad looks amazing. I’m definitely going to give it a try.
    I’m looking forward to the summer so we can get the garden going again. Winter is not my favorite time of year, for sure, and I’m craving fresh tomatoes!! Lol
    I hope everything comes back okay from the Doctor. Have a great week!

  4. Anna-Lena Stöwhase
    on January 18, 2016 at 4:07 am said:

    Hi Janae,
    I really hope that you’ll come back to regular blogging. I’ve been following your blog for several years now and you have become a part of my life and feel you are a real friend (hope I don’t sound like a stalker). I’m looking forward to every new blog entry as every single one is great. You really have influenced my life and encouraged me to have a big family (now we have 4 kids) and to start my weight loss journey again. During pregnancy I reread your e-book and was super motivated to start losing my pregnancy weight (and more) as soon as I could. Seeing your quick results helped me to stay on track, I know I can do it. Now my little girl is almost 3 months old and I’ve lost 50 of the 57lbs I had gained. Only 60lbs left to lose , but I can do it with the help of your recipes, your fitness videos and your motivating blog.
    And I’m pretty sure that you will find a way to be happy with your body again.

    • Janae Wise
      on January 18, 2016 at 8:10 am said:


      First of all, thank you for such a super sweet comment! You are why I share, you & others like you are why I continue to blog. I so appreciate your encouraging & kind words–they really are my fuel to keep my blog going 🙂

      Second–50 lbs.!! You are definitely on the right track. And I’m so happy for you & your family. How exciting to add another little one to your family. I was reading that Germany has the lowest birthrate in the world (Japan is a close second)–am I right? You must be a hero in your country for having 4 kids! May I ask what part of Germany are you from? We would love to be stationed in Germany at some point–maybe we will be able to meet someday 🙂

      And lastly, about my own current weight loss, thank you for the encouragement. I was a bit hesitant to share my struggle–after all, I have posted my previous successful experiences & I sell an ebook on weight loss! But, in the end I decided to be real & to share because though I have found an approach that absolutely works, I myself am not perfect & I too have struggles because of that. Honestly looking back at the last month to see why I haven’t been losing weight, I know the things I need to tweak (namely consistently tracking my food which is probably the key missing element–it’s easy to think you’re eating fewer calories when in reality you’re not). I haven’t been fully committed to the weight loss process which has affected my consistency in eating the way that I should. A good lesson for me to learn–even I am not above tracking my food & really focusing on those FSL foods.

      Anyway, hugs to you & all your family & keep up the amazing work!! I know how much effort it takes to get those pounds gone, but you are doing it–keep it up!

      • Anna-Lena
        on January 18, 2016 at 3:36 pm said:

        We’Re living in the very West of Germany near Cologne and Bonn where there used to be a big US military Base. Maybe we will meet some day, that would be fun.
        You are absolutely right that food tracking is a key to successful weight loss. I joined Weight Watchers to have control over my calory intake. They have a new program wich focusses on whole foods while sugar and saturated fats have got much higher Points. Without writing down what I eat I would never be successful.

        • Janae Wise
          on January 18, 2016 at 7:00 pm said:

          Yes, tracking is so key, isn’t it? And the past month I have been whishy washy about it at best. It’s like wanting to get out of debt & not using a budget (the analogy that I use in my ebook)–yes, you CAN lose weight without tracking, but it makes it sooo much easier & a lot more effective if you do.

          I heard Weight Watchers changed their system. I used their Points Plus system after babies #4 & #5 & loved it. Last week I found an app called ProTracker (only $3.99) that counts points using the Points Plus method (though the app is not affiliated with WW). I LOVE it & know that this will be a game changer for my weight loss. Consistent, accurate tracking brings awareness & accountability &, most importantly–results!

          Just out of curiosity, how do you think the new points system compares with Points Plus?

          • Anna-Lena
            on January 19, 2016 at 1:18 am said:

            I can eat almost the same points each day and most “real” foods haven’t changed. But a chocolate bar that used to have 13 points now has 30 what makes you think twice if you should really eat it. I really think the new system is less comfortable if you love sweets (which I do) but it’s healthy and it works.

  5. Sandi
    on January 17, 2016 at 7:51 am said:

    Hi Janae, I’m a dietitian with a passion for plant based eating. I post about all things veg on my ‘Plant your Plate’ Facebook page and have a blog under construction over at Plant-your-plate.com. I have followed your blog for some time; I love your gift for words and your zest for life.
    I have many years of weight loss counseling experience. Here’s what I believe might help – letting go of the idea that age changes the body’s ability to lose weight and not buying into the idea that you could be eating too little. Here’s what I think you’re doing right – eating a whole food plant based diet and living an active life. Here’s what I think you could do better – eliminating high fat foods. If you are a little insulin resistant, which your history indicates could be the truth, that is the single most important thing to do. Let me know if I can help…really.

    • Janae Wise
      on January 17, 2016 at 5:13 pm said:

      Hello there Sandi! Nice to hear from you. I appreciate you taking your time to share your perspective & give some advice.

      I will definitely check out your facebook page!

      Two things: I don’t actually believe my age has anything to do with it (in the blog post I wrote that tongue in cheek). And, I also don’t believe I am eating too few calories. (I am aware of the basic science behind calories, energy expenditure, & metabolism.) On the contrary, it’s clear that I need to make some tweaks to what I am currently doing to ensure a consistent calorie deficit. This isn’t my first rodeo. I think the thing that is hard for me is have to lose weight post-pregnancy without the aid of nursing a newborn (which really can speed things along!) & really having the gong-ho fire of post-baby ambition.

      Regarding high fat foods, according to the tracking app I use, I range from 10-15% fat in my diet. I know that a strict McDougall diet doesn’t allow for any nuts or seeds, but I’m not doing a strict McDougall diet. Though I will entertain the idea of adjusting my diet as needed if the lab work comes back that indeed I am insulin resistant. But I hate feeling like I am some sort of fiend because I sprinkle pumpkin seeds on my ginormous salad or use cashews in my dressing.

      For years I practiced a strict Jeff Novick approach–no nuts, seeds, oils, flours. Add to that no dairy, gluten, meat & I felt like I gave myself an eating disorder! In fact, I struggled with disordered eating during that time & felt I became obsessive about not only everything that went into my mouth but every ounce the scale said I weighed. I had to eat unreasonably large amounts of food (especially when I was burning 3500-4000 calories a day teaching several fitness classes & nursing) & felt like my life revolved around my kitchen & shopping–between all the shopping, food prep & eating. For me, it wasn’t a sustainable approach, especially in my childbearing years where I have been nursing &/or pregnant at a near constant for over a decade.

      I hesitated posting my struggle with this weight post-miscarriage, mostly because it opens up the floodgates to people giving their ideas for why I’m struggling. I appreciate the feedback & insights, & I especially appreciate knowing that people just want to help!

      But I have been plant-based for 10 years now & if there’s one thing I know about diet, it’s that everyone has an opinion, & everyone thinks their approach is right, & everyone thinks their way is backed by science.

      One thing I know for sure is that a mostly whole foods diet is ideal. All the other stuff–that can be worked out on an individual, per needs basis. These conclusions are absolutely why I created my FSL ebook–to provide a real-life handbook for weight loss for women, especially nursing women in their childbearing years, that’s not based on a no-fat, no-this, no-that diet, but rather based on principles to work from to use as a guiding force to make decisions that will lead to weight loss, health, AND a sustainable way of eating.

      I know the principles of volumetrics (which really is what FSL is all about) works–I have used it many times after pregnancies & it works! Barbara Rolls in my opinion has the most relevant information to impart when it comes to weight management, especially for women. The thing that I love about Barbara Rolls as opposed to someone like Jeff Novick, is it’s about principles, not strict do’s & don’ts. She even allows for the idea that some won’t be vegetarian or vegan, AND THEY CAN STILL BE HEALTHY & maintain a healthy weight, which I completely agree with (though I hold strong to my own personal plant-based guns).

      I don’t believe in a one size fits all approach. One thing I don’t like about a strict Essylestyn or McDougall diet (no nuts, seeds, oils) is I feel like it’s great for the individuals who warrant it. But it isn’t necessarily the right approach for everyone. And I hear those diehard McDougall fans (I used to be one of them) saying–no, yes it is!

      Anyway, probably way too long of a response, but as you can see, I have a lot of my own opinions myself. I am interested to see what my lab results will be in a few weeks. Hopefully everything will be a-okay & I’ll just move forward in losing this post-pregnancy weight.

      Again, thanks so much for taking the time to comment & add your two cents–I really do appreciate it.

  6. Katy
    on January 17, 2016 at 12:25 am said:

    When I was pregnant with Leilani I wouldn’t take the glucose test cause I had had GD with Kai and could monitor my levels if I needed. I used Asea throughout my whole pregnancy and never had any sugar issues. Leilani had no issues either. Just a thought!

  7. Lfwfv
    on January 16, 2016 at 10:10 am said:

    So good to hear from you! You know, have you considered that your body is reacting to not eating enough? I know there’s a mostly plant based dietician named Robyn Coale who blogs on the Real Life RD and she talks a lot about this. She is a dietician and RN and has great evidence based posts. I know she does diet counseling through her business Nutshell. Lots of free info in her blog too. I don’t agree with everything, but it is s much needed balance to some of what people like Jeff novicks preaches. Both helpful in their own way….Anyway, just struck me as I was reading your post…and also from what you have said in the past about roughly how many calories you get while still being active and nursing. Anyway, ignore if you totally disagree 😉 hugs to you and your crew! Look forward to seeing and hearing more from you as you find snippets of time!

    • Janae Wise
      on January 17, 2016 at 5:59 pm said:

      Hahaha, I wish it was because I was eating too few calories! I am aware of the phenomenon that happen with female athletes (or chronic low-calorie dieters &/or anorexics) that don’t eat enough & it causes them to lose bone & muscle mass, but I also don’t think that’s my issue! I’m confident I’m eating more than enough (never ever below 2,000 calories & I typically burn 2700-3000/day). If I don’t get enough calories I turn into a cranky mess–just ask my husband. I’m confident I just need to make a few tweaks & keep at it. Time + consistency is really the secret sauce. I’ve been impatient & if I was my own client I’d tell myself to settle down & look at the bigger picture.

      I’ll look into that blog–thanks for the suggestion!

      About nursing, I’m seriously weaning THIS week–I’m serious this time ;). The kid is 2 now! Also, I just think my body could use a breather, however small, before I jump into another pregnancy.

      Hope you & the babies are doing well. Love hearing from you!!