hearts of palm and tropical fruit salad

Costa Rican inspired Hearts of Palm and Tropical Fruit Salad with Balsamic Dressing

Hearts of Palm and Tropical Fruit Salad with Balsamic Dressing

After 12 glorious days in the hot sun we are back to the arctic tundra.  We are so lucky to have escaped for a little while to Playa Negra, Costa Rica.  Our days were spent swimming, soaking up the sun, building sand castles, watching Shaye surf, searching for shells and straight up relaxing!    We stuffed our faces with the best fresh fruit, avocado tostones, smoothies, and rice and beans you can imagine, and this salad…

Hearts of Palm and Tropical Fruit Salad with Balsamic Dressing

A mix of greens, mango, pineapple, corn, red onions, avocado, hearts of palm and cucumber drizzled with a balsamic dressing!

If you are snowed in like we are, try this salad to brighten your day!

hearts of palm and tropical fruit salad
Makes 3 salads. Nutrition facts calculated using 1.5 tablespoon of balsamic dressing per salad.
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Vegan
Serves: 3
  • 1 cup mango, peeled and cubed (1 small mango)
  • 1 cup pineapple chunks
  • ¼ cup red onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup organic corn (fresh or frozen)
  • ⅓ cup cucumber, sliced
  • 1 small jar hearts of palm (about 3-4), chopped
  • ½ avocado, sliced
  • 4 large handfuls of mixed greens
  • For Balsamic Dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon brown sugar (optional)
  • sea salt and pepper to taste
  1. For Balsamic Dressing:
  2. Whisk all ingredients together or blend in a food processor.
  3. For Salads:
  4. Mix all ingredients together, drizzle with desired amount of dressing and enjoy!
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1 Calories: 300 Fat: 19 Carbohydrates: 31 Sugar: 16 Fiber: 8 Protein: 4

Hearts of Palm and Tropical Fruit Salad with Balsamic Dressing

 Here are a few clips from our trip :)

We stayed at Hotel Playa Negra, which I highly recommend!  You get to stay in little palm covered cabinas right on the beach and listen to the swaying bamboo as you fall asleep at night.  Close by is a sea turtle sanctuary, where we were able to see sea turtles hatch in protection.  The weather is hot, hot, hot, but that was just what we needed to thaw out!

Hearts of Palm and Tropical Fruit Salad with Balsamic Dressing

Hearts of Palm and Tropical Fruit Salad with Balsamic Dressing

…and one of the best parts of the trip was that I didn’t need to wear maternity jeans!!!

salted almond raw chocolate

This past winter we were lucky enough to escape the cold weather and spend time in Pavones, Costa Rica.  It was there that I was introduced to splendor of raw cacao!  I’ve always been a chocoholoic but this took my affinity to a new level!  Chocolate that not only tastes incredible but is actually good for me!

Costa Rica Sunset

Pavones Sunset

Raw chocolate comes from the nut of the cacao fruit or from the Theobroma Cacao Bean translated into “the food of the Gods” which grows indigenously in rainforest climates such as those in Costa Rica.  It has been a treasured commodity and used medicinally since ancient Mayan and Aztec civilizations.  It is known to have superfood properties that boost health and vitality.

salted almond raw chocolate3

Raw cacao is not roasted and processed like cocoa powder and contains high levels of antioxidants, magnesium, iron, zinc, essential fatty acids and sulfur.  It contains theobromine which is a mild stimulant which may prevent depression by producing neurotransmitters (messengers in the brain that influence thoughts, emotions and energy levels).  It is four times higher than goji berries on the ORAC scale.

The ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) scale was developed by the United States Department of Agriculture to measure the effectiveness of antioxidants to absorb free radicals that cause cell and tissue damage. The higher the ORAC score, the higher the level of antioxidants present in the food.

However, as with everything…moderation is key!  Too much raw chocolate can tax the adrenal glands, kidney and liver.  It is a diuretic and stimulates the central nervous system sending us in a state of “fight or flight” which is never a good thing (unless you’re being chased by a bear!).

Raw cacao has a strong, bitter taste.  Some eat it plain but, the bitter taste can be mellowed when blended with a little coconut oil and a sweetener such as maple syrup.  The indigenous people of Pavones harvest and sell raw cacao on Saturdays in the center of town.  Before we left I bought every cacao ball I could find!  It’s a wonder how I snuck through customs with pounds of this stuff!


Salted Almond Raw Chocolate Bark

3/4 cup raw cacao powder

1/4 cup coconut oil

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/4 cup raw almonds

pink Himalayan sea salt


-Mix cacao powder with coconut oil, maple syrup and vanilla.  If needed, place over a very low heat until coconut oil melts.

-Stir in raw almond slices.

-Pour onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

-Sprinkle with sea salt

-Let cool in the refrigerator until set.

-Cut into pieces and enjoy!


If you can’t find raw cacao powder in the store you can purchase it online.  I apologize, I am not familiar with store bought brands so I am unable to testify for it!


If you have tried this brand or another brand or raw cacao powder please let me know what you thought!