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Tangy Corn and Black Bean Salad

I hope everyone had a great Memorial Day weekend! The weather here was stellar, and you just can’t beat a sunny 3-day weekend.

In our circle of friends, Memorial Day is not only a day to remember and honor our fallen soldiers, but it’s also the beginning of the summer cookout season! Without fail, we will be invited to an outdoor party every single weekend from now until Labor Day, and possibly beyond. 

I love hanging out with friends, lounging in a lawn chair, and drinking a cold beer as much as the next guy, but those kinds of days do not do good things for the “Summer To-Do List” of house projects.

All this BBQin’ poses another problem, and I’ll bet it’s one to which all of you fine folks out in blogland can relate. 

What do you EAT at these things?

Burgers? Occasionally. Most mayonnaisey salads? Nope. Chips? Nope. Soda? Nope. Hot dogs? ACK! Deviled eggs? Double ACK!

I could go on for pages, but you get the idea.

Now, I’m not vegan, and I’m not even vegetarian, but I eat little meat and I strive to eat whole, organic foods whenever possible. How do you explain that? I was asked just today if I was vegan and I didn’t know how to respond. “Um, no, but I really like the way I feel when I eat vegan food, but I eat meat once in a while, and fish, and I don’t believe that dairy products are healthy for us, but I can’t seem to get the ice cream monkey off my back…”

It’s a complicated answer, especially when I’m explaining it to people who don’t know me. I end up looking like little more than a really picky eater, or I just look rude. Really, the answer is:

I just don’t eat like you eat.

I told my husband I might just adopt the vegan label and become a closet-burger eater on the rare occasion when I happen to find some grass-fed beef and I’m in the mood. It would simplify things, I think. Sure, I could just not explain it, but it always comes up. Always. It’s probably because I have horrible food anxiety when I’m around groups of people, and I often sit there with an empty plate while everyone else eats, but I think that is a subject for another day…

And then there’s the question of what to bring. My go-to item for a BYODish cookout is a simple watermelon. Kids and adults love it, it’s quick and easy, and I know I will have something to eat. 

But that’s boring, and there is that little part of me that holds on to that tiny glimmer of hope that if I bring something non-traditional, something that I like, it just might go over BIG!

It never happens (but then I have lots of leftovers for myself 😀 )

Today’s cookout was at my husband’s brother’s house. I really wasn’t feeling the watermelon, so I decided on another on my go-to list: a tangy corn and black bean salad. This one usually wins a few fans, and it’s fantastic served alone, on a burger, or (my personal favorite) on a piece of fish.

I adapted this recipe by combining the best parts of several I’ve tried. It’s got a nice vinegar-y bite, which I totally dig.

Tangy Corn and Black Bean Salad

Cook 2 ears of fresh corn, cut corn from cobs. 

In a large bowl, combine: 


 1 15-oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp white sugar

1/2 tsp chili pepper

1/2 tsp cumin

6 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

2 Tbsp olive oil

freshly chopped cilantro, to taste (3–4 Tbsp)

Spritz of fresh lime

Mix and refrigerate 1–2 hours so flavors can mingle.


I didn’t see any on the kids’ plates, but I didn’t have any leftovers either!

Score one for the veg!


What do you call your “eating style”? Do you subscribe to any one label, or are you a hybrid mix like me? Do you find it hard to explain?

What’s your favorite dish to bring to a cookout? 



  1. I definitely have to say I am a vegan at restaurants/out with friends and family but sometimes they still don’t understand that means no dairy or eggs (friends/fam…not restaurants). I don’t love labels but definitely eat a plant based diet that I am proud of. We had a very similar dish tonight that was devoured. It was a corn salsa with cherry tomatoes, red pepper, red onion, cilantro, and lime. It was delicious…

    I hope you feel better about the food anxiety soon, I definitely know how ya feel about the stress caused from describing your choices to others…

  2. perfect holiday food too.

    hmm im an everythingtarian who eats a whole food organic diet… rich in plant based. and by plant based i meat veggies. i do eat lean meat, eggs, and fermented dairy products.. but i will flex to vegan and vegetarian days and meals quite frequently.

    i just tell people i eat whole organic foods.. but no wheat hehe

    • I think plant-based describes my diet pretty well, too. I do try to keep soy to a minimum, though.

      I’ve often wondered how I’d feel on a gluten-free diet.

  3. I totally get not wanting to have to explain your eating style to people. I tell a lot of people that I’m vegan, just to avoid that conversation. That way they leave me alone when they see my plate.

    • That probably is the easiest route. It’s not that far off from the truth, either. I just hope they don’t offer me ice cream because then I’m totally busted :)

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