Cucumber Mussel Salad

I should work in the suburbs more, both for my mental health and the healths of my pantry, fridge and finances. I was in Beaverton (The Beav) last night, and in that lovely Portland ‘burb they have got a WinCo Foods. If you didn’t know, WinCo is a clean, no-frills, employee-owned 24-hour discount grocery superstore, and I love it.

After picking my way through the vegetables, then scooping and dumping my way through the bulk grains, nuts and spices, I stumbled on quite the bargain. Hidden on a shelf beneath the honey spigots were big ol’ jugs of Lee Kum Kee chili oil for a scant $1.98, and I snagged one.

Thee O.G. Lee Kum Kee

When I arrived home I discovered that it was to expire the next day. Wow, they don’t call it WinCo for nothing.

I’m not a complainer, so I still have it, along with plans to cook a lot of somewhat piquant Asian food in the coming days. My immediate plan, however, was a sweet Szechuan-style cucumber salad, plus a mussel and vegetable stir fry for breakfast the next morning.

I used up a lot of my precious time on other house things, so I skipped the stir fry and just made a cucumber and vegetable salad with mussels. Said mussels were another wonderful find at the Beaverton WinCo last night. The mussel meat is shelled, cooked, and frozen, ready to go, and it was $4 for a one-pound bag.

That’s one of the benefits of living near an ocean: People near oceans have a taste for seafood, as they should, and so the stores are pretty well-stocked with quality sea options at affordable prices. It’s great for me, because sea animals are mostly the only animals I eat these days.

Anyway, this happened:

Cucumber Mussel Salad

Cucumber Mussel Salad

This salad is light, fresh, sweet, spicy and a tiny bit tart. It would be a good appetizer in a prolonged seafood lunch or dinner lineup, but I just had a big bowl as a meal. It’s currently winter, but many would consider this a spring or summer dish. That’s fine for them.


1 cup diced cucumber

1 cup cooked mussel meat

1/4 cup coleslaw mix

1 li’l handful chopped scallion

1 tbsp chopped Fresno pepper

1 tbsp chopped garlic

1 tbsp chopped ginger

1 tbsp brown sugar

2 tbsp soy sauce

2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 tbsp chile oil


Throw it all in a bowl, mix, cover, and put it in the fridge for an hour or more. After that it’s ready. If you’d rather not have it so spicy, substitute sesame oil for the chile oil. Some chopped onion and/or cilantro would be nice in this too.

The Seedy Purple Horse

From the Department of Improvised Smoothies: I improvised this smoothie yesterday, and then later experienced an effortless mental shift to an interesting blend of steady calm, playful joy and abundant energy. I suspect that the recent regimen of daily sunflower seeds has a little bit to do with that. Or, maybe the heightened mood is a psychsomatic effect, since I know that sunflower seeds help the production of seratonin and dopamine, but my mood has been getting better and better since incorporating them into my nutrition regimen again.

Wait, you didn’t know that?

Here’s the meat of the findings from a 2022 study published at the National Library of Medicine:

“Sunflower seeds provide tryptophan-rich proteins with the potential to protect against depression. Tryptophan is a precursor of serotonin and a substrate for the production of indole derivatives by gut microbiota.”

FromThe Antidepressant Effect of Deoiled Sunflower Seeds on Chronic Unpredictable Mild Stress in Mice Through Regulation of Microbiota–Gut–Brain Axis
The Seedy Purple Horse

Seedy Purple Horse

1/2 raw red beet
4 tbsp honey
3 tbsp raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup blueberries
handful baby spinach, chard and kale
1/4 cup raw, soaked horse lentils
Water as needed or desired

Blend all ingredients until smooth in a drink blender. With each sip, swish the drink around in your mouth before swallowing so that it makes contact with saliva. This is crucial for the proper digestion of any food, but especially important when consuming blended drinks that contain a lot of calories.