What’s for Dinner? Spring Quinoa Salad

Are you tired of ordering pizza, subs, or Chipotle (yes, that’s me!) as your default meal? Are you looking to eat healthier this spring but don’t want to compromise taste in the process? Are you a novice in the kitchen but want to cook more, starting with “easy” meals? Well, if you answered yes to one or all of these questions than don’t stop reading!Here is a healthy and tasty, “easy” meal to put some spring back into your step. No, I’m not just saying this…it’s true! First of all, I am a Certified Nutrition Consultant, so I have a couple initials behind my name to back up my statements. Secondly, this recipe has been tried on my (mostly) willing husband and 2 year old son. Neither one of them complain and both ask for more…so I think we’re good on the yumminess factor. OK, so if the recipe is healthy and tastes good, then chances are it’s not that easy to make you say? Wrong. This recipe can be made in 20 minutes or less. In the same amount of time, why not make double and have leftovers for lunch or dinner the next day? There, you just ate 2 healthy, delicious and easy meals in the time it takes to prepare only one. I think we may be on to something…  

Spring Quinoa Salad
by Leah Vachani

Quinoa is a naturally gluten-free whole grain. It is the only grain that is a complete protein and it contains the highest amount of protein of all the grains. It has a mild, slightly nutty flavor and can be substituted in many recipes that call for rice or couscous. This salad is best made 1-2 days in advance to give the quinoa a chance to soak up all the flavors. Store in the refrigerator and serve cold or room temperature.

There are no strict ingredients for this salad, any combination of cut up veggies will work! Here is an example of one of my favorite combinations but be creative on your next try (mango + avocado!)…

ingredients

1 cup quinoa (dry)
¼ cup dried unsweetened cranberries, chopped roughly (optional)
½ cup frozen corn (cooked)
half a bunch of cilantro, finely chopped
1 jalapeno, finely chopped (use less or leave out for less spiciness)
3-5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ red onion, finely chopped
1 red, yellow or orange bell pepper, chopped
olive oil (about ¼ cup)
salt and pepper to taste
juice of one lime (or lemon)

directions

  1. Cook the quinoa. In a pot, put the quinoa and 2 cups of water with a dash of salt. Bring to a boil, stir and reduce to a simmer (keep covered) until all the water has been soaked up (about 15-20 minutes). Set aside and let cool.
  1. While the quinoa is cooking, chop the necessary ingredients.
  1. Once the quinoa has cooled, mix all of the ingredients together in a bowl. Add more olive oil if needed and season with salt and pepper.

Enjoy!  This salad tastes best on Day 2 or 3 so make extra for leftovers. Also a great dish to bring to a potluck.

Make it a heartier meal by serving with grilled fish or chicken.

Serves 4-6

Disclaimer: This blog post is in no way a reflection of my deep longing for spring and should in no way be taken as a sign that spring will be upon us (here in Michigan) any time soon. If it any point while eating Spring Quinoa Salad you experience short bursts of “spring-time like energy, feelings of happiness associated with warmer weather (like spring), or a sudden onset of feeling like you could “take on the world” please seek immediate help from any innocent bystander who can release you from these false feelings and ground you in the reality that we are still experiencing the dead of winter here in the Midwest. Eat at your own risk.

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