Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

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Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water or vegetable stock (low sodium & organic)
  • 1 large cucumber, medium dice
  • 2 roma tomatoes, medium dice
  • ½ medium red onion, small dice
  • 1 red bell pepper, medium dice (optional)
  • ½ cup olives, chopped (optional)
  • 2 oz crumbled organic feta cheese
  • 1 bunch parsley, chopped
  • ½ bunch mint, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp sea salt (or more to taste)
  • black pepper

Directions

  1. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer until water runs clear.
  2. Add quinoa and water (or stock) to a medium size sauce pan. Bring to a boil then cover and let simmer for 20-25 minutes. You will know quinoa is ready the tiny seeds are all unraveled into spirals.
  3. While quinoa is cooking chop tomatoes, cucumber, onion, parsley and mint. Combine chopped ingredients into a large bowl, set aside.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. When quinoa is cooked, spread out evenly on the baking sheet and fluff with a fork. Let cool for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Combine the quinoa with the vegetables. Add feta cheese, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper.

Note: If you want to make extra for leftovers don’t add feta, lemon juice, red wine vinegar and olive oil. Salad will keep in the fridge for 2-3 days without dressing.

I absolutely LOVE quinoa. It is just so versatile and takes very little time to prepare.

Be sure to check some other fantastic quinoa recipes:

 Morning Quinoa porridge

Hearty Kale and Quinoa Citrus Salad 

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Carbohydrates 101

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If your goals are weight loss, controlling diabetes or managing blood sugar for hypertension, hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia, be sure to place emphasis on quality carbohydrates:

-natural (vs. processed)
-high-fiber
-unrefined
– and unprocessed

Through the Atkins diet and several other nutrition trends, we have become afraid of carbohydrates. Often times we believe that carbohydrates are THE answer to weight loss and managing blood sugar. The problem is that when you cut them out completely the body craves more sugar for energy, leading us right back to the carbohydrates we have been desperately trying to avoid. Clearly, cutting out all carbohydrates or severely limiting carbohydrate intake is NOT “the” answer.

Think of carbohydrates as your fuel. They provide the body with energy. Rather than cutting out them out completely (which has proven to be extremely harmful to health), choose better quality carbohydrates and moderate your portion size. Another key nutrition concept-that will help regulate the affect of carbohydrates on the body- is to consume fiber, fats and protein with carbohydrates as opposed to eating the carbohydrate on its own.

Here are some of my favorite “healthy carbs”:

  • apples
  • Berries
  • cherries (in season now!)
  • grapefruit (also in season now!)
  • beets
  • carrots
  • sweet potatoes
  • quinoa
  • brown rice
  • adzuki beans

When it comes to your health, these choices far surpass the options for the processed white sugar and white flour products such as pizza and pasta.

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Notice: All the Same Color = Low Nutrients

The amount you consume depends on your body type, metabolism and fitness level however, about 1/2 cup of the healthy carbohydrate choices listed above, is a good average serving size.

Remember that you do not —and actually should not– completely eliminate carbohydrates from your diet. Make good choices, work on moderate portion sizes and create a balanced diet.

 

Other articles you may be interested in:

Hearty Kale Salad with Quinoa & Citrus

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Nutrition fact– Leafy green vegetables contain moderate amounts of calcium. Hint: milk isn’t the only calcium source.

Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Serves: 3

Ingredients
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium clove garlic, mashed
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1/2 teaspoon sea salt, divided
Pinch red pepper flakes

2 bunches kale, ribs removed and leaves chopped
1.5 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cucumber, very thinly sliced
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin, sesame or sunflower seeds
1/2 cup of broccoli sprouts
Segments of 1/2 an orange (optional)
Animal Protein: this salad pairs well with a light white fish or with chicken

Directions

1. In a small bowl, whisk together olive oil, orange juice, 1/4 tsp sea salt, red pepper flakes.
2. In a medium sized bowl, place kale and 1/4 teaspoon of sea salt. Begin to massage the kale until kale begins to wilt. Add quinoa to the kale.
3. Add dressing to the kale and let sit at room temperature from 10-30 minutes.
3. Add pumpkin seeds, sprouts, and your choice of protein

Spring Salads- Build Your Own @ Home

Spring Salad Components (Build Your Own @ Home)

Having one salad a day can ensure that you get some added veggies into your diet. Many of us only eat the vegetables on sandwiches, burgers or tacos for lunch. Here are some great salad components that you can put together for a hearty lunch or dinner salad.

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Base

  • Spinach
  • Kale
  • Mixed Greens
  • Chard
  • Mustard greens

Carbohydrate (give your salad some substance!)

  • Quinoa
  • Adzuki Beans
  • Brown Rice
  • White Beans
  • Chick peas
  • Roasted veg (beets, carrots, sweet potato)

Protein 

  • Wild Salmon, Talapia, Halibut, fresh or canned tuna, sardines
  • Grilled or roasted chicken
  • Tofu

Healthy fat

  • Goat milk feta
  • Toasted Pumpkin seeds
  • Toasted Sunflower seeds
  • Toasted sesame seeds
  • Chopped nuts
  • Pine Nuts

Additional Toppings

  • Cucumbers
  • Radishes
  • Carrots
  • Snap Peas
  • Pomegranate seeds
  • Orange segments
  • Sprouts!

Salad dressing combinations

  • Simple Balsamic Vinaigrette (olive oil, balsamic, sea salt, cracked pepper)
  • Dijon Mustard Vinaigrette (olive oil, lemon juice,1 tsp dijon, sea salt, pepper)
  • Citrus Vinaigrette (olive oil, orange juice, salt & pepper)
  • Asian dressing (use sesame oil as the base, brown rice vinegar, tamari)

Sample Salad

Ingredients
1 large handful of spinach
1/2 cup adzuki beans (pre-cooked)
1/4 cucumber, sliced
1 Tablespoon toasted pumpkin seeds
Your choice of protein (chicken, tuna, fish, tofu)
Topped with broccoli sprouts

Salad Dressing:
Pinch of sea salt
Crack of black pepper
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 Tablespoon Balsamic Vinegar

Directions
1. Assemble salad ingredients in a bowl.
2. Place Dressing ingredients in a ball jar and shake until well combined
3. Pour dressing over salad.

Winter Morning Quinoa Porridge

Since the mornings tend to be pretty rushed, I always try to pull together a quick and easily digestible meal. This nutrient-dense, low-inflammatory breakfast option can be made in a matter of minutes!

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cups coconut milk (or any other dairy-free milk alternative)
  • 3/4 cup cooked or sprouted quinoa*
  • 2 Tablespoons ground flax seed
  • Hemp Protein Powder (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Topping

  • 8-10 almonds, chopped
  • Handful of berries

Directions

  1. Heat medium-sized sauce pan. Add coconut milk and quinoa. Stir until heated through.
  2. Add ground flax seed, protein powder and cinnamon. Stir until well combined. Add water or more coconut milk if texture is too thick.
  3. Place mixture into a bowl and top with almonds and berries.

This recipe is a winter spin on my Nutty Yogurt and Quinoa Breakfast creation. 

Fall-Spiced Homemade Granola With Quinoa

Granola has the potential to become a healthy snack. By this I mean that there are healthy versions of granola and there are unhealthy versions of granola. Let’s start by describing what to look for when you purchase granola. As with any packaged product or any product you buy in the “bulk” section of your local health food store, you want to look at the ingredient list.

Ingredients to avoid

You also want to look for a nice variety of ingredients. Instead of choosing a granola that is primarily made up of carbohydrates (oats, sugar, dried fruit), you can choose a granola that has a nice mix of carbohydrates, protein and fats (grains, nuts, seeds, dried fruit). This is an important differentiation because it drastically lowers the sugar content and increases the nutrient intake.

Fall-Spiced Homemade Granola With Quinoa

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Yield: 3 cups

Ingredients

Dry

  •  2 Tablespoons Flaxseeds
  •  1 cup Quinoa
  • 1/2 cup Cashews, chopped in half
  • 1/2 cup Almonds, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup Sunflower Seeds
  • 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Nutmeg
  • pinch of Cloves (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Sea Salt
  • 3 dried figs, chopped

Wet

  • 1/2 teaspoon alcohol-free vanilla extract
  • 3 Tablespoons honey
  • 1 Tablespoon maple syrup

Directions

  1. Turn oven on to 375 degrees F. Cover a large baking tray with parchment paper.
  2. Grind flaxseeds in a spice grinder, blender or coffee grinder.
  3. Combine ground flaxseeds and dried figs with the rest of the dry ingredients in a medium size mixing bowl.
  4. Heat a small saucepan, add the wet ingredients and whisk together. Pour the wet ingredients over dry ingredients and whisk until fully incorporated.
  5. Spread mixture out evenly on baking tray. Cook for 10 minutes. Remove from oven to flip granola then spread out evenly again. Place in oven for another 7-10 minutes or until toasted.

Note: Make sure to check the granola so that it does not burn! It will be fragrant and look lightly toasted.

7. Remove from oven to let cool. Add dried figs. Store in a glass jar for up to a week.

Tips for saving $$

  • Buy ingredients from the “bulk” section of your local health-food store. You can buy exactly the amount you need and it is WAY cheaper.
  • Buy a packet of mixed nuts instead of buying once packed of almonds and one packet of cashews. With mixed nuts you have to make sure they are raw, unsalted and that there is no cooking oil added.

 

Soaking Nuts, Grains and Legumes

Soaking your nuts, grains and legumes is not a common practice in modern day cooking. It is a practice that I would like to share with more people because there are many health benefits and it is really easy to do. The purpose of soaking nuts, grains and legumes is to make the nutrients more bio-available. By using this cooking technique you are granting your body access to important nutrients that it would not receive if you were to skip this step. Nuts, grains and legumes have a coating on them that protect them in nature. This coating is often bitter (specifically on quinoa).

Many people have a hard time digesting nuts, grains and legumes. Soaking nuts can be seen as a “pre-digestion” or break-down phase, making it easier for the body to digest and absorb nutrients.

What does this cooking practice entail?

Place 1 cup of nuts, grains or legumes in a bowl and cover them with cold filtered water. When they are done soaking, strain the water out, rinse them, and you are ready to start cooking.

How long should you soak you nuts, grains and legumes for?

8-12 hours EXCEPT cashews should only be soaked for 7 hours.

This may seem like a long time but all you have to do is put them in a bowl and leave them on the counter overnight or while you are at work.

If you forget to soak them over-night or during the day, soak them for as long as you can. Some soaking time is better than none.

Does this affect the cooking time?

Yes, cooking time is usually a little bit shorter and may require less liquid after soaking. Start with a 1/4 cup less liquid than the recipe calls for and add more if it is too dry.

Any other tips for easier-digestion of carbohydrates?

If you place a piece of “kombu” seaweed in the pot of beans while they are cooking, it removes the “gassy” effect that beans tend to have.

There is also a concept called food combining which recommends to eat your grains and your protein separately  aka not in the same meal. For example, one wouldn’t eat salmon with a side of quinoa or brown rice. It is worth a try to see if it helps with digestion.