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Quinoa is pretty stellar.

I have a container of it on my shelf that never goes below half-full at all times. It can be used in place of rice, as part of a stuffing for a vegetable (peppers or eggplant), or, my favorite way to use quinoa, as the star of a super healthy salad.

Healthy.

Salad.

Two words that are essentials for my diet in the months leading up to the wedding. I have a severely irrational fear that my dress won’t fit on the day of the wedding. I don’t know if all brides suffer from this, but food has been on my mind way more than usual lately. I’m used to just eating whatever, whenever (all in moderation, of course), but still. Every time I eat a piece of cake, an extra candy, or a side of fries, my brain goes into panic mode: “You’re definitely going to have to work out now.” or “Guess you’re eating a salad tomorrow at lunch.” or simply, “baahhh.”

I’ve realized this is an unhealthy approach to food. I told my sister about this fear and she simply said, “why don’t you just eat normally?”

She’s right.

Plus. I don’t want the opposite to happen. I don’t want that dress to fall off of me!

So I took my straight spinach salad, and spruced it up with some more filling and healthy ingredients — quinoa and black beans — inspired from an awesome cooking class I took last week with Kathy Day from Kathy Can Cook with Chef Bernard.

Quinoa Spinach Salad (Adpated from Chef Bernard)
Serves 4
>> Click here for printable recipe

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1 medium red pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 (14 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1/2 cup white or red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, smashed and chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

Directions:

  1. Cook the quinoa according to the package directions.
  2. Toss the rest of the ingredients together in a large bowl.  When the quinoa is done cooking, toss it into the bowl while it’s still warm.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice and olive oil. Toss with the salad. Taste, add salt and pepper if desired and/or more olive oil and lemon juice  to your taste preference.

My Two Cents: This is a great lunch.

However, I must warn you, the onion taste is quite pungent. I recommend using red onions, which are aren’t quite as strong as white onions — or use Vidalia onions, which are sweeter. I only had white on hand, so…good thing I like onions.

The original recipe called for vegetable broth in place of the water, but if you don’t have broth on hand (like me), water is clearly A-Ok to use.

Enjoy this guilt-free, filling, healthy, hearty, super-duper salad :)

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