July 19, 2011

Healthy Alternatives...Quinoa Salad

Summer BBQ's and cottage vacays almost always include meat on the grill, corn on the cob and yummy salads.  Coleslaw, potato and pasta salads are definite crowd pleasers, but they are often high in fat and calories.  If you're looking for something lighter, quinoa is a perfect accompaniment to any salad.

Quinoa Facts:
  • Commonly considered a grain, it is actually a relative of leafy greens like spinach and Swiss chard
  • Native to South America, it is known as the ‘gold of the Incas’
  • Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids – a perfect protein supplement for vegans and an ideal food for growing children
  • High source of manganese, magnesium, iron, copper, phosphorus and riboflavin (B2)
  • The high levels of vitamins and nutrients in quinoa can lower the severity of conditions such as migraines, high blood pressure (cardiovascular health), and Type 2 Diabetes
  • Quinoa is gluten-free, a perfect grain for anyone suffering from Celiac Disease
Quinoa can be found in your local grocery store, pre-packaged or in bulk.  You will find organic, non-organic, in white and red varieties.  I buy organic quinoa at Bulk Barn when it's on sale.  When buying pre-packaged quinoa at the grocery store, I usually go for Bob's Red Mill brand.  Whole Foods and Longo's have large selections of this brand.  Most grocery stores have a large selection of quinoa and foods made with quinoa.  I recently purchased quinoa pasta at Whole Foods and can't wait to try it out!
After glancing over different quinoa recipes last month, I came up with this recipe on my own.  Every item listed was available in my fridge or pantry.

1 Grain Products (1/2 cup cooked quinoa)

Quinoa Salad

2 cups quinoa
4 cups water or low sodium vegetable stock
Pinch salt
1 carrot, peeled & grated
1 large bell pepper, seeded & diced
2 tbsp minced onion
1 19oz can bean medley, rinsed well
1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
Juice of one lime
½ cup olive oil
Salt & pepper

  1. Rinse the quinoa well in cold running water for 2-3 minutes.  Drain and toss into a medium sized pot.  Add the water and season with salt, or add the vegetable broth without adding salt.  Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then simmer on low heat until the water is absorbed and the quinoa is tender, approximately 15 to 20 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, wash and chop the vegetables.  Toss them into a bowl and when the quinoa is done, add it as well. Add the beans, parsley, lemon and olive oil, season with salt and pepper and stir gently to combine all ingredients.
  3. Test for moisture and flavour, add more oil, salt or pepper if needed.
  4. Serve warm or cold with any meal.  Makes approximately 16 cups of salad.

1. If you're serving cold, allow the salad to cool before placing in the fridge.  This will prevent condensation and a mushy salad.
2. Store in a large Ziploc bag in your refrigerator.  This makes travel to a friend's house or picnic easier, and leaves room in your fridge!
3. Add different beans, vegetables, herbs or spices to your salad.
4. Fill a whole wheat pita or soft tortilla, add grilled chicken and you have a delicious, healthy sandwich wrap.

Quinoa salad packed in a Ziploc bag in the refrigerator - perfect for small storage, or travelling!

DISCLAIMER: Not all food products used in this recipe are certified "Gluten Free". I do, however, causiously check all food labels and Brand websites before making my gluten free desserts. If you have gluten allergy concerns,
I suggest you do the same.

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