Monthly Archives: January 2012

Southwestern Quinoa Salad with Cumin-Lime Dressing

Hello there.  I hope that your 2012 is off to a great start.  I’m checking in with yet another recipe.  My husband is away on business this week, so I’m using the opportunity to experiment with some new recipes, especially ones that call for beans and other ingredients he may not be such a fan of!

I love grain salads, whether I’m using bulgur, couscous, brown rice or quinoa.  It’s nice that you can serve them warm or cold, and they are a bit more comforting than your traditional green salads during the cold winter months.  I pulled ideas from a few different recipes to come up with this Southwestern spin on quinoa salad, and I must say, it was a total success (At least Baby Brown and I think so!).   This salad makes a great entrée, side dish or pot luck addition, and the cumin-lime dressing makes it unique and delicious!  Did I mention it’s also gluten-free?

I love when I can combine my favorite colorful ingredients!

Ingredients (Makes about 6 servings):
1 cup uncooked quinoa
1 3/4 cup water
1 lb. of chicken breasts, baked and shredded*
2 avocados, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
1 1/2 cups of cilantro, chopped
1 pint-sized package of cherry tomatoes, quartered
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can of corn, drained
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
The juice from 2 limes
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp cumin
Salt to taste

*The chicken is optional.  I included it since it was a main entrée, and I need all the protein I can get right now, but feel free to skip it if you want to make this a side dish or just want a vegetarian meal.

One recipe I saw called for purple onion, but I skipped it since raw onions and I aren’t friends right now (Holy heartburn!), and another called for black-eyed peas.  The beauty of this dish is that you can mix it up and make it different every time!

Preparation Instructions:

  • If you’re including the chicken, bake at 375 degrees for about 25 minutes.  I seasoned mine with olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic powder.  When they are fully cooked, let cool for a few minutes and then shred into small pieces.
  • Combine the quinoa and water in a small covered sauce pan and simmer until all the water is absorbed and the grains are light and fluffy, or about 20 minutes.  Uncover and let cool.
  • While the chicken and quinoa are cooking, chop your avocados, tomatoes, green onions, cilantro and bell pepper and combine in a large bowl.

    When it comes to adding cilantro to any dish, I say the more the merrier!

  • Add the corn, beans and quinoa and toss evenly.
  • Next, prepare your cumin-lime dressing: whisk together the olive oil, lime juice, garlic, cumin and salt.

    Here’s a shot of the salad without the chicken.

  • Add the shredded chicken to the salad and pour the dressing on top, stirring well so that the dressing coats the salad evenly.
  • Serve warm, or let it cool in the refrigerator to serve later.

This dish might make a great healthy addition to a Super Bowl party…just sayin’!

Colorful, nutritious, gluten-free, protein-packed and a Southwestern flare…what more could you want in a recipe?  Feel free to garnish with a little shredded cheese or sour cream, or serve with a side of tortilla chips.

Enjoy, and let me know your feedback if you give this dish a try!

Going Into Hibernation Mode: Italian Butter Bean Soup

Winter is the time for hibernating and eating chili, soups and stews.  They are EASY to prepare, pack a lot of nutritional punch and are so filling during the dreary cold months.

Soups are such a great way to get in your daily vegetable intake in the winter!

Also check out these recipes for White Bean Chicken Chili and Naughty and Nice Sweet Potato Chili.

Italian Butter Bean Soup Ingredients (Serves 8):

1 can of Italian butter beans, rinsed and drained
8 cups vegetable broth
A few fresh thyme sprigs
A few fresh oregano sprigs
A few fresh sage or rosemary leaves
6 flat-leaf parsley sprigs
3 bay leaves
1 large yellow onion, chopped
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 cup carrots, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 zucchini, quartered and diced
1/3 cup white wine
1 large bunch of kale, ribs removed, torn into ribbons

Preparation Instructions:

  • Place beans in a pot, cover generously with water and bring to a boil.  Remove from heat and set aside to soak for 1-2 hours.  Drain beans and rinse well.
  • Combine 6 cups vegetable broth, beans, herbs and leaves in a large soup pot and bring to a boil.  Lower the heat and simmer uncovered until the beans are cooked all the way through, about 90 minutes.

    Feel free to use whatever combination of herbs and leaves you prefer. Once they start cooking, your house will smell DIVINE!

  • While the beans are cooking, heat a little oil in a saute pan and add the onion, 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a pinch of pepper.  Cook over medium heat until the onion begins to soften, about three minutes.  Add the garlic and cook another minute or so.  Stir in carrots, peppers and zucchinis, another 1/4 teaspoon of salt and another pinch of black pepper and cook about 10 minutes, adding a little broth as needed to keep the veggies from sticking to the pan.  Pour in the wine and cook 3 more minutes

    Time to give your soup some vibrant color!

  • Add the vegetables to the soup pot, along with the remaining broth and the rest of the salt and pepper and cook about 20 minutes.  Add the kale and cook until tender, about 10 more minutes.  Add more seasonings to taste.

    Pack the Antioxidants! I know it looks like a lot of kale, but don’t worry, it will cook way down.

  • Remove the herb sprigs and leaves, serve and enjoy!

    One dish wonder!

Give this nutritious, comfort food a try.  Happy Hibernating!

Healthy Kid-Friendly Breakfast On the Go: Banana Oatmeal Muffins

These gluten-free, kid-friendly muffins are a nutritious and delicious way to start the day.  The batter only takes about five minutes to prepare, making it perfect for families on the go.  Sneak in some high-quality vanilla protein powder to stabilize kids’ blood sugar and boost brain power for the day!

Why buy a store-bought muffin mix, which is full of high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and other artificial ingredients, when you can make your own wholesome muffins in the same amount of time?

Ingredients (Makes 15 muffins):
3 bananas
1 cup vanilla flavored almond milk
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 cups gluten-free oats
1 tbsp baking powder
3 tbsp mini chocolate chips, blueberries or raisins (optional)
Vanilla protein powder to taste (optional)

Preparation Instructions:

  • Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  • In a large mixing bowl, mash up the bananas.
  • Add all the other ingredients, except the chocolate chips and stir until it makes an even batter.
  • Gently stir in chocolate chips or or fruit if you’re including it. I chose to use the mini chocolate chips in half of my muffins.
  • Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the edges are golden brown and the muffins are firm to the touch.
  • Let cool for a few minutes, serve and enjoy!

When it comes to the bananas, the riper the better!

These little beauties will make your house smell delicious in the morning!

Add this recipe to your healthy breakfast arsenal!