Saturday, February 4, 2012

Quinoa Salad Bowl

Ok, so this is what I made for my birthday lunch. It's not much of a celebratory meal, considering the fact that I'm turning the big 3-0.  Where's the cake you ask?  Well, I've been trying for a while to exercise on a regular basis again and eat healthier.  My lifestyle lately was working too much, working late, and thus, too tired (and lazy) to actually work out.  Oh, and did I also mention that the past few weeks, Jeremie's dad was in town? Travelling and moving from place to place meant we were going out for dinner every night.

Now that we've moved into our Melbourne apartment, we are trying to eat lighter, and exercise regularly.  There's a gym right downstairs, so there's no excuse to not go.  To celebrate my birthday, I made a quinoa salad bowl.  A promise to myself that from now on, I'll eat more whole foods, and start whipping my butt back into shape.  (A promise that I'll try my hardest anyway.)

I go through weird food cravings.  It seems as if recently I just can't seem to get quinoa out of my head.  I think my body is nutrition deprived and it's trying to tell me something.  Quinoa is one of those superfoods that are are not only high in protein, but also a complete protein.  Did you know that quinoa is actually a seed and not a grain like most people think it is?   It comes in different colors from ink black, to brick red, and even creamy white.  Beautiful miniscule beads that have a slightly grassy flavor and a texture crossed between crunchy and chewy.

Quinoa Salad Bowl
Makes two big bowls

Quinoa is so easy and fast to cook.  Top your quinoa bowl to your heart's content.  I used tofu, avocado, beets and beet greens, radish, almonds, and pea shoots.

1 1/2 cup quinoa
3 tbsp olive oil
1 inch piece of ginger
Lemon juice and zest
Soy sauce


Firm tofu*
Beans of any kind
Chopped, toasted nuts or seeds
Shaved, sweet onion
Radish/ alfalfa sprouts, cilantro, etc.

To cook the quinoa, rinse it in a fine seive a few times and put it in a pot.  Pour enough water to cover by about 2 inches, add a pinch of salt and bring to a boil.  Simmer gently stirring occassionally until the quinoa is cooked.  Taste it.  It should be soft, yet slightly chewy.  If there is water in the bottom of the pot, strain it out.  Grate the ginger into the quinoa and stir in the olive oil.  Taste again for seasoning.

Serve in a large bowl, and top with whatever toppings you'd like.  Squeeze some fresh lemon juice on top, a splash of soy, and a grating of lemon zest.

*To cook the tofu, cut into large cubes and place onto a paper towel to absorb the moisture.  Heat a non stick pan with a few tablespoons of olive oil over medium low heat.  Lightly salt the tofu and let the cubes sizzle, turning every now and then to get most of the sides golden.  As you can see in the picture, I had a lot of patience today.  If you don't have that much patience, you can sear a thick slice of tofu and slice it up after.

*For the beets, trim the stems, wash well and wrap in tin foil.  Bake in a 350'F oven until a knife can be inserted easily.  Now, depending on how big your beets are, it can take from 45 minutes to well over an hour.  I can never throw out beet greens, so I pulled them off the stems, washed them well in water a few times, and sauteed them in a bit of olive oil and garlic.

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