Quinoa + Veggie Salad: Healthy Eating Made To Go

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When I'm hungry and want a quick bite, I take a look in the fridge and pantry to see what I can put together quickly. Easily done when at home, but most of the time I'm driving around the city, finding the quickest shortcut to avoid traffic while running errands, fitting in a workout in the gym, picking up kids from school. Oh, and that day job. Somewhere in the day I do have to work too. I've troubled over how to eat something delicious and pleasurable rather than just eating to eat. In case you haven't noticed, sensuality and eating is my thing. I've never been a fast food junkie. Slow food on the go is my solution.

As I scarf down a take-out burrito like a labrador retriever while driving from work to picking up kids from school, my lap is covered in beans and rice. Not good if I'm wearing white pants! Letting myself get to this rabid-hungry point isn't the best way to treat my body. As the quote goes the body is our temple, I've just been throwing chips and guacamole at the altar and calling it a day. So I've created this post on how to make something delicious to go. All it takes is some planning and a few Mason jars full of good nourishing food. It's so easy, right?

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Quinoa is an excellent staple and a superfood grain. Using quinoa as my salad base, I've added crunchy bites of cucumber and sugar snap peas, sweet juicy orange bell pepper, and earthy cannellini beans. It's a bright, colorful salad that is healthy and nutritious with lots of texture and flavor, perfect for putting in a Mason jar to go. It satiates my hunger and sustains me so that when I do sit down at a table (rather than behind the wheel of my minivan) I'm able to enjoy everything I'm eating like a real person rather than a drooling cross-eyed beast that devours bean burritos.

Making this vegetarian style is my preference, but if you so choose to add your own ingredients to this recipe, you can quite easily add a protein such as peeled shrimp, roast chicken, or ham.

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Quinoa + Veggie Salad

INGREDIENTs

  • 2 cups red quinoa, cooked as directed

  • 1 orange or red bell pepper, washed and cut into ¼-inch pieces

  • 1/2 cucumber, unpeeled (skin has extra minerals + looks pretty), washed and cut into ¼-inch cubes

  • 1 cup sugar snap peas, washed and sliced on the diagonal into slivers

  • 1 cup cooked cannelini beans

  • 1 bunch of basil, chopped

  • 3 sprigs of mint, chopped (garnish)

  • For the dressing:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil

  • 1 lemon, squeezed juice

  • 2 tablespoons tahini paste

  • 2 tablespoons miso paste

  • 1 clove of garlic, minced

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

  • 1 tablespoon tamari soy sauce

  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper, plus more to taste

  • lemon zest, season and garnish

  • sea salt + fresh ground pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS

Cook two cups of well rinsed quinoa in a saucepan with four cups of water (or veggie broth for more flavor) and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the quinoa has absorbed all the water and can easily be fluffed with a fork. About 15-20 minutes. Allow to cool off completely before salad assembly.

Pour olive oil, apple cider vinegar and lemon juice in a large bowl. Add miso and tahini pastes, garlic and tamari soy sauce and beat with fork or small whisk to incorporate. Sprinkle in spices and sea salt.

Scoop the quinoa into the bowl of dressing and mix lightly, adding the vegetables--- add the cucumber, bell pepper, sugar snap peas, basil, mint, cannellini beans (and your choice of protein if you'd like). Grate lemon zest and sprinkle seasonings (I like spice blends such as Ras el Hanout which is a North African spice blendor a piquant cayenne/chili/paprika blend of your own).

Mix the quinoa salad gently, adding less or more quinoa to the veggies as you please. This salad will get watery from the cucumbers and bell pepper. Adding more quinoa will keep better for a day in the fridge.

If you are taking this salad to-go, prepare them to keep in sealed Mason jars for your busy day out. Et voila! Bye bye messy bean burritos in the car, hello healthy quinoa veggie goodness. Enjoy!