Healthy eating can be like mind-twisting voodoo. If I’m trying to amp up my body’s natural defenses to fight disease, what should I eat? What shouldn’t I eat? What if the paleos judge me for not eating meat? What if the non-paleos judge me for eating meat? You’re a veggie? Where do you get your protein? What? No dessert?! You’re too skinny! Dessert?! You’re too chubby! Don’t know how you do the voodoo that you do, well, it’s a spell, hell, don’t know what to eat, eat, eat! (if you spend any amount of time listening to pop music in the 90s, then you know what I mean!).
Should, shouldn’t. Feed, deprive. Avoid, indulge. High carb, low carb, complex carb, no carb. Trans fats, unsat fats, hydrog-ed fats, no fats… WHAAAAAT? Why does every choice feel so loaded? Why do we eat? I eat to fight cancer. I eat to bring my body to optimal health, so that my natural defense mechanisms can thrive. I eat to feel energetic and vibrant. I eat to fuel my body and my brain. I eat to give my body needs, but also what it loves (still leaving room for a genuine straight up treat every now and then!). The enjoyment of food is one of the best parts of life! How do you think about what you eat?
I’ve got my mind on my healing, and my healing on my mind. More and more I’m feeling drawn to share recipes for nutrient-dense foods that are still exciting to eat. It’s easy to find very “pinteresting” recipes for quick and easy cheesy crockpot dip, and a little harder to find tasty healthy foods . Let’s remininsce about our spooning thus far. Here on Spoon With Me, it’s always been about whole ingredients used to create beautiful food you actually want to eat. I have occasional dabblings with completely indulgent chocolate truffle cakes, and that’s okay! The world needs occasional truffle cakes here and there (and no judgement if you get sidetracked, click on the cake link, and decide to spend the 6 hours making it!).
Right now, my body needs the most fuel to give it the best chance for healing. So my mission stays the same–well, sort of. This site isn’t about rabbit food, low fat substitutes, gimmicks, or fad diets. It never has been. It’s about being creative in the kitchen. It’s about flexibility and improvisation, and eating and living well even in the face of challenges. It’s about riding the waves of life with a sense of humor and grace. But most of all, it’s about colorful beautiful whole foods you can get excited about cooking and eating!
In today’s recipe, quinoa serves as the canvas for veggies of all shapes and textures, crunchy toasted almonds and crackly sesame seeds, tied together with a soy-ginger almond butter dressing. Salads are like elementary school art projects; the more colors, shapes, and textures, the better! This salad also offers your body protein, fiber, complex carbs, healthy fats, and a truckload of veggies!
This is not the one night stand cooking that will leave you feeling regretful and empty. This is the kind of cooking that will keep giving. Hence, my new slogan, Spoon With Me: The foods you love, that love you back!
Asian Quinoa Salad with Almond-Soy-Ginger Dressing
Serves 8 as a side dish
This is not one of those recipes found in a fancy schmancy molecular gastronomy cookbooks that needs to be followed to a tee. The basic idea is to use vegetables of every color and texture, chop them well, and weave everything together with the dressing. I have found that blanching the green beans makes them vibrant and easier to eat. I created this recipe for a dinner party of 8, and we still had leftovers, so keep that in mind and halve the recipe if you’re cooking for a small crowd (or, it makes a great lunch to enjoy throughout the week)!
For the Salad:
- 1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed and drained
- 1/2 lb green beans, trimmed
- 1 large carrot, peeled, julienned, and roughly chopped
- 1 red bell pepper, finely diced
- 2 cups thinly sliced and roughly chopped red cabbage (about 1/2 small cabbage)
- 3/4 cup almond slivers
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro (1 small bunch)
For the Dressing:
- 1 1/2 tablespoons peeled and finely grated ginger
- 1/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce (check for gluten-free tamari if needed)
- 2 large cloves garlic, pressed or finely minced
- 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon agave nectar
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/4 cup almond butter
Bring the quinoa to a boil with a scant 3 cups water (quinoa will retain some water when you rinse it, so I always use less water when cooking). Immediately reduce to a simmer, and cook for 12 minutes, or until the quinoa is soft and the germ ring (white outline) is visible around each grain. If there is excess moisture in the quinoa, set it in a fine sieve to drain. Allow to cool to room temperature.
Blanch the green beans: Fill a medium saucepan with water and a couple teaspoons salt, and bring to a boil. Set a large bowl of ice water to the side of the stove. Cook the green beans for about a minute, until bright green and still crisp. Immediately plunge them into the ice water to cool. Once cool, slice on the bias (diagonally) into 1 inch pieces.
Toast the almonds in a medium frying pan over medium heat until lightly golden brown and fragrant. Allow to cool.
Whisk together all dressing ingredients in a bowl or liquid measuring cup. Combine and toss the cooked quinoa, and all salad ingredients in a large bowl. Pour the dressing over top and stir until evenly coated. Chill in the refrigerator or serve as is!