Right then. Celebrations are over and spring is on the way.
I have a new job and a new bounce to my step. Everything is looking bright and cheerful and I am filled with optimism. Not only about having a real job but I am optimistic about starting a diet. Well, when I say starting… I seem to remember saying I was starting one some months ago but the horribly cold weather and gloom got in the way.
The brighter days and increasing warmth make me feel lively and less in need of solid, warming foods. Lovely though that Toffee Apple Crumble was, it seems my tastebuds are shouting out for brighter, fresher things too.
One of the things the Bear and I like to eat when we start to feel like this is Superfood Salad. Lovely chopped salad with fresh, raw vegetables and quinoa with a lovely savoury, light dressing.
It makes a delicious meal by itself, or perhaps served as a side salad alongside salmon or chicken.
The basis for the salad is quinoa (and if the spelling confuses you, it is pronounced “keenwa” ) It was important to the Incans of South America (who called it the Mother of all Grains”) but nowadays, according to Wikipedia,
” In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%), making it a healthy choice for vegetarians and vegans. Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest. Because of all these characteristics, quinoa is being considered a possible crop in NASA’s Controlled Ecological Life Support System for long-duration manned spaceflights.“
I don’t suppose you can say fairer than that, can you? And if you add a good selection of fresh, crisp and crunchy vegetables, well, you have Superfood salad.
So, first of all, get your quinoa. About a half a cup full would make enough, when cooked, to make a decent sized salad for maybe four people. Or, if you are us, it makes enough for supper with two portions left to take to work for lunch the next day.
Give it a rinse and then put it in a pan to boil. It will take maybe ten minutes.
You will know when it is ready, because it goes from looking like little grains into grains with little sprouts appearing
See what I mean?
I often put a sprinkle of stock powder into the water to give the quinoa a bit of a hint of taste… you could try that.
Next, start on the vegetables.
The Bear won’t eat anything “stringy” (he thinks celery will strangle him) so I peel the outside with the potato peeler to get the worst of the strings off.
Once the celery has been transformed from a Bear-strangling-vegetable into a crisp and juicy stick of fresh greenness, I chop it into cubes.
And do the same with baby courgettes
And after scooping out the wet, seedy middle of a cucumber, I chop that into bits, too.
Get carrots, baby corn, spring onions, red pepper and baby plum tomatoes and do exactly the same to them.
A ripe avocado makes a good addition as well.
Now it really is a case of just putting it together – I put a handful or so of sunflower and pumpkin seeds in a bowl, then having rinsed in cold water and drained the cooked quinoa
I add that to the bowl and stir it round
Then add the chopped vegetables, stirring them into the quinoa and seeds
A good handful of chopped nuts gives the salad an extra crunchy dimension
I make a light dressing with some walnut oil, some balsamic vinegar and some lemon juice and pour that over the salad.
And that’s it!
Look at it, isn’t it pretty? Fresh and crispy and delicious?
By itself it is gorgeous but I want to add a little extra to make it the perfect spring meal….
I have a lovely crisp pear and some organic feta cheese that, if I cut up, will go perfectly.
All that needs is the juice of half a lemon pouring over it to stop the pear turning brown and you have a sharp, sweet and salty extra to add to the salad.
So…. all you have to do is get some quinoa, a selection of vegetables that you like and with the aid of a sharp knife you can make yourself a really tasty salad that will not only brighten up your day by the sheer colourful crunchiness of it but it will also do you the world of good.
Spring is here – let’s eat something light and bright and good for us!