Kale & Quinoa Salad

You guys remember my yummy broccoli salad? Well, this is just a glorified version with a little twist.

Quinoa has always been an interesting grain to me. When I first tried it, I could not get over the grainy taste and wasn’t quite sure if I liked it hot, cold, or not at all. After trying many different recipes, I finally figured out ways to incorporate this high fiber, protein filled grain into my diet.

This recipe is very, very similar to my broccoli salad. You will see it pictured below with broccoli, but I originally made it with sweet potatoes (which I actually preferred!). Sweet potatoes add an interesting and yummy twist to a fun salad that is already packed with flavor. The recipe I provide will include both options.

IMG_2151Walnuts add a slight crunch, while dried cranberries add a touch of sweetness with each bite. Could a salad pack more flavor and nutrient dense foods into one bowl?

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Aside from all of the delicious flavors, this is a super simple recipe to make ahead and pack for lunches throughout the week. Kale is a firm and crisp vegetable that holds its shape and crunch for much longer than spinach, arugula, or other commonly used salad greens.

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I hope you give this easy, quick, and flavorful recipe a try! While I typically don’t measure ingredients when making salads, I tried to provide the most accurate measurements I could for the recipe. As always, let me know what you think!

Kale & Quinoa Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (dry) tricolor quinoa
  • 1 1/2 large sweet potatoes OR 1 1/2 cups raw, chopped broccoli
  • 3-4 cups fresh kale
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1/3-1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese
  • dressing of choice
  • olive oil spray
  • seasonings: pink salt, black pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Dice sweet potatoes into small, bite sized pieces. Spread evenly on a cookie tray and spray with olive olive spray (or spray of choice). Season with black pepper and pink himalayan salt. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until sweet potatoes are golden brown.

While the potatoes are roasting, bring 1 1/2 cups of water and 1/2 cup of quinoa to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer. Let quinoa cook for about 15-20 minutes or until all water is evaporated. You may need to add another 1/4-1/2 cup of water as quinoa cooks. Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.

Wash and finely chop kale (if using broccoli instead of sweet potato, do the same at this time). Put into a large bowl and top with warm quinoa to help wilt the kale. Top with walnuts, dried cranberries, and feta cheese once quinoa has cooled to prevent the cheese from melting.

Keep in the refrigerator and portion out before serving. Top with dressing of choice. My favorite dressings for this salad include Champagne Pear Vinaigrette with Gorgonzola from Trader Joe’s and Organic Pear Vinaigrette from Sprouts.


Farmhouse Salad

Do you ever just crave a really hearty salad? Saturdays and Sundays are my salad days, and its almost always something different! Sometimes I’ll stop at Whole Foods or Sprouts and make one from their cold bar, or I’ll just use random ingredients from my refrigerator that need to be eaten asap or they’ll go bad! Today I’m sharing my farmhouse salad which incorporates lots of veggies, fruit, dairy, and protein all into one delicious bowl! Hope you enjoy and happy Sunday!


Farmhouse Salad

  • Servings: 1
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

  • 2-3 big handfuls of raw spinach
  • 1/4 yellow bell pepper
  • 3 baby carrots, chopped
  • 1 oz sharp cheddar cheese
  • shredded chicken (about 1/2-3/4 cup)
  • 1/4 golden delicious apple
  • 1/2 small avocado
  • black pepper
  • dressing of choice

Directions

Chop your produce and shred the chicken (if it isn’t already pre-shredded; I like to buy plain shredded chicken from sprouts to have on hand). Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, add dressing of choice


Fresh and Fast Lemon Broccoli Salad

So ya’ll already know I’m totally ready for summer! Today is absolutely beautiful, and after my work out I decided to sit by the pool for a few minutes before coming inside to meal prep. If I’m making a salad, I want it to be flavorful, crunchy, and satisfying. This salad is super light and actually gets better with time. I usually let it sit for a day before trying it, so that made it even more perfect for meal prep!

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I’m going to give you both the dressing and the salad recipe. The dressing is super simple and can be used on other salads as well. It is so easy to make your own dressings, and if you have mason jars or small sealed containers they can keep for at least a week in the refrigerator (if not longer!). You can easily control the ingredients when you make your own dressing, allowing there to be a lot of flexibility and versatility in what you create! I tend to not like a lot of dressing on my salads, so if you want a little more liquid just double what I am going to provide today.

Quick side note. Does anyone else notice that when the weather gets nicer they tend to eat out more? I am currently trying so hard to break this habit. As soon as the sunny days and comfortable cool nights come around all I want to do is sit outside at a restaurant, people watch, and enjoy a yummy bite to eat with hub. While we never choose anything to outrageous and have a pretty good balance of healthy options with a little indulgence, there is no doubt that the more I eat out the puffier I tend to feel. Whether its the occasional alcoholic beverage or just too much salt in our meal, having multiple meals out per week can leave me feeling a little sluggish and heavy come Monday.

If you tend to have the same experience, here are a few tips for still being able to enjoy the outdoor and dining experience without the unwanted side effects! These are all things I try to do myself, so I definitely speak from experience!

  • Make dinner at home ahead of time and just go out for a drink or two. Instead of going out and getting your meal and a few drinks, skip the meal and just grab a drink. People watching and enjoying conversation with others is just as good without the food!
  • Eat something light (a greek yogurt with a little fruit, a few slices of rolled turkey with cheese, a plate of raw veggies with hummus, a small slice of leftover chicken breast with a few whole wheat crackers) so that you aren’t as hungry when you go out. Then you can just split an appetizer with your significant other or a friend and still feel satisfied at the end of the night.
  • Just drink water! There is no rule that you have to have a caloric drink or alcoholic beverage at lunch or dinner! It is ok to just drink water! If you really want that beverage, consider cutting it with something that is non-caloric. A good example of this would be ordering a wine spritzer instead of a glass of wine. Ask the serving to only pour 1/2 a glass of white wine and top it off with a little seltzer or soda water. They will typically cut the price as well!

Ok!!! Now on to that delicious recipe!! I hope you give this super easy and delicious salad a try. You can always add other elements such as more raw vegetables, slivered or chopped nuts, etc. Enjoy!

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Fresh and Fast Lemon Broccoli Salad

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Difficulty: easy with some prep involved
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Ingredients

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tsp honey
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Salad:

  • 1 head raw broccoli, chopped into bite-size florets (about 2.5 cups)
  • 1, 12 oz container of broccoli slaw (This is just carrots, cabbage, and broccoli already chopped! I purchased mine at Sprouts!)
  • 1/2 cup roasted, unsalted sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup raisins (golden or regular is fine)
  • 1 medium Gala apple, diced (Or use whatever apple you like best!)
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • pinch of salt and pepper

Directions

Prepare all the fruit and veggie ingredients as needed. Chop them as fine or as large as you’d like. in a large bowl, add the broccoli, broccoli slaw, diced apple, sunflower seeds, and raisins.

In a mason jar or sealed container, add the dressing ingredients and agitate by shaking. Pour the dressing on top of the salad and lightly toss with your hands. Add a little extra squeeze of lemon juice on top with a pinch of salt and pepper if needed. Store in a sealed container for up to 4 days

 

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Spinach Tortellini Salad, The perfect holiday salad!

It’s Christmas…. almost at least! It took me a while to get into the holiday swing this year, but now I am definitely ready! During this time of year there are always plenty of parties and social outings where bringing a covered dish is common. This salad is one of my favorites for this time of year, mainly because it is red and green and tastes delicious! I use a lot of store-bought pieces, but overall this salad is fresh, fun, and light in comparison to a lot of other traditional holiday dishes!

For this salad, I have commonly purchased my ingredients from Trader Joe’s because I have a slight obsession with their cheese tortellini and light champagne vinaigrette. You can get these ingredients from just about any food store, so I’ll give you the general quantities for each ingredient that I typically use.

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Side not, yes my kitchen is vey messy! I apologize in advance, but with the holidays also comes lots of mess in the Quinn household! I tried to clean it up a little, but 24 hours later it was right back to where I had started.

I really hope you give this yummy salad a try! Let me know what you think, and happy holidays!

Spinach Tortellini Salad

Ingredients: (serves 8-10)

  • 1 heaping cup dry cheese tortellini; is using fresh cheese tortellini you can use about 1 1/2 cups
  • 4 cups (or about 3/4 bag) of fresh spinach
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese (can sub goat cheese)
  • 1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup walnut or pecan pieces
  • dressing to taste (I tend to use Trader Joe’s Light Champagne Vinaigrette)
  • black pepper to taste

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(PS that is my super cute golden retriever, Eddie! He loves to supervise me in the kitchen!)

Directions:

Cook your tortellini as directed, strain and let cool. I usually add a drizzle of olive oil to prevent the pasta from sticking together. In a large bowl, add your fresh spinach, sun dried tomatoes, nuts, cheese, and cooled pasta. Wait until 5-10 minutes before serving to add your dressing and toss. I tend to finish with a little sprinkle of black pepper. Enjoy!

 


A Flavorful Lunch, Vegan/Vegetarian Chickpea “Chicken” Salad

After a week of having the flu and eating bland boring meals, I was ready to get back in the kitchen and make myself a good lunch! Although I am no longer vegetarian, I do like to have days throughout the week where I go back to my vegetarian ways and avoid meat for the day. Today was one of those days!

I am a big fan of chicken salad. I typically use plain Greek yogurt as my base to add a little extra protein, but with today being a meat-less day, I decided to try making a vegan “chicken salad.” I had gotten a little inspiration from Lauren Blake’s blog, http://www.wholelivinglauren.com/ but with not all the right ingredients, decided to just come up with something on my own.

When I make chicken salad, I like to combine sweet and savory elements. I like a little crunch as well… I mean who doesn’t like a little change in texture?! For this salad, I used a base of plain non-fat Greek yogurt and Dijon mustard with chickpeas as my “chicken” element. If you want a truly vegan salad, you can use Vegenaise instead of the yogurt. Here was my result, which I was pleasantly satisfied with! Even better, I have plenty of leftovers to have for lunch the rest of the week.

Enjoy, and happy Monday!

Vegan Chickpea “Chicken” Salad:

  • 1 15.5oz can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 3/4 cup diced red bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced cucumber
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 2 Tbsp diced onion
  • 6 oz plain non-fat Greek yogurt or Vegenaise (if you actually want it truly without any animal products)
  • 3 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tbsp paprika
  • 1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp lemon pepper seasoning (I used the Mrs. DASH version which doesn’t contain any salt)
  • pinch of salt

In a large bowl, partially mash your chickpeas with a fork. They should still be fairly textured with about 1/2 the chickpeas mashed and half still whole.

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Finally chop your veggies (onion, cucumber, red pepper) and ad to your chickpea mixture as well as the cranberries. Lightly toss to combine all ingredients. Add base of greek yogurt and dijon mustard, mixing to make sure all ingredients are covered. Add your seasoning mix and once again stir until all ingredients are coated.

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Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. The longer it sits, the better it tastes! Enjoy!

*Refrigerate remaining salad and use within 3-4 days. 

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