recipe by me

Happy friday, everyone! I am so glad to be at home time weekend - no traveling for me!!! Although the weather forecast is calling for some chillier weather (high in the 30s on Saturday), it is supposed to be sunny and I am looking forward to getting a couple of good, long-ish runs in - maybe one road run and one trail run. I am also excited to eat at home - I love trying new, fresh, healthy places while I am out of town, and I have plenty of favorites in Phoenix (where I was last weekend), but my body certainly prefers eating at home the very most. So, with less traveling in November, I am looking forward to some quality time in my kitchen making some good food.

From time to time, I have a tendency to modify recipes or create my own and when I make something that really rocks, I plan to share it here.

I absolutely love quinoa ... many people are unaware what this wonder-food is. Quinoa, pronouced keen-wa, is a an edible seed (not a grain like most people believe). It is not a true cereal or grain, as it is not a member of the grass family. Rather, quinoa is a chenopod and is closely related to species such as beets and spinach.

Quinoa packs a nurtitional one-two punch as well ... it is high in protein (12%–18%), and unlike wheat, rice, or oats,  quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids, making it a complete protein source. Yay! It is a good source of fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium, iron, and calcuim. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free.

Read more about the health benefits of quinoa here.

So, I have been having a love affair with quinoa for about three years now. I eat it many ways ... I make salads out of it, I make a breakfast porridge out of it, I add it to soups, and I mix it in with my cornbread batter among other things. It leaves me feeling full, but never stuffed.

Being so busy during September and October, I had not been making my own quinoa as much. Instead, I was buying a quinoa, kale, and feta salad from my local health food store's prepared foods section (Nature's Oasis). Well, I finally got tired of it, and today I made a quinoa salad for myself based upon some quinoa salad I ate that my sister had made. I made a larger batch of this and plan on eating it for lunch for the next several days. An important note: even John likes this, and he is usually skeptical about quinoa!

Greek Quinoa Salad
Makes approx. 4-5 large servings

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa*, cooled
1 organic cucumber, diced
1/2 organic red bell pepper, diced
1/2 organic yellow bell pepper, diced
2 tbl organic red onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup organic pine nuts
a couple of quick swirls of balsamic vinegar
swirl of olive oil
1/3 cup organic feta cheese
2-3 tbl fresh pesto or olive tapenade depending on your flavor preference (I use a fresh basil pesto made by Enchanted Valley Farm in Pagosa Springs, CO)

Mix all ingredients together.

I can tell I am going to be hooked on this quinoa salad for quite some time - it just hits the spot for me! Let me know if you try it and whether or not you like it.

*If you are unsure on how to cook quinoa - don't worry, it is easy. First, quinoa must be rinsed before cooking, so rinse your quinoa in a fine strainer. Then in a pot, combine about 1.75 parts water per 1 part quinoa (so if you want to cook 1 cup dry quinoa, use 1 3/4 cup water). Keep in mind that quinoa approximately doubles in volume when you cook it. Heat the water and quinoa over medium high heat until it comes to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly and let it gently boil for about 15 minutes ot until the quinoa is soft and almost all liquid is absorbed. Don't over boil your quinoa or it will be mushy and/or brown and stick to the bottom of your pot. You can use it hot or let it cool.

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