Thai Quinoa Salad with Homemade Peanut Ginger Sauce

Have you ever been bored with your typical cooking routine? I can tell you I have. I’ve found that when I’m uber-busy with work, school, working out, and just life in general, I stick to the same foods. I might alter my meals a little bit, but I don’t go out of my comfort zone and try a new recipe. Well, I’ve made a goal to change that. To find new recipes, adapt them, or simply create my own. And its going great so far! I have actually saved time by just cooking a large batch of food and eating portions of it throughout the week.

This dish has been on my radar for a while, but for some reason, it seemed like a time investment. Surprisingly not the case. Aside from chopping up the vegetables, it was pretty quick to prepare! With the combination of the quinoa and edamame beans, this is a pretty protein-packed meal, and the loads of vegetables make this an even more nutrient-dense dish. And did I mention it is gluten-free AND vegan?? IMG_20130623_111302

Thai Quinoa Salad with Homemade Peanut Ginger Sauce

Adapted from Ambitious Kitchen

Makes 6 servings

¾ cup uncooked quinoa

2-3 cups shredded red cabbage

1 red bell pepper, diced

½ medium red onion, diced

1 cup shredded carrots

½ cup chopped cilantro

¼ cup diced green onions  

1 cup edamame

Fresh lime, wedges

For the dressing:

¼ cup all natural peanut butter

2 tsp freshly grated ginger

2 Tbsp soy sauce*

1 Tbsp honey*

1 Tbsp apple vinegar

2 tsp olive oil

*To make this recipe gluten-free, use gluten-free soy sauce. To make it vegan, substitute agave for the honey. 
To cook the quinoa: Unless it is already pre-rinsed, rinse the quinoa with cold water in mesh strainer. In a medium pot, bring 1 ½ cups of water to a boil before adding the quinoa. quinoa and bring mixture to a boil. Bring it to a boil again and cover the pot, reducing the heat to low and letting it simmer until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water (about 15 minutes). Remove from the heat and fluff the quinoa with fork, then place it in large bowl and set aside to cool for about about 10 minutes.
To cook the edamame: Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium pot. Add edamame and bring back to a boil. Let the beans cook for 4-5 minutes. Using a colander, Drain the water and rinse the beans with cold water.
To make the dressing: Add peanut butter and honey (or agave) to a microwave safe bowl and heat in microwave for 20 seconds. Add in soy sauce, vinegar, olive oil, and ginger, and stir until the mixture is smooth and creamy.
Add as much dressing as you prefer to the quinoa. You can save the dressing for later, but the flavor absorbs better if soaks into the quinoa longer. Fold in the edamame, cabbage, red pepper, onion, carrots, and cilantro into the quinoa. Garnish with and green onions and cilantro. Serve with lime wedges, chilled or at room temperature.
IMG_20130623_111010
This is, hands down, one of the most flavorful salads I have ever made. Words can’t even describe how delicious this was. My taste buds were jumping for joy  (finally!).
 What’s your favorite recipe to get you out of a cooking rut?

Lemony Kale, Brussels Sprouts, Shrimp & Quinoa

I will start off by saying this is my new favorite dish. I’m not kidding, it’s that good. And filling, and healthy, but most importantly, so good. And kale and I have had a rough start. As a nutrition student and health fanatic, you would think that I was the first one to jump on the kale bandwagon, right? Wrong. Trust me, I tried. Back in Kalamazoo, Waterstreet had a Smokey Kale Salad, easily the most popular salad there, especially since the cafe was commonly frequented by health conscious foodies. I tried it. Multiple times. And? Nope, not for me. Alright, so that was strike 1.

Strike 2 came when I attempted to make kale chips. Were they horrendous? No, but something went wrong along the way and they did not look nor taste how I was expecting them to, especially with all the rave about kale chips.

DISCLAIMER: I am NOT hating on kale chips, I’m sure they are fantastic and I just did not make them correctly…I will admit that.

So why would I give kale a third chance? Most people aren’t even given second chances, and here I was giving kale a third chance. Well, I will tell you why. Kale is arguably the most nutritious green leafy vegetable there is, and sometimes you have to override your feelings (and taste buds) and eat something just because it is so darn good for you. That, and how am I supposed to be a good dietitian in the future if I don’t even like kale? So I gave it a try…again.

And?

DING DING DING, FOLKS WE HAVE A WINNER!

I’m a believer! (finally, phew!)

And it is all thanks to this delicious dish that I crafted:

P1030803

Lemony Kale, Brussel Sprouts, Shrimp & Quinoa:

Makes 2 servings

1 1/2 cup kale, frozen, thawed

1/3 cup water

1/2 Tbsp olive oil

1/4 red onion, julienne

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups Argentinian red shrimp, thawed

2/3 cup Brussels sprouts, rinsed, halved

Herbs de Provence (to taste)

Garlic Pepper (to taste)

1/3 lemon

1 cup quinoa, cooked

lemon slice (for garnish)

Cook quinoa. You can find a recipe/instructions to cook quinoa here. In a medium pan, heat kale and water over high heat for 2-3 minutes, until boiling. Then, cover and turn heat to low for about 5 minutes. Meanwhile in another pan, heat oil over medium heat. Toss in the onions and cook for about 4 minutes, until they are slightly translucent, then add the garlic for about 2 minutes. Add the shrimp and let cook for a few minutes before tossing in the Brussels sprouts. Season with Herbs de Provence and garlic pepper, and let the mixture cook until the shrimp and Brussels sprouts gain a golden color, and the shrimp is fully cooked. Turn the heat off and combine the kale with the mixture. Squeeze the lemon juice over the mixture and stir. Top quinoa with the vegetable and shrimp mixture. Garnish with a lemon.

P1030802

Now for the important part…take in the colors, textures, and flavors of this dish…out of this world right?

Now you know why my faith in kale has been restored.

Bon appetit!

First Day of Classes! Pt. 2 + Easy Savory Vegetable Quinoa & Salmon

Alright, so it has obviously been a couple days since my first day of classes…but if I give you a Pt. 1, you’re expecting a Pt. 2 or even a Pt. 3 or Pt. 4 as well to follow up (but really, don’t expect a Pt. 3 or 4 – that’s just obnoxious). So here it is, even if it’s postponed a few days.

IMG_20130128_135315

Needless to say, my first day was a rainy one. And with the rain comes the drudge – every bit of dirt and grime becomes visible when the rain washes it up to shore (and by shore, I obviously mean the street).

IMG_20130128_160746

But somehow, New York still manages to keep its charm even in the rain. There’s just so much beauty in the city that there’s no way a little bit of rain could ruin it.

IMG_20130128_161330

Once I finally got home, my (non)rain boots were soaked and my stomach was grumbling. Loud. I’m not kidding, if the streets weren’t so noisy, I’m sure I would have gotten a few stares on the way home.

And when I’m hungry, I’m grumpy. So my first priority was to EAT.

Luckily, my pre-day 1 self was prepared for this moment and cooked plenty of food the day before. So all I had to do was heat it up and devour. And boy, was it good. Just what I needed to recover from a cold, rainy day.


P1030416

Easy Savory Vegetable Quinoa & Salmon:

Makes 2 servings

1/2 cup organic quinoa

1 cup reduced-sodium vegetable broth

6 oz thawed salmon filet (2 3-oz filets)

1 lemon wedge (1/4 lemon)

1 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 large red onion, julienne

1 large zucchini, chopped

1 bell pepper, chopped

garlic powder (to taste)

garlic pepper (to taste)

Italian seasoning (to taste)

For the quinoa:

Heat quinoa and vegetable broth in small to medium-sized pot until boiling. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for 15 minutes. You will know when it’s ready when the vegetable broth has been absorbed by the quinoa and the quinoa has formed rings around each grain.

For the salmon:

Preheat the oven to 425 degree Fahrenheit. Place the salmon filet on a sheet pan lined with aluminum foil. Squeeze the lemon wedge on the filet, evenly covering it with lemon juice. Season to your liking – the secret here is to be VERY generous with your seasonings. I use garlic powder first (liberally), then garlic pepper, then finish it off with a little Italian seasoning. Key word: GENEROUS. Seriously, the more spices, the better, trust me. Bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes.

For the vegetables:

Heat the olive oil on a pan on medium-heat. Add the onions and cook until they start to look translucent, about 2-3 minutes. Add zucchini and peppers. Cook for 3-4 more minutes.

Combine the finished products together for a healthy, well-balanced meal for you and a friend, or save half for lunch the next day. Mmm.

P1030418

With a full belly and a brave soul, I was more than equipped to finally survive my first classes of the semester, so off I headed into the rain and onward to campus.

IMG_20130128_131005

 

 

 

What’s your favorite rainy day meal?