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New Years Resolutions

January 12, 2011

I am long over due in posting, but am eager to get back into the kitchen and start writing more. I have many updates to come; recipes from the fall that I failed to post about. While they are all tasty, they are not the healthiest of dishes (think ravioli in a browned butter sauce…). My new years resolution, in addition to cooking and writing more, is to eat much healthier. I love all types of food and could eat healthy food very happily and easily…if it werent for my love of melted cheese and McDonalds. So (for at least January), I will be trying my best to keep an eye on what I put in my mouth and think more about fueling my body and keeping it healthy. To kick start this new attitude (I’m not ready to call it a diet yet), I threw together a quinoa salad to pack for lunch. Quinoa is very versatile and very healthy- it can be used in muffins, salads, or as side dish to replace rice. The texture and bite of quinoa is similar to cous cous, but believe it or not, its not a grain, but a seed. Quinoa is more closely related to spinach than to a grain of rice and is one of the only complete proteins coming from the plant family. This is because its packed with essential amino acids. Since it is a wonderful, low fat, source of protein, it makes a great lunch that will keep you full…and keep you away from the vending machines. When accompanied by roasted butternut squash (packed with vitamin C and vitamin A) and peppery arugula, it’s a lunch to look forward to.

Roasted Butternut Squash Quinoa Salad

1 half of a Butternut Squash
2 cups of quinoa
4 cups of water
2 cups of arugula
1 bunch chives
1 cup of pomegranate seeds (trader joes sells these!)
3 tablespoons of olive oil/ plus more for the squash
1.5 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar
1/5 teaspoon of mustard powder
1 half of an orange
Salt and pepper

1. Start by preheating your oven to 350 degrees and tackle the butternut squash. Peel the outside and hack it into cubes. A sharp knife makes this much easier. Be sure the cubes are bite sized. Distribute evenly on two baking sheets and drizzle with olive oil, salt, pepper and a touch of cinnamon (I think this makes the squash taste squashier). Pop in the oven and keep an eye on it- the cubes are small enough that the will brown quickly, but you want them to get a good toast, but still cook through. I turned the heat down after about ten minutes.

2. Rinse the quinoa through a mesh strainer. Most boxes are pre-rinsed, but do it just in case (the quinoa may be coated with a soupy-tasting compound). Prepare the quinoa according the package- bring the water to a light boil then add 2 cups of quinoa, cover and turn the heat down till the water is absorbed. This takes about 12 minutes or so.

3. Rinse and salad spin your arugula. Using kitchen scissors, snip the chives. In a small bowl, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil, 1.5 table spoons of apple cider vin, mustard powder and then squeeze half of an orange into it. Season liberally with salt and fresh cracked pepper. Wisk this together.

4. Pull the squash out once it is cooked through, yet still firm. I like mine a bit singed on the edges- texture and color. Let the quinoa and squash cool to room temperature. Place the arugula in the bottom of a large bowl and add the quinoa, squash, chives and as much as the dressing as you would like (I added enough to just flavor the salad, it didn’t want it to change the constancy or make it too wet). Toss. Once everything is just combined, add the pomegranate seeds.

Notes: I ate this cold for three days straight and it was delicious. The pomegranate is nice, sweet crunch in comparison to the peppery arugula. The squash is sweet too and buttery almost. On the fourth day, I was getting a little sick of it, so I mixed in some red pepper flakes and curry powder and then heated up for lunch. I think I almost like the Indian version better!

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. January 19, 2011 12:26 pm

    you’ve convinced me to give quinoa a second chance!

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