Lemon Basil Quinoa Salad

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My local grocery store sells the most delicious quinoa salad in the deli case. It has quinoa, tomatoes, kalamata olives, feta cheese, artichoke hearts, and red onions, all mixed together with a mildly sweet lemon basil dressing. The salad is light and refreshing and has a great combination of sweet and savory flavors. I took one bite and I immediately started thinking about how I could recreate this salad at home.

Lemon Basil Quinoa Salad

I served this salad at my mother-in-law’s birthday dinner last night, and it was a big success! The bowl was practically scraped clean, but I managed to save some leftovers, which I had for lunch today, topped with some left-over salmon (yum!).

I omitted the artichoke hearts and red onions from my recipe, since they are not part of my low FODMAP diet, but feel free to add them to your salad, if you like. You can adjust the ingredients and quantities shown in my recipe below, but be sure to only use fresh basil. I had some trouble finding fresh basil in the grocery store, so I went to my local nursery and bought a basil plant for about the same price I would pay for a handful of basil as the grocery store. Now I can plant my basil plant and have fresh basil all summer long!

The quinoa will need time to cool in the fridge, so be sure to cook the quinoa the day before, or at least a few hours before you plan on serving the salad. This recipe will serve about 6-8 as a side dish.

1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
1 container of grape tomatoes
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives
1/3 cup feta cheese
1 tablespoon sliced green onions
2 lemons, juiced (approximately 4 tablespoons)
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
Salt and pepper, to taste

To prepare the quinoa, first add the quinoa to a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly under cold water to remove the bitter coating. Add the quinoa to a large saucepan or deep skillet (make sure it has a lid). Add 3 cups of water to the quinoa and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until all of the liquid is absorbed. I usually stir it once or twice while it’s cooking and check the water level. Burnt quinoa doesn’t taste good (don’t ask me how I know).

Once the quinoa is cooked, let cool for 30 minutes, then transfer to a mixing bowl and place it in the refrigerator for several hours, or overnight.

To prepare the salad, remove the quinoa from the fridge (the quinoa should be cold), and add the tomatoes, olives, feta cheese, and green onions. Gently stir to combine.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, maple syrup, fresh basil, and salt and pepper. Pour into the bowl with the quinoa and gently stir until thoroughly coated with the dressing. Have a taste and add additional salt and pepper, if desired. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

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Maple Coconut Quinoa Granola

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This maple coconut quinoa (yes, I said quinoa) granola is so good! The maple and coconut flavors pair really well together and the quinoa adds a great crunch.

I created this recipe out of desperation. I’ve had tummy trouble for as long as I can remember, so I’ve recently started the low FODMAP diet to see if I can pinpoint the cause. You can read more about the low FODMAP diet here if you’re interested, but in a nutshell, I have to eliminate a number of “problem” foods for several weeks and then slowly add them back to determine which foods are triggering my symptoms. That means some of my favorite foods are now off-limits (cereal with milk, apples with peanut butter, avocados, bread, ice cream (gasp!), etc).

Desperate to find a low FODMAP snack that I could enjoy (gluten-free, dairy-free, etc), I came up with this recipe, and boy am I glad that I did! I would eat this over wheat cereal any day. Even my kids and husband loved it.

Maple Coconut Quinoa Granola

My favorite way to eat this granola is sprinkled over yogurt (lactose-free for me) with some frozen raspberries. Yum!

Maple Coconut Quinoa Granola with Yogurt

Keep in mind that raisins, almonds, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds are considered low FODMAP as long as they are kept in small quantities (2 tablespoons or less), so keep your portions small if you are following a low FODMAP diet.

I also recommend soaking the nuts and seeds prior to making this recipe, especially if you have trouble digesting them. The soaking/drying process will take about 24 hours, so be sure to start the day before you want to make the granola. Or you can skip the soaking process if you’re short on time.

3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 cup pre-soaked nut/seed mix (instructions below)
1/2 cup gluten-free oats
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
1/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup golden raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Pour the quinoa into a fine mesh strainer and rinse well under cold water to remove the bitter coating. Add the rinsed quinoa, nuts/seeds, oats, shredded coconut, and salt to a large bowl and stir to combine. (Note: if you are using pre-soaked nuts/seeds (instructions below) they will be lightly salted, so you may want to reduce the amount of salt in the recipe.) Pour in the melted coconut oil and maple syrup and mix together until evenly coated.

Spread the granola out on a large cookie sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, stirring a few times during baking. Remove from the oven and stir in the golden raisins, then let cool for at least 15 minutes. Store in an airtight container on the counter.

Nut/Seed Soaking Instructions:

  1. Fill a large bowl with warm water and mix in a tablespoon of salt.
  2. Add raw sunflower seeds, raw pumpkin seeds, chopped walnuts and chopped almonds to the bowl (or your favorite nuts and seeds).
  3. Soak nuts in the salt water overnight for 10 – 12 hours.
  4. Preheat the oven to 125 degrees.
  5. Drain the nuts and spread onto a large baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for about 10 hours (this will dry out the nuts and prevent them from getting moldy).
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Summer Menu: Week 3

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Hello friends! This week’s menu is full of flavor and has lots of yummy vegetarian options. Click on the link below to download a PDF of the menu, grocery list, and recipes.
Menu Summer 2012 3

Here’s the delicious menu:

Sunday: Spiced Lentils with Garlic Naan







Monday: Zesty Quinoa and Beans






Tuesday: Simple Summer Squash and Sausage







Wednesday: Cranberry Spinach Salad







Thursday: Mediterranean Garlic Herb Cod







Friday: Heavenly Ricotta Pancakes (Breakfast for Dinner!)







Saturday: Parmesan Basil Orzo with Shrimp








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Cheesy Quinoa Casserole

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I love quinoa, but my usual preparation method was getting boring, so I was delighted to discover this recipe. It’s creamy, cheesy, hearty, delicious, and even my kids gobbled it up. It is an excellent side dish, but the high-protein quinoa makes it a wonderful vegetarian main dish too! My version below includes a few changes to the original recipe, which can be found here. If possible, save yourself some time and cook the quinoa (see instructions below) ahead of time.

1 cup quinoa
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 cup frozen corn (no need to thaw)
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
8 ounces light sour cream
1/2 cup chunky salsa (you choose the heat)
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

To prepare the quinoa, first rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer to help remove the bitter tasting coating (called saponins). While the quinoa is draining, heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or deep skillet over medium heat. Add the quinoa, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and cover. Simmer until the liquid is absorbed, about 15-25 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and lightly grease a casserole dish.

In a large bowl, stir together the corn, black beans, red bell pepper, sour cream, salsa, cheese, salt, cumin, coriander, and black pepper. Add the cooked quinoa and mix thoroughly.

Spoon mixture into the prepare casserole dish and bake for about 30 minutes, or until heated through. Serve hot and enjoy!

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Zesty Quinoa and Beans

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I have not forgotten you, my vegetarian friends! Despite the copious amounts of meat that you’ve witnessed on my blog, I actually love meatless dinners. My carnivorous family tolerates about one meat-free dinner a week; any more would cause them to bang their knives and forks on the table chanting “We want meat, we want meat, we want meat!!”

This is one of my favorite “veg” recipes because it’s tasty and it uses super-healthy quinoa (pronounced Keen-wah). This is a good introductory recipe to quinoa because the quinoa is balanced with the familiar flavors and textures of the other ingredients.

Fun fact: quinoa is considered to be a complete protein due to the presence of all 8 essential amino acids, and just a 1/2 cup of quinoa will provide a child’s daily protein needs.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup frozen corn
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

Using a fine-mesh strainer, rinse the quinoa thoroughly to remove the bitter-tasting coating (saponin). The manufacturer may have already done this for you, but an extra rinse won’t hurt.

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. When the pan is hot (you will start to smell the olive oil) add the onion and bell pepper and sauté until tender. Add the garlic and quinoa to the pan and then pour in the broth. Stir in the cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.

Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover the pan, reduce the heat to low, and simmer about 20 minutes.

Stir the frozen corn into the saucepan, and continue to cook for about 5 minutes, until heated through. Mix in the black beans and cilantro and serve hot.

The small amount of cayenne pepper adds more flavor than heat, so my husband usually adds some hot sauce for a little kick.

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