Blueberry & Mango Quinoa Salad

19 Apr

Have you ever had quinoa (pronounced keen-wah)?! I never had, but have been hearing about it for quite some time. It’s usually in any list of ‘super foods’ due to its many health and nutritional benefits. But what are those benefits and why is quinoa so great?!?

Get this…it has twice the protein of rice. Wow! It also has all nine essential amino acids, contains vitamin B12, B6 and E, magnesium, iron and zinc. It’s also high in dietary fiber AND….it’s not technically a grain (no gluten in those seeds!) so those gluten-free can still enjoy these tasty little guys.

I found all of these fun facts in my Power Foods cookbook. It also has tons of quinoa recipes which I’ll need to start trying out! The cookbook has both delicious recipes and fantastic photos so I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to start cooking healthy but is not into giving up taste. (Here, here!)

So, enough on the health lesson, quinoa is good for you but how does it taste? Similar to a rice or couscous, it’s all about how you cook it. I found a delicious looking recipe on pinterest that caught my eye and gave me the incentive I needed to buy and eat quinoa for the first time.

The pin took me to a great vegetarian blog, Veggie Belly,  that I encourage you all to look through, no matter if you’re a vegetarian or not. If this recipe is any indication of the taste of her other recipes, it’s bound to be a great site to explore.

Here we go…let the quinoa experiment begin!

Ingredients:

I didn’t alter the ingredients from the original recipe at all, so below is exact wording from Veggie Belly in all aspects of the ingredients and amounts. There are three separate things to make for this salad, broken down below by the ingredients needed for each:

For the quinoa
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water

For the fruits and veggies
½ cup fresh blueberries
½ cup cubed ripe mangoes
½ cup cubed cucumbers
1/2 tablespoon dried cranberries

For the lemon basil dressing
1½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon lemon zest
10 Basil leaves, chopped finely
Salt and pepper

How to Make:

Combine the quinoa and water in a skillet and bring it up to a boil.

I had mine at medium/medium high heat. Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat and cover. I had mine moved down to low heat for this. You’re going to now let it simmer for just about 15 minutes. You’ll know it’s ready to go when you lift up the lid and all that you see is quinoa and no water. You’ll then “fluff the quinoa” according to Veggie Belly – aka – stir it up from where it’s set in on the bottom of the skillet. You can let it cool completely or eat it slightly warm if you’d like too.

While you’re waiting for the 15 minutes of simmering time to pass…instead of the usual distractions of Hulu, making your bed or pinteresting (maybe that’s just me that does those things while killing time?!), you’ll want to chop your fruits and veggie.

Now, I had absolutely no idea how to slice a mango. As you can see, it was a day full of new experiences for me. You may be well-versed in mango slicing and can then skip this next piece. My sous chef for the day shared some wisdom about how this is done properly. Slice the mango the long way, on either side of the long, skinny pit. For each side you sliced off, you can then cube it as my super, expert sous chef does in the pictures below. We then decided the leftover middle chunk left around the pit was best for gnawing at instead of trying to also cube it for the salad. But up to you and how you like to use all parts of your mango.

Ok, I expect you know how to cube the cucumber and well, the blueberries just have to be measured. Combine those three things (and I even threw in the dried cranberries too) in a small bowl and refrigerate until you’re ready to add them to the quinoa.

Last step – the dressing. Add your lemon juice, lemon zest and olive oil to a small bowl.

Chop up the basil – which I do by rolling the leaves all up together and the chopping them all at once. Add your basil to the rest of the dressing and set it aside until you’re ready.

We were eating immediately and were doing so by the lake I live by. We plopped all three mixtures into little Tupperware containers and then once we got to our designated eating location, mixed everything up together in two bowls, one for each of us.

If you’re a person who likes only a bit of dressing, you don’t have to add it all. We used about 91% of it though (It was yummy and I couldn’t resist. At all.) and I didn’t find it too liquidy or oily in the slightest.

This was perfect for a light lunch for two – great for any Spring or Summer day.

Let me know what you think of the quinoa – I liked it and am looking forward to trying another recipe with it soon!

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