Cravin' Me Some Quinoa

What a gorgeous day in the Pacific Northwest! Blue bird skies and temperatures up into the 80's have us reaching for last years bathing suits that are patiently waiting in the back of our dressers. Our white arms and legs are now free to the warmth of the sunshine and the cool tickle of the warm afternoon breeze. Break out the skin and let the vitamin D absorb into our much deficient bodies! 

Vitamin D is essential for overall health and well-being. Almost every day a new study reports another important role vitamin D plays in our bodies. Everything from bone health to immunity relies on vitamin D, a vitamin so precious for it is unavailable to us in the Pacific Northwest between the months of October to March. However, there is a trick, one that many do not know. Sunscreen blocks out vitamin D absorption. Therefore, let those warm sun rays tickle your skin for 20-30 minutes (in a bathing suit) to achieve your days worth of vitamin D, and then apply the sunscreen.

Well in celebration of the lovely weather, today I share with you my sunshine quinoa salad, stock full of good nutritious grains, veggies, and fats. It doesn't provide any dietary vitamin D, but while eating this outdoors on the patio, you will get your added D3! The salad is however, full of fiber, vitamin C, good healthy fats, and bioactive compounds, vegetarian protein, and lots of happy vibes. So enjoy!

Many grains are incomplete protein sources, lacking significant amounts of lysine and isoleucine, and lack a natural source of fat.  Quinoa, on the other hand, is note worthy grain offering significant amounts of lysine and isoleucine making it a complete vegetarian protein. It is also rich in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat oleic acid, as well as alpha linolenic acid (ALA), an omega-3. Also on the plus side, because quinoa is a whole grain, its sugars are broken down slowly in our gut, allowing us to manage blood sugar levels and maintain a steady source of energy. Yaay!

So go out play in the sun, and eat yourself some energy and nutrient dense Sunshine Quinoa Salad!!

Sunshine Quinoa Salad
Preparation Time: 35 minutes

This refreshing summer salad can be a great lunch entrée or a side for an outdoor barbeque. Accompanied by fresh strawberries and sparkling lemon water this sunshine quinoa salad can change from side to main course in no time.

Makes 4 large servings

For the quinoa:
2 cups quinoa
4 cups water
1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon turmeric

For the vinaigrette:
Juice of 1 large lemon
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon honey
¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

For the salad:
½ cup pine nuts
½ cup craisins
1/3 cup chopped mint
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
10 radishes, thinly sliced

To prepare the quinoa: Place quinoa, water, turmeric, and sea salt in a 2-quart saucepan and cover with lid. Bring to a boil, stir, and immediately turn off heat, leaving the pan on the hot burner. Keep covered and allow to sit for at least 30 minutes. Uncover and fluff with fork.

To prepare the citrus vinaigrette: Meanwhile, using a citrus juicer juice the lemon and pour into a large serving bowl. Add extra virgin olive oil, apple cider vinegar, honey, and sea salt. Stir until honey and sea salt are dissolved. Add fresh ground pepper to taste.

To prepare the salad: In a skillet over medium heat, toast pine nuts until golden. Stir frequently to avoid burning. Set aside and allow to cool. Add the mint, parsley, cabbage, radishes, and cooled pine nuts to the vinaigrette. Mix well. Slowly fold the cooled quinoa into the vinaigrette mixture making sure to break up any quinoa clumps. Mix well.

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