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September 8, 2011

Sweet n’ Healthy Quinoa Salad

Emili 224x300 Sweet n Healthy Quinoa SaladSweet Quinoa salad 300x200 Sweet n Healthy Quinoa SaladHi, this is Emili, Jenni’s sister.  I am always in desperate need for healthy recipes that taste good and help satisfy my sweet tooth!  I’ve made this salad for a few different get-togethers with friends and its always been a huge hit!

I’m definitely a picky eater (you mean there are more food groups than cheese, chocolate and eggs out there?) and I’m always on the lookout for healthy recipes my family (and especially I) will like!

This salad was adapted by a friend of mine (thanks Anne) from our local Harmon’s deli, and  I’ve further evolved it to fit my tastes.  The first time I saw it I was scared to death to even give it a try.  Such a random combination of foods that I don’t know if I like, and it just looked so weird.

I took a tiny bit on my plate so as not to offend my friend who so graciously brought it, only to find out it was the most delicious concoction I had sampled in the previous month.  I went back for about 6 servings (that might be an exaggerated estimate, or not), and when no one was eating the last couple of bites, I went back for more (did I mention I was pregnant when I discovered this salad?)  And after we had licked the bowl clean, I was still left wanting.

Yep, it’s really THAT good.  So let’s get down to how you can make some of this yummy happiness for yourself.

Sweet n’ Healthy Quinoa Salad

1 C quinoa
2 C water
1/4 C almonds, chopped
2 C fresh strawberries, diced
1 bell pepper, diced (or 2 halves, different colors)
1/2 C raw pumpkin seeds (or called pepitas-they’re green)
2 C or 1 can corn
2 C (cooked) or 1 can black beans
1/2 C Craisins
Approximately 1/3 C Brianna’s Poppyseed Salad Dressing
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp cumin powder
1/8 tsp ground black pepper, or to taste

This recipe is extremely flexible.  If you want you can add various ingredients like the green bell pepper I mentioned earlier, some onions or other types of nuts.  And if you’re short an ingredient (I did that once too for a potluck Christmas party last year), don’t worry, people won’t know the difference and it will still taste great!

You may already be familiar with the whole grain “Quinoa Sweet n Healthy Quinoa Salad.”  If you’re not, then the first thing you need to learn is how to pronounce it: KEEN – WA.  It’s a whole grain, super good for you, high in iron, fiber and amino acids, and it can be dressed up in many different ways.

Quinoa 300x200 Sweet n Healthy Quinoa Salad

I had only had quinoa as a hot breakfast cereal with rice milk and brown sugar or vanilla or stevia Sweet n Healthy Quinoa Saladbefore encountering this salad.  Seeing it in this salad has really opened up my mind to its possibilities!  Now, don’t be scared to try something new and different, especially if you’ve never cooked quinoa before.  It’s as easy to make as rice and will be a nice healthy change to your normal routine.

Quinoa 2 300x200 Sweet n Healthy Quinoa Salad

Measure out 1 cup of quinoa and 2 cups of water.  (See, just like rice).  Bring the water to a boil, add the quinoa and cover the pot.  Cook it over medium heat for 12 minutes or until most of the water is absorbed.  Don’t overcook it; we want it to be nice and moist.  This should give you about 4 cups of quinoa.


Cooked Quinoa 300x200 Sweet n Healthy Quinoa Salad

You can gather the other ingredients while the quinoa is cooking.  I prefer this salad to be cold, so you’ll want to leave enough time to let it cool off before you’re eat.

All ingredients 300x187 Sweet n Healthy Quinoa Salad

First you’ll need about 1/4 cup almonds.  We really like to soak almonds in our family.  All you do to soak them is put them in a little water for 6-10 hours and they start to absorb the water and plump up like they’re going to sprout.

Soaking Almonds 300x205 Sweet n Healthy Quinoa Salad

They are healthier this way too, and softer to eat, but still crunchy.  If you have time and can remember details, you can soak your almonds the night before and use those in the recipe.  I have done it both ways, but remembering details is definitely not my strong suit.  Either way grab your food chopper or a knife and cut them up into smaller chunks.

Next you’ll dice up your strawberries.  You want about 2 cups, but more or less is fine.

Strawberries 300x200 Sweet n Healthy Quinoa Salad

Next dice up a bell pepper.  I did half a red bell pepper and half an orange one this time around.  If you like a little contrast to the sweet you can do half of a green bell pepper.

Chopping pepper 300x196 Sweet n Healthy Quinoa Salad

Next measure out about a 1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds. These are crunchy and so so so yummy in this salad!  You can usually find raw pumpkin seeds in the freezer at your health food store.

Pumpkin seeds 300x221 Sweet n Healthy Quinoa Salad

Open up your can of corn and black beans.  I drain them both, but I rinse out the black beans.  Maybe its overkill, but I think rinsing them helps them not be so gassy.

Black beans 200x300 Sweet n Healthy Quinoa Salad

Once your Quinoa Sweet n Healthy Quinoa Saladhas cooled you can throw it all together in a big bowl with a ½ cup of craisins and some Brianna’s poppy seed dressing.  Start with 1/3 cup of Brianna’s dressing and then add more if you feel it is too dry.  I’ve never actually measured the dressing, so that’s my best guess on how much you’d need. Last we’ll add a few simple spices.

Spices 300x199 Sweet n Healthy Quinoa Salad

Add ½ tsp garlic powder, 1-2 tsp of cumin and a few shakes of black pepper (or more if you like black pepper).

That’s it!  If you’re artsy and domestic you can decorate the top with strawberries or something to make it look nice.  I am really not the domestic type, so here’s the salad without any special decoration.

Sweet Quinoa salad container 300x199 Sweet n Healthy Quinoa Salad

Although, now that this batch I made is all gone,  I’m tempted to make it again so I can make it look extra beautiful and impressive.  Maybe next time around…

Feeling adventurous? If you try this recipe, please come back and tell us what you think.


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  1. Perfect! I will be making this very soon. Thanks :-)

  2. Anne says:

    So, I just made some of this and I have to say it is quite refreshing. It has the right amount of sweet to savory. It does need some of the sweet, because with out it, the quinoa is a bit bitter. I LOVE the texture of the quinoa with this salad. I used some of my own homemade raisins because I did not have craisins, and used some pinto beans instead of black beans. Used peppers from my mom’s garden, and a different brand of poppy seed dressing. Newman’s own I think. I also used raw sunflower seeds instead of pumpkin seeds. Yum! I will definitely do this one again! thanks for sharing!

  3. Anne says:

    Quick Update. I was about to put it in my fridge to chill, when I noticed my fresh picked apples from my yard (golden delicious). So I chopped up two of those to put in my salad. I had to double my recipe for a family gathering later today. It added that needed crunch in the texture.

    • Jenni @ Mom Essentials says:

      Cool! It’s nice to know that some ingredients can be exchanged without ruining the dish. Thanks for trying the recipe and reporting your results, Anne!

    • Anne says:

      Another update. Turns out after munching on the salad for a few days, I started to swell a bit, turn hot and red. After a trip to the E.R we realized I am allergic to Quinoa. Hilarious, huh?

      I’ve never been allergic to any grains or have ever had a reaction like that. I have had the occasional tingly toungue with too much pineapple, but who knew?

  4. Love this, need to try!

  5. Judith says:

    I would sure try this if it was on the food table at church some Sunday!! Linking up over at Mama’s Moments Monday.
    Judith recently posted..Keeping Healthy with GratitudeMy Profile

  6. Thank you for your submission on Nourishing Treasures’ Make Your Own! Monday link-up.

    Lea H @ Nourishing Treasures recently posted..Sourdough Starter in 12 hoursMy Profile

  7. Miz Helen says:

    This is a great Salad that we will really enjoy, it looks delicious. Hope you are having a great weekend and thank you so much for sharing with Full Plate Thursday.
    Come Back Soon!
    Miz Helen
    Miz Helen recently posted..Whats For Dinner Next Week 9-23-12My Profile

  8. momstheword says:

    I love that this is a recipe for quinoa because I have never cooked with it. For that matter, I’m not even sure if I spelled it right, although I DID know how to pronounce it, lol!

    Sounds yummy and fun. Thanks for linking up to Making Your Home Sing Monday.

  9. What a delicious and healthy side dish! Thanks for linking up to Healthy 2Day Wednesday!
    Anne @ Authentic Simplicity recently posted..It’s a Party! and You’re Invited!My Profile

  10. Headant says:

    I would have never thought of strawberries with black beans.
    Headant recently posted..Finding the Best Customer Service as a Special Needs ParentMy Profile

  11. Kathy says:

    This does sound very interesting assortment of ingredients – I am willing to give this a try and think my daughter may like this too – great for lunches.
    I do appreciate you sharing with Home and Garden Thursday,
    Kathy recently posted..Hot Fudge Ice Cream CakeMy Profile

  12. Margaux says:

    Thanks for linking up to Snacktime Saturday! I haven’t tried making Quinoa yet at home but this recipe sounds really good. I love everything you added to your salad.
    Margaux recently posted..How to Make Craft Labels for Your BrandMy Profile

  13. nicole says:

    Stopping by to say hi from last week’s Aloha Friday HOP… and also to snag this yummy recipe. I have been wanting to make my own Quinoa dish and now I have just the place to start… thank for that.

    Happy Weekend,

  14. Love the contrast of sweet and savory in this salad – and all the wholesome ingredients too!

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