Picnic season is upon us and for this I couldn’t be more excited. So excited in fact that the first day we had legitimate sunshine around here I got a sunburn. The gentle burn on my skin still causes me to smile and dream about all the days of laying on the grass and the many picnics we have to share during this season. I just adore the sunshine and appreciate its warmth and golden glow after months of grey skies casting its melancholy coat on all it covers.

I’ve recently rediscovered quinoa and am almost as happy about this as I am with the sunshine. This ancient grain is packed with fiber and protein, is gluten-free and is as adaptable as pasta or rice.


Quinoa cooks up just as easily as rice and from there the options are endless. My recent favorite quinoa-based dish was delightful little salad that consisted of 1 1/2 cups quinoa, 1 can black beans, 2 small zucchinis that were sliced then grilled with olive oil and salt and pepper. I tossed in some roasted pepper, finely minced garlic (one healthy size clove), a handful of chopped cilantro and a good amount of fresh feta (cotija would have also been a lovely choice). A squeeze of fresh lime juice and lime wedges served along the side and this salad was as pleasing in my belly as it was to my eyes.


On a recent picnic to celebrate my boy’s birthdays I made a fresh citrus vinaigrette with grapefruit juice, honey, lime zest and a sprinkle of salt. That dressed the quinoa right before I tossed in sliced strawberries, grapes, melon then fresh mint. This sweet quinoa salad was adapted from a recipe that came out of The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook
– a book that has many tagged recipes in my attempts to eat healthier and slow-down the weight gain during this pregnancy. 🙂 Notice I said “attempt” but with the help of the delicious recipes from this book I have no excuse.

You can be sure that our picnics this season will very often include a salad with quinoa in form or another.


Fruit Salad with Quinoa

adapted from The French Women Don’t Get Fat Cookbook

1 cup quinoa

1/2 cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice

3 tablespoons honey

1/2 teaspoon lime zest

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 pound mixed fruit (strawberries, grapes, melon, etc.)

1/4 cup chopped fresh mint

Cook the quinoa according to the package. Drain and cool.

Whisk together the grapefruit juice, honey, lime zest and salt.

Slice the strawberries and grapes in half. Peel and dice the melon. Combine the quinoa, grapefruit juice dressing and fruit. Toss gently. Sprinkle in the mint just before serving.

A note about the cookbook – I happily received a review copy from the publisher as I have been a fan of Mireille’s since her book, “French Women Don’t Get Fat”.  Recently I went to an event where she talked about her recent cookbook. Mireille simply teaches the French way of eating and how it promotes a healthful lifestyle. Moderation and slowing down to enjoy the food are some of the key points.

Since hearing Mireille talk I have been more aware as I sit down to eat a meal. I savor *most* bites – I’m still learning – and eat slowly which has caused me to consume less and really enjoy the food I am eating. I don’t limit myself on what I eat but limit how much I eat. She says your taste-buds tire after the first couple bites, although it seems my taste-buds never tire when sugar is involved.

If there is one thing Mireille wants you to take away from her books it is to “get in the kitchen and cook”.  She has over 30 definitions of what cooking is and she says since writing the book she has come up with 20 more.

“Cooking is …

an act of love.


nourishment of the body and soul.





Her book is filled with easy recipes that contain few ingredients and can easily be thrown together in well under an hour. The recipes aren’t “diet” food – it’s about a food culture that truly loves food, cooking and sharing a meal.



19 Responses to “Quinoa : the perfect picnic grain”

  1. Joanne

    I am so going to have to look into this cookbook! I think eating well, in the end, has to be done by eating real food (and even butter every once in a while!). Quinoa is one of my favorite grains and these salads sound delicious!

  2. Blue Jean Gourmet

    Quinoa is definitely my go-to grain. I make a whole batch on Sunday and then end up mixing in fresh or grilled veggies from the Farmers Market–lasts me the whole week at work for lunch.

    I never would have thought to do a sweeter, fruit-packed version of a quinoa salad. thank you for the inspiration!

  3. Kathy Kolb

    This citrus quinoa salad sounds wounderful – I will make it tonight for dinner! I have Type II diabetes, and a nutritionist recomended quinoa as a good choice for protein for diabetics.

  4. Sara

    oohhh love this. So many favorite things in a bowl. I’ve heard such great things about this book, good to know it has your affirmation.

  5. Rosy

    I love the thought of a sweet quinoa! Huge fan of the stuff – Ottoleghi’s cookbooks feature some amazing recipes using it – but only ever savory. Have to give this a go.


    I discovered this amazing versatile grain not too long ago.
    All the nutritional values which you spoke of are exactly the reason I keep looking for interesting recipes to use it with.
    My very favourite variety is the red grain.
    Thank you for sharing and flavourful wishes, Claudia

  7. Melina

    I’m so excited! I didn’t know that there was a “French Women Don’t Get Fat…” Cookbook! I have all of the other books, and it’s life changing. I’m going to have to try this recipe too, I love quinoa!

  8. Luis Gutierrez

    Una interesante receta parar usar quinua como ensalada. Desde Colombia estoy muy sorprendido de conocer esta nueva receta con este grano Andino. Yo principalmente uso la quinua para hacer sopas con verduras y realmente le agradan a mi esposa e hijas.

  9. zara

    I made a recipe from the French Women Don’t Get Fat, it was French Baguettes. They came out looking like calzones. You can see the pics on my blog 😉

  10. Armando

    I substituted orange juice for grapefruit juice (not a fan) and it is still absolutely delicious. Great recipe

  11. Debbie

    Hey There. I found your blog using msn. This is a very well written article.

    I will be sure to bookmark it and come back to read more of your useful
    information. Thanks for the post. I’ll certainly return.


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