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.