Lots of Taste Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad_5 tastes

This is one of my favorite ways to create quick meals that also taste great: By combining the five tastes that are naturally present on our taste buds: Sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami.  I go into more detail on this in my online program Healthy in a Hurry but I wanted to share this Quinoa Salad because it is so simple and tasty at the same time!

Taking pleasure in what we eat is not a luxury – it is a necessity in order to feel satisfied by a meal. If a meal is bland, we will often eat more of it or need something sweet after a meal. I call this biological need for pleasure allowing our taste buds to have a party. And what better way for them to party than by combining a food from all five tastes in one dish?

This is what I have done in this dish, combining something sweet (chestnuts + raisins), salty (salt + capers), sour (apple cider vinegar), umami (olive oil, onion, dried tomatoes) and bitter (endives + ground cumin). You can always substitute any of these food with something else from the same taste profile. For example, if you don’t like chestnuts, you can leave them out and add more raisins. If you don’t like endives, you can use kale or arugula instead which are also bitter. And you can always adjust the proportions and seasonings to suit your taste, adding more or less sour for example, as taste is always individual.

This quantity makes about 6 servings, and you can leave it in the fridge for 2-3 days. If you are adding a leafy green, add it when serving rather than storing it with the other ingredients as it will wilt.

Ingredients

1 cup uncooked quinoa or millet or buckwheat

200g chestnuts (I buy them frozen)

2 leeks

1 endive

8 dried tomatoes (buy them without oil)

6 teaspoons capers

1 red onion

4 tablespoons raisins

2 tablespoons ground cumin

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

6 tablespoons apple cider vinegar

salt + pepper

Method

Cook the quinoa, ideally soaking it for about 12 hours beforehand. – find out how to cook quinoa here.

Chop the leeks all the ingredients and combine in a bowl – find out how to clean and chop leeks here.

Steam or boil the leeks and chestnuts for a few minutes so they are cooked but not mushy.

Chop the rest of the ingredients so that everything is about the same size. This will prevent any one taste from dominating and will allow all the tastes to harmoniously come together.

Prepare the dressing and mix with all the ingredients in a bowl.

Adjust taste and seasoning until you find the perfect combination for you.

Enjoy!

 

 

Watermelon Salad

watermelon salad_1

My family and I spent almost every summer growing up visiting my extended family in Jordan.

Being so scarce the rest of the year meant we were invited for lunches and dinners almost every day. But the nights we didn’t have anything special and just stayed home with my Grandmother always meant one thing: Watermelon and white cheese for dinner.

I loved this dinner. So simple, yet refreshing. And no other fruit reminds me of summers in Jordan quite like watermelon.

I pulled together this slightly more sophisticated version of my Grandmother’s dinner to make it into more of a real meal. The tastes go really well together, combining the sweetness of the watermelon with the saltiness of the cheese and olives, the sourness of the lime, the bitterness of the arugula and the pungent taste of the red onion and oregano.

A side note: According to the ancient science of Ayurveda, in order for  a meal to be balanced and satisfying, it is essential for all the tastes mentioned above to be present. This can even help reduce cravings for foods like sweets. You can find our more about the six Ayurvedic tastes here.

INGREDIENTS: 

1 small watermelon (to avoid the seeds)

1 small red onion 

Black olives

Handful of arugula leaves

Feta cheese (or even better, Haloumi cheese if you can find it)

Drizzle of olive oil

Juice of 2 limes

Dash of sea salt & pepper

Dried oregano or zaatar mix

 

METHOD: 

Chop all ingredients and place together in a bowl. Dress with lime or lemon juice and olive oil and season with herbs.

Enjoy on a hot summer’s day!

watermelon salad_2

 

Superfood Salad

I threw together this simple salad at the last minute the other night and realized only later that most of the ingredients are worthy of superfood status. Here’s why:

BEETS: A good source of dietary fiber, potassium, folate, iron, vitamin C, manganese, zinc and copper. They are also loaded with antioxidants and are currently making a comeback as a superfood.

ONIONS: Not very exotic, but onions are super healthy, containing a combination of flavonoids and sulfur. Onions are anti-inflammatory, boost the immune system and are very potent in cancer prevention among other benefits.

AMARANTH: I sprinkled a little of this tiny seed for some added protein and calcium. Amaranth is also a good source of iron, magnesium, phosphorous and manganese.

WALNUTS: Walnuts are the only nut that contains omega-3 fatty acids and they also contain twice the antioxidants as an equivalent amount of any other nuts. I keep walnuts in my desk drawer at work and snack on a handful almost every day.

GOJI BERRIES: These small, dried berries are powerful antioxidants and may help prevent cancer, heart disease and boost the immune system.

APPLE CIDER VINEGAR DRESSING: In its unfiltered, unpasteurized state, Apple Cider Vinegar (or ACV to its friends) is a great alternative to other salad dressings, particularly to help digestion and detoxifying. Other benefits of ACV can be found here.

SALT, PEPPER AND OLIVE OIL TO TASTE. 

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