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.


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


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.




What Makes Food Taste Good?

What makes food taste good.jpg

I must have done something right in my life since I am lucky enough to have married a (wonderful) man of Italian origin – which of course means delicious food whenever we visit his family in Italy.

This Easter, we decided to visit the region around Bologna, Parma and Modena –  places that gifted the world with food such as Parmesan cheese, Parma ham, salami, balsamic vinegar and stuffed pastas.

We didn’t plan any of our meals – we simply stumbled into the first restaurant we came across when we were hungry.

And every single meal we ate was amazing. Not just good, but amazing. And this got us thinking – what is the secret behind the world-renown food of this region?

Here is my attempt to put into words what makes food taste good based on my recent Italian road trip:

1. The quality of the ingredients

Italian cooking is based on using only the best quality ingredients. The preparation methods are very simple and rely on taste provided by the ingredients used rather than a complex preparation technique or heavy sauce.

2. Food is prepared with love – or at least pride

My mother used to say this was the secret ingredient in her cooking and my adolescent self would roll her eyes. My adult self has to admit that this really makes a difference. A few of the very simple restaurants we ate at still had the 80 year old owner taking our order and making sure the food was prepared just right. People are proud of food and food preparation is taken seriously.

3. Umami elements

Many of the ingredients we associate with Italian food such as tomatoes, olives/olive oil, garlic, onion, Parmesan, cured meats, balsamic vinegar, mushrooms etc are actually umami. As I have written before, adding elements of umami to your dishes is a sure way to boost taste – and when we boost taste, we also reduce cravings and overeating, as these happen when we eat food that isn’t exciting enough for our taste buds.

4. Being hungry

Being hungry enough to truly enjoy a meal is a gift we give ourselves. When we are constantly snacking and avoid ever getting really hungry, we can’t appreciate food in the same way.

Good food.jpg

I would love to hear from you – what makes food taste good in your opinion?