Thursday, July 28, 2016

Quick Quinoa Salad

I used my leftovers to create a quick and tasty quinoa salad. Tossed salad and leftover cooked quinoa pair well together. Sometimes you discover something by accident that turns out to really work ! 

 That's what happened to me today. I had leftover salad from last night's dinner, leftover bold lemon salad dressing, and leftover red quinoa. I was looking for a quick lunch and decided to combine all three of them together in one bowl. I mixed, ate, and really enjoyed! 

My creation tasted great, involved no prep, and was healthy!  

What more could I ask for?

Although this salad is a simple idea, it's gluten free, vegan, and nutritious! There's not much more to say! All you need is 1/4 cup of leftover quinoa per serving, a cup or two of any salad per serving, and a tablespoon of any homemade salad dressing! 

If you don't have leftovers, here are some tips for making quinoa, making a quick homemade dressings, and some of my tried and truly loved salad dressing recipes. Bon appetit ! 

Tips on making quinoa 

  • I like to use red quinoa or a tri color quinoa that I get from Trader Joe. For me, the tiny darker seeds seem to cook up firmer and less sticky than cooking the white quinoa which for some reason becomes thick and pasty for me.
  •  I always soak and rinse my quinoa well because the seeds are naturally coated with saponin which wont hurt but can make your final product taste bitter. 
  • Just follow the cooking directions on the package. It's basic like rice
  • If you are not familiar with quinoa and want to know more, click over to read all about the health benefits of quinoa ( pronounced keen-wah). 
I like this blend of quinoa; it has a hearty taste and
 it's reasonably priced and organic

Tips on making quick homemade salad dressing

  • Use your Vitamix, Bullet, or blender to make a salad dressing in minutes
  • Use fresh herbs that completely pulverize in a strong blender and add an incredible flavor
  • Use balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar, or fresh lemon juice
  • Use olive oil or coconut oil or simply blend in an avocado
  • There are no chemicals 
  • It hasn't been sitting on a shelf for a year
  • It's tastier
  • You control the amount  and type of oil you want to use in the recipe

Quick and Easy Homemade Salad Dressing Recipes: 

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Lemon Salad Dressing with a Kick!

Homemade lemon salad dressing

There is something very special about this bold lemon salad dressing. It is made using the entire lemon including the entire lemon peel. The peel really gives it a kick!! It is a refreshingly flavorful dressing that adds a powerful citrusy zing to any salad, vegetable, or rice dish. In our house, we like this tangy dressing on everything.

Blended with olive oil, fresh mint, basil, parsley, red onion and the whole lemon, this sensational dressing has a classic Mediterranean flavor. Interestingly, I recently discovered that the peel of the lemon is extremely rich in nutrients and antioxidants, even more so than the just the juice of the lemon. What a shame that we normally discard the peel when it has so much to offer! But not in this recipe. We use the entire peel ( I use an organic lemon) and it is absolutely delicious, gluten free, and vegan.

How I found out about the nutritional and medicinal value of the lemon peel

Lemon Essential Oil: When I became a Young Living Essential oil distributor, I began learning about each of the essential oils. I was fascinated that the lemon essential oil was made using the peel and it offered so much more benefits than just lemon juice. That is why so many people I know add drops of Young Living Lemon Vitality Essential oil to their water instead of just plain lemon juice when they want to really boost their immune system. Since Young Living Lemon Essential oil is safe to consume( I'm not sure about all other brands), I use it in lemonade, salad dressing, etc. ( to order Young Living Lemon Oil: Visit the Young Living Website)

I did a search on the Internet and confirmed that the peel has 5-10 more times the nutrients than the juice alone. It certainly seems worthwhile to use the peel if you can find organic lemons. I get organic lemons at Trader Joe's by the bag or by the lemon in most supermarkets in their organic department.

Benefits of Lemons
  • Lemons are alkalizing to the body to help maintain a proper ph 
  • Lemons help dissolve toxins in the liver 
  • Lemons are rich in Vitamin C which is needed to produce collagen for anti-aging
  • Lemons are antibacterial  - may help with colds and flu
  • Lemons helps neutralize free radicals to deter disease and aging
I've started to include a half an organic lemon and its peel in my morning smoothies and now I've incorporated the same 1/2 lemon with peel into my salad dressing.

In order to use the entire lemon, you will need to use a very powerful blender like the Vitamix! With a powerful blender, you won't even see the peel since it pulverizes it so well. But you will taste it! It's flavorful and delicious. Some people like to use the sweet Meyer lemons which would be fabulous- but I find any organic lemon works fine and tastes sweet and delicious too.
How to pick a good lemon

1. Thin skinned lemons are heavier and contain the highest mineral content. 
2. Look for lemons that are completely yellow- if they have green patches it is not fully ripened. 
3. Keep lemons at room temp out of the sun for about a week or they can be stored in the refrigerator for about a month.

4. The sticker on an organic lemon ( or any organic produce) always begins with the #9
If you are a lemon lover like we are,  this easy recipe will soon become one of your favorites. Think about the extra antioxidants and vitamins you are adding to your salad with the addition of the nutrient dense lemon peel!

 When you make your own salad dressing, you can be sure it is gluten free and free of preservatives and additives. Homemade dressing can be made in minutes and stored in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.  In addition, it is so much healthier than store bought which is almost always made with soybean oil. What's the problem with soybean oil?-scroll down to the bottom of the page for links with info why soybean oil in commercially processed foods may not be healthy.


1/2 organic lemon with peel, washed and cut in half
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup of organic parsley
1/4 cup of fresh mint
1/4 of fresh basil
1/2 red onion
1/4 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice ( in addition)
1/8 cup of water

In a powerful blender like a Vitamix , add all ingredients. Run on high until all ingredients are blended very well. Store in the refrigerator and use as needed. Will keep for 3-4 days.

homemade lemon salad dressing in a bottle

Why avoid soybean oil
Why soybean oil is not healthy
Dangers of soy

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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Easy Summer Salad

colorful bowl of salad

There is no better time to make flavorful salads than during the summer when the produce is ripe off the vine, juicy, and plentiful. I like to use tomatoes in the summer as the base of my salads instead of lettuce. 

I had company last night, and I made this amazing summer salad! I used most of the veggies that I received from my CSA this week:  tomatoes, cucumbers, fennel, cabbage, celery, red onion, fresh basil, fresh mint, plus I added some sliced black olives and thick slices of avocado sprinkled with cumin. The salad was pretty to look at and absolutely delicious to eat. If you want to make a meal out of it, you can add in a some chickpeas!

table and chairs on a gray deck
Too hot to even eat outdoors

I made this salad in the morning, covered it well and didn't dress it until we came to the dinner table. It was 97 very hot and humid degrees today and remained about 88 and humid even into the evening! Way too hot to heat up the house ; Way too hot to eat on the deck. This cold salad with my powerful tangy citrus dressing ( I'll be sharing this coming week)  is the perfect hot weather solution.

cherry tomato plant
Growing my own cherry tomato plants of my deck
Although we eat salads every night of the year, my summer salads taste really special because I am able to use locally grown vine ripe organic vegetables for them. Some of the veggies, I even pick myself at my CSA.  

summer salad in a bowl
Add caption

There is nothing like going out into the fields to pick your own produce that makes you appreciate what it takes to grow and harvest these crops. Sometimes it's really hot and sunny and things like string beans can take time to bend down and collect. It's not the same as picking up a bag a the market. Gives you a whole new perspective and gratitude about food!

There is no reason to only make a lettuce, tomato, and cucumber salad during the summer ( unless that's all you like) when there is so much amazing produce to choose from.

Since we get the greatest variety of nutrients by eating a rainbow of colors, look for as many colors as possible for your salads. If you are following Weight Watchers or just concerned about your weight in general, salads add lots of fiber and nutrients with relatively low points or calories. Without the olives and avocado, this salad is zero points plus- in addition if you sprinkle with fresh lemon juice it brings out the flavors even more with extra taste, but no extra calories.

Author: Judee Algazi @ Gluten Free A-Z Blog
Prep Time: 10-12 minutes
Cook Time: none
Serves : 6

8 medium ripe summer tomatoes, chopped large
6 kirby cucumbers, chopped
1 cup chopped celery
2 cups chopped cabbage
1/4 cup chopped mint
1/4 cup chopped basil
3/4 cup of chopped red onion
1/2 cup chopped fennel
3/4 cup of sliced black olives
1 medium Haas type avocado, sliced
optional: 1 teaspoon cumin
optional: 1 cup of chickpeas

In a large serving bowl, assemble all of the ingredients except the avocado and cumin. 
Immediately before serving, add the slices of avocado to the top and sprinkle with the cumin. 
Drizzle with dressing before serving. I used my citrus dressing.
lemon mint dressing or my Bold Lemon Dressing

Easy Summer Salad Fixings and Salads

Fennel is always fun to add to perk up a salad. It has a mild licorice taste and the consistency of celery.

Red or green cabbage keeps in the refrigerator much longer than lettuce and the red adds beautiful color as well as taste. The cabbages usually impart a sweet flavor to the salads-you like coleslaw right? why not try some chopped cabbage in your salads? You could also make a red , orange, and green beautiful coleslaw salad.

Red onion is one of our favorites. I also chop it small and we love the flavor with ripe tomatoes. One of my favorite ways to add red onion to salads is to soak my red onion slices in white vinegar for a few hours and it turns to a pickle taste. It is not only a great toppings for BBQ salads, but a great topping for sandwiches. Click o see how to make pickled red onions

Basil- You can get fresh basil in most supermarkets or farmer's markets, but you can also grow your own in a pot on your windowsill in winter and on the deck or patio in summer. Tip: If you grow basil indoors, it grows best if you place the pot itself in a small bowl and put the water in the bowl. I used to buy basil plants for the house, water the soil, and they would die in 2 weeks. With the bowl watering method, I had months of blossoming basil all winter on my window sill. Grow Your Own Herbs on the window sill or deck.

Mint- You can buy fresh mint in the supermarket or start growing your own. It grows like a weed, comes back every year, and is lush and plentiful. Once you plant some mint, you will have it forever.
How to grow mint.

Jicama- a sweet crunchy low calorie vegetable that is a wonderful addition for any salad.  It's Available in most supermarkets. The first time I had jicama ( pronounce hic-a-ma) was in Mexico where they cut it into spears and chomp away. It is delicious. If you are unfamiliar with jicama read my previous post all about jicama or make my Jicama Rainbow Salad 

Raw Corn right off the cob -You can cut the corn right off the cob without cooking it and add these delicious morsels to any salad. They bring sweetness, crunch, and flavor. Kids especially love this. I sometimes make a Fresh Corn and Tomato salad which is so easy and especially delicious mid summer

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