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    Lake Agnes Inspired Quinoa Salad

    Written by: Louann Walker

    With these warm days in Half Moon Bay and an Indian Summer on its way this fall, I’ve been dreaming up some amazing and healthy recipes for us to snack on over a quick trip to the park, pool, beach, or even have for a light lunch. This quinoa salad, inspired by a version from Lake Agnes Tea House in Canada, is simply amazing.

    Quinoa has become increasingly popular lately and has been given the nickname “the mother grain” due to it’s ancient history. Technically though, it’s a seed. The amazing thing about it is its super food qualities and the fact that it is filling, easy to cook, and full of protein, iron, magnesium, and fiber.  The first time I made it was earlier this year and it has since become a staple in our home, pairing well with vegetables for salads, beefed up with beans and Mexican seasonings for a healthier side option than rice, or creatively used as a healthy filler for meatballs, meatloaf, stuffed chicken, etc.

    Now that you know how amazing it is, let me give you a few tips on how to perfectly cook it. Perfect quinoa is light and fluffy. It’s important not to over water it or stir it too much.

    A Few Facts First:
    ++1 cup dry quinoa will yield 3 cups cooked quinoa++
    ++1 cup dry quinoa will require 2 cups of water or broth to cook++

    Quinoa Cooking Instructions:

     1.     Toast dry quinoa in a skillet over medium heat a few minutes. You’ll be able to hear it crackle a little and smell the nuttiness coming out.

    2.     Rinse the quinoa under water in a fine sieve to remove the natural bitterness the shell has.

    3.     Transfer back to skillet and add olive oil, liquid, and bring to a boil. Add 1 teaspoon olive oil and 2 cups water for every 1 cup of quinoa seed.  Bring mixture to a boil.

    4.     Lower heat and cook –covered- 15 minutes on lowest heat.

    5.     Let stand 5 minutes. Remove from heat but leave covered. Don’t even take a small peek!  

    6.     Fluff it up and add anything you want! You should see tiny spirals separating from the seeds to show they are done cooking.

    So that’s basically how I prep my quinoa for any salad or recipe. Here goes with my favorite combination to date:

     Lake Agnes Inspired Quinoa Salad
    -1 cup cooked organic quinoa cooked (equals 3 cups once cooked)
    -½ cup organic raisins
    -1 organic orange split and one half cut into chucks
    -1 organic lemon
    -Handful of fresh organic cilantro chopped
    -1/2 cup fresh or frozen organic sweet corn kernels pre-heated on stove
    -A few handfuls kale chopped, variety your choice
    -1 organic carrot, shredded

    To prepare the salad, I put my cooled, fluffy quinoa in a large serving bowl and add in my orange chunks from ½ large orange, ½ cup of raisins, ½ cup of heated corn, 1 shredded carrot, and the chopped kale and cilantro bunches. (See photos below for prep). I toss it all up and lastly squeeze the juice from the remaining orange half and whole lemon. Add juice to taste or until your salad is the consistency you want. It will soak up some of the juices. You may salt to taste but I never add any. There is so much FLAVOR from the citrus.

    I am always looking for healthy ways to add kale to our dishes so I had to modify the original version by doing so.  You could easily leave it out or add your favorite power green. I’m sure swiss chard, spinach slivers, or any other fresh kale variety would work great. I’m also constantly looking for recipes that feed off of yummy citrus flavors so the lemon is also an addition. A little boost of vitamin C is always welcomed here.

    A few other web favorites I’ve found for yummy quinoa and can personally say are amazing!

    Latin Version (So much healthier than Spanish Rice) http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/quinoa_with_latin_flavors.html

    Quinoa Avocado Spinach Power Salad

    http://www.thegardengrazer.com/2014/04/quinoa-avocado-spinach-power-salad.html

    See Pinterest for a ton more amazing uses of this wonderful grain..errr seed. Cheers!

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