Happy Friday everyone! I am sorry it’s been so quiet around here lately. I’ve been really busy “offline” wrapping up some projects so I can get to work on a new one I’ll tell you about very soon. Also, my son is being Bar Mitzvah’ed in 3 weeks and our family has had lots to do to prepare. We’re having a big outdoor party here afterwards so we’ve been very hard at work getting the yard and garden into good shape (I’ll show you some pictures soon).

Anyway, as today is Friday, I want to follow up on last week’s One Simple Change post about Eating a Balanced Diet, and talk about the importance of eating a variety of foods.

Do you eat the same thing for breakfast every day, week in and week out? How about lunch? If so, it’s my hope that this post will get you to change your ways a bit. I am of the opinion that eating the same foods each and every day can be problematic, no matter how healthy you believe those foods to be. For one thing, repetitively eating certain foods may cause you to develop sensitivities to those foods. Also, you are more likely to get bored of a whole foods diet if you always eat the same things.

I think the best way to avoid developing food sensitivities and stave off dietary boredom is to eat a wide variety of foods. Alternating different fruits and vegetables, grains, nuts, seeds, and protein foods (including dairy) each day (or at least every couple of days) also ensures that you take in a wide variety of nutrients.

Am I saying that you should not eat wholesome dinner leftovers for lunch the next day? No. Not at all: in fact, I don’t want you to stop doing anything that helps you eat well and makes your life easier.

I just want to point out that if you are accustomed to eating cereal with milk for breakfast every day and/or a turkey sandwich for lunch every day and an apple for a snack every day, you should consider changing things up.

Why not try to eat as many different colored foods as you can (and I hope you know I don’t mean you should eat foods like Fruit Loops)? Buy a fruit or vegetable you’ve never had before and see if you like it. Visit your local natural foods store and make up some bags of all different grains and legumes to try from the bulk food aisle. Cook up a dish from a cuisine you don’t know much about and taste a new herb or spice. If you like to bake, experiment with different flours other than wheat. See how you like (natural) sweeteners: there are so many to choose from! Eat various nuts and seeds- again, there are so many! If you eat animal protein, then be adventurous and open to trying something new: I spent my whole life avoiding lamb because I thought I hated it, but last year I discovered I actually enjoy it very much.

So what does all this have to do with this quinoa dish?

My busy-ness as of late has meant a lack of new recipes for you all. Boo. Not that I didn’t try- last weekend, I put beautiful strawberries to use in not one, but two recipe that I was hoping to post, but somehow those recipes both turned out to be duds. This does happen…but more boo.

This quinoa dish, however, was a winner, and it keeps well so it was a lunchtime lifesaver a couple of days this week, too. If you’ve never tried quinoa, what are you waiting for? One cooked cup of this gluten free seed has more than 10 grams of protein, and it’s delicious to boot. If you don’t have the ingredients for this version (or if it simply doesn’t appeal to you), try a similar one with chopped tomato, cucumber, red pepper, and feta.

Quinoa with Sauteed Grapes, Avocado, and Brie

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Do you ever gaze inside your refrigerator a few days after food shopping and marvel at how there's pretty much nothing to eat? I'm a little embarrassed to tell you how often that's been happening around here lately, but usually, after I look a little deeper, I realize I can come up with something. That's the story behind this combination of quinoa, almonds, grapes, avocado and brie: it's a little random, I know, but it's also really tasty ;)

Ingredients:

*1 cup organic quinoa
*1 1/2 cups water
*1/2 cup slivered almonds
*1 cup seedless red grapes, preferably organic, sliced in half if large
*1 avocado, diced
*brie cheese, cut into chunks- to taste (I used about 1/2 cup)
*2-3 tablespoons diced red onion
*1 handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
*1 teaspoon plus 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more to taste
*1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar (or white wine vinegar or fresh lemon juice), plus more to taste

*sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Directions:

1. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer under cold running water. Drain and set aside.

2. In a medium pot on the stove, heat almonds over low-medium heat until they start to brown a bit. Add the quinoa along with 1 1/2 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and most of the liquid has been absorbed (about 15 minutes). Remove cover and allow to cool for about 10 minutes.

3. While the quinoa is cooling, heat a teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add grapes to pan and cook for a minute or two: just until the juices begin to "ooze" and the grapes get hot and squishy. Take them off the heat.

4. Transfer the cooked quinoa to a large bowl and add the sauteed grapes, the diced avocado, the chunks of brie, which will melt a bit (this is good), the red onion, and the parsley.

5. Add the 2 tablespoons of olive oil along with the vinegar or lemon juice, and toss well. Taste and adjust seasonings, then add salt and pepper to taste. Serve at room temperature, or chilled.

More quinoa salads that look terrific to me:
Warm Spinach Salad with Quinoa from Gluten Free Goddess
Black Quinoa Salad with Mango, Avocado, and Tomatoes from Two Peas and Their Pod
Toasted Quinoa, Corn, and Avocado Salad from Ezra Poundcake
Thai Style Black Quinoa Salad from Closet Cooking
Black Quinoa with Grilled Vegetables, Basil, and Feta from Healthy Green Kitchen

 

21 Comments

  1. 1

    LiztheChef — June 1, 2012 @ 1:30 pm

    Wow, I never would have thought to put these flavors together – thanks for the tip. The morning green smoothies are getting a wee bit old…

  2. 2

    LiztheChef — June 1, 2012 @ 1:31 pm

    ps I pinned your lovely photo.

  3. 3

    Tracy — June 1, 2012 @ 1:33 pm

    Mazel tov! Bar and Bat Mitzvahs are a huge undertaking. I am one of four and all of us had the reception at our house. I don’t know how my parents managed to prepare, but all 4 were amazing. I am sure your son and your family will have a magnificent day!

    The flavors in this quinoa dish sound wonderful. I have heard of cooking grapes before but have never tried it.

  4. 4

    Wendy@chezchloe — June 1, 2012 @ 2:39 pm

    Quinoa is really hot right now and deservedly so. I love it, but am so tired of my “tabouli” like version with tom/cuc/feta…
    Your rendition on the other hand, will certainly take it to a new place. I’ll look forward to trying it as soon as what’s currently in the fridge is finished! Thx.

  5. 5

    Cassie — June 1, 2012 @ 3:32 pm

    I love a good variety. And I think that’s why I might like quinoa so well, it’s so versatile! I love roasted grapes so I’m sure sauteed grapes would be wonderful too. Thanks for sharing Winnie!

  6. 6

    Stephanie — June 1, 2012 @ 3:53 pm

    Yes, I’ve been munching on different veggies and fruits for snacks instead of cookies/chips/etc! =)

  7. 7

    Paula — June 1, 2012 @ 7:49 pm

    How exciting, your son’s upcoming Bar Mitzvahs (and I can imagine a lot of prep work). Best wishes to him and your family on this occasion.

    I think I’m one of the few people who have yet to cook with quinoa and I think it’s about time that I give it a go. Thanks for the great sounding and looking recipe.

  8. 8

    Laura @ GotChocolate — June 2, 2012 @ 12:44 am

    YUUUUM!!! What a GREAT summer recipe too. I’ve been looking for healthier recipes too, so this is PERFECT!!!

    THANKS! :)

  9. 9

    Prema — June 2, 2012 @ 1:12 am

    Hi Winnie, I simply love your blog! It is so informative without being boring – a big feat indeed! I already do a lot of things that you mention here but reading it means making a conscious effort to keep doing so. Thank you!

  10. 10

    love cooking — June 2, 2012 @ 9:33 am

    Woo…this is really creative. It is like a fruits salad, but it seems different. I like the idea of sauté the fruits. I might try to do this on pasta and serve warm. :)

  11. 11

    caralyn @ glutenfreehappytummy — June 2, 2012 @ 3:13 pm

    yum! what a combination! it sounds ((and looks!)) delicious! and so true about the rotation diet! so important! thanks for sharing:)

  12. 12

    Angela@veggievinyasa — June 3, 2012 @ 9:08 am

    Warmed grapes sound great! Last year during fig season I heated them up with spinach and balsamic vinegar. Yum.

  13. 13

    Cara — June 3, 2012 @ 9:25 am

    I love the idea of this flavor combination – way more creative than what I usually do!

  14. 14

    Jennie Northdale — June 4, 2012 @ 8:19 am

    Thanks for a great blog, i visit it alot! (: I have just started up my own healthy food blog, maybe you would take a look? Thanks!

    happymeanshealthy.blogspot.dk

  15. 15

    Lora @cakeduchess — June 5, 2012 @ 10:12 pm

    So excited for you and your family for your son’s Bar Mitzvah that is coming up. It’s such a special time for all of you. Your salad is random and wonderful, Winnie! I love putting together fun and different combos with what I find. This is a winner. Delicious:)xx

  16. 16

    Nancy — June 6, 2012 @ 11:53 am

    Great points! Variety truly is the spice of life :) Quinoa salads are one of my go-to meals, especially in warm weather – so many possibilities. Love the combination of flavors you’ve used here.

  17. 17

    Gwen @SimplyHealthyFamily — June 6, 2012 @ 8:40 pm

    This is a great idea for a quinoa recipe that I have not tried!

  18. 18

    Brian @ A Thought For Food — June 6, 2012 @ 10:22 pm

    I love these posts of yours… so inspiring, as is this recipe. Which I should say, I am dying to make. It has my favorite ingredients (well, I’ll take anything that has avocado or brie in it).

  19. 19

    Molly Cumming — June 7, 2012 @ 7:22 pm

    Hi Winnie! I tried this earlier today. I used red quinoa and white balsamic vinegar. Fantastic! The grapes are really great, I would have never warmed grapes for a salad. Thank you so much!

  20. 20

    Little Sis — June 10, 2012 @ 9:30 pm

    I’ll have to ditch the brie, but LOVE the warmed grapes idea. Looks just yum. Thanks for sharing.

  21. 21

    Anya — July 7, 2012 @ 2:47 am

    This sounds great! I am all into quinoa, I will definitely try this one. Hope my husband likes it since he is not yet used to its taste :(