Do you have a favorite summertime potluck dish? I do and you are looking at it!

Quinoa Salad from www.healthygreenkitchen.com

I’ve been making quinoa salad in one form or another for years. I like to play with the beans, veggies, and herbs I add based on what I have in the house/what’s in season. Black beans are definitely my preferred bean, and as soon as fresh local corn starts to make an appearance in markets around here, corn is pretty much a must. I’ve added basil on occasion but cilantro is definitely a better fit with the other elements in this particular salad.

Quinoa Salad with Black Beans and Corn

If you are as yet unfamiliar with quinoa, it’s a seed that’s native to the Andes region of South America. I ate it several times when I was recently in Peru, cooked in a stew. While it behaves like a grain, quinoa is actually more nutritious than most grains because it is high in protein, iron, and calcium. Quinoa is also gluten-free.

Quinoa seeds are coated with a bitter substance so you need to rinse quinoa very thorough before cooking. Moreover, quinoa benefits from a several hours-long soak in water in order to deactivate the naturally-present enzymes that bind up the nutrients within. For this reason, on days when I am planning to cook quinoa, I like to place it in a large bowl and cover it with water for 2-3 hours. Then I pour off the water, and rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer before proceeding to cook it.

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As you can probably imagine, I took a lot of photos when I was in Peru. Rather than share them all in one incredibly unwieldy post, I think I’ll space them out into at least 3 posts. Let’s start with a glimpse of Lima.

Lima courtyard // Healthy Green Kitchen

Lima was not all what I expected! A few friends told me it wasn’t worth spending much time in Lima, but I am very happy that we had 2 days there. I found Lima to be a surprisingly lovely and vibrant city.

lima square // Healthy Green Kitchen

Lima church // Healthy Green Kitchen

Lima // Healthy Green Kitchen

Lima police women // Healthy Green Kitchen

My trusty travel companion (my 11 year old daughter Maddie) and I stayed in a neighborhood called Miraflores. It was very easy to get around on foot: we enjoyed strolling around the waterfront and the various parks, as well as shopping and eating there. We also had a guide take us to see many other parts of the city, including the funky Barranco: a bohemian neighborhood set high on a cliff.

Though fog typically covers the city of Lima most days this time of year (it is currently winter in Peru), we lucked into sunny blue skies for part of our visit. And even though the humidity in Lima is crazy high (98%!), I thought the weather during our stay was perfect. It was in the 60′s: a wonderful respite from summer weather here in New York. Maddie and I wore jeans and tee-shirts (but most of the locals were bundled in jackets and scarves!).

Apparently the climate in Lima is also perfect for many types of plants. It rarely rains, but it also doesn’t ever get very cold or very hot. For this reason, we saw many different flowers. Beautiful bougainvillaeas spill off terraces just about everywhere in Lima, and everything from orchids to roses absolutely thrives there.

Lima orchids // Healthy Green Kitchen

Lima rose // Healthy Green Kitchen

We visited several museums in Lima. I found the artifacts housed within to be endlessly fascinating.

Lima artifacts // Healthy Green Kitchen

We also got our first peak at pre-Incan ruins.

Lima ruins // Healthy Green Kitchen

Pachacamac // Healthy Green Kitchen

I tasted my first (and second) “Pisco Sour” in Lima. I found them to be tasty, but very strong. I also sampled the local fish and seafood for which Lima (with its cold waters) is famous: ceviche is a specialty there.

Fish at Vivanda market // Healthy Green Kitchen

If you go to Lima with kids, make sure you don’t miss the Parque de la Reserva. There you will find the Magic Water Tour, a series of giant fountains that are brightly lit with all different colors. It’s a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike, and particularly memorable if you go at night. We really loved it.

Magic Water Tour fountain in Lima // Healthy Green Kitchen

Magic Water Tour fountain Lima // Healthy Green Kitchen

Reserve Park Water Tour // Healthy Green Kitchen

I booked our trip through a tour company. They did a fantastic job with our accommodations and itinerary in Lima and everywhere else we traveled. If you thinking about going to Peru, I’d be happy to share more details with you…just shoot me an email. In my next post, I will share my photos of the magical city of Cuzco!

This is a quick post to say I am home from Peru! The trip exceeded my expectations in each and every way and I will remember it always (even more so since I was able to share the experience with my daughter Maddie). I’ve been swamped with tons of things to do since I got back so I have not yet had a chance to edit my many photos. I promise that as soon as I do, I will share them with you here.

I was traveling for nearly 9 days: the longest I’ve been away from home in many, many years. Upon my return, I was astounded by the volume of weeds in my garden, so I immediately got to work clearing them out. After a couple of hours, I could actually see my vegetables (and my flowers!), and I realized everything’s really looking pretty great.

Flowers | Healthy Green Kitchen

By the time I finished weeding, I was more than ready to eat. So I grabbed some lettuces, my one ripe tomato, a few radishes, a pattypan squash, some herbs (basil, mint, and lemon balm) and a couple of young onions, and chopped everything up. I added some hard boiled egg (from my chickens) and dressed the whole shebang with an awesome sesame herbal vinaigrette I made (I will share that recipe soon…I promise). Some sourdough bread completed the meal.

Homegrown Salad | Healthy Green Kitchen

So while it was certainly great to be away, it’s great to be home, too :)

salad 4

ps I was recently interviewed by the lovely people from Ethical Foods. You can read the interview here!

Over the past few months, I’ve been able to have lunch a few times with my new buddy Gina of the fabulous blog Running to the Kitchen. I am very lucky Gina lives near me, and that she generously offered to guest post for me while I am away. Please welcome her and this gorgeous Coconut Roasted Carrot Salad to Healthy Green Kitchen!

Gina's Carrot Salad at www.healthygreenkitchen.com

This is a post I’m writing for Winnie with clenched teeth and a bit of a sneer on my face. Jealous doesn’t even do justice for how I feel about her little rendezvous in Peru right now. After reading the book “Three Weeks with My Brother” by Nicholas Sparks (the only one in his collection worth actually reading) where he and, well, his brother (shocker) travel around the world including Peru, I’ve had this fierce desire to hike every square inch of Machu Picchu. I tried to finagle my way into her suitcase with the bribe of my (almost 10 yr. old) Spanish degree but somehow it didn’t work. My verb conjugation isn’t what it used to be. So I’ll just curse her under my breath, live vicariously through her until my time comes and talk about carrot salad with you guys instead. Deal?

Roasted Carrot Salad from www.healthygreenkitchen.com

This is actually a salad I made exactly 2.5 weeks into my blog “career” (it’s totally not my career, but what else do you call it?). It’s a delicious recipe hiding behind some hideous pre-DSLR, pre-I sorta know what I’m doing with my camera pictures. Don’t believe me? Go see for yourself. Woah, right? I know…

So I felt bad for it and decided to give it a second chance. I mean who the heck is going to pin something that looks like that? And to be un-pinworthy these days is probably the highest offense in the world of food photos. Poor thing.

There’s a bunch of stuff going on in this salad…the sweetness from the roasted carrots, the crunch of the coconut flakes and the brightness of the mint to name a few. In the original recipe there’s feta too but I live with a man who takes his Greek heritage quite seriously and polishes off a BJ’s sized container of feta in about 2 days flat. So it’s scarce commodity around here and didn’t make it into this rendition. Regardless, this salad makes my mouth happy.

And now my eyes can be too, not having to look at underexposed close-ups of mush. Hope you guys enjoy!

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Today it is my great privilege to introduce you to Sylvie Shirazi of the incredibly lovely blog Gourmande in the Kitchen. Sylvie put together a stunning round-up of summer salads created by some of my favorite food bloggers; I am on my way to Peru and I can’t wait to make them all when I return! Take it away, Sylvie.

10 Sensational Summer Salad Recipes

Summer Salads Healthy Green Kitchen

Salads reign supreme during the summer months. Fresh and easy with minimal preparation, they are the perfect way to enjoy the season’s best fruit and vegetables. Long hot days are ideal for a no-fuss meal like a salad.

What I especially love is their versatility; grab whatever produce you’ve got lying around and a few chops of a knife later you have yourself a one-bowl meal with all the colors of the rainbow. It could be as simple as a mix of baby lettuces dressed with a vinaigrette or a hearty affair bursting with bold flavors filled with vegetables, fruit, cheese and nuts.

They are a great excuse to use up those leftovers or get creative with what you have in your vegetable bin at the moment. So when the weather heats up this summer turn to these 10 fresh and pretty summer salads for inspiration on what to serve at your next meal.

Grilled Eggplant & Zucchini Salad Recipe with Feta, Chickpeas & Mint from Cookin Canuck

grilled eggplant zucchini salad from Cookin Canuck

Grilled eggplant and zucchini are the stars of this salad while the chickpeas offer a dose of protein. Lemon, mint and feta cheese keep this grilled vegetable salad light and refreshing, serve this as a side at your next barbeque this summer.

Cucumber Dill Greek Yogurt Salad from She Wears Many Hats

cucumber-dill-greek-yogurt-salad from she wears many hats

Crunchy, refreshing cucumbers are dressed in a light but creamy Greek yogurt dressing accented with flecks of dill. This is the kind of salad that would be right at home at a picnic.

Orzo Salad with Lemon Mint Dressing from Sips and Spoonfuls

orzo salad with lemon mint dressing from sips and spoonfuls - Copy

As beautiful as this salad is it’s the dressing Sukaina tells us stands out here. Lemon and mint combine to make a light vinaigrette and are tossed with a mixture of arugula and orzo and cherry tomatoes.

Potato Salad with Dill + Horseradish Aioli from A Thought for Food

Horseradish-Potato-Salad-from A thought for food

Brian tells us this potato salad is filled with vibrant colors and flavors. New potatoes, red and yellow cherry tomatoes, fresh sugarsnap peas, and fresh dill are featured here and dressed in a homemade aioli.

Beet and Goat Cheese Salad with Orange Segments from Delicious Shots

beet goat cheese salad from delicious shots

Najwa assures us that this salad will make any beet hater rethink their relationship with the jewel-toned root. It’s the beet and goat cheese combination that will win you over but the oranges and pistachios add a burst of color and flavor to the mix.

Grilled Radicchio with Honey Ginger Dressing from Food For My Family

grilled-radicchio-honey-ginger-dressing-from food for my family - Copy

Shaina throws radicchio on the grill and drizzles it with a honey-sweetened ginger dressing in this easy side salad recipe.

Blueberry Salad with Coconut Cilantro Dressing from The Healthy Apple

Blueberry-Salad-with-Coconut-Cilantro-Dressing-The Healthy Apple - Copy

Amie’s summer salad is filled with sweet blueberries and features a coconut cilantro dressing, and best of all it can be made in less than 5 minutes.

Arugula Salad with Apricot-Mint Vinaigrette from Lemons and Anchovies

Arugula-Salad-with-Apricot-Mint-Vinaigrette-from lemons and anchovies - Copy

This salad starts with fresh apricots, purees apricots form the base of the dressing and coat a mixture of pecans, red onions, French Feta cheese, mini heirloom tomatoes, mint and arugula.

Raw Zucchini Ribbon Salad with Olives and Mint from Gourmande in the Kitchen

Zucchini-Ribbons-with-Goat-Cheese-and-Olives-Goumande-in-the-Kitchen-2

Zucchini is in abundance in the summer months and if you are looking for a way to use up a surplus in your garden then this zucchini ribbon salad may be the answer. Ribbons of zucchini are dressed with a light vinaigrette of lemon juice and olive oil, black olives mint and pine nuts.

Avocado and Romaine Salad from Gourmande in the Kitchen

Avocado-and-Romaine-Salad-with-Walnuts-Gourmande in the Kitchen

This romaine and avocado salad is an example of the type of meal that begs to be enjoyed outdoors. Crispy romaine leaves and creamy avocado slices are tossed with a lively mustard vinaigrette and topped with crunchy walnuts.

With so many vibrant flavors and fresh produce these salads may just become your new favorites this summer!

Sylvie Shirazi Bio Pic

Bio: Sylvie Shirazi is the author, photographer and real food lover behind Gourmande in the Kitchen, where she shares simple, wholesome food recipes. She features fresh and seasonal recipes with a focus on quality ingredients and minimal preparation that let the natural flavors shine.
Blog: gourmandeinthekitchen.com
Website: sylvieshiraziphotography.com
Twitter: @gourmandeinthek
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/gourmandeinthekitchen
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