Thursday, February 9, 2012

Quinoa Salad with Avocado, Cannied Pecans, and Oranges

I realized that I had 3 random boxes of quinoa sitting around and no recollection of when I bought them.  I think that this says a lot about me: I want to try different food and eat healthier but I tend to get stuck following the same pattern and I have trouble breaking out of it. Oh yeah, and the other thing this says is that I have way too much food in my pantry and I need to finish some!  

Now back to the quinoa, I wanted to experiment and start making new versions of the same basic salad that I usually eat with ingredients that I had available.  I combined quinoa and avocado for a base, the mandarine oranges to add sweetness, and the lettuce and pecans for texture and crispiness.  The salad was really good and was more filling then I had expected.  I think that it is a good starting point and that I will experiment with different ingredients and dressings.

Quinoa Salad with Avocado, Cannied Pecans, and Oranges
Makes 4 portions

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1/2 avocado, chopped
1/2 cup madarine oranges, cut in half
1/2 cup romaine lettuce, chopped
1/2 cup candied pecans (see recipe here)

For the salad dressing:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1.  Rinse and drain the quinoa in cold water before cooking.

2. In a pot, combine the quinoa and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce the flame and cover the pot.  Simmer to quinoa until all of the water is absorbed, 10 to 15 minutes.

3.  Once the quinoa is sufficiently cooled, transfer to a large bowl and toss in the other ingredients.

4.  Combine all of the ingredients for the salad dressing in a small bowl and mix them well.  Pour the salad dressing over the quinoa and toss until well combined.



Thursday, February 2, 2012

Spiced Candied Pecans

After experiencing a powerful lethargy for the first few weeks of this year, I was starting to get concerned.  I found myself feeling tired despite getting more than enough sleep, day after day.  Granted, I am sure that this was partly due to mid-winter blues and the normal stress and uncertainty that life throws at us.  But aside from that, I was beginning to suspect that my eating habits may be contributing to the problem.

Remembering the some what ignored goal that I set for myself at the beginning of the year (any one notice the large amount of desserts and baked goods that took over the blog?), I decided that I should actually try to eat healthier.  This probably means different things for different people.  For me, it means eating less sugar and less bread.

To start, I wanted to increase my salad intake.  I actually love salads but I am terrible at making them. Why?  I really have no intelligent explanation, I just don't make them often.  For me, the first step in eating more salads is to make candied pecans.  They are so simple to make and add a nice crunch to a salad.  I tend to change the way I make them each time.  The honey and water is a must but you can play around with the other flavors by adding brown sugar, cinnamon, cayenne pepper or any spice that you want.  I already started to eat more salads this week!

Spiced Candied Pecans

1/2 cup whole or chopped pecans
2 tablespoons of honey
A few drops of water
A dash of cinnamon
A dash of cayenne pepper

1. Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. 

2. Combine the honey, water, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper in a bowl and mix well.

3.  Toss the pecans in the honey mixture and then spread the pecans evenly over a tray lined with aluminum foil.  Pour all of the excess liquid on top of the pecans.

4.  Cook for about 8-10 minutes so that the pecans are softened.  Transfer them from the aluminum foil to a plate to cool immediately.  When the pecans cool on the aluminum foil, they get stuck there and are difficult to remove.

5.  Serve on a salad and enjoy!