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Carrot, lentil & raisin salad with quinoa, pine nuts & roasted butternut squash: vegan, gluten free

Posted Apr 05 2013 9:37am

I’m sorry for not posting any recipes last week – I went on holiday and took some time off from technology, which was amazing! I’m back now though, feeling totally recharged and bursting with a million new ideas for awesome recipes, including this one for a carrot, lentil and raisin salad tossed with quinoa, pint nuts and roasted butternut squash and mixed with an almond butter, lime and olive oil dressing. It may sound like a long title for a recipe, but trust me it’s super easy! It also makes for a perfect spring dish as it’s very light yet the squash adds a filling, satisfying texture to each bite and all the fibre and protein from the quinoa and lentils means each plateful actually really fills you up. The wow factor of the salad however lies in the inclusion of the raisins though – they just taste incredible. They’re soaked in warm water while everything else is cooked to make them so extraordinarily  sweet and juicy, allowing them to enhance the natural sweetness of the grated carrot and roasted squash while also creating the perfect contrast to the savoury crunch of the toasted pine nuts. It’s awesome. The dressing then brings everything together, adding a deliciously creamy factor to the whole thing that really allows each mouthful to melt in your mouth. I think you’ll all love this! If you’re running around all day it’s a super easy on-the-go lunch too as it’s so delicious cold so you can make it the night before. It will last for a few days in an air-tight container too.

I’d love to tell you more about the salad but I feel like I should share one more awesome thing about my holiday – I converted my whole house to vegan eating! They were all loving it. I think everyone was amazed about how good this kind of food can really taste. The craziest convert of all though was my dad, and it is a story really worth listening too! He’d done the Dukan Diet for eighteen months, which meant that he had literally barely touched a fruit of vegetable and instead ate almost exclusively animal protein – think starters made of hard boiled eggs and prawns and mains of chicken with a side of fish (ew!). Anyway as a result of this he’d developed the most aggressive acid reflux issues that could not be controlled by medication and he was feeling so unwell, so I persuaded him to be a gluten free, sugar free, chemical free vegan with me for 12 days. During this time not only did all the reflux issues disappear but he felt more energetic, super healthy and guess what, he lost 10 pounds without even trying! How crazy is that! He ate raw banoffee pie, my banana ice cream topped with dates & nuts, amazing wild rice rice salads, roasted sweet & normal potatoes, quinoa bowls, delicious roasted veggies, awesome carrot & zucchini noodles with cashew & pine nut pestos and a whole heap of other delicious things. There was no deprivation, just a deliciously healthy diet that absolutely satisfies every craving and keeps you bouncing with energy. It’s just amazing how food works as medicine. Anyway seeing this just confirmed to me how eating should be all about loving your body and ensuring that the food that you put into it is worthy of that love – you really are what you eat.

Carrot, lentil & raisin salad with quinoa, pine nuts & roasted butternut squash: vegan, gluten free

Serves 3:

(All measurements are for the raw ingredients)

- 1 cup of quinoa

- 4 carrots

- 1/2 a cup of lentils

- 1/2 a cup of raisins

- 1/2 of a cup of pine nuts

- 1 large butternut squash

- 1 juiced lime or 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

For the dressing:

- 1/4 of a cup of olive oil

- 2 tablespoons of almond butter

- 1 lime

- salt

Carrot, lentil & raisin salad with quinoa, pine nuts & roasted butternut squash: vegan, gluten free

Start by pre-heating the oven to 190C, then peel and cut the squash into bite size chunks. Place them on a baking tray drizzled with olive oil, salt, dried rosemary and pepper and bake for thirty minutes until soft.

Next, cook the quinoa. This should take about twenty minutes – to flavour it add the juice of one lime or a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar and a sprinkling of salt as it starts to cook.

Once this is cooking place the raisins into a bowl of warm water and allow them to soak for as long as the quinoa cooks – this makes them much juicier and so much more delicious.

Next, cook the lentils. For this dish the lentils should stay a little hard, instead of becoming mushy – to get this perfect texture they should be boiled for about ten minutes, until they have softened perfectly but are not squishy. Then peel and grate the carrots using the fattest holes of a cheese grater.

 Finally, make the dressing simply by mixing the almond butter, olive oil, lime juice & water in a blender or processor until smooth. Place all of the ingredients into a large salad bowl, pour on the dressing and stir well. Enjoy!

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