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warm sweet potato and quinoa salad for alter eco and california olive ranch (and a giveaway!)

Posted Jan 29 2014 7:00am
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i’m all about a good salad. a good combination of fruits and veggies, flavours and textures and of course a rich dressing smothered all over- what’s not to love? the only time i ever find fault with salads is in the winter. i can just never force myself to eat a big bowl of raw food when my body is screaming for warmth and comfort.

enter in the grain-based and cooked vegetable salads.

just because it’s winter, we have no excuse not to get in our daily servings of veggies. and while many would argue that raw vegetables are better than cooked in some cases (you don’t damage the vitamins), i would argue that any way you decide to eat vegetables is better than not eating them (this statement of course excludes wildly overcooked in the microwave vegetables. those aren’t good in any situation). 

so when alter eco contacted me and asked if i wanted to make a recipe with their quinoa and california olive ranch olive oil, i knew exactly what was going to get made. a warm, root vegetable and quinoa salad with a creamy dressing. the perfect balance between comfort food and healthy food. 

i have reviewed alter eco before and i love their quinoa and other grain products. they are fairly traded and organic and delicious. not to mention they make a chocolate bar that has crunchy quinoa in it- ummm amazing yes?

quinoa has also been receiving some bad press recently, not because it’s supposed health benefits are false (it is sooo good for you- complete protein for the win!) but because of the negative impact on the people in bolivia, who had relied on quinoa as a staple, traditional food. we are simply placing too big a demand on this precious food, leaving very little left for those who traditionally ate it. there’s so much debate going on here and no matter where you stand on the issue, it’s nice to know that alter eco is committed to helping their quinoa farmers by supporting sustainable and equitable business practices and promoting independence in their quinoa farmers. you can read more about this here

california olive ranch everyday olive oil was new to me. their website describes the oil as, “floral, buttery and fruity aroma. smooth flavor with hints of green apple.” when i opened the bottle i was surprised by the floral notes that greeted my nose and when i tasted it- it was so flavourful! I was truly surprised as this is a fairly affordable olive oil, considering it is sustainably grown. plus i love that is comes in a green glass bottle- protects it from light (no oxidized fats here!) and the fact that it’s glass means no gross plastic chemicals will leach into the oil (as plastic bottles inevitably do). needless to say i was quite excited to cook with it!

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what i created was an asian-inspired sweet potato, mushroom and quinoa salad with a creamy sesame dressing. this was delicious warm and cold and just seemed to improve the longer i kept it in the fridge. this makes it ideal to make on a sunday to have for lunches for the week. 

and because alter eco and california olive ranch are so wonderful, they are giving one lucky reader a prize pack of 4 bags of quinoa, olive oil and some dark quinoa chocolate! scroll down the page after the recipe to enter the rafflecopter giveaway!

sweet potato and chickpea quinoa salad with a creamy sesame dressing (vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free)

ingredients (4 as a main, 6-8 as a side)

pilaf

2 tbsp California Olive Ranch olive oil, divided 2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed couple pinches sea salt 1 clove garlic, minced 2 cups chopped button mushrooms 1 cup Alter Eco Rainbow Royal quinoa, rinsed well 1 3/4 cup water 1 can chickpeas (~1 1/2 cups, BPA free can), rinsed well 2 cups of your preferred greens, chopped into bite-sized pieces

dressing

2 tbsp California Olive Ranch olive oil 1 tbsp sesame oil 1 tbsp tamari 2 tbsp tahini

toppings

instructions

Preheat oven to 375. Toss cubes sweet potato in 1 tbsp olive oil and sprinkle with salt, making sure they are equally coated. Bake in the over for ~25 min, or until cooked through. Set aside.

Heat a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil and sauté garlic until fragrant. Add in the mushrooms and continue to sauté. It might look like you need more oil, but don’t be tempted! The mushrooms will start to release their water and it will be fine. Once the mushrooms have shrunk and are browned, add the quinoa and stir toast it lightly, making sure to stir often. Add the water, bring to a simmer then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook the quinoa.

Whisk together the dressing ingredients together until mixed. If your tahini is thicker, you might want to pulse a few times in a blender or food processor. Mine was thin so it whisked fine.

When the quinoa is almost done (10-12min) add in the chickpeas and stir. Now if you are using a tougher green like kale or collards add them into the pot now. Cover again and continue to cook until all the water is gone. If you are using a softer green like spinach, add it to your serving bowl. Once the quinoa is done add it on top of the greens. The heat from this should be enough to steam the greens. Add in sweet potato and toss. Add dressing and toss again. Delicious warm or cold!


 

 

 

 

 

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