Simple Quinoa Salad

This Simple Quinoa Salad is really easy to make and is so refreshing. It is a great salad for vegans and vegetarians as the chickpeas and quinoa provide a wonderful source of plant-based protein. The sweetness of the currants works so well with the vegetables and the zing of the lemon dressing. I love to add lots of fresh herbs to this salad. I have chosen basil and parsley because these grow abundantly in my garden.

Simple Quinoa Salad
Simple Quinoa Salad

If you haven’t tried quinoa before, then this Simple Quinoa Salad is a nice way to become initiated. I like to replace quinoa with rice in lots of my recipes now, especially when I make curries. It’s really simple to make and I cook it just like rice, using the absorption method. You add two parts water to one part quinoa in a pot over high heat. Bring to the boil then reduce to simmer, pop on the lid and cook for 15 minutes. Alternatively, if you have a Thermomix, you can cook the quinoa in the basket just like you would cook rice. Add 900g of water and cook the quinoa on Varoma heat, speed 4 for 15 minutes.

Simple Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of uncooked white quinoa
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1 can of organic chickpeas, drained and washed (ensure the chickpeas contain no added sugar) OR 1 cup of homemade cooked chickpeas
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 2 small carrots, diced
  • 1 red capsicum, de-seeded and diced
  • 1 large handful of fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 large handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 cup of organic currants
  • Juice of one lemon
  • 1/4 cup of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • Good pinch of Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Cook your quinoa. I like to use the absorption method. Place the uncooked quinoa in a saucepan and add 1 cup of cold water (always use the ratio of 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water). Place the saucepan on high heat and bring to the boil. Once boiling, change the heat to low and put a lid on the saucepan. Cook for 15 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and spoon the quinoa onto a plate to cool.
  2. Place all of the other ingredients in order into a large mixing bowl. When the quinoa has cooled down, add it to the bowl and stir well until the salad is well combined and coated with the lemon and olive oil dressing.
  3. Place the salad in the fridge until you are ready to serve. Note that if you want to make this salad in advance (i.e. the day before), leave out the lemon juice and olive oil and only add these to the salad before serving.

Roasted Pumpkin and Avocado Salad

I am loving salads at the moment. The summer temperatures have been high and have really diminished my appetite. When it’s hot at night I find a salad is all I really want to eat. Saying that, I admit that eating the same garden salad over and over again can become monotonous, even for a salad lover like me! So, let me introduce you to this delicious Roasted Pumpkin and Avocado Salad. It is super light but really tasty and I have no problem putting the oven on when the result is sweet and golden roasted pumpkin pieces. Delicious!

This is one of my favourite salads because it is so delicious and really easy to make. The sweetness of the roasted pumpkin works beautifully with the creaminess of the avocado, and the roasted pepitas provide a wonderful source of crunch. If you’re looking for some extra protein, then add your favourite cold meat. Try some cold roasted chicken, some sliced turkey breast, some canned tuna in spring water or some cold hard-boiled eggs.

If you’re feeling super keen, then roast a big batch of pumpkin the day before and use it for this salad as well as adding it to your other salads for the next three to four days. Just keep it simple and easy in this hot weather, and enjoy all of the beautiful, fresh summer produce that is available at the moment.

Roasted Pumpkin and Avocado Salad
Roasted Pumpkin and Avocado Salad

Roasted Pumpkin and Avocado Salad

Serves 4 to 6

Ingredients:

  • Half a Butternut pumpkin, seeds removed and skin washed, cut into 1.5cm chunks with the skin left on
  • 1 tablespoon of macadamia oil
  • Pinch of Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup of raw pepitas
  • 2 avocados, cut into chunks
  • 100g of organic baby spinach, washed and dried
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 3 tablespoons of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • Extra salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Pre-heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Line a baking tray with baking paper.
  2. Place the Butternut pumpkin pieces on the lined baking tray and drizzle with the macadamia oil, salt and pepper. Mix well with your hands to ensure the pumpkin is well coated. Cook in the pre-heated oven for 45 minutes.
  3. When there are 15 minutes remaining for the pumpkin to cook, remove the tray from the oven and sprinkle the raw pepitas over the pumpkin. Return the tray to the oven and cook for the remaining 15 minutes. Remove the baking tray from the oven and set aside the pumpkin and the pepitas to cool. These steps can be done the day before you want to serve the salad.
  4. Once the roasted pumpkin and pepitas have cooled down, add all of the ingredients to a large mixing bowl. Mix well with a large spoon to ensure that all of the salad is well coated with the lemon juice and olive oil.
  5. Place the salad in the fridge until you are ready to serve. Note that if you want to make this salad in advance (i.e. the day before), leave out the lemon juice and olive oil and only add these to the salad before serving.

Gluten Free Pesto Pasta Salad

I love a good pasta salad in summer. We had friends over on the weekend on a day when it topped 38 degrees Celsius, so my husband and I decided that it would only be right to serve cold dishes to our guests. We had cold chicken, a simple garden salad and this delicious vegan Gluten Free Pesto Pasta Salad. It was so refreshing in the heat!

PestoPastaSaladBowl

I love experimenting with different pasta salads. I just use whatever fresh and seasonal vegetables I have in my fridge, pair it with freshly cooked al dente gluten free pasta and a simple dressing. I love adding dips to my pasta salads as well and my Amazing Almond Pesto works so beautifully in this recipe.

As far as gluten free pasta goes, there are a few good brands out there. Where possible, I like to buy organic pasta that is GMO free. Orgran make a rice and corn gluten free penne pasta and my local supermarket stocks SamMills gluten free corn penne pasta in the health food aisle. The thing to bear in mind is that, in my experience, gluten free pasta is different to your standard pasta. It is generally a little bit tougher, especially if you’re eating it as leftovers the next day. Now that I’ve gotten over the difference, I enjoy eating pasta every now and then.

PestoPastaSalad

Gluten Free Pesto Pasta Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 500g of gluten free pasta (look for a brand that is GMO free)
  • 1/2 cup of pine nuts
  • One batch of Amazing Almond Pesto
  • 1 punnet of ripe cherry tomatoes, washed and cut into quarters
  • 100g of raw snowpeas, washed, tips removed and cut into strips
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 3 tablespoons of cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • Himalayan salt and pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Cook your pasta according to the packet instructions so that it is al dente. I like to bring a large pot of water to the boil then add a big pinch of salt to flavour the water. Pour in the pasta and stir immediately to ensure the pasta doesn’t clump together. Cook the pasta on high heat for the required cooking time. Stir another two or three times throughout the cooking process. Drain in a colander and then rinse the pasta under cool running water for a minute. Set aside to drain and then place in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Place your pine nuts in a small fry pan and heat on medium heat. Toast the pine nuts for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until they are golden brown. Pour your pine nuts on top of the pasta in the mixing bowl.
  3. Make your Amazing Almond Pesto whilst the pasta and pine nuts are cooling down. Click here for the recipe.
  4. Pour your Amazing Almond Pesto onto the cooled pasta. Add the tomatoes, snowpeas, lemon juice, olive oil and salt and pepper. Mix well with a wooden spoon so that you coat all of the pasta evenly with the pesto.
  5. Serve in a large serving bowl and eat immediately.

I’ve also been eating leftovers of this Gluten Free Pesto Pasta Salad with a big dollop of my Cumin Spiced Hummus mixed in, with a side of green salad. This is absolutely delicious. The flavours of the pesto and the hummus are divine together.

Gluten Free Pesto Pasta Salad served with a fresh green salad and a big dollop of homemade hummus.
Gluten Free Pesto Pasta Salad served with a fresh green salad and a big dollop of homemade hummus.
Pesto Pasta Salad with hummus, rocket and cucumber mixed through.
Pesto Pasta Salad with hummus, rocket and cucumber mixed through.

Simple Green Salad with Toasted Seeds

This Simple Green Salad with Toasted Seeds is just what I felt like tonight. It’s a few days after Christmas and what a beautiful Christmas it was. I ate so much amazing food and shared some wonderful times with my family. I really am a simple girl who enjoys simple pleasures. The highlight of Christmas for me this year was a late night Christmas Eve sing along with my husband, Mum, Dad and my sister to our favourite songs of all time. I will remember that night for a long time. It was very special banging out some of the songs of the Cranberries with my little sis.

My Mum and sister put on a sumptuous spread and it was all gluten free, dairy free and sugar free. I indulged in lots of homemade chocolate bliss balls, some delicious paleo mango and coconut muffins, and a yummy ‘Hayley friendly’ Christmas pudding that Mum made in her Thermomix. Then there was the ham. A delicious baked ham glazed with a maple syrup and orange marinade. I don’t normally eat meat – maybe a piece of chicken or fish here and there – and I’m not normally into ham, but I have to say that it was the nicest ham I’ve ever had. Well done Mum!

Whilst everything I ate was healthy, homemade and cooked with love, I ate a whole lot of food. Way more than I would normally eat. It’s no surprise to me then that tonight I felt like eating light. Whilst I had such a lovely time away with my family, it is really great to get back home and back into my eating regime.

SimpleGreenSaladToastedSeeds

I thought I would share this recipe for my Simple Green Salad with Toasted Seeds because it is super simple and packed full of liver loving ingredients. After my Christmas indulgence, I’m just feeling like I need to be kind to my liver right now and undertake a bit of a detox! I intuitively felt like adding lots of fresh parsley and basil to my salad and lots of lemon juice. I decided to add some toasted pepitas and sunflower seeds for protein. You could also throw in some hemp seeds if you’re feeling like extra protein. Normally I would add some nuts, legumes or grains to my salads with seeds, but my body just didn’t feel like that tonight and I’m listening. So, here it is! My very Simple Green Salad with Toasted Seeds. A totally plant-based salad with lots of green organic vegetable goodness!

Simple Green Salad with Toasted Seeds

Serves 1

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons of raw pepitas
  • 2 tablespoons of raw sunflower seeds
  • 1 cup of shredded lettuce, any varieties you like
  • 1/2 a small cucumber, cut into chunks
  • 1/2 an avocado, cut into chunks
  • A handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • A handful of fresh basil leaves, the larger leaves torn into pieces and the smaller leaves left whole
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • Himalayan salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste (optional)

Method:

  1. Add the pepitas and sunflower seeds to a small pan or skillet and toast over a medium heat for 3-5 minutes, until they are lightly golden. Swirl the seeds around in the pan frequently to ensure they toast on all sides. Once golden, remove from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
  2. Place all of the ingredients into a salad bowl and mix well to ensure the salad vegetables are well coated with the dressing. Serve immediately.

This salad is very lemony, but I like this flavour when I’m feeling like I’ve indulged a little too much. I also love the flavour of the parsley. There is something in this herb that always makes me feel better and more balanced.

Happy healthy eating!

SimpleGreenSaladToastedSeedsCloseUp

Tamari Tofu with Raw Spiral Salad

Every now and then I go through ‘tofu phases’ where I eat tofu twice, thrice or sometimes four times a week.  When this happens, I absolutely love eating pan fried Tamari Tofu.  It is so delicious.  It is crispy on the outside and the saltiness of the tamari works beautifully with sesame oil and fresh lime juice.

TofuVegetableSpirals

I know a lot of people don’t like eating tofu. I commonly hear, “It doesn’t really taste like anything” or “I don’t know what to do with it”.  The funny thing is, tofu is so easy to cook!  It doesn’t need to be marinated for a long time, if at all, and I find it doesn’t have the same propensity to dry out like meat does.  You can cook tofu until you get that beautiful crispy crust on the outside without being fearful of taking it past medium rare like a steak.

I will say this about tofu. For me, it’s important to buy good quality tofu.  This means organic tofu that is free from genetic modification (GM free). Tofu of this type is becoming so much more readily available. I can now purchase organic GM free tofu from my local supermarket for a really good price.  Of course, different varieties are available at health food stores, normally at a higher cost. The best tofu I have ever seen is available at a stall in Brisbane’s Northey Street Organic Farmers Markets on Sunday mornings. They hand make their tofu and you can talk to them about how it’s done and what ingredients they have used.  I think that’s pretty amazing.

So, getting back to the recipe… I love my Tamari Tofu served with a crispy salad that is bursting with the flavour of citrus – both lemon and lime work well.  Toss in some toasted cashews and sesame seeds and you’ve got a simple, delicious and healthy plant-based meal. I use a really mild organic sesame oil in this recipe by Melrose.  It is not strong like some other sesame oils, so provides just the right balance of flavour. And remember, if you don’t have a spiraliser you can use a grater or make up any salad you like. Throw in whatever ingredients you have in your fridge.

The marinade ingredients I use in this recipe - Melrose Organic Sesame Oil and Spiral Organic Tamari.
The marinade ingredients I use in this recipe – Melrose Organic Sesame Oil and Spiral Organic Tamari.

Tamari Tofu with Raw Spiral Salad (serves 2)

Ingredients:

  • 250g organic GMO free firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons organic tamari
  • 1 tablespoon organic sesame oil + 2 teaspoons extra for the dressing
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 1 zucchini
  • 2 carrots, peeled
  • 1 small beetroot, peeled
  • Small handful of raw cashews
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • Pinch of Himalayan salt
  • Creamy Cashew Dressing to serve if desired
  • Spiraliser

Method:

  1. Cut your tofu into four pieces – cut the tofu down the middle and then cut each half down the width to reduce the thickness of the pieces. Place the tofu in a bowl or on a plate. Mix the tamari and 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil together in a small bowl or cup with a fork to make a marinade. Pour the marinade over the tofu and let this marinate for at least 30 minutes.
  2. Using a spiraliser, make vegetable noodles with the zucchini, carrots and beetroot.  Place the vegetable noodles in a mixing bowl. Set aside.
  3. Heat a medium to large pan on medium heat.  Add your cashews and sesame seeds to the pan and toast for 5 minutes, or until slightly golden. Set aside to cool.
  4. In the same pan, fry the tofu on a medium-high heat.  Place the tofu pieces directly into the pan (you don’t need to add any extra oil) and then drizzle the remaining marinade over the top.  Fry the tofu until the bottom side is golden brown – this will probably take about 5 minutes.  Turn the tofu pieces with tongs and fry on the other side until it is also golden brown and the outside of the tofu is crispy to touch.  At the last minute, get half of a lime and squeeze the juice onto the tofu pieces into the pan.  You will hear a nice sizzle.  Toss the tofu carefully in the lime juice for 1 minute. It may start to caramelise a little.  Remove the tofu from the pan.
  5. Dress the salad.  Add 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, squeeze the juice of a quarter of a lime and add a pinch of Himalayan salt.  Add the cooled cashews and sesame seeds. Stir the salad well with your hands or tongs to coat the vegetable spirals with the sesame oil and lime juice.
  6. Place the salad on two plates.  Place two pieces of tofu on each plate on top of the salad. Serve with a little sliver of extra lime. You can also serve this dish with some Creamy Cashew Dressing drizzled on the top.
How I cut and marinate my tofu.
How I cut and marinate my tofu.
The organic vegetable spirals - zucchini, carrot and beetroot.
The organic vegetable spirals – zucchini, carrot and beetroot.
Tamari Tofu with a Raw Spiral Salad topped with Creamy Cashew Dressing and some extra sesame seeds.
Tamari Tofu with a Raw Spiral Salad topped with Creamy Cashew Dressing and some extra sesame seeds.

Raw Zucchini Noodles with Paleo Pesto

Raw zucchini noodles with spinach and basil pesto, topped with cumin spiced hummus
Raw zucchini noodles with spinach and basil pesto, topped with cumin spiced hummus

This raw zucchini noodles and paleo pesto salad is a simple, healthy and clean plant-based meal full of goodness. The paleo pesto is bursting with flavour from the fresh basil and raw garlic, and the raw zucchini noodles have such an interesting texture and freshness.

Raw zucchini noodles are definitely all the rage at the moment.  I love raw zucchini noodles mixed with raw carrot and beetroot noodles in my salads.  The colours are amazing!  Strange as it may seem, I also think the act of preparing the vegetables in this way actually changes their flavour.  Raw zucchini noodles or raw beetroot noodles have a different flavour to eating slices of raw zucchini or beetroot. They taste really good. Plus you are getting all the goodness from eating raw vegetables. All those enzymes and phytonutrients are so good for you! Preparing vegetable noodles will also save you time. Making zucchini noodles – or ‘zoodles’ – is much easier and quicker than chopping zucchinis and cooking them.  This is especially true if you have a handy spiral maker in your kitchen to help you out.

I had a really beautiful day on Sunday.  I spent it with family and friends, learning lots about the wonderful benefits of essential oils. I left my friend’s house feeling centred and invigorated.  When I got home, all I felt like was something raw and green.  I had lots of zucchinis in the fridge and I have a plentiful supply of basil in my garden.  I also had some baby spinach in the fridge that I really needed to use. So, raw zucchini noodles with paleo pesto it was.

If you think you are going to make vegetable noodles on a regular basis, I highly recommend buying a vegetable spiraliser.  The one I have has three different blades, so you can make different shaped vegetables.  My husband was experimenting with it tonight and made these amazing spiral potato chips.  Very cool.

You can order vegetable spiralisers online or find them at good kitchen stores or health food stores.  I think they’re a really wonderful contraption to have in your kitchen if you want to eat more raw foods.  My kids also love using our spiraliser and they’re much more inclined to try the raw foods that it produces.  Alternatively, you can always make vegetable ribbons with your peeler.  Zucchini ribbons are beautiful in salads too.

Raw Zucchini Noodles

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 2 organic zucchinis
  • Vegetable spiraliser
My vegetable spiraliser with a zucchini all ready to be turned into raw zucchini noodles
My vegetable spiraliser with a zucchini all ready to be turned into raw zucchini noodles
Raw zucchini noodles coming out of my vegetable spiraliser
Raw zucchini noodles coming out of my vegetable spiraliser

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cut off the ends of your zucchinis and place one zucchini in the vegetable spiraliser. Create your zucchini noodles. Repeat for the other zucchini. Place the zucchini spirals in a mixing bowl.

If your vegetable spiraliser takes out the core of the zucchini, then you can always keep this to put in a stew or a stir-fry dish later on.

Now it’s time to make your pesto.

Paleo Pesto with Basil and Baby Spinach

Paleo pesto mixture in the Thermomix bowl once it has been blended for 40 seconds.
Paleo pesto mixture in the Thermomix bowl once it has been blended for 40 seconds.

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups of fresh organic basil, washed
  • 1 cup of organic baby spinach, washed
  • 1/2 cup of pine nuts
  • 1/4 cup good quality extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan salt
  • 1 large clove of garlic, peeled and chopped into quarters
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

Method:

Place all of the ingredients into your food processor or Thermomix.  If using a food processor, blend until well combined and the pine nuts have been chopped well.  It will have a slightly creamy consistency.  If using your Thermomix, blend for 30 seconds on speed 6. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and blend for a further 10 seconds to ensure all of the ingredients are well incorporated. Taste to ensure the seasoning is right for you and add more salt if desired.

Place the paleo pesto mixture into your mixing bowl and mix well with your zucchini noodles. You want to coat the zucchini noodles well with this beautifully green and vibrant pesto. When I eat food like this, I can’t help but think of all the wonderful goodness I am eating. It’s just so good for my mind and body.

 

Mix together your raw zucchini noodles and paleo pesto, ensuring the noodles are well coated.
Mix together your raw zucchini noodles and paleo pesto, ensuring the noodles are well coated.

Serve your raw zucchini noodles and paleo pesto straight away in your favourite bowls. I like to drizzle mine with a little bit of organic extra virgin olive oil.

Now if you don’t have a vegetable spiraliser, you can still make this recipe!  Just grab a grater and grate your zucchinis.  Easy!  Below is a picture of some grated zucchini and carrot with the paleo pesto and a big dollop of Cumin Spiced Hummus that I featured earlier on the blog.  This was so delicious.  Of course, if you have this recipe with hummus it is no longer paleo, but the pesto and the hummus together are just divine!

Grated zucchini and carrot with paleo pesto, served with cumin spiced hummus
Grated zucchini and carrot with paleo pesto, served with cumin spiced hummus

Kale and Chickpea Salad

I saw a beautiful Chinese proverb on a friend’s Facebook page the other day.  It said:

“One who plants a garden plants happiness.”

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Kale and herbs growing in my garden

I’ve recently become a gardener.  I have a 4 metre by 2 metre garden patch in my backyard with parsley, basil, kale, snowpeas, tomatoes and marigolds.  In the past I have pretty much killed most of the edible plants I have tried to grow, so the fact that my garden has gone gangbusters through a little bit of care, love and good weather is giving me great happiness.

I was really pleased when I realised that the kale was ready for picking.  Kale is a vegetable that I use every week.  I love kale because it’s a powerhouse of nutrition – it’s high in fibre, high in calcium, high in iron, and filled with powerful antioxidants, vitamins and minerals.

Kale from my garden
Freshly picked kale from my garden

When I first heard of kale some time ago, I really didn’t know what to do with it.  There is certainly more information on the web now about the benefits of kale and the best ways of cooking it.  In the spirit of uncovering some of the uncertainty about kale and how to eat it, here is one clean salad recipe that I hope you will enjoy.

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Kale and Chickpea Salad

Kale and Chickpea Salad

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • One small bunch of kale, stems removed and shredded
  • 1 cup of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1/2 a red capsicum, diced
  • 2 stalks of celery, diced
  • 1/2 an avocado, diced
  • Large handful of fresh parsley, finely diced
  • Handful of fresh basil, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons of sunflower seeds
  • 2 tablespoons of sesame seeds
Some of the different brands I use for my dressing.
Some of the different brands I use for my dressing.

Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon of maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon of nutritional yeast
  • Good pinch of Himalayan salt

This dressing is really different from your standard olive oil and lemon dressing (which you can certainly use instead if you don’t have all of these ingredients).  The nutritional yeast (or savoury yeast as it is also referred to) gives the dressing a slightly cheesy flavour, giving it an interesting creaminess.

Method:

  1. Toast your sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.  Heat a small frypan over low-medium heat and let the seeds toast in the pan for 5-10 minutes or until they are slightly browned.  Set aside to cool once toasted.
  2. Make your dressing by combining all of the dressing ingredients in a bowl or jar and whisking or shaking until well combined.
  3. Place your shredded kale in a salad bowl.  Pour half of the dressing over the kale and massage it well with your fingers for a minute.  This will make the kale much easier to eat.
  4. Place all of the other ingredients in the salad bowl and pour over the remaining dressing.  Toss carefully until all of the salad vegetables are well coated.  I like to garnish the salad with a few sesame seeds and sunflower seeds that I have reserved once they have been toasted.
Massage the dressing into the kale with your fingers.
Massage the dressing into the kale with your fingers.
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Garnish the dressing with some reserved toasted sesame seeds and sunflower seeds.