Foodist Approved: DIY Quinoa Salad

by | Aug 20, 2014

Quinoa Salad Kopecky Summer Tomato sm

So you want to eat healthier but you’re not sure where to begin? A good place to start is revamping your lunch.

Lunch is easy to overlook, inconveniently located smack-dab in the middle of the day. This means you might be tempted by anything you can grab on the go, often a processed-deli-meat sandwich or a deceptively-labeled energy bar.

Since a long lunch and an afternoon siesta are not likely to become a part of our culture anytime soon, the best routine you can get into is to make a big batch of a veggie-loaded whole-grain salad on Sunday evenings. My go-to is a seasonal quinoa salad that I pack with whatever veggies I have left over from our weekly farm share and toss with my favorite lemon miso dressing.

Below is a recipe guide for creating your own quinoa salad. Keep the basics in mind (grain + veggies + dressing) and you really can’t go wrong with mixing and matching. Once you’ve made this recipe a couple of times, you’ll be able to accomplish it in 30 minutes or less.

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Improve Your Salads 237% With Carrot Ribbons

by | Aug 13, 2014
Carrot ribbons are better than Christmas!

Carrot ribbons are better than Christmas!

I hate to break it to you, but you’ve been using your vegetable peeler incorrectly for your entire life. And so have I, until recently.

A few weeks ago I was casually browsing the internet looking for a recipe to include in my weekly For the Love of Food link roundup, when I stumbled upon an intriguing carrot salad recipe. The recipe itself was mildly interesting, but that wasn’t what captured my attention. I mean, how good can a carrot salad really be?

But I do eat a lot of salads, especially this time of year when the farmers market is exploding with delicious produce, and something about this particular preparation caught my eye.

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Foodist Approved: Fennel and Pear Salad with Red Wine Vinaigrette

by | Mar 12, 2014
Fennel pear salad

Fennel pear salad

I’m ready to say goodbye to soup, stews and roasted vegetables. Now that the days are getting longer and warmer, I’ve been craving refreshing salads.

But I find it a challenge to shop this time of year. Our bodies are asking for new revitalizing foods, but summer’s alluring produce still seems far off. Don’t be tempted to buy artificially ripened tomatoes or strawberries from far-off places, instead embrace salads that celebrate winter vegetables.

I’ve made this fennel and pear salad for just about every get-together I’ve been to in the last month. It’s rare that a salad gets the limelight at a dinner party but this simple, yet sophisticated, salad always does just that.

I recommend making a large batch of the red wine vinaigrette to have on hand all week (this recipe makes enough for 2-3 family size salads). It pairs perfectly with any type of salad and stores well in the fridge. If you prefer, you can cut the vinaigrette recipe below in half and that will be plenty for this dish.

I hope you enjoy, and let me know if this becomes your new favorite end-of-winter salad!
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Foodist Approved: Cannellini Bean and Tuna Salad with Giardiniera

by | Jan 29, 2014
Cannellini Bean and Tuna Salad

Cannellini Bean and Tuna Salad

A friend asked me the other day where I get the ideas for my recipes. Lucky for me I live in Portlandia where there is no shortage of foodie inspiration. If I have a whoa-Nelly eating epiphany while dining out, I jot down notes in my phone to remember the flavors. I then try to recreate the masterpiece at home and love the challenge of adding my own wholesome spin.

That’s how most of my recipes I share with you begin. But this week, I decided to go straight to one of the creators of some of Portland’s best dishes, and asked the uber-brilliant Cathy Whims, owner of both Nostrana, and Oven & Shaker and 5-time James Beard Award Finalist to share one of her healthy go-to recipes.

Cathy happily offered up the recipe for her salad of cannellini beans and albacore tuna conserva that’s a favorite on the menu at Nostrana.

At Nostrana the tuna is quickly seared over a flaming charcoal grill to maintain its beautiful rare flavor. For a stress-free weeknight meal, Cathy gives us her endorsement to use canned tuna, but only top-quality from Spain or Oregon.
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Foodist Approved: Southern Black-Eyed Peas with Collard Greens and Quinoa Salad

by | Jan 1, 2014
Black-eyed peas and collard greens quinoa salad

Black-eyed peas with collard greens and quinoa salad

This recipe is inspired by my Southern roots. In the South we eat black-eyed peas and collard greens on New Year’s Day for good luck. Tradition says that eating these cute beans leads to a prosperous year.

Typically this dish is cooked in pork fat. I decided to skip the oink and instead created a vibrant salad. After all the holiday overindulging we need a little help detoxifying our digestive systems.

This recipe contains plenty of foods rich in fiber and phytonutrients, two things crucial to cleaning the ol’ pipes of toxins. You can make it ahead and pack for lunch all week to ensure you start your year right.

Here’s to a delicious 2014!
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Foodist Approved: Roasted Butternut and Leek Warm Winter Salad

by | Dec 4, 2013
Butternut Warm Winter Salad

Butternut Warm Winter Salad

It’s OK to let yourself indulge a little this time of year. The best part about the holidays is family, friends and… food. I can’t imagine how boring a holiday party would be without delicious eats and festive cocktails. And enjoying good food in the company of good friends is healthier than eating a salad by yourself at home in front of the TV.

But (and this is a big but) don’t be tempted to bring home the leftover cheese platter and pecan pie, even with Mom insisting.

To maintain your healthy lifestyle throughout the holiday season it’s important to eat fresh and light at home. Soups, salads, baked fish and roasted veggies are all great choices. They’ll balance out all the festive eating and drinking, and getting plenty of veggies this time of year is especially important to keep your immune system strong and your waistline in check.

When the weather is cold and rainy (as it so often is this time of year in Portland), I don’t crave salads. But I know that a salad is sometimes just what I need to recover from a night out. I’ve discovered that if I top my salad with warm roasted veggies, I get both my raw- and cooked-veggie fix together. Plus, a warm salad is so much more appealing. The key to a winter salad is to use a hearty green like arugula or spinach; leave the romaine lettuce for light summer salads.

I made an amazing winter salad the other night with leftover roasted butternut squash. I added it atop my usual favorite combo of arugula, walnuts and Parmesan, then added pomegranate seeds and a drizzle of hummus dressing. It was so good!

Butternut can be difficult to chop. I recommend heating the entire squash in the oven for 5 – 10 minutes so that it’s easier to get a knife through it. Or buy your butternut already cut (I promise I won’t tell). Just don’t use frozen butternut. After cooking it will have the consistency of baby food.
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Foodist Approved: Cucumber Wakame Salad with Oranges

by | Nov 13, 2013
Cucumber Wakame Salad

Cucumber Wakame Salad

Unless you’re Japanese, here are some words you’ve probably never heard: “Honey, we’re running low on wakame! Don’t forget to pick up another bag!”

But perhaps they should be. Sea vegetables (wakame is one) are one of the world’s most nutrient-dense foods. Sea vegetables make up 10% of a typical Japanese diet, and guess what people live longer than any other in the world? (Hint: it ain’t Americans.)

The ocean provides us with thousands of varieties of vegetables. Some varieties have a fishier taste than others, but marinating the vegetables in a lemon or vinegar dressing will offset that fishiness. My favorite varieties are wakame, arame, toasted nori and kombu. Because of its mild taste, arame is great for kids and those who’ve never tried seaweed. You can find all these varieties in most health food stores. They come dried in small bags and require soaking in water to rejuvenate, but are otherwise easy to store and can be kept on hand for days for when you need a good nutrition kick.

Below is a recipe for my favorite seaweed salad. You’ve probably had a similar dish at Japanese restaurants. The restaurant version has a lot of added sugar. Instead of sugar I use orange segments for a delicious sweet and salty contrast. This salad is easy to prepare and goes well with an array of main dishes, from baked fish to veggie stir-fries to steak or grilled chicken. Try it as a side with my Miso-marinated Grilled Chicken. I promise you’ll be happy and healthy!
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Foodist Approved: Kale + Radicchio Superhero Salad with Farro

by | Sep 4, 2013
Kale and Farro Superhero Salad

Kale and Farro Superhero Salad

Elyse Kopecky is a social media consultant and whole foods chef based in Portland, OR. After 10 years working for NIKE and EA SPORTS she left her desk job for the chance to study culinary nutrition at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. Follow her adventures in the kitchen and on the trail at www.freshabits.com and @freshabits.

Foodist Approved: Kale + Radicchio Superhero Salad with Farro

by Elyse Kopecky

The flavors of this salad combined with the al dente texture of the farro make for a salad reminiscent of a bowl of fresh pasta tossed in olive oil, garlic and lemon.

Do you find yourself making the same salad night after night? Let me guess (and I speak to you now from my own past habits), does it include baby spinach, tomatoes, carrots, and maybe a few sugar-loaded dried cranberries, plus a drizzle of store-bought dressing (also sugar-loaded)? No wonder you aren’t excited to eat it.

Enter kale salads. If you’ve dined out recently you’ve probably noticed that kale salads are making appearances everywhere, from pizza joints to upscale farm-to-table restaurants. Thanks to some top chefs kale has recently gained celebrity status, and for good reason. Kale works great in a variety of dishes and is especially delicious in salads. I don’t feel the least bit sorry for spinach losing some of the limelight.

Ready to up your salad repertoire? You won’t be disappointed by my recipe for Kale + Radicchio Superhero Salad with farro, walnuts and Parmesan all tossed in a lemon garlic dressing. I aptly named this dish Superhero Salad because it incorporates a range of my favorite nutrient-dense ingredients for strength and energy. And don’t frown at the parmesan cheese. Yes, hard cheeses are healthy.

If Popeye ate spinach, then Batman and Wonder Woman ate bowls and bowls of kale salad.

Enjoy!
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10 Simple Substitutions to Make Restaurant Meals Healthier

by | Aug 1, 2012

Photo by basheertome

I pity the fool who puts health over pleasure every time they enter a restaurant, but if you eat out often all those French fries could get the better of you.

When nothing on the menu perfectly fits my preferences (particularly at low to mid-range places more tailored to the Standard American Diet crowd), I don’t hesitate to swap out whatever I don’t want with something better.

Whether it’s to avoid processed foods or simply add vibrance and color to my plate, here are 10 simple swaps to make the most of your restaurant meals.

10 Simple Substitutions to Make Restaurant Meals Healthier

1. Mixed greens instead of ice burg or romaine lettuce

I enjoy cobb salads, but for some reason they’re usually served with boring industrial lettuce. Most places these days carry mixed greens or spinach as well, and are usually happy to make the switch.

2. Fruit instead of toast

I’m not sure why breakfast spots think you need two giant pieces of toast on top of your potatoes, eggs and pancakes, but if you don’t want it they’ll often offer you fruit instead. This is one of the best upgrades you can get away with.

3. Salad instead of potatoes

Speaking of potatoes, while they are real food and have their place in a healthy diet, they’re so often fried in rancid industrial oils that it’s best to skip them. Swapping them out for salad or cooked greens is rarely a problem.

4. Avocado instead of mayo

Real mayonnaise, the kind made from egg yolks and olive oil is perfectly healthy (and delicious). Unfortunately that isn’t what most places are putting on your sandwich. Instead commercial mayos are typically made with soybean or canola oils, AKA hyper-processed industrial oils. It may cost a little extra, but avocado is a fantastic alternative to gooey up your lunch.

5. Cheese plate instead of dessert

One of the things I love about France is that it’s perfectly acceptable to have cheese after dinner instead of sugar. If everyone is ordering crème brûlée and you don’t want to be a party pooper, get the cheese plate instead. Good cheese is healthy.

6. Brown rice instead of white

I don’t mind white rice in small quantities, but if I’m stuck eating somewhere I know the food isn’t very healthy I swap out my white rice for brown (and order as many vegetables as possible) if the option is available.

7. Drink wine instead of cocktails

Dinner often starts with a drink selection. While wine certainly has calories, cocktails usually have hundreds more thanks to the liqueurs and syrups typically used. Mixed drinks have their place, but if you’ll also be eating  a few hundred calories then wine is a better choice.

8. Beans instead of rice

If I see beans or lentils anywhere on the menu I’ll often ask if the kitchen can use them instead of one of the faster digesting starches on my plate. Your waiter may be confused, but he’ll usually do it if you ask.

9. Olive oil and vinegar instead of sugary dressing

At some point in the past 20 years salad dressings started being made with ridiculous amounts of sugar and salt, probably to cover up the completely flavorless vegetables from the industrial food chain. Good ol’ fashioned olive oil and vinegar is a better choice, and most kitchens have them.

10. Anything instead of American cheese

Have you ever looked at the ingredients for American cheese? Besides water, the first ingredient is usually trans fat. The second is cornstarch. All the way at the bottom it says, “Contains: Milk.” Replacing it with real cheddar, gruyere, provolone, or even nothing would be healthier.

What are your favorite restaurant substitution tricks?

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10 Ways To Make Your Salad More Satisfying

by | Jul 18, 2012
Quinoa Salad

Quinoa Salad

One of my favorite things about the arrival of summer is all the beautiful, crisp salad greens at the farmers market. I absolutely love to eat salads, but how can you turn a salad into a full meal that is truly satisfying?

The trick is to make sure you add enough protein, fat and carbohydrates to your salad so it is still a perfectly balanced meal.

There are dozens of healthy additions you can use to make your salad more filling and delicious. Here are 10 of my favorites.

10 Ways To Make Your Salad More Satisfying

  • Warm ingredients Grilled or sauteed onions, peppers, mushrooms and meats wilt salad greens and make them slightly warm, adding depth and character to an otherwise boring salad.
  • Brown rice Adding 1/2 cup of warm rice to a salad makes it more satisfying to eat and keeps you full for longer. Use single serving rice balls and this simple addition will add less than 2 minutes to your salad prep time.
  • Nuts Walnuts and sliced almonds are my favorite, but feel free to try pecans, cashews, peanuts, pumpkin seeds or anything else that sounds interesting.
  • Beans Chickpeas, black beans, edamame and other legumes are inexpensive and delicious sources of protein and fiber to add some substance to a salad.
  • Avocado Half an avocado is sometimes exactly what a salad needs to take it to the next level.
  • Smoked salmon For a slightly more upscale salad experience top your greens with a few slices of smoked salmon.
  • Quinoa Mix in a small amount of quinoa as an accent or make it the base of a salad by adding cooked or raw veggies and greens. See my Mexican-style quinoa salad recipe.
  • Grilled meats Your salad is a great place for summertime BBQ leftovers.
  • Egg Boiled, fried or poached, an egg is a wonderful way to make your salad more substantial. See my Summer salad with poached egg recipe.
  • Sardines Canned fish is one of the easiest ways to get extra protein and omega-3 oils in your salad. Here are 6 reasons to eat more sardines.

How do you make your salads more hearty?

This article was originally published June 8, 2009.

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