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Healthy Living: Fall Quinoa Salad


Fall Quinoa SaladDo you realize how hard it is to find healthy recipes on your Pinterest feed during the fall season? Everything is baked, buttery and stick-to-your-ribs (and thighs) kind of fare! There are cookies and breads and casseroles galore, but salads? Not so much.

This is always a favorite fall salad of mine. It combines the flavors of fall without all the fat. Quinoa is a super food, providing protein without all the bad fats associated with meats. It also has pumpkin seeds, which are little kernels of power-packed goodness in and of themselves.

Pumpkin seeds are chock full of minerals including phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, iron and copper, and they are a good source of vitamin K. They have been shown to contain phytosterols, which reduce levels of LDL cholesterol. Pumpkin seeds also contain L-tryptophan, which promotes good sleep and lowers depression (and you thought your slices of turkey at Thanksgiving dinner were the only things making you sleepy). Another benefit of pumpkin seeds is that they are high in zinc, which helps protect against osteoporosis. They are also a good source of vitamins E and B, and contain 30 grams of protein per 100 grams of seeds.

Fall Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:
3 cups butternut squash, chopped
1 Tbs olive oil
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
salt and black pepper, to taste
1 cup rainbow quinoa, uncooked
1 1/2 cups water
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup red onions, finely chopped
3 Tbs pumpkin seeds, toasted
3 Tbs pecans, toasted and chopped

Balsamic Vinaigrette

Ingredients:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 tsp honey
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 garlic clove, minced
salt and black pepper, to taste

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400° F.

Place diced squash in a large bowl. Toss with olive oil; season with cayenne, salt and pepper. Spread on a baking sheet sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, and roast for 25 minutes or until squash is fork-tender and golden-brown.

While the squash is roasting, rinse quinoa under cold water. Place quinoa in clean water in a heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer, and simmer until liquid is absorbed, about 22 minutes.

Cool quinoa and squash.

Toss quinoa with roasted squash, cranberries, red onions, pumpkin seeds and pecans. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Whisk vinaigrette ingredients together in a separate bowl. Pour over quinoa mixture. Chill for several hours and serve.

Nutritional Information: Calories Per Serving: 284, Calories from Fat: 178, Fat: 20 g, Trans Fat: 0 g (3 g Saturated Fat), Cholesterol: 0 mg, Sodium: 13 mg, Potassium: 393 mg, Carbohydrates: 24 g, Fiber: 4 g, Sugar: 3 g, Protein: 5 g.

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