Hi, friends! I hope you are having a wonderful week! It’s been pretty brutal here in Charlotte…around the 100 degree mark every day. It is not making my training runs easy, by any means, but I must say, I am doing a pretty good job of drinking enough water and staying hydrated.
But it’s that time of year for hot weather, isn’t it? Summer cookouts, grilled meats and veggies, watermelon, pasta salads, grilled corn on the cob, potato salad, ice cream cakes..all of the above scream summer to me.
You know what else screams summer?
Being out on the lake. Ed and I went out for the first time this past weekend with some friends and I finally tried wakeboarding! I managed to get up on my 3rd attempt. It was so much fun and I can’t wait to do it again, not to mention to cool off from this weather.
Also, in case you were wondering, fresh fruit tastes better when you’re on the water.
Back to summer food. While I love summer cookouts and get togethers, it’s easy to overload on sides that aren’t as nutrient dense. I could feast on pasta salad for days and days and enjoy every single bite, but let’s be honest, pasta is easy to overload on when it comes to serving size. Speaking of serving size, the new nutrition label will update the serving size to servings that most of us actually consume, and I’m pretty sure pasta will be one of those foods that the number gets bigger than it is currently.
Furthermore, if you find me goin’ to town at a party on pasta salad, I’m usually pairing it with breads, potato salad, cookies and baked goods, and guess what – that’s a hugeeee carb party! Make some room for the protein and healthy fats on that plate.
Enter this quinoa salad.
It’s the perfect cold, refreshing dish to bring to your next cookout or get-together. A 1/2 cup (dry) serving of quinoa has 12 grams of protein, which you could easily up by adding in some beans or even more cheese! Plus, quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it has all the essential amino acids (protein building blocks) our bodies need, just like any meat would. Quinoa is also a great source of magnesium, B6, iron and copper, among other key minerals. And it’s naturally gluten free!
Well, I’m telling you, the lime, mango and cucumber make for the most refreshing combination. The use of fresh, whole foods, makes this dish appealing to the taste buds and the body.
I don’t know what it is but I get so excited to add fruit to my salads in the summer. To me, it’s an energizing and refreshing addition that provides a subtle sweetness. There’s also just something about a cold salad in the summer months, which is why my intake of pasta salad goes way up from May to September. But, it’s safe to say from here on out, that can now be replaced by this cool as a cucumber quinoa salad.
So, gather your ingredients. Bonus points if you get some of them from your own garden, or even the farmer’s market!
I opted for mango because I think it goes really well with lime. And I think lime goes really well with cilantro, so by the power of three’s, I hypothesized that these would all sit really well together. And avocado goes well with…anything, and cucumbers are crisp and refreshing, so they had to be added to the mix too. So that’s how I got from point A to point E.
I also added a splash of olive oil to the quinoa salad, but that is completely optional. The juice from the lime, the fresh fruits and veggies, and the cilantro give it a kick of flavor on its own where you don’t even need the dressing. I just don’t like dry textures, so I opted for some olive lime seasoning.
Let’s talk about cilantro for a minute – people either love it or hate it, at least that’s the word on the street. Well, I like it, but I don’t love it, nor do I hate it, so am I the black sheep who falls in the middle? I won’t go out of my way to buy it in the grocery store but if I find it, I’m down to clown around with it and find a use for it in the kitchen, like in this salad that you’ll want to bring to your next cookout.
I originally made his whole recipe thinking I’d be able to save half of it for a cookout the upcoming weekend, but instead,
we I ate it all and I had to make another bowl’s worth. It definitely wasn’t the worst thing that could have happened.
So, to make this guy vegan, just leave out the cheese. Or, if you’re looking to add some meat or protein to it, consider some grilled chicken, eggs, garbanzo beans, or I even think salmon would be a delicious winner as well. Note to self: Add salmon next time.
- 2 cups quinoa
- 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
- 1 avocado, sliced
- ¾ cup grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 mango, peeled and diced
- 2 tbsp chopped cilantro
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Juice of 2 limes
- ⅓ cup feta cheese (substitute with nutritional yeast if vegan)
- ⅛ tsp garlic salt (optional)
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Cook quinoa according to package directions and let cool.
- Cut your grape tomatoes, cucumber, avocado, mango and cilantro.
- Once the quinoa is cooled, mix in olive oil and juice from the lime and mix around.
- Top with feta cheese, and salt and pepper to taste
- **Remember to add time to let the quinoa cool.
I hope you’ll share this recipe with your friends and enjoy it!
Psssttt…Don’t forget to enter to win $25.00 from Uncommon Goods!
Questions for you:
Are you a cilantro lover or hater?
What’s your most refreshing vegetable?