Quinoa Salad with Cucumbers, Chickpeas, and a Yogurt Dill Dressing

April Swiger

Hi, I’m April Swiger, wife to my best friend, and worship-pastor, Adam. We are hopeful adoptive parents waiting to bring home children from foster care. We live in Connecticut, less than an hour from where I grew up. As a native New Englander, I was brought up on delicious meals by my mother who values the art of cooking. Her guidance instilled in me foundational skills, and confidence in the kitchen from a very young age.

After graduating from James Madison University I spent six years in campus ministry, including a year in East Asia. As a result, my cooking has been greatly influenced by Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine. You can bet that I fully indulged in many traditional, and unique, Asian dishes that year!/div>

I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen with simple, nourishing recipes, while strategically keeping to our tight ministry budget. On any given day you’ll find my crockpot bubbling with rich bone broth, mason jars full of coconut oil in the cabinet, and beans or grains soaking on the radiator. When I’m not caring for my husband and our home, you can find me reading, writing, blogging at Redemptive Homemaking, making my own beauty products, and researching new skills like gardening and lacto-fermentation. Whether it’s marriage, homemaking, or serving in our local church, I am first and foremost a follower of King Jesus, and my aim is to glorify Him with all that I do. 

Quinoa salad yogurt dill dressing

By April Swiger, Contributing Writer

This quinoa salad has the unmistakable taste of fresh dill, tangy yogurt, and refreshing lemon and cucumber. Quinoa is gluten-free, packed with nutrients, and fills you up without ill effects when prepared properly. When soaked with a little raw apple cider vinegar, it’s easy to digest, and can be used in countless recipes ranging from breakfast porridges to summer salads.

Cucumbers have been on sale at my little local market the past two weeks and I’ve been itching to add them to a creamy yogurt based salad. As spring has finally sprung, I’m eager to begin making hearty and nourishing salads again for the warmer months. I love the idea of a filling side dish that can easily transfer over to a simple main dish. With the addition of chickpeas to this salad, it can be both!

Quinoa is a grain-like seed (from the same family as beets and spinach) and benefits from a long soak like other grains and legumes to reduce anti nutrients. There is a distinct bitter taste to quinoa which can be reduced significantly through soaking, and a thorough rinse before cooking. I have found that as I plan my meals for the week, adding an alert to my phone to “soak quinoa” the day before I need it has proved to be an easy way to incorporate this traditional practice into my routine.

quinoa salad yogurt dill dressing2

I love the addition of a creamy and tangy dressing to this salad! It’s reminiscent of a Greek tzatziki sauce but with the delicious taste of fresh dill. I used a Russian kefir yogurt for this recipe, but any plain, full-fat yogurt will work just fine. A whisk works great to blend all the ingredients together.

If you enjoy experimenting in the kitchen, you can easily adapt this recipe with different dressings and vegetables that are available to you. Kimi has shared a fantastic list of nourishing salad dressings that are very simple to make and can be substituted in this recipe. Along with that her cookbook, Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons, includes more salad dressing recipes and a couple of quinoa salads as well. Her summer quinoa salad is one of my favorites!

Other recipes you may enjoy:

Quinoa salad with cucumbers, chickpeas, and a yogurt dill dressing
 
Author:
Recipe type: Side, or main dish

 
This tangy quinoa salad could serve 8-10 people as a side dish, or 4-6 as a nourishing main dish
Ingredients
  • FOR THE SALAD:
  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 2 cups warm filtered water for soaking
  • 2 tbls raw apple cider vinegar (you can also use yogurt, kombucha, whey or kefir)
  • 2 cups filtered water for cooking
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cucumber, peeled if desired, and cubed
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1½-2 cups cooked chickpeas (or one 15 oz can)
  • FOR THE DRESSING:
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ½ cup yogurt
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 small garlic cloves, minced or crushed
  • 2 tbls fresh dill, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. The night before you make this dish, plan to soak your quinoa to make it more digestible. Place the quinoa in a non-reactive bowl or jar (preferably glass), and mix it with the warm filtered water and your raw ACV. Allow it to soak for at least 8 hours, and up to 24.
  2. When you’re ready to make the salad, drain and rinse your quinoa in a fine sieve, allowing the water to run clear.
  3. Place your rinsed quinoa in a pot with 2 more cups of water and bring it to a boil.
  4. When it’s boiling, cover the pot, and turn the heat to low, allowing it to simmer for 12-15 minutes. (These instructions are the same as Kimi’s basic quinoa recipe and work for the various brands of quinoa that I’ve tried).
  5. When the quinoa is done, place it in a bowl to cool. You can leave it on the counter, or put it in the refrigerator.
  6. In the meantime, assemble your dressing. Whisk together the olive oil, yogurt, lemon juice, garlic cloves, fresh dill and salt and pepper.
  7. When the quinoa has cooled, gently mix in the cucumber, red onion and chickpeas.
  8. Pour the dressing over the quinoa mixture (you may not need it all), and mix thoroughly.
  9. This salad is best served at room temperature after preparing it, or lightly chilled. Top with additional dill, feta cheese, olives, or tomatoes if desired!

 

Easy Thai Curry Noodle Soup

Katie Mae

Katie Stanley is a dorm “mama” to 12 amazing girls ages 8 to 18 at a home and school for the Deaf in Baja California, Mexico. She and her “hijas” can be frequently found in the kitchen, the garden or making friends with their new chickens. She loves to read, hike the hills near her home and spend time with her girls. In her spare time Katie blogs at Nourishing Simplicity about nourishing foods, herbal remedies, simple living, the deaf, raising her girls and encouraging other women in their walk with Christ.

Latest posts by Katie Mae (see all)

Thai Curry Noodle Soup

By Katie Mae Stanley, Contributing Writer

Light and flavorful, this simple Thai curry noodle soup will warm you on a cool evening. It is a perfect, frugal meal to throw together when you are short on time and is bursting with flavor.

Using homemade chicken stock adds an extra boost of nutrition to this tasty soup. Fresh stock is a frugal and easy way to nourish your family. Coconut milk not only makes your dish creamy and decadent is bursting with nutrition as well.

(Post may contain affiliate links. Thanks for supporting this blog!) 

When buying coconut milk it is important as part of a real foods diet to know what is in your milk. Many brands contain carrageenan, sugar and other preservatives. There are a few suitable options out there. Native Forest, is an excellent brand that is organic and BPA free. Another good brand is Thai Kitchen, which is not BPA free but the company claims that their product is “BPA safe”. Thai Kitchen is more creamy and has always been my favorite brand. And check out this brand, and this one, for guar gum-free coconut milk.

Thai is one of my favorite cuisines, there is no denying that. There is few thing less satisfying for me than creating ethnic dishes at home. When you use your own ingredients you can know that your food will be free of unhealthy oils, sugars and preservatives that are frequently found when dinning out.

Homemade Thai Inspired Recipes:

Thai Curry Noodle Soup
 
Author:
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Thai
Serves: 4-6

 
Light and flavorful, this simple Thai curry noodle soup will warm you on a cool evening. It is a perfect meal to throw together when you are short on time and is bursting with flavor.
Ingredients
  • 2 quarts chicken broth
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 1 16 oz vermicelli rice noodles
  • 1 lb chicken breast or thighs, thinly sliced
  • 1 medium white onion, thinly sliced
  • ½ lb fresh sugar snap peas
  • 2 tsp thai red curry, or curry paste of choice (I use this one)
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 inch of lemon grass, split
  • optional garnishes
  • Fresh basil (Thai is preferred)
  • Fresh spearmint leaves
  • Fresh cilantro
Instructions
  1. In a large sauce-pot add the coconut milk, curry paste, lemon grass, garlic and ginger. Cook on low for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the onions cook for another five minutes.
  3. Pour in the broth and add the chicken and sugar snap peas. Simmer for about 5 minutes for until the chicken is cook through.
  4. Add the rice noodles, turn off the heat and cover until the noodles are softened.
  5. Garnish with thai basil, spearmint leaves and cilantro if desired.

 

Buckwheat Crepes (as Gluten Free Sandwich Wraps)

Natalia Gill

Hello! My name is Natalia and I live in the “City in a Forest” (Atlanta, GA) with my husband and two children. I’ve been drawn to nutrition and natural healing since I was a young child, growing up in a Russian and Dutch home. I fondly remember my dad theatrically convincing me to love head cheese (with horseradish and lemon!) and learning to make herbal tinctures from my mom.

During my teens and early twenties, I strayed to more faddish health trends, but the color returned to my cheeks only when I came back to a time-honored way of eating. There is no greater joy than passing the gift of nourishment to my family and although we haven’t yet made full circle to the head cheese, the roots have been planted. ;) A former health columnist and project engineer, I now teach Pilates & yoga and offer practical inspiration to others as they carve a path of good health... AnAppetiteForJoy.com

Buckwheat Crepes as Sandwich Wraps

Delicate and gourmet, satisfying and rustic, buckwheat crepes can play a versatile role in any real food kitchen. Top them with a heap of blueberries, a drizzle of maple syrup for breakfast, and with some coconut whipped cream, if you want to make it extra special. Stuff them with chicken and mushrooms for dinner. Wrap your favorite sandwich toppings in a crepe for an easy & substantial lunch!

This recipe is a gluten free version of my mom’s beloved crepes. They can easily be made dairy free as well! Staple ingredients (buckwheat flour, milk, eggs) are combined in a blender, making for easy mixing and clean up. An overnight soak results in a crepe with a light flavor and texture that is more easily digested. (Read about the benefits of soaking grains here).

Although I have been making crepes for years, we have just started enjoying them as sandwich wraps. This is one of the simple ways my family is reducing the gluten in our diets.

Crepe sandwiches make a great light dinner or a lunch that is easy and appealing enough for children to make themselves. Here, I wrapped one around some Parmesan cheese, roasted red pepper and arugula. Ham and cheese is also a favorite!

Buckwheat Crepes as Gluten Free Sandwich Wraps

“THE WEEK OF CREPES”

Coincidentally, this recipe comes to you in perfect timing as we approach “the week of crepes”. For the Russian Orthodox, Cheesefare (“Maslinitsa”) begins this Monday, February 24. 

Cheesefare, which lasts a week, is a last hoorah before Orthodox lent begins. During this time, meat is not allowed, but fish, dairy and eggs are still permitted, so Russians eat loads of crepes before they have to give them up for 40 days. Giving up crepes (“blinchiki”) for any length of time is a big deal to a Russian!

LENTEN FAST GUIDELINES

The Lenten fast (see the 2014 dates here) is more or less vegan. Here are the parameters:

  • Meat is not allowed, with the exception of shellfish, which is included because it was not traditionally considered a luxury food.
  • There are a couple of specified dates that fish is allowed. But for the most part, it is not permitted.
  •  Some people omit all oils during this time while others interpret the “no oil rule” to refer specifically to olive oil.
  • Olive oil and wine are permitted on certain days, signified by a picture of a cluster of grapes on the calendar.

There is a measure of grace thrown into the rules. If someone has a medical condition that makes it a challenge to participate, they are not expected to. If someone who is fasting goes to eat at someone’s house where off-limits foods are served, they may eat them. Being a grateful guest trumps sticking to the rules.

MY EXPERIENCE WITH THE LENTEN FAST

My father is Orthodox and I participated in the fast with him once, about ten years ago. At the time I was eating a highly processed diet and it was a wonderful cleanse for me, both spiritually and physically. My mind was clear, I required less sleep and I felt very light and energized overall. Not to say that it wasn’t a challenge, but I did reap a lot of benefits.

I’ve considered participating in it again, but now that my diet is much more nourishing than it was ten years ago, I’m concerned that I won’t experience the same energy boost that I did before. As a mother of young children I need all the energy I can get!

It’s hard to imagine six weeks without broth and eggs in my diet. I’m so used to fueling myself with these traditionally nourishing foods. On the other hand, I remind myself that fasting is a very traditional practice and perhaps our bodies were designed to work best in a feast/famine, celebration/fasting routine.

I will continue to ponder and pray, but for now I don’t know if I will commit to this year’s Lenten fast. But one thing I do know for certain is that I will gladly partake in crepes next week!

Do you make fasting part of your routine? Why or why not? I’m interested to hear your thoughts on this!

Related Gluten-Free Recipes on The Nourishing Gourmet:

Recommended Kitchen Items for recipe:

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Buckwheat Crepes
 
Author:
Serves: 4

 
Buckwheat crepes are a versatile gluten free food and work great as an every day sandwich wrap. The batter for these is made right in the blender for easy clean up. This recipe makes about 13 7-inch crepes
Ingredients
  • 2 cups non-dairy milk (I used canned 9% fat coconut milk)
  • 2 tablespoons milk kefir (or water kefir, kombucha, lemon juice)
  • 2 tablespoons ghee or coconut oil
  • 1.25 cups buckwheat flour (if grinding your own, use hulled groats)
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 teaspoon honey (optional)
  • 6 eggs
  • a little ghee or coconut oil to prepare the pan for the first pancake
Instructions
  1. Blend together the milk, 2 tablespoons ghee, flour, kefir, salt and honey in a blender (put in the wet ingredients first). Leave on the counter to soak for 12-24 hours (overnight).
  2. When they are done soaking, add the eggs to the batter and blend again to combine.
  3. Heat a 7-inch cast iron skillet over medium heat. I sometimes bump it up to high heat to speed up the process, then reduce it back to medium when I start cooking the crepes. You want the skillet nice and hot.
  4. Add a small amount (1 teaspoon or so) of ghee or coconut oil to the pan to prepare it for your first pancake. Ladle ⅓ cup of the batter (a scant ladle full) into the skillet and swirl it around confidently until it covers the bottom of the pan and starts to set. Allow it to cook for about a minute, maybe less. Keep an eye on it.
  5. Once it seems done (you’ll quickly get the hang of it) use a spatula to loosen it off the pan a bit and (again, with confidence) flip it over. Let it cook for 15-30 seconds, until golden. Repeat until your batter is done. Swirl the batter in the blender from time to time to keep the flour from settling.
  6. You will likely not need any more ghee or coconut oil for the remaining pancakes since there is some in the batter. From time to time the heat might need to be adjusted as the pan will get increasingly hot throughout the cooking.
Notes
I have found that a 7-inch cast iron skillet works best. Even an inch larger can make them a challenge to flip.

I once made the mistake of grinding up chia seeds into the batter and it got very smoky! So I definitely don’t recommend incorporating ground chia or flax.

 

Individual Ricotta and Spinach Omelets in a Muffin Tin (Grain-free)

April Swiger

Hi, I’m April Swiger, wife to my best friend, and worship-pastor, Adam. We are hopeful adoptive parents waiting to bring home children from foster care. We live in Connecticut, less than an hour from where I grew up. As a native New Englander, I was brought up on delicious meals by my mother who values the art of cooking. Her guidance instilled in me foundational skills, and confidence in the kitchen from a very young age.

After graduating from James Madison University I spent six years in campus ministry, including a year in East Asia. As a result, my cooking has been greatly influenced by Chinese, Korean, Thai, and Vietnamese cuisine. You can bet that I fully indulged in many traditional, and unique, Asian dishes that year!/div>

I enjoy experimenting in the kitchen with simple, nourishing recipes, while strategically keeping to our tight ministry budget. On any given day you’ll find my crockpot bubbling with rich bone broth, mason jars full of coconut oil in the cabinet, and beans or grains soaking on the radiator. When I’m not caring for my husband and our home, you can find me reading, writing, blogging at Redemptive Homemaking, making my own beauty products, and researching new skills like gardening and lacto-fermentation. Whether it’s marriage, homemaking, or serving in our local church, I am first and foremost a follower of King Jesus, and my aim is to glorify Him with all that I do. 

Omelet in a muffin tin

By April Swiger, Contributing Writer.

Fluffy eggs and ricotta, with a hint of garlic, and nutrient-packed spinach. These individual ricotta and spinach omelets in a muffin tin are simple to prepare, easy on the budget, and deliciously nourishing. Eggs are “a powerhouse of nutrition” and one of the most frugal ways to get important vitamins and minerals into our diets on a budget. Depending on your choice of ingredients, this meal could be made for under $10, filling the bellies of your entire family!

I love the simplicity of this meal. It’s quick and easy to prepare, but it doesn’t have to look that way. There is something beautiful about the humble egg, and when prepared with a few other complementary ingredients, it can make any occasion feel special. In fact, when my husband and I got married we had a brunch reception with a full omelet bar! It was a unique, and very memorable detail from our day.

These individual omelets would be great for a bridal or baby shower, placed on a fancy plate, or a quick weeknight dinner for a busy family. After baking, the omelets freeze really well, providing an easy make-ahead meal for any occasion. Allow them to thaw overnight in the refrigerator, and they can be reheated in minutes.

Living on one pastor’s income, I’m always eager to find creative ways to save money, and still fill up on the most nutrient dense food we can afford. It’s my goal to steward our money well, while still preparing simple and nutritious meals that will keep my family healthy and energized. These individual omelets are so versatile, and can easily bring you out of that mundane egg slump that I have personally found myself in far too often. Let your taste buds, and family preferences be your guide. The combinations are truly endless!

Notes from Kimi: What type of eggs should you buy? There are more and more options in the stores and at the farmers markets. Here’s a quick guide to buying eggs. As part of our 21 steps to a nourishing diet series, we recommend that you buy the best eggs that you can afford! Eggs are a wonderful source of nutrition, and that’s most true from chickens raised the way nature meant them to be – with plenty of greens, bugs, and lots of space. (The following guide is adapted from Eggs: A Powerhouse of Nutrition

Shopping Guide for Eggs

  • Organic eggs are from chickens who have been feed organic feed, but that doesn’t mean they are free range chickens. They can be just as confined as other chickens, but are given better feed.
  • Vegetarian eggs means that the chickens were feed no animal products, but it also means that they weren’t eating any grubs and insects and are also not free-range eggs.
  • Cage free eggs indicates that the chickens have better living quarters and aren’t jammed into small cages, but they are usually cage free and running around in a warehouse. Once again, not necessarily a huge advantage nutritionally for their eggs.
  • Even eggs labeled “free range” aren’t necessarily benefiting from abundant feeding on insects and other natural food, because they are free “ranging” in a outside yard that no longer contains anything of value for them to eat (they live off of feed instead).
  • Omega-3 eggs are given feed (including flax seeds) that increase the omega 3′s in the eggs. When organic, these may be a good choice – though that’s still up to debate.
  • The best source would be getting eggs from a local farmer who allows them to truly “free range” or “pastures” his chickens. These chickens will often be moved around in a portable wire cage that allows them to eat bugs (which, believe it not, is what makes these eggs so nutritionally superior). I have found that my eggs from one such egg farmer are so different than even the expensive eggs in the store. The yolk is much more orange in color, instead of a pale yellow. They even cook differently (they won’t dry out as quickly). You can try to find such farmers by visiting farmer’s markets, looking out for signs while driving through the countryside, check out Craig’s List, Local Harvest, or word of mouth. Make sure you ask your farmer questions as to how they are raised, however. Or you can raise them yourself!
  • To see a visual example of the difference between commercial eggs and a true free range egg, look at this picture here! 

Easy Egg Recipes to enjoy with your pastured, free-range eggs:

Muffin Tin/Pan Recommendations:

Since we like muffins, and things made in muffin tins (like mini meatloaves and individual omelets), a few recommendations for muffin tins (Amazon is an affiliate to this blog). I try to avoid aluminum pans, so I personally own stainless steel muffin tins, and have really enjoyed using them. I am also so pleased to see that they have mini stainless steel muffin tins now too! I’ve also heard great things about clay muffin pans – which some feel is even safer than stainless steel. It’s more of a speciality item, so a little harder to track down, but well worth it. I have long admired Polish Pottery (which beautiful and  also lead and cadmium free). If you really wanted to have a beautiful kitchen item, you can check out some lovely ones like this one. I recommend them with an envious sigh.

Ricotta and Spinach Omelets in a Muffin Tin (grain-free)
 
Author:
Recipe type: Breakfast, Brunch, or a Main Dish
Serves: 9-12 individual omelets depending on your egg size

 
These individual omelets are simple to make, incredibly frugal, and deliciously nourishing. They freeze well too, and are great for busy moms on the run!
Ingredients
  • 9 Eggs
  • ¾ Cup ricotta cheese
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 Garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-3 Handfuls of spinach
  • Butter or oil to grease your pan and muffin tin
  • Parmesan to sprinkle on top
  • *Optional: mushrooms, peppers and onions, bacon, sausage, etc (basically anything you would put in your favorite omelet)
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 325 F, and grease your muffin tin with your choice of butter or oil.
  2. While the oven is heating up, mix in a large bowl the eggs, ricotta, and salt and pepper, until completely blended.
  3. In a pan on your stovetop, heat your choice of fat on medium, and sauté the garlic for about a minute. Make sure it doesn’t brown. Add your spinach a handful at a time, and toss it until all the spinach has wilted. Add the wilted spinach to your egg and ricotta mixture.
  4. Spoon your egg mixture evenly into the muffin tins, and sprinkle with parmesan if desired. Fill them about ½-3/4 the way full. They will puff up in the oven!
  5. Bake the omelets for 15-20 minutes, or until the eggs have set in the middle.
Notes
These freeze really well! Store them in an airtight container, and thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.