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
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
  • 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)
  • 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
  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!


My Favorite Mango Salsa Recipe (and a giveaway for a $75 Whole Foods gift card!)


I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

mango salsa- a must try recipe. Perfect for chicken or fish tacos, and more!.jpg

This is an absolute favorite salsa of mine. Sweet mangoes are paired with crisp red onions, flavorful cilantro and garlic, spicy jalapeno, and lime. It’s a simple mango salsa, but surprisingly complex and very flavorful. A great mix of sweet, spicy, savory, tart, and salty. Mango salsa goes well with grilled fish or chicken, is divine in tacos, lovely served with corn chips, and I’ll even enjoy it straight!

Whole Foods Gift Card Giveaway!

I’m sharing this today because Whole Foods Market asked if I’d like to do a gift card giveaway and a share a recipe using their mangos. And because I absolutely adore mangos, I said yes! (And I thought you all would love a chance to get a gift card too.). So gifted with my own Whole Foods card, I ran to my local store where they had a large display of mangos front and center. People, now is the time to buy mangos. These were some of the most perfect mangos I’ve gotten in a long time! Mine were perfectly ripe and tender. My particular store also had them at a great price.

Mango Salsa

All good reasons to enjoy mango salsa. We enjoyed our delicious salsa with organic corn tortillas, pan-fried organic chicken, and avocado. Delicious!

Delicious Mango Salsa! Perfect for chicken and fish, and eating with chips!

By the way, if you go to Whole Foods, look for (Amazon affiliate link) Jackson’s Honest Potato Chips. They are incredibly delicious and healthy, as they are fried in coconut oil. As a big fan of coconut oil, these are a favorite, and Whole Foods is the only place in my area that carries them. This potato chip company is a small company, and I love supporting the good food they are selling! (And nope, they didn’t even pay me to say that. ;-) )

Other Mango Recipes:

I love using mango in a variety of ways. It’s a delicious treat plain, but it’s also great in smoothies, popsicles, and more savory-sweet recipes.

Plus, If you haven’t tried a fruit based salsa yet, do it. They are so delicious! This mango salsa is my favorite fruit salsa, but this Black Bean and Pineapple Salsa is another lovely way to enjoy a fruit salsa.

My Favorite Mango Salsa Recipe (and a giveaway for a Whole Foods gift card!)
Prep time:
Total time:
Makes about 1½ cups. The most important thing to know about making salsa is this: Don’t be afraid of mixing things up, and playing around with ratios of ingredients. Love cilantro? Use a bigger amount. Hate garlic? Leave it out. Taste and as you make it, and adjust until you get it just right.
  • 3 small/medium ripe mangos
  • Half a bunch of cilantro (I love cilantro so I used the big half)
  • 1-3 garlic cloves, peeled and put through a garlic press
  • 1-2 limes
  • ¼-1/2 red onion
  • ½- 1 jalapeno pepper
  • Unrefined salt
  1. Using a small paring knife or vegetable peeler, peel the mangos, and then cut the mango flesh off the core (eating any of the mango flesh left on the core is cook’s treat). Dice the mango into small, bite-sized pieces, and put in a bowl.
  2. Wash, and shake dry the cilantro, and then cut the leaves from the stems. Roughly chop.
  3. Peel the red onion, and cut in half. Dice finely one half of the red onion. Add half of this amount to the bowl, and keep back the other half.
  4. Stem the pepper (you may want to either coat your hands with oil or use gloves to protect your skin), and cut in half. If you want it less spicy, remove the seeds. Chop really finely. Add to bowl.
  5. Cut the limes in half and sprinkle over this mixture and give a couple sprinkles of salt to the mixture as well. Gently mix. Taste test. Does it need more salt? More onions, more chopped pepper? More lime juice? More cilantro? Adjust flavors, if needed. Serve right away, or allow flavors to meld for at least one hour.
Possible additions: Black beans, seeded tomatoes, or chopped red bell pepper.

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Toasted Almond Rice Pilaf

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)

ToastedRicePilafIMG_7763 By Katie Mae Stanley, Contributing Writer This pilaf’s flavor comes from sautéing the onions and garlic in delicious grass fed butter and roasting the almonds and rice with the vegetables until they have a soft golden color. Roasting pulls out the flavors and ensures that the rice won’t clump together as easily because the individual grains are coated in butter. If you are worried about the use of white rice in this recipe consider reading Kimi’s article on why they eat white rice.

Simple and wholesome, rice pilaf makes a wonderful addition to almost any meal. I remember being giddy each time my mom said we could have rice pilaf for dinner. It was my favorite despite the fact that it came from a box. There is no wrong way to make pilaf. All around the world there are different variations of this simple and tasty side. The origin of our word pilaf is derived from the Modern Greek pilafi, which comes from the Turkish pilav, Persian pilāw, Hindi pulāv, Sanskrit pulāka and possibly Dravidian origin. Aren’t languages intriguing? I also love how cuisines borrow from each other and slowly form thier own unique takes on food! That’s why you will see dishes of simlar styles like my Green Pea Pulao from Malaysia or my Arabic Rice from Israel.

I make my rice in a rice cooker to save on space and time but this can easily be made on the stove. My favorite rice cooker is the Vitaclay rice/slow cooker. #affiliatelink It doubles as a rice and slow cooker. It is preprogrammed to keep your food hot for up to 12 hours! Sometimes when I know I am going to be out or busy most of the day I will put my rice in the Vitaclay and a meat in my crock pot so that I have a meal ready to go that evening! (Read Kimi’s review of it here)

Simple and Tasty Crock Pot Meals and Recipes:

Toasted Almond Rice Pilaf
Recipe type: Side
Serves: 6-8
This pilaf's flavor comes from sautéing the onions and garlic in delicious grass fed butter and roasting the the almonds and rice with the vegetables till the have a soft golden color. Roasting pulls out the flavors and insures that the rice won't clump together as easily because the individual grains are coated in butter.
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups white rice
  • ½ yellow onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • ¼ cup butter
  • 1 tsp real sea salt
  1. In a medium sized pot heat the butter over medium heat until melted. Add the onions and celery, sprinkle with salt and saute until almost translucent.
  2. Add the rice and almonds, stir until slightly browned. At this point you can transfer the rice mixture to a rice cooker or leave the rice in the pot.
  3. Stir in the broth. If you are are cooking the rice on the stove top bring the rice to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes. If you are using a rice cooker follow the directions that came with your model. I have this rice cooker.
  4. Uncover and fluff with a fork or rice paddle before serving.


How to Make Homemade Ketchup (with unrefined sweeteners, antioxidant-rich)


I love beautiful and simple food that is nourishing to the body and the soul. I wrote Fresh: Nourishing Salads for All Seasons and Ladled: Nourishing Soups for All Seasons as another outlet of sharing this love of mine. I also love sharing practical tips on how to make a real food diet work on a real life budget. Find me online elsewhere by clicking on the icons below!

How to make homemade ketchup
Sweetened with coconut sugar and maple syrup, this simple homemade ketchup is flavorful, gently sweetened, and a beautiful condiment to be served to kids and adults alike. Unlike most ketchup on the grocery store shelf, healthy, homemade versions of this popular condiment can actually be a beautiful part of your diet!

How much sugar we consume in a year (on average)

As part of our 21 steps to a nourishing diet, I’d love to challenge you to ditch highly sweetened ketchup (and other similar processed foods) and enjoy  healthy versions instead. While sugars in their natural forms can definitely be part of a traditional diet in moderation, many don’t realize how bombarded they are with sugar everyday. We’ve gone from consuming an average of 2 pounds of sugar a year, 200 years ago, to 152 pounds of sugar a year. That’s equal to 3 pounds per person every week!

One highly sweetened and popular condiment in the U.S. is tomato ketchup. It is delicious, but unfortunately is full of excess sugar, and most often, corn syrup as well. Thankfully, it’s very easy to make your own ketchup at home. The grand thing about making your own ketchup is that you can make it as sweet as you like! We feel this recipe is pretty sweet with only 4 tablespoons of unrefined sugar for the whole recipe. It’s also fun to make as you can vary the spices and the amounts of spices to taste with great results. It’s easily adaptable and forgiving to change.

My kids have been asking for ketchup to dip their homemade French fries and hamburgers in, and I was glad to whip this up for them.

Health Benefits of Tomato Paste

I make this using really high quality tomato paste, which actually has many health benefits (sources listed below).

  • It’s a concentrated source of the powerful antioxidant lycopene.
  • Tomato paste has been shown to have cardio health benefits
  • It helps prevent sunburn and is anti-aging. It’s a skin booster! (Antioxidants are amazing for preventing sunburn!).
  • It has multiple anticancer properties- especially against prostate cancer

All in all, I find this simple condiment a beautiful addition to a healthy diet, and just another example of how making your own versions of popular food items can turn unhealthy choices, into healthy ones!

Just a quick note about brands: I use Bionaturae’s organic tomato paste. It’s delicious and I appreciate that it’s in glass jars (no “tinny” taste). If you can’t find it locally, you can find it here at my affiliates Amazon and Vitacost. Truthfully, I’ve found it cheaper to buy online most of the time.

How to Make Homemade Ketchup (unrefined sweeteners, antioxidant-rich)
Prep time:
Total time:
This is delicious as is, however, if you are missing a spice or two, don’t worry! Just play around with the ones you have on hand until it’s spiced to taste. You can also thin to desire. The ½ cup called for produces thick ketchup, so feel free to thin a little more, if you’d like. Makes 2 cups.
  • 2 tomato paste jars (7 ounces each)
  • 2 tablespoons each of pure maple syrup and coconut sugar
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon unrefined salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Generous pinch or two of each of ginger, allspice, cloves, nutmeg, cayenne pepper
  • 1 large garlic clove, peeled and put through a garlic press
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons raw apple cider vinegar
  • 2-4 teaspoons yellow mustard (prepared or powder)
  1. Combine all of the ingredients in a bowl and whisk well. Scrap into a jar, and cover tightly, Should keep 10-21 days refrigerated (based on other recipe recommendations). If you’d like to keep it for longer, freeze it!


  • http://www.nutraingredients-usa.com/Research/Antioxidant-rich-tomato-paste-shows-cardio-benefits-Study
  • http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2155595/Tomatoes-help-skin-young-protect-sunburn.html
  • http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323844804578531313972915362