it’s my birthday, I’ll eat quinoa if I want to…

…but in all reality, I definitely don’t want to.  Who eats quinoa on their birthday?? Birthdays are supposed to be about cupcakes, sprinkles, cheesecakes, drinks and whatever ones birthday heart desires to eat, right?

So yes.  Today marks the 6th anniversary of my 21st birthday:

21stbday

Or the 26th anniversary of this pretty cute DOUGHIE baby.:

doughbaby

I am not a huge fan of being a grown up and having a birthday. Everyone should get their birthday off work, it be acceptable to still wear a crown, and drink all day long while carrying a Strawberry Shortcake balloon around town. Unfortunately, that’s not much of the case anymore and I am working all day instead. However, I will be enjoying a beautiful evening dining somewhere delicious with Bryan.  So back to food talk….

So don’t get me wrong.  I do really like quinoa and we already reviewed its amazing benefits here.  However, today in fact is my birthday and I choose to not eat quinoa today.

I am choosing to share this delicious quinoa salad recipe with you all.  I made it over the weekend to bring to Easter dinner at Bryan’s grandparents.  They are trying to eat really healthy and I was on the list to bring a cold, non-lettuce, salad.  At first, I thought perhaps my jicama or cabbage salad, but those didn’t have enough UMPH to be served as an Easter side dish.

My recent quinoa experience steered my brain towards a healthy grain salad.  In addition, I wanted to incorporate bright, springy vegetables considering it was going to be gorgeous spring weather.  While at the store, I bought a variety of peppers and a pop of crunchy sweet corn. I decided on a pretty simple Honey Lime Vinaigrette to marry the quinoa and veggies together.  It was very flavorful, but not overpowering and it accentuated the sweet notes of the peppers.

I am also choosing to share this post today as part of the Love Your Lunch series.  It definitely is a salad that is better the next day.  The flavors are much stronger and delicious after marinating together overnight in the fridge.  Since we had plenty of leftovers, I took a tupperware to lunch & it was so tasty and kept me full and satisfied until dinner.

My main plan was to just use the sweet corn, cilantro and the vinaigrette in this salad, but the peppers were on sale and too pretty to pass up.  The vegetables can be easily swapped for whatever is your preference or on sale at the time.  Try a combination on snap peas, red pepper, and feta cheese.  Or asparagus, eggplant and goat cheese.  The options are endless.

IMG_3943

So no.  I will not be eating quinoa today because I ate it all up yesterday.  Today, I am allowing myself to wander outside the office walls for lunch for some fresh air… it is Earth Day after all!

spring quinoa salad with honey lime vinaigrette
recipe by:  Sara
Hands on Time:  15 minutes   ///   Cook Time:  15-20 minutes   ///   Servings:  6-8

Ingredients:
1 & 1/2 cups quinoa
1 red pepper
1 green pepper
1 orange pepper
3 ears of sweet corn
1 jalapeno, minced
1 tsp ground chipotle powder
1/4 cup finely shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
2 Tbsp honey
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper

Directions
1.  Cook quinoa according to package instructions then place in fridge to cool.
2.  Cut the peppers into a small dice and remove the corn from the ears.  Combine in a bowl with the chipotle seasoning and jalapeno.
3.  In a small bowl, combine the lime, honey, olive oil, and garlic with a whisk until thoroughly mixed.
4.  Season with salt and pepper.
5.  Add the cooled quinoa to the pepper and corn mixture.
6.  Pour dressing over salad and stir to combine.
7.  Stir in cheese and season salad with salt and pepper to taste.
8. Chill for 30 minutes or until ready to serve.

IMG_3949

signature

#LoveYourLunch – Spinach Artichoke Pasta Salad

{what’s in your cupboard lunch}

spinartpasta

I can’t believe this is the 5th week of the Lunch Your Lunch series!  Cooking Like Lou & I were just going to post for 5 weeks, but I am in for it again next week too.

If you are new to the series, all the details are here in my first Love Your Lunch post.  I definitely started to become more creative when it has come to my lunches.  I really am loving my lunch too!  Sometimes, if the day is busy I tend to just eat at my computer.  However, I try to avoid this at all costs because it is important to get up, stretch, eat, and most importantly take my eyes away from the computer.  Having a yummy lunch makes it a more enjoyable break too.

IMG_3898

So I’d be lying behind these lines if I said this post was planned and I got the ingredients and everything was organized ahead of time.  Nope.  That is why the subtitle of the post is called the “what is in your cupboard lunch”.  This happens to us about 95% of the time, right?  Well, this recipe shows you that if you get a little creative and make lunch ahead of time you will Love. Your. Lunch.

I hadn’t been to the store and knew I needed to prepare my post for today so I dug through the pantry to see what I could throw together as my lunch.

The cast of the show:  leftover box of farfalle, a can of artichoke hearts, bag of spinach, parmesan cheese.

And the recipe was born.

IMG_3909

Pasta for lunch is not typically on my lunch menu.  However, a small amount with some healthy oil and some veggies won’t kill me.  I highly recommend preparing this dish the night before for a grab-and-go morning.  It is especially easy to make if you had pasta for dinner the night before.  Save a bit of whatever noodle you have and add the rest of the ingredients.

spinach & artichoke pasta salad
Recipe By:  Sara
Yields:  2   ///   Prep Time:  10 minutes   ///   Cook time:  10 minutes   ///   Serve:  Chilled

Ingredients:
4-6 oz pasta [I used bow ties]
3-4 artichoke hearts, quartered
1 handful fresh spinach
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
pinch of cayenne pepper
salt and pepper

Directions:
1.  Cook pasta according to directions and reserve about 1/4 cup of the cooking water.
2.  Add pasta back into the pot it was cooked in.
3.  Add spinach and artichokes.  Stir until spinach wilts.
4.  Stir in oil, vinegar, pasta water, cheese, and spices.
5.  Place in tupperware and store until the next day.
6.  Eat chilled or warmed in the microwave briefly if desired.

*This recipe made enough for two people so grab a lunch buddy & treat them #loveyourlunch style :)

love your lunch

Need some more lunch ideas?  Be sure to check out Cooking Like Lou & Two Places at Once have this week!

Enjoy!

signature

#LoveYourLunch – Mandarin Cabbage Salad

{the crispy salad}

IMG_3837

Hi there!  Welcome to another week of Love Your Lunch.  I really love this series because not only does it give me ideas and inspiration for my lunches, but it allows me to blog about my simpler culinary adventures.  Sometimes, I feel like I need to blog ingredient-rich, 100% homemade recipes.  I need to shake that thought because really the simplest recipes are the most delicious, right?

The Love Your Lunch series is really just that – simple ingredients providing a tasty meal.  A lot of our lunch ideas can easily be altered to be a bit heartier for dinner as well.  Be sure to check out what Marisa and Becca are dishing up for lunch this week:

Cooking Like Lou
Two Places at Once

Now on to my menu…

I hate soggy salads.  It is almost as bad as soggy Cheerios.  Both must be crisp and crunchy.  It is pretty impossible to prepare a salad for your lunch, dressed and expect it to be fresh by lunchtime.  My friend the cabbage allows for a dressed, yet crispy salad and it is loaded with healthy benefits.

This salad is a bit similar to my Spicy Asian Slaw, but not really… It is made with prepared Sesame Ginger dressing and some added Asian pieces.  I love how the mandarin oranges give it a subtle sweetness and the crispy rice noodles the must-have crunch.  The best part is this salad can be made the night before and stored in tupperware to quickly grab in the morning.  However, the rice noodles should remain separately, but their container is light and easy to toss into your lunch bag.

Mandarin Cabbage Salad

Recipe by: Sara
Servings:  1   ///   Prep Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients:
about 2 cups of  thinly sliced green cabbage
1 Tbsp cilantro, chopped
1/2 cup mandarin orange slices
Sesame Ginger salad dressing [I used Maple Groves Farms of Vermont]
2 Tbsp crispy fried rice noodles
1 chicken breast, poached and cut into pieces[optional]

Directions:
1. In a bowl, combine the cabbage, cilantro, dressing and chicken if using.
2.  Stir to combine.
3.  Top with mandarin oranges and rice noodles.

IMG_3840 IMG_3839

Enjoy.

signature

#LoveYourLunch – Caprese Flatbread

{the ultimate trio}

capreseflatbread

Welcome back to yet another week of Love Your Lunch!  Marisa & I are excited to have Becca on board now for the series.  Now there are three different ideas for some great, yet simple lunches.  Think how easy it is going to be to start loving your lunch!  We post our 3 ideas.  You read it.  You go to the store the following Sunday, gathering all ingredients listed.  You have 3 days of amazing lunches!

Head over to their blogs to check out what is on their lunch menus:
Two Places at Once
Cooking Like Lou

Not going to lie, last week I was hating my lunch.  My Sweet Peach & Arugula Salad was great, but that’s as far as I got last week.  The other days consisted of random items from the fridge.  I was determined to focus on more lunch items while grocery shopping yesterday instead of intense dinners.  I seriously find myself having a much better day when I know my delicious lunch awaits me around 1:00.

I tend to avoid a lot of carbs for lunch because I end up feeling bloated and too full the rest of the day.  This is not a feeling I want to have while scrambling around & being busy.  That being said, I really enjoy the flatbread created by “Flat Out”.  They are low in calories, not so cardboard-y, and quite flavorful.  The Italian is probably my favorite, but the Multigrain one [see below] keeps me full & not snacking post-lunch.  It contains flax which is an added bonus.  Another plus, I always see them on sale for 2 for $5.00.

IMG_3773I usually use them as wraps liked pictured on their bag, but today I decided to keep it flat & make myself a Caprese Flatbread.  Only a few simple ingredients are needed and I made it in about 3 minutes flat, pun intended.

IMG_3774Mozzarella, Tomato, and Basil.  My favorite trio.  I most likely have mentioned it around this blog once or twice before.  My craving and love grows even more as the weather warms.  A pinch of salt and pepper, a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, and sweet olive oil bring the whole thing together.

IMG_3777

Feel free to warm the flatbread in the microwave – however, I have a feeling the tomatoes could make the bread soggy.  The flatbread is easily cut into fourths and stored in a Tupperware for a portable on-the-go lunch.

CAPRESE FLATBREAD

Servings:  1 flatbread   ///   Prep Time:  3 minutes

Ingredients
4-5 tomato slices
4-5 slices of fresh mozzarella [try it smoked!]
2 Tbsp fresh basil, Julienned
1 Multigrain Flat Out bread
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp parmesan cheese [optional]
Drizzle of balsamic vinegar
salt & pepper

Directions
1.  Use a brush or spoon to spread the olive oil over the bread.
2.  Sprinkle with garlic powder.
3.  Top with tomato, basil, & mozzarella.
4.  Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and parmesan.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar.
5.  Slice & enjoy.

IMG_3781

IMG_3787Enjoy

 

signature