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Quinoa, Squash and Black Bean Salad

The Food in my Beard By

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Around this time of year, healthy eating is on everyone’s mind. Some people make drastic resolutions they will never stick to, while others jump on board with weird diets that are the opposite of good for you!

I eat a fairly healthy diet year round, with a few exceptions and overindulgences, so for me when the new year “healthy times” come around, there is one main thing I try and stick to: eat less meat.

This is hard for me any time of the year, but when it is cold out a nice bowl of pasta with meaty tomato sauce or fork-tender shreddy pork that has been braising away all day are cravings that I cannot brush off easily. If I am going vegetarian a few nights a week, I need something hearty, filling, and full of protein.

That’s why in January, quinoa is my best friend. Quinoa is one of the only non-meat complete proteins in the world--it has all of the amino acids needed to make our bodies function. But the most important reason I eat quinoa (the reason I eat anything really) is the taste. I love the stuff! It reminds me of a mix between cous cous and brown rice. Some texture and bite on the outside, but smooth and wheaty on the inside.

This simple winter salad will fill you up and keep you moving. I didn’t miss the meat at all, just had to bump that shreddy pork off till tomorrow...

RECIPE: Quinoa, Squash and Black Bean Salad

Quinoa, Squash and Black Bean Salad recipe

The way the squash is made here really creates the main flavors of the dish.

Quinoa, Squash and Black Bean Salad recipe

A very small amount of olive oil and butter coating the squash. Very small. Also a bit of paprika and cumin.

Quinoa, Squash and Black Bean Salad recipe

Nice browning on the squash. The caramelization adds a nice sweetness to the whole salad.

Quinoa, Squash and Black Bean Salad recipe

Whoops! The bag quinoa comes in is always tricky to open. Perhaps I should use scissors next time?

Quinoa, Squash and Black Bean Salad recipe

I like to add some onion to quinoa as it cooks.

Quinoa, Squash and Black Bean Salad recipe

You can tell when quinoa is cooked because the germ separates from the seed. The germ are the little white rings in this image.

Quinoa, Squash and Black Bean Salad recipe

Mixing it all together. Lemon juice and garlic make up the dressing, and some almonds add crunch.

Quinoa, Squash and Black Bean Salad recipe

Quinoa, Squash and Black Bean Salad recipe

You could make a ton of different variations on this salad. In the summer I make it with avocado, corn and bell peppers. In the fall, it’s nice with dried cranberries, goat cheese, and walnuts. In the spring, mix in asparagus and extra lemon!

RECIPE: Quinoa, Squash and Black Bean Salad

Dan Whalen doesn’t feel quite as bad about all the cookies and candy he ate over the holidays. Check out his blog at The Food in My Beard; check Dan’s Tablespoon profile often to try his recipes with creative international spins!
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