This healthy salad is part of the plan to keep from undoing my latest exercise regimen!

Quinoa-Oregano

I am on a self-improvement kick. It started with the investment of a personal trainer. My muscle tone has been so much worse since Baby Whipped was born and I suspected that regaining it would help with aches and pains I was having. I was right and along with it, I have been rewarded side dishes of energy and positive thinking.

About six weeks ago, I was assigned to a wonderful trainer at the Galter Life Center. She is my kind of woman – soft on the outside and hard on the inside.  I am not commenting on her physical appearance because as you can imagine, she is a personal trainer and very fit. What I mean is that she has a warm, soft friendliness about her on the outside but some tough stuff on the inside that she uses to push me to my limits! (My over achieving gene can be easily exploited by people who challenge me.)

I had forgotten how much physical strength helps lead to mental and emotional strength. Getting back in shape has not only solved back aches and minor neck pains, it has reminded me that I am a strong person. After just a few minutes of Leslie’s cardio, interval training, I feel those magical endorphins start to whisper good things to my brain.

Spending money on training was the first of a number of self-improvement dominoes to t0pple additional efforts. We have declared September hardcore healthy eating month. I am consciously practicing my yoga breathing to manage stress at work. I even bought a box of Crest white strips!

So, my main plan was partly for physical health and partly for vanity. But, overall I’ve gained a healthy side dish of improved mental health. Let’s hope I can stick with it!

Quinoa-oregano2

If you aren’t familiar with Quinoa, it is a super food. It is a grain that is high in protein and full of fiber. Just this year, I learned that you can buy red and black quinoa too. I must admit that if its healthful properties were not so impressive and if I was making decisions simply on taste, I would probably choose a plate of pasta. But, as I continue to work my way through the recipes in this cookbook, I am finding that I like it more and more.

quinoa-oregano-dressing

I adjusted the recipe slightly based on the ingredients I had. I was thrilled to finally use the fresh oregano in my garden for the delicious dressing. Experiment and toss in whatever you have in your crisper drawer.

Bocconcini and Oregano Salad
From Quinoa 365

3/4 cup (185 mL) quinoa
1 1/2 cups (375 mL) water
1 cup (250 mL) diced zucchini
1 cup (250 mL) halved cherry tomatoes
1/2 cup (125 mL) diced red onion
1/2 cup (125 mL) frozen green peas, thawed
1 cup (250 mL) diced red bell pepper (about 1 pepper)
1/2 cup (125 mL) diced yellow bell pepper
3 Tbsp (45 mL) balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp (30 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp (15 mL) Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped fresh oregano (or 2 tsp/10 mL dried oregano)
2 tsp (5 mL) minced fresh garlic
pinch salt
pinch ground black pepper
1 cup (250 mL) halved mini bocconcini cheese pieces (small, fresh mozzarella balls)

Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes. Turn the heat off and leave the covered saucepan on the burner for another 4 minutes. Remove the lid and fluff the cooked quinoa with a fork. Set aside to completely cool.

Combine the zucchini, tomatoes, onion, peas and red and yellow pepper in a large bowl.

Whisk the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, oregano, garlic, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Pour the dressing over the vegetables and thoroughly mix all the ingredients. Add the quinoa and bocconcini and mix until evenly combined. Serve immediately or refrigerate for up to 2 days.

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13 Responses to “Quinoa with Mozzarella and Fresh Oregano”

  1. Kathryn | Dramatic Pancake Says:

    This looks so good (and healthy)! You are so right about exercise benefiting you not only physically but mentally. I turn into a bit of an anxious nutcase anytime I go more than 3 days without hitting the gym — it really does make you feel amazing :)

  2. Steve Says:

    The salad looks very healthy. I need some high protein foods so i’ll give this a whirl. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  3. kickpleat Says:

    I’ve tried quinoa several times, but haven’t been to thrilled to see it on my plate. I am curious about the red and black varieties though. Maybe that will be the thing to turn me into a quinoa keener. And I’m curious about a trainer. I’m getting back into running again after a nearly 3 month break and would love to deal with someone on a one-to-one basis about my fitness.

  4. bill Says:

    I smile every time you say ‘baby whipped’.

  5. ebony Says:

    I love to hear about your health kick! Love quinoa and have been meaning to tell you (and here in the comment section of your blog seems like a fine place….) that this product has been a real game changer at our house

    http://www.amazon.com/Ancient-Harvest-Quinoa-Wheat-Elbows/dp/B005761LLO

    I get it at wholefoods and when all my kids eat is the noodles some nights, I can rest knowing they ate QUINOA. Take that picky eaters!

  6. Jane Says:

    This looks yummy! Also, I clicked on the link “Quinoa 365″ and found a recipe for Chocolate Truffle Brownies. Yeah! Now I can enjoy super food brownies that are high in protein and full of fiber! Thanks for sharing your recipes and links!

  7. The Rowdy Chowgirl Says:

    Fall is certainly the right season for self-improvement campaigns. Good for you! And this salad looks awesome.

  8. Amy @ Bake Pops Says:

    I just started cooking with quinoa on my new diet. It’s a great source of protein.

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