Towards the end of January, I received a copy of Paulette Lambert’s new cookbook, The Wellness Kitchen. Years of hosting a food blog, and working in the food industry in general, have definitely played a role in expanding pant sizes and plumper cheeks. Of course, the food isn’t to blame, but let’s be honest…the life of many food bloggers is often characterized by indulgence. To add a bit of balance to the teeter-tottering scale, the meals I cook for myself are often very plain and regimented. Even I find myself getting bored with some of the healthy, single girl meals that grace the table, so there’s always room for new “fresh, flavorful” dishes, as the book promises. One recipe in particular stood out thanks to a unique spice blend and its use of several of my favorite ingredients.
Flipping through the book, it’s clear that this is more than just a collection of recipes. Health and wellness are at the core, and each recipe is an example of food being satisfying energy and nourishment for the body. Paulette Lambert is a Registered Dietician and certified diabetic counselor, as well as the Director of Nutrition at the California Health and Longevity Institute. Just last year, she prepared several dishes for myself and other attendees at the 2014 Dole Blogger Summit, including a cherry buttermilk cake that served as inspiration for this Dark Cherry Crumb Cake. Under her direction, workshops, training sessions and lectures reflect the Institute’s healthy eating mindset. She also leads cooking classes that show people how to make well-balanced meals that eliminate restriction and the stress of overwhelming preparation. The Wellness Kitchen breaks down what to keep in your pantry, fridge and freezer to prepare quick, easy and healthy meals, as well as shopping guidelines, nutritional rules of thumb, causes and controlling factors of chronic disease and tips to avoid the pitfalls of rapid weight loss diet. Because it takes twenty-one days to break old habits and create new ones, the book also includes a three week meal plan incorporating many of her recipes. If you need even more help, there are sample menus based on caloric needs–from 1,300 to 2,000 calories.
I’m not new to this rodeo. I know what to eat, when to eat it, how to prepare it, and all that good stuff. Keeping new combinations at top of mind is what I need most, and one recipe caught my eye. Middle Eastern spices are some of my favorites, and a mixture of paprika, turmeric, cumin, ginger, coriander, cinnamon and cayenne were at the heart of a roasted carrot and quinoa salad. The smell of the spice blend was fantastic, and it reminded me of the local market where I buy lavash, pomegranate molasses and za’atar. The spice blend is used at three different points–seasoning for the carrots and onions, quinoa and finally, the vinaigrette. Because of the ways its used, you end up with varying levels and strengths. The warmth of the spices blooms in the oven, while they level out and permeate the boiled quinoa. They’re a bit more pungent in the vinaigrette, kicked up a notch by the tang of lemon zest, lemon juice and Dijon mustard.
Three small modifications were made. Instead of cardamom in the spice blend, I used allspice. I also swapped goat cheese for feta. The recipe lists mixed greens for the base of the salad, so I decided to use a blend of baby kale, baby chard and spinach. This is a great dish to prepare for a dinner party or take to another event. If you plan to transport it, dress the greens with olive oil and lemon juice just before serving. The quinoa could easily be made ahead of time and combined with the vinaigrette, roasted vegetables, walnuts and cranberries without a problem. The Middle Eastern flavors in this salad have inspired me to create different versions of this recipe for future healthy meals.
- Spice Mix
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Organic canola or olive oil cooking spray
- 4 carrots, halved and then cut lengthwise into quarters, then each quarter cut into thin strips
- 1 red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
- 3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon Spice Mix (see recipe here), divided
- 1 cup red quinoa
- 2 cups organic, reduced-sodium, fat-free chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice, divided
- Sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 5 ounces mixed greens
- ½ teaspoon lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- ½ cup walnuts, measured then toasted and coarsely chopped
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons chopped parsley
- ¼ cup crumbled feta cheese (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- In small bowl, combine all spice mix ingredients. Set aside.
- Spray a rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine carrots, red onion, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 1 tablespoon spice mix. Spread vegetables in a single layer on baking sheet and roast for 20–25 minutes until golden.
- In medium saucepan, combine quinoa, 2 tablespoons spice mix, and broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer for 15–17 minutes or until quinoa is tender.
- In large bowl, whisk remaining olive oil with 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add mixed greens and toss to coat just before serving.
- In a separate large bowl, combine remaining lemon juice, lemon zest, Dijon mustard, and remaining spice mix. Stir in the quinoa, roasted vegetables, walnuts, cranberries, and parsley.
- To serve, arrange mixed greens on large platter and serve quinoa salad over top. Garnish with crumbled feta, if desired.
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of The Wellness Kitchen. All opinions are my own.