Thursday, July 26, 2012

Nutty Greek Quinoa Toss

It's amazing how easily one can gain a few pounds when your metabolism takes a nose dive in your late thirties. I mean honestly, can't a girl go on a nice relaxing cruise and sit around all day long on the back of a ship's deck looking out at the cold, serene Alaskan waters with her feet up on a wicker chair and be surrounded constantly with pastries, cheeses and berry filled crepes at all hours of the day without gaining 8 stupid pounds?

Apparently not. *Sigh.

Well, if that weren't a bad enough set back on my never ending fight against belly bulge then the 12 hour road trip we took this last weekend to Utah with 4 kids certainly put the nail on the diet coffin. While we did bring along apples and healthy trail mix, they went so well with Twizzlers and chocolate covered raisins that we decided to buy some cookies to top it off. Perfectly reasonable right?

Now, how to lose those 10 pounds gained in 2 short weeks after I've been fighting to lose 20 since who the hell knows when?    *Double sigh, big fat pout.

Here's the back of the ship where my sweetie and I  loved to sit and relax..... and snack.... a lot.

Can you blame us? I mean really. Look at the view. And the weather was just so unbelievably cool and perfect compared to the miserable heat we are used to here in Phoenix.

We didn't spend  ALL  of our time on our butts stuffing our mouths.
We had some pretty amazing adventures too.
Here we are zip lining through the 200 foot tall trees in Ketchikan, AK.  
Me and my baby sister Rachel.

Did I mention that due to the glaciers that swept over the land many years ago, the soil is only 4-6" deep?
Did you catch that? That's INCHES, not feet.

We were swinging from super tall trees that are hanging on for their dear lives in soil that is too shallow to plant carrots in!


And we took one frieking amazing, hold onto your hats fast bike ride 32 mies from Canada back to Skagway, AK. This was by far the highlight of my trip! The scenery was breath taking. 

So, how to fit back into my pants?

It's a good thing I discovered quinoa some time ago and shortly after figured out how to make it unbelievable delicious.

It's the feta. No, it's the toasted pine nuts. NO! It's the white balsamic vinaigrette.

O.K., all of these things plus the squeeze of lemon, freshness of the parsley and zip of the sweet peppers make this quinoa toss very addictive and satisfyng. My tummy thanks me.

1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 big handful grape or cherry tomatoes, cut in half
1 big handful sweet peppers minced
1 big handful parsley, minced
1 clove garlic
1/2 cup feta, crumbled
1/4 cup pine nuts
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon white balsamic vinaigrette
freshly cracked white pepper
squeeze fresh lemon juice

Put quinoa into a fine sieve and rinse thoroughly to remove natural 'soapy' film.  Cook according to package directions, usually 1:1 parts quinoa-water, bring to a gentle boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes.
If you please, toast pine nuts on a dry cast iron skillet until golden brown to bring out flavor.
Using a small food processor or knife, finely dice sweet peppers, garlic and parsley.
In a large bowl, toss together still warm quinoa, feta, peppers, parsley, pine nuts and tomatoes.
Drizzle in oil and vinaigrette. Toss to combine. Add lemon and pepper to taste.

Serve warm or chilled.

For dinner, we prefer the warm version where the feta is just slightly creamy and the flavors melt together.

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