Arugula Pear Quinoa Salad

Arugula Pear and Quinoa Salad
I am so excited to share a guest post from the beautiful (and YOUNG!) Ali from aliandheralmondbutter.com She has such a great spirit and takes the most gorgeous pictures. She has created a perfect fall salad for you to munch on this season. Hope you love it!

Here is a little from Ali about her recipe :

The salad is simple.
Just cook up some quinoa. Toast some pecans. Sauté your mushrooms and pears together and make a sweet sauce to go with them. And stir all your wonderful ingredients together in a bowl.

It’s healthy.
What I love about quinoa is that it isn’t an “empty carb” like potatoes (though I do love potatoes; don’t get me wrong). It is full of iron and fiber, and—most importantly—it’s very protein-rich (for any protein-seeking vegans or vegetarians). I am obsessed with quinoa. Considering the well-known health benefits of the other ingredients in this recipe (i.e. garlic, arugula), this is a very wholesome meal.

It’s delicious.
A little sweet, but not too sweet. A touch of thyme. A sprinkling of scallions. My whole family loved this recipe (even the 8-year-old, I might add). So let’s get cooking!
Arugula Pear and Quinoa Salad

Arugula Pear and Quinoa Salad

Ingredients:

• 1 cup quinoa
• 2 cups water
• 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
• 1 1/2 tsp salt
• 1 cup chopped pecans
• olive oil
• 1 large asian or bosc pear (sliced to make heaping 2 cups)
• 6-8 white button mushrooms (sliced to make heaping 2 cups)
• 1/4 cup sherry
• 1/2 tsp salt
• 1 tsp cornstarch, mixed with 1 T water
• 1/4 tsp thyme
• 2 T maple syrup
• 2 scallions, chopped
• 4 cups arugula

Directions:

1.Place the quinoa, water, minced garlic, and salt in a medium-sized pot or a rice cooker. Cook on low with the lid on for about 30 minutes. Or you can just follow the directions on the quinoa package.

2.Chop up the pecans and roast either in a skillet on the stovetop or in the oven until they smell toasty. Directions on toasting pecans here: http://www.tasteofhome.com/cooking-tips/ask-the-test-kitchen/toasted-pecans

3.Now wash and slice the pears and mushrooms. Lightly grease a large skillet with olive oil. Place the pears and mushrooms in the skillet and place over medium heat. Let them cook, stirring frequently, for about 6 minutes.

4.Once the mushrooms are soft, add in sherry, salt, cornstarch-water mixture, thyme, and maple syrup. Turn up the heat a bit and cook until the sauce thickens—about 4-5 more minutes.

5.Place the quinoa in a large bowl once it is done cooking. Now add in the rest of the ingredients: toasted pecans, cooked pear-mushroom combo, scallions, and arugula. Stir and serve warm.

Arugula Pear and Quinoa Salad

About Ali and Her Almond Butter:

Hi, I’m Ali, a 17-year-old girl who loves food. I believe that living a healthy, gluten-free life should be easy and super fun. Join me as I create recipes that are simple to make, healthy for your body, and totally delicious. Simple. Healthy. Delicious. Check out my blog aliandheralmondbutter.com

Buckwheat Mushroom Risotto with Squash and Toasted Hazelnuts

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I’ve gotten a lot of requests for some recipes that are both comforting and healthy at the same time. Without added cream, butter or gluten for that matter, it can feel like a daunting task to make a dish comforting. But, as we now know, my goal is for no one to have to miss out on anything because of food allergies or dietary choices. So keep checking in for lots of delicious, warm your soul kind of meals/desserts to keep you toasty right through winter.

Risotto in particular is a meal you associate with butter and/or cream. It is so delicious but can be entirely too rich and heavy for me. The risotto I have created is equally as satisfying without the heaviness and stomachache you would get from the restaurant variety. That being said, this makes a great side for any protein source be it meat, beans or tofu. How about turkey? The combination of earthy mushrooms and sweet butternut squash with crunchy hazelnuts just screams holiday! Don’t you think? This can be a perfect stuffing substitute for your gluten/dairy – free guests!

Besides for its delicious flavour, this meal packs a big nutritional punch. I used a combination of porcini, oyster and portobello mushrooms which deliver cancer fighting properties and can lower cholesterol. Many people don’t know that Buckwheat isn’t actually a grain but comes from a plant (despite its grainy appearance). It ranks low on the glycemic scale which keeps your blood sugars levelled – which helps prevent weight gain and obesity. Most importantly, this recipe is DELICIOUS and gluten, dairy and refined sugar free. Happy holidays and bon appetit!
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Ingredients:

• 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil (divided)
• 1 butternut squash (cubed)
• 2 french shallots (finely chopped)
• 3 garlic cloves (finely chopped)
• 3 tbsp toasted hazelnuts (chopped)
• 2 cups mushrooms chopped (I used a mix of oyster and portobello… choose your favourite!)
• 1/2 cup dried porcini mushrooms
• 1 cup buckwheat groats
• 1 cup boiling water
• 2 cups vegetable broth
• 1/2 tsp dried oregano
• 1/2 tsp fresh or dried thyme
• 3 tsp apple cider vinegar
• 2 tbsp fresh parsley (chopped)
• salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 350. On a large baking sheet, coat chopped butternut squash in 1 tbsp olive oil and salt and pepper. Bake for 45-60 min. Allow to cool.
2. In a bowl, place dried porcini mushrooms with boiling water and allow to reconstitute for 10 minutes.Place vegetable broth in a stock pot over medium heat and have a ladle on hand.
3. In a large skillet, heat remaining olive oil on medium heat. Add your shallots and cook until translucent and soft. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes or until mushrooms have reduced down. Add 1/2 tsp salt.
4. Add 1 cup of buckwheat into skillet along with oregano and thyme. Sautée for 2 minutes and then add 1 ladle broth. Stir until buckwheat absorbs all the liquid, then add another ladle of broth. Continue to do this until all the broth is absorbed, then add 1/2 of the porcini liquid and stir until absorbed. Add remaining porcini liquid. Chop the reconstituted porcini mushrooms and add to buckwheat mixture. Add apple cider vinegar. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.
5. Toast hazelnuts in a dry pan for about 5 minutes or until oils are released.
6. Carefully toss cooked butternut squash into the buckwheat mixture. Top with fresh chopped parsley and toasted hazelnuts.

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