Vegan Quinoa Taco Salad

This may be one of the easiest, healthiest and most delicious recipes you will ever make.

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It’s a mighty claim, I know… But if you make this, I think you’ll see what I mean.

The bulk of the dish is comprised of fresh, raw veggies, making this a healthy meal or side dish that is full of the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients everybody needs more of. I make this just about every week for my family — my husband, daughter, and I all love it. J.J. is not a fan quite yet…but we’re working on him. He went a couple years eating mostly bananas and crackers, so don’t let his picky eating deter you from giving this a try!

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I am going to tell you basically how to make it, but the beauty of this recipe is that you can make it all your own! Just add tons of the veggies you love, some fresh herbs, and perhaps even some black beans and you will be all set to indulge yourself with health-ful-ness until you simply can’t eat anymore.

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Vegan Quinoa Taco Salad

  • 2 cups (dry) quinoa
  • 4 cups water
  • Lime Juice
  • Roasted Corn (optional…see below for details)
  • Cilantro and/or Parsley — I use an entire bunch of cilantro
  • Suggested Veggies: Bell Pepper, Cucumber, Zucchini, Tomato, Green Onion — for this amount of quinoa I will generally use 2-3 bell peppers, 1 medium cucumber (peeled), 1-2 medium zucchini, 10-20 oz grape tomatoes, 4-6 green onions
  • Black Beans (optional)
  • Avocado (optional)

1. **You will want to cook the quinoa at least a few hours prior or the night before you assemble the dish and eat so the quinoa has a chance to chill. ** To cook the quinoa:  Bring the four cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan or kettle. While you’re waiting on that, rinse the quinoa in a mesh strainer under cold water. When the water comes to a boil, put the quinoa in the pot and turn the heat down to a simmer. Cover and let simmer for roughly 15-20 minutes. Try not to take the lid off several times to check on it, because it needs the steam to help it cook just as rice does. When all the water is absorbed, take it off the heat, fluff with a fork and let cool enough to be put in a food storage container to chill for at least a few hours.

2. Cook your beans and corn, if using, while the quinoa is chilling.

3. Once the quinoa is cooked and chilled, put it in a large bowl. Make sure there is enough space to add a bunch of veggies and stir it around well.

4. Put a generous amount of lime juice into the quinoa and mix well. Just do this to taste…fresh lime juice is best, of course, but I admittedly use the bottled stuff for simplicity’s sake. Give me a break, I’ve got two kids! I use a good amount of lime juice because we love the flavor. Just keep in mind it will be less strong once you add in all of your veggies as well.

5. Chop your desired veggies and herbs, beans, corn, etc.

6. Put all of your veggies and such in the bowl with the quinoa, mix, top with a little avocado, and EAT!

*Roasted Corn*

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. On a large cookie sheet, lay out the contents of one bag of frozen corn (10-16 oz). Drizzle on your oil of choice (1-2 TBS). Sprinkle on a little sea salt and black pepper. Mix around with your hands to incorporate the oil, salt, and pepper evenly. Spread the corn out into a single layer. Then roast in the oven for about 10-12 minutes. You could also use steamed corn — but trust me…this is so much more delicious and adds another dimension to the dish.

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Serving Suggestions:

I love to eat the Vegan Quinoa Taco Salad just with a spoon, but it is also great wrapped up in a big leaf of romaine or other leafy green, in a tortilla, or scooped up with tortilla chips. How will you choose to eat it?

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The Charm of a Typewriter

Nathan and I are very “back to the future” kind of people.

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And by that I don’t mean that we are enthusiasts for the movie (although it was a cool movie)… I simply mean that we look at technologies and lifestyles of yesteryear to shape our lives more so than looking at what new and up-coming technologies can offer us in this day and age.

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In this manner of thinking, my Husband knows that:

If given a gift, I don’t want the new iPhone or gadget or Brand-Name this or that…

If given a gift, I want something of value to me, something I can truly use and appreciate. And recently, he got me such a gift… a gift I have been quietly wanting for a very long time…

A typewriter.

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A Smith-Corona Classic 12 Manual Portable Typewriter…to be exact.

It is a beautiful little machine. I’m not sure what year it is from, but I suspect it hails from the 60’s.

Typewriters have a certain charm in the words they create. On a computer, you may try to find “personality” in a certain font… but on a typewriter, the machine itself has its own personality as each one types a little differently. Text from a typewriter, to me, feels sincere and warm and creative… whereas I often look at computers as cold and lacking in any creative realm. If I want to be creative in my writing, I very seldom use the computer. Prior to the typewriter — all of my daily free-writing was simply done with a fountain pen and paper.

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Also, with a typewriter, you have to sort of have your wits about you and be very intentional about what you write. Sure, you may correct mistakes…but it’s not a clean sweep of a backspace key such as on a computer. Your mistakes are apparent on a typewriter, either glaring at you in the face reminding you of your shortcomings — or simply adding even more charm to your work.

Yet, despite the inability to go back and correct mistakes many times over — with this beautiful new addition to my creation inventory, I have so many more options than ever in my endeavors.

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I look forward to discovering the full potential of the typewriter in my life and the charm it beholds.

Living Friendly Once Again

Long absences from this blog is sort of my strong suit, I guess you could say. I like to think I’m not a flaky person in real life, but on the computer…there is no doubt the description fits me well. I apologize deeply to any of the few readers I’ve had over the past couple of years that might actually look forward to what I’m doing.

Sitting here on a rainy day, I’m waiting for J.J. to finish his lunch so we may continue our school day. To get into the subject and reason for this post is to report a health update. 

When I wrote last I was in the process of exploring a Paleo diet in an effort to heal some long-standing digestive difficulties as well as a myriad of other smaller complaints that I’ve had over the years…all vague symptoms of a body that is out of harmony. The very act of eating meat again didn’t feel right to me, so really I’m not sure how I expected to harmonize my mind and body systems when doing something that was against my morals and belief of what constitutes a healthy diet.

Even the taste of bacon couldn’t cure the cognitive dissonance I was experiencing. On top of that, any progress I may have experienced completely plateaued quickly, and I was completely reliant upon certain supplements to soothe the digestive difficulties I was aiming to heal.

I needed something new. I needed something different. I needed something uncomplicated. I needed something vibrant…something that radiated health. I found a Low-Fat Raw Vegan Diet.

I had heard of a raw diet before, but it was always the high-fat gourmet raw that did not really appeal to me, since I had a suspicion that nuts were definitely not doing me any digestive favors. I dove head-first into the world of low-fat raw veganism, sometimes referred to as the 80/10/10 Diet, coined by Dr. Douglas Graham. Essentially the goal is to get at least 80% of your calories from carbohydrates (primarily from fruits), no more than 10% of your calories from protein (from leafy greens), and no more than 10% of your calories from fat (from nuts, seeds, avocados, etc…no oils).

I was about 95% raw vegan for about a month and was relatively low-fat, although my percentage of calories from fat was higher than what is considered optimal — I kept it higher because I am still breast-feeding and I was concerned at that time about the composition of my milk and whether or not my daughter would be getting enough fat from it.

I have since added some cooked vegan foods into my dinner (still high-carb and relatively low-fat), since I feel, for me personally at this time in my life, it offers a much more sustainable way of eating while still adhering to the diet for the most part. I generally try to have a salad or green smoothie every other night at least for dinner to make sure I am getting my greens in — since they are such an important vitamin and mineral source.

Even with having some cooked vegan foods for dinners, I have seen dramatic improvement in my digestion, energy levels, mood, skin clarity, mental clarity….I could go on and on with the changes I experienced — and still experience. 

I still have a ways to go, however, before I feel I have completely balanced everything out for myself. I have yet to find the perfect balance as far as dinner goes to make me feel my best and I have yet to find time — or make time — for a regular exercise regimen, although I am usually doing at least a little pilates, crunches, and stretches each day. I would love to one day reclaim a “runner” status…but I don’t have enough drive yet to wake up really early to run before I have to get my family up and ready for the day. I’m giving myself a break. I’m a very busy lady and I know I can get there…it just might take awhile!

I’ve made tremendous strides already, so I am trying my best to be patient and kind with myself on this journey of wellness.

I feel very much at peace with my decision to leave meat behind once again and return to veganism. I am so glad to be Living Friendly once again, not only for myself and my own health, but for the health and well-being of all living creatures.

Now for a quick recipe for all of you. This is one of my favorite meals, and no matter how many times I make it, I always feel like I’m spoiling myself! Try it out for yourself and you will see what I mean…

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Cherry Banana “Ice Cream” topped with Fresh Blueberries

  • 1 cup pitted fresh cherries
  • 4-5 frozen bananas, broken into chunks
  • As many blueberries as you want!

1. If using a Vitamix — put the cherries in first and then the bananas. Blend on low speed, using your tamper to constantly push down the bananas and cherries into the blades. Do this until creamy and smooth like ice-cream.

2. If using a food processor — just put the cherries and bananas in the food processor and process until smooth. You may have to scrape the sides a couple times.

3. Lastly, top with blueberries and HIDE! Because your whole family is going to want some…