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Red Quinoa, Corn and Peaches?

Makes 8 Cups

Yes, most of the food that will make its way onto these pages will be optimal runners’ food…at least until the marathon in November. However, that doesn’t mean it isn’t optimal food for everyone. The more I cook for specific needs, whether it be to maintain wellness, to enhance a physical regimen, to curb an illness or to prevent one, I find that a lot of the same principles apply. Not all and not for everyone, but there are similarities.

I use both the red and white varieties of quinoa most often. There are some differences between the two, but nutritionally speaking they are both superstars. I often prefer the nuttier and slightly more bitter taste in the red quinoa. It somehow feels more special. You may remember that I made and posted a different quinoa salad here before. So, why another? Because quinoa is that special. It’s a complete protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids. It’s gluten-free and it’s versatile and delicious! They are high in magnesium (necessary for muscle contraction, runners…remember?), iron (production of hemoglobin and oxygenating blood and therefore fighting fatigue), the anti-oxidant Vitamin E and the B Vitamins. They’re low in fat and what fat there is, it’s unsaturated. (Remember, we NEED FAT in our bodies! Good fats…not trans fats!) They are also fiber powerhouses. This little seed goes a long way without taxing the digestive system and is one of the best fuels for fitness and endurance. (Incan warriors ate quinoa before going to battle!) It’s also a great food to introduce to babies when they’re ready for “grains”. (Claire will be ready soon:)

Why peaches? Honestly, because I didn’t have mango. And thank goodness I didn’t! I had beautiful peaches from our new CSA (I’ll be talking about this CSA a lot) and figured why not try it. The sweet almost tart taste of the peaches plays so well up against the hearty quinoa, black beans and grilled corn. The texture combines beautifully, too. I surprised myself with the flavor of this salad. I love when that happens!

You’ll need:

1 C red quinoa

3/4 cup black beans, soaked overnight (or 1 15oz. can)

1 C sweet corn, grilled (leave husks on 1-2 ears of corn) OR 1 C frozen corn, thawed

1/2 C red onion, diced (1 small red onion is about right)

1/2 C cilantro, roughly chopped

1 peach, diced

For the dressing:

1/4 C extra virgin olive oil

1/4 C freshly squeezed lime juice

1 T apple cider vinegar

1 T dijon mustard

1 T maple syrup

1 t sea salt (or more to taste)

freshly ground black pepper, to taste

To make:

1. Rinse and soak the quinoa in a saucepan for 15 minutes. Drain and rinse again. Add 2 C water to quinoa and cook over high heat until it reaches a boil. Then, reduce heat to low, cover and let cook for 20 minutes or until the water has evaporated. Let cool.

2. Get the beans going! Drain, rinse and add beans to a saucepan with enough water to cover. Cook on high heat for 10 minutes while removing any foam that accumulates. Reduce heat to medium, add kombu and partially cover, cooking for 40 minutes or until just tender. (You don’t want them too soft, but these are dense little beans so make sure they’re all cooked through:) Drain and let cool.

3. If using, grill the corn. I leave the husks on when grilling (or you could roast like this too) for added depth in flavor. About 10 minutes on high is usually good. Make sure you rotate for even cooking. Remove husks and cut kernels off. Should yield about a cup.

4. Mix all dressing ingredients and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.

5. Mix quinoa and beans in a large bowl. Add corn, red onion, peach, cilantro and toss with dressing.

6. Let sit for about an hour in the refrigerator to let the flavors settle and to let the quinoa absorb the dressing. This salad is worth the wait!

7. Enjoy! (I enjoyed it with avocado on the side and some extra peaches just for fun!)

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