Mexican Quinoa Salad

This week has been a bit brutal as far as this elimination diet goes.  Since members of my team were in the office all week, there was a lot of free food (my company is weird in that so many of the people working on my team I had never actually met in person—we live all over the US) Except, oh yeah, I couldn’t really eat any of the free food.   Tues-Thurs we had lunch and dinner paid for.  I only went to dinner on Tuesday night, where we ate at the Cheesecake Factory.  I ordered the biggest salad I have ever seen—seriously, it lasted me for 3 meals.


That picture doesn’t even do it justice.

Since I’m the only one from my team that is in this office, I asked our office coordinator to order Jimmy John’s one day (barf), pizza one day, and either Panera or Corner Bakery the third.  All three places seem like the type of foods that are widely liked.  Why anyone would like Jimmy John’s I have absolutely no idea, but I seem to be the only person on the planet who dislikes it.

So, the first day I brought my lunch expecting not to be able to eat anything.  I ended up eating the turkey and sprouts out of 2 sandwiches, as well as eating 3 pickles (plus the lunch I packed).

Day 2 was Panera.  I actually requested a salad this day (instead of the sandwich tray) and was able to get one!  However, I already felt bad doing this, so I didn’t get it ‘without’ anything.  Therefore, I ate about a third of the salad, the parts that weren’t covered in cheese or egg, which are still on my do not eat list+the lunch I packed.  Again had 3 pickles.

Day 3 was pizza, which I didn’t even touch as there is really nothing on pizza I can eat unfortunately.  It looked really good too and had a cornmeal crust.  I ate my leftovers from the Cheesecake Factory instead.  No pickles today.

While it has been pretty easy to keep up the elimination diet when I cook for myself, this week and past weekend have really tested that.  I think what keeps me going is the fact that I have already done it for so long that I don’t want to mess it up now because I am closer to finding out the foods I should avoid.

Earlier this week, I added back in corn, potatoes, tomatoes.  The tomatoes made me feel kind of sick, so I’m thinking they are probably something I should avoid.  This was backed up by my acupuncturist who told me that according to chinese medicine, they are a ‘damp’ food and shouldn’t be eaten very often—especially by me because of my migraines.  I told her I eat probably 2+ tomatoes everyday and have since I was 10 or so.  I have a serious addiction to tomatoes and am pretty upset about this news.   Think of all this entails too—salsa, pasta sauce, a lot of other stuff I’m sure. Plus I don’t think I make salads without tomatoes, ever.  Next on my list to add back is dairy, which I’m going to start tomorrow.

Since I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat any of the ordered food, I made sure to make a salad at the beginning of the week that was flavorful and filling enough that I would actually look forward to eating each day and not be (super) jealous of what everyone else was eating.

I wanted to make a dish that included tomatoes and corn since I had added both these things back in- and still was blissfully unaware of the tomato trouble.   But what protein/grain could I include?  Quinoa of course!  Add a can of black beans, chopped avocado and a delicious cilantro lime and wasabi dressing and voila!

Mexican Quinoa Salad with Cilantro Wasabi Dressing

1 cup quinoa

2 medium avocadoes, chopped

½ sweet white onion, diced

4 tomatoes, chopped

2 heads of corn-uncooked and sliced off cob

1/2 cup packed cilantro

1 can black beans, rinsed

1.5 T olive oil

½-1 t wasabi (depending on the heat you are looking for)

1 clove garlic

Juice of 3 limes

¼ t sugar

First, you will want to rinse the quinoa so it doesn’t taste nasty.  I tried a new cooking method this time and I liked it much more than any other I have tried.  I used almost equal parts quinoa and water—1 cup quinoa to 1 cup + 2 T of water.  I covered the pan and kept it at low heat for about 25 minutes.  This created a really fluffy quinoa, which I much prefer to previous versions I have cooked.

While the quinoa is cooking, chop the avocadoes and tomatoes, dice onion (get your sunglasses ready!), drain/rinse beans and cut corn off the cob.  If you want to use frozen corn or already cooked corn you could do either one.  I actually was originally planning on cooking the corn but tried it uncooked and it was delicious so I used as is.  That’s what happens when using really fresh and in-season produce—no need to cook it!

I layered all of these vegetables into a large glass bowl and then started on the dressing.  If you have a blender use that, I used the bullet.  Combine cilantro—fresh if possible, with the juice of 3 limes, 1 clove garlic, olive oil, wasabi, sugar and a dash of salt if you would like.  This dressing is tart while still being sweet and salty and has a kick of heat.  Make sense?  It tastes really fresh and just like a perfect summer dressing should taste.

Once you have cooked the quinoa, make sure it is cooled entirely (which I didn’t do as impatience and hunger kicked in), then add the dressing and thoroughly combine all ingredients.  This makes a pretty large salad, so if you don’t want to mix the dressing into the whole thing, just mix a small amount into the portion of salad that you want.  I mixed all of the dressing in at once, and ate over the next 3-4 days and didn’t have a problem with the salad tasting soggy in the least.

For just coming up with a salad on the fly that also meets my elimination diet requirements, I was pretty happy with this one.  You can bet I’m going to be making it all summer long…although perhaps without the tomatoes :(

Happy Friday!


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