Healthy Cooking: Strong & Cool for Summer, Valerie Wilson

healthy cooking, holistic Upper Peninsula of MI, U.P. nutrition, U.P. holistic business

Summer is a time of heat, sunshine and high energy. We need to fuel our bodies with strong energy foods to keep us going as we head out for long hikes, bike rides and rock collecting.  Because of its hardiness, the perfect grain for this time of year is quinoa. It grows high in the mountains where the atmosphere is thin, so it has to be very strong to survive. That strength is imparted to your body when you consume quinoa. Known for feeding and nurturing your brain and heart, quinoa is also very high in protein. It has the highest protein content of all the grains, 16%, and it is a complete protein containing all the essential amino acids. It has a light nutty flavor, cooks up quickly, and makes great grain salads.

In the summertime we also want foods with a high water content to help keep our bodies cool as the temperature outside gets hot. Foods like cucumber, yellow summer squash, zucchini and beets all fit in this category. Beets are a wonderful, sweet vegetable that most people just eat out of a can. Known for purifying the blood, beets also feed the heart, promote circulation, and are high in calcium, iron and magnesium. In this recipe, I combined quinoa and beets to create a light, sweet, colorful salad that is full of flavor.

Quinoa Beet Salad

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1 (15 oz.) can kidney beans (drained)
4 small beets
1/4 onion (diced)
1 zucchini (diced)
3 garlic cloves (minced)
1 T. dulse flakes (sea vegetable)
1/2 cup minced parsley


2 T. olive oil
4 T. tamari
5 T. lime juice
1 tsp. thyme
1 tsp. tarragon
1/2 tsp. sea salt
pinch lemon pepper

Pot boil the quinoa in 1 cup water for 15 minutes or until all water has been absorbed. Meanwhile, boil the beets, whole, until fork tender (about 20 minutes). When beets are done, run cold water over them to cool them down. Using your hands, peel off the skin. (The skin should just come right off easily.) Cut beets into small squares. Place dressing ingredients in a saucepan and heat on stove, just to get dressing warm. Place the quinoa, beets, kidney beans, onion, zucchini, garlic, dulse flakes, parsley and dressing in a large bowl and mix all together. Serve warm or cold.

Valerie Wilson is the author of Perceptions In Healthy Cooking. She teaches cooking classes and offers counseling in Westland, Michigan. She can be reached at (734) 722-4553 or

Excerpted with permission from the Summer 2010 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. MagazineCopyright 2010, Intuitive Learning Creation. All rights reserved.