Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Black Quinoa Power Salad with Raw Chopped Fruits and Veggies

I love the term "power salad". It just makes me feel like such a badass. It took a while for me to think of myself as a healthy person, someone worthy of using terms like power salad. I have always been active and athletic, but was never really one for stereotypically healthy foods. I think that's one of the best things that I learned post-college: to cook and to both appreciate and enjoy food. 

"Healthy" is like this weird spectrum that means different things to different people. My healthy is eating mainly plant-based, almost everything that I make myself, from scratch in my kitchen with my two hands. That means that sometimes I make BLTs. Sometimes I make cookies or brownies and stuff them with other cookies on the inside. But, I make it myself, meaning no preservatives and no questions about what's inside. Some other times, I eat nothing but salads for a week straight. The other day, my cashier at Trader Joes told me that I had the healthiest cart he had checked out all day (best compliment ever!). Post college, I stopped eating frozen food. Any and all varieties. I also decided to learn and take responsibility for the various things going in my body, which has been so great. I think of myself as an extremely healthy person, but I definitely still meet people who put my diet to shame. However, I have become worthy of making power salads. 

I also move around... a lot. Sometimes when I am up and going, I don't sit down for 12 hours. I walk to the city to run errands, bike to the barre studio, take Gustav to the dog park, cook in the kitchen... However, I never thought I would get the chance to teach other people fitness. I absolutely love group fitness of all kinds and have been taking classes and trying things for years on top of my usual running regime. I used to be a regular at hip hop class and I didn't miss a weekly zumba class for over a year. I frequented kick boxing, body pump, and pilates. I loved it all. Barre workouts have always had a soft spot in my heart, probably because of the changes I saw in my body the first month I was going to classes. I haven't been able to do it for years, but I finally have the time in my life to pursue this passion. 

Since the beginning of the year, I have been associated with a barre studio here in Philly and have been training to be an instructor! I'm about half-way there and already have my class-time slot ready and waiting (6:30am - the most popular class!). In all my free time lately, I am there. I work the desk two mornings a week, I take class every single day, and then I train with the various owners a couple times a week and on weekends. It's amazing and it's also so scary. I am having a blast making my playlist and practicing my cues, but I just can't wait to be good at it. I feel like I can't get barre out of my head lately (1 inch up, 1 inch down, heels high, abs engaged!). Trying new things and taking risks is hard, not to mention time-consuming and sometimes disappointing. But I never thought I would actually be making this one dream come true.

Wow- I digress. I went off on a rant about barre and forgot about my power salad. But all this exercise just makes me want to eat clean and feel good. I think cleanses are stupid and juices are a fad, and I will definitely stick up for those thoughts. But, eating raw produce is never a bad thing, and its perfect for after a long workout when you don't want to eat something heavy and feel like your whole day got cancelled out. Also, black quinoa?! If you ask me, everything is better in black. 

Black Quinoa Power Salad with Raw Chopped Fruits and Veggies
serves 6
2 cups black quinoa, cooked and cooled
1/2 of a seedless cucumber, chopped into slices and then quartered
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
2 jalapeƱo peppers, chopped
1 granny smith apple, cored and chopped
1 cup red grapes, halved
1 cup sliced almonds
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
1 garlic clove, minced
juice of 1 lemon
1/4 cup Greek yogurt
agave nectar

1. In a large bowl, combine the quinoa with the veggies, apple, grapes, and almonds. 
2. Add the fresh herbs, garlic, lemon juice, yogurt, and a couple squeezes of agave nectar. Toss together until uniform.
3. Taste and adjust agave or add salt if needed. 

recipe adapted from Camille Styles 

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