Picture this: it’s mid February, and I’m actively sitting outside in shorts and a tank top. I know I live in the south where temperatures are typically warmer, but trust me, this is NOT NORMAL. We’re not experiencing one of those bizarre 75 degrees days that sneaks into the middle of a cold winter week. No, quite the opposite. Since the beginning of February, our daytime temperatures consistently hover between 65-80 degrees. The occasional brisk 50 degrees day is the outlier. I think we need to revisit the definition of “shadow” with Punxsutawney Phil…
Part of me wants to fight Mother Nature’s mood swing and keep eating my favorite hearty cold weather comfort foods. I really hate the idea of missing out on a so many delicious winter meals. Alternatively, the thought of eating a big bowl of warm, slow-cooked stew sounds pretty revolting to the part of me that sits here sweating. So, while I don’t necessarily like it, I know what must be done: accept spring has arrived and move on.
Now, before those in colder parts locations jump through the computer screen or leave a scathing comment, hear me out. I recognize that I sound insane. How could anyone possibly be unhappy with 75 degrees in February?! Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love this perfect weather. However, I love it when it’s the appropriate season.
As someone who is (unhealthily) obsessed with itineraries, I get all freaked out by unseasonal weather because it feels like we are skipping ahead of schedule. The warmer temperatures aren’t scheduled to come until March! That’s the way the world works! We have three months to enjoy everything that each season has to offer. In a weird way, I feel like I’m being cheated out of something. I hate being cold just as much as the next person, but something in me still wants it to be cold when it’s supposed to be cold. And it’s supposed to be cold in February. Well, the times are obviously a-changin’, so I better get on board.
So, as mentioned, I’m going to try and suppress my neurotic tendencies (well, at least these neurotic tendencies) and be happy that Spring has arrived. To honor this step forward, I decided to make this healthy Mexican quinoa salad. This dish is the perfect gateway into warmer weather, as it is light, fresh and packed with bright flavors like chili powder, citrus and cilantro.
For those who are searching for ways to cook healthier, I cannot stress enough the importance of using these type of spices and fresh aromatics/herbs. These ingredients allow you to pack in tons of flavor without adding calories, sodium or fat. You will be so focused on all of the delicious flavors that you won’t think twice about grabbing the salt shaker or those missing fats.
I love to keep a big bowl of this Mexican quinoa salad in my fridge because it is healthy, delicious and so versatile! It can be enjoyed on its own as a full meal, tossed on a bed of spinach for a light lunch or served as a healthy side dish. The black beans and quinoa provide ample protein, so it leaves you feeling full all day long. This Mexican quinoa salad is the best…all the flavor, none of the guilt. Feel free to change up the recipe to adjust the spiciness as desired.
- 1 cup white quinoa, cooked (measure quinoa before cooking)
- 1 can black beans, rinsed
- ½ can corn, rinsed
- 1 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne
- ¼ cup cilantro, chopped
- 3 tablespoons plain greek yogurt
- Juice of half an orange
- Juice of half a lime
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoons hot sauce (I used Cholula)
- 1 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- Cook quinoa according to package directions. Let cool.
- Pour black beans and corn in a colander and rinse with cool water. Mix into cooled quinoa.
- Add in chopped pepper, spices and cilantro. Stir well.
- In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients. Pour over quinoa mixture and refrigerate.