When our family switched to a more plant-based diet I had to rethink mealtime. When I could no longer plan my dinners around a centerpiece of meat, I had to get creative and learn about other satisfying options and healthy sources of protein. Trust me this took some adjusting, many spectacular flops and more than a few bags of Yves “Veggie” Nuggets before I had a repertoire of family friendly selections.
Once the warmer weather hits, I like to have the ingredients on hand to whip up salads for dinner that are light and refreshing but also pack a punch nutritionally for my active family. This quinoa dish is yummy and loaded with healthy protein, fresh veggies, herbs and nuts and is perfect for a pre-soccer game meal. I served this alongside a crisp green salad and a sliced baguette and everyone seemed to enjoy it (including the toddler who I passed the quinoa off on as rice).
Try this one out on your family- even as a side dish to see how it goes over. I find by serving up different foods and making sure to appreciate my children for their openness to trying new things (before they’ve even put a taste in their mouths) seems to make them feel proud of themselves and increases the likelihood that they will at least eat of bite or two of my latest creation. But you may want to keep a bag of veggie nuggets in the freezer just in case!
Warm Quinoa Salad with Fresh Basil & Toasted Almonds
3/4 cup uncooked quinoa
1 1/2 cups water
2 large tomatoes, finely diced
3 mini cucumbers, finely diced
1 handful of fresh basil, chopped
1 cup raw almonds
1-2 tbsp. tamari
Juice of 1 lemon
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 350. Place almonds on cookie sheet and toast for 7-10 minutes, shaking a couple of times to prevent burning. Cool and then slice or chop using a sharp knife.
Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to boil. Rinse quinoa 2-3 times under cold running water and then add to the water. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 12-15 minutes until water has been absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.
Place tomatoes, cucumbers and basil in a large bowl. Add quinoa and nuts and toss to combine. Toss with tamari, lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.
*BONUS– 4 Shout Outs
Don’t you just love good customer service?! I’ve had a few amazing experiences lately that I wanted to share:
1. My youngest somehow managed to crack my iPhone OtterBox. When I went to a local electronics store to buy a new one, the salesman informed me that these cases have a lifetime warranty and that if I contacted the company they would send me a new one for free. I wasn’t 100% convinced this would actually happen but sure enough after forwarding a picture of my broken case along with the serial number, I received a brand-spanking new Otterbox in the mail within 3 days. Awesome!
2. On my recent trip to NYC, I bought a fabulous new yoga top at lulu lemon that I was dying to wear to class. But when I went to put it on I realized that I had purchased the wrong size. Damn! I’d already thrown out the receipt but I thought I’d bring it back to a local lulu lemon to check about the possibility of trading it in. They were only too happy to accommodate and quickly did a return for my NY shirt and made sure I left with the right size. Woohoo!
3. I was driving through a local Starbucks this week and noticed a new offering- “Zesty Black Bean and Quinoa Wrap”. At least in my area, this is the first vegan option on their food menu and I think that is totally amazing. Way to go Starbucks! Now if I could just get them using almond milk in their green tea lattes……
4. Our iPad takes a lot of abuse and inevitably the sticky fingers, being toted all over the place and the relentless hammering on the screen during game play results in problems with how the poor thing runs. Recently we couldn’t get it to work at all so I headed off to our local Apple store to see if it could be resuscitated. When I walked in (accompanied by my little guy in the stroller) I was disheartened to see that the store was absolutely packed with customers. Of course my son picked that instant to start freaking out and I felt the uncontrollable urge to burst into tears. However, within seconds a lovely customer service associate approached and asked if he could help me out. He said he was a dad himself and he saw the “I-might-lose-it-at-any-moment” look in my eyes. In less than 5 minutes he had our iPad cleaned up and running perfectly – and he didn’t charge me a cent! Incredible!
In each case, I went straight home and fired off an email to the respective head offices complimenting the company on exemplary customer service. As quick as most of us are to complain about mistreatment and minor injustices, I think it’s equally important to recognize when people go above and beyond to treat their customers with kindness, compassion and generosity. Thanks so much to OtterBox, lulu lemon, Starbucks and Apple.
Have you experienced good customer service lately? Share your story in the comments!