Delightful Quinoa Salad and Fancy Fruit

Whenever there is a gathering that requires bringing a dish to share I want to make something that is delicious for everyone yet satisfies my dietary needs.  There is always the “just in case” factor.  If there is no other food available that I can safely eat, I want to make sure my dish serves well as a main meal for myself.

Such was the case for Easter when we all gathered for the dinner my dad was making.  My mom would have been impressed with the foods he prepared and dare I say his turkey rivaled hers.  My mom, bless her heart, always seemed to overcook her meat no matter what cut it was.  My dad’s turkey was amazingly moist and perfectly cooked.

I brought a couple of lovely dishes that were not only pleasantly eye appealing, but quite tasty as well.  They also had to meet my energy level requirement, which currently is pretty darn low most days.

This quinoa dish was a side dish at our Easter dinner, but it could also serve well as a main dish with its high nutrient and protein levels.  In addition to providing 48% of the recommended daily allowance in protein, quinoa provides essential amino acides like lysine as well as a decent amount of calcium.  Furthermore, it boasts high levels of magnesium and iron.  Add in some veggies like I did here and you’ve got a pretty amazing meal in a bowl.

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Quinoa Salad

Here’s what I used to make this dish:

To cooked quinoa add in any amount you desire:  shredded kale, sliced red onions, toasted pecans and dried cherries.  Toss with a dressing made of olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, a tiny squeeze of agave, a little garlic, salt and pepper.

The kiwi dish I provided was my silly attempt at making a fruit “Easter basket”.  The kiwi served as the grass and the blueberries and raspberries were the eggs.  I thought it was pretty creative.  I got lots of compliments on how pretty it looked on the table.  By the end of the meal all the fruit was gone so that tells me it was a success.

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Easter fruit “basket”

We had a nice time enjoying the impressive spread made mostly by my dad.  Even though we carried on our usual Easter traditions, it was clear by my dad’s sad face and the tears I saw flow from my oldest niece, that my mom was sorely missed on this first Easter since her passing.  Today, I write this while wiping my own tears.  I miss my mom more than words can describe.  This year will be the hardest as we pass all the important firsts without my mom.  As much as I try to hold on to the idea that she is close by and knows what is going on with her family, I cannot help but feel she is missing so much.  That thought made this Easter a very somber one indeed.

Which Came First the Bunny or the Egg

Happy Easter to all those who celebrate this holiday.  Today I will spend time with my family and sit down later to a delicious sounding Easter dinner that my dad has prepared.  This will be our first Easter without our mom and my heart is heavy.

My mom used to make a great Easter table display with goodies tucked among bright and cheery decorations.  I considered attempting to recreate her display, but honestly, I just haven’t had the energy to muster that amount of creativity and I am not a fan of doping up my nieces and nephew with sugar, especially since I know they’ll have already had a good dose from their own homes.

I wanted to create something simple and sweet for them, but a nicer kind of sweet than the high fructose corn syrup jelly beans I know they’ll have already consumed.  I also did not want to go to the store the day before Easter so I had to work with what I had.  After perusing several recipe sites on line and going through my food blog favorites, I was inspired to come up with these Easter egg nests.  I had just enough shredded coconut to make a cute little nest for each of my nieces and nephew.   

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These are the chocolate morsels I use

I tossed about a 1/2 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut into a bowl then set a small pan on the stove top for melting the chocolate.  I added about a 1/2 Tblsp of olive oil to the pan and 1/2 cup of chocolate morsels, set the heat low and stirred occasionally as it melted.  Once melted, I poured it into the bowl with the coconut and mix until combined.  I used my hands to mold the nests and used my thumb to depress the center for the candies I used as eggs (which I admit, I did go to the store for!).   Put them on a parchment paper covered baking sheet, add the candies to the middle and set in the fridg until chocolate firms up again.  

Eat, get messy, lick your fingers.  One is plenty for this super sweet treat!  I know they will all enjoy them.  I felt good about coming up with a themed treat for the kiddos and even better that I had just enough coconut to make one for each of them.  When they are all tearing around the house and bouncing around like the Easter bunny I can feel okay knowing I didn’t contribute too much to their crazy sugared up energy!