I’m back at my desk after 9 days of amazing adventures in Vietnam and Cambodia! It took over 24 hours to make my way across the globe and I’ve been feeling pretty Zombie-like in my post-temple time haze. It hasn’t helped that I got so used to waking up every morning with a big steaming bowl of Pho for breakfast.
But aside from the rice noodles packed with herbs, and other Vietnamese specialties that were relatively healthy, my trip also involved a whole lotta crap. I must have taken down a small village of free Toblerone on the plane rides alone, much to the chagrin of the Cathay Pacific stewardesses. And then there were the daiquiris…
So I don’t need a resolution to hop back on the health train and get back in the swing of some home cooking.
One thing that’s made my back-to-work blues a whole lot less dreary was my big book announcement earlier this week! If you managed to make it through the whole thing, you probably saw that this month I’m focusing on detox, with lesson from the 30 days I went without alcohol, sugar, and caffeine.
Most people this time of year cut out one thing or another, and usually in the food department. While my focus is more on those three basic liver foes, healthy eating is always part of every wellness equation, so I wanted to kick off 2015 with a recipe for this delicious salmon and quinoa bowl.
I’ll talk a little bit more about sustainable seafood during March’s Gut Guilt month, but I will say that one thing I’ve tried to do over the last year is eat less meat. The last New Yorker food issue had a really interesting statistic: back in the 1920’s, the average American ate 4 ounces of meat every 4 days. Now we eat between 4 and 6 ounces everyday.
If you want to eat better quality meat and seafood, and you want to do so without spending a small fortune, your only choice is to cut down on your consumption. I’ve done this in two ways: 1) eat vegetarian for half of my meals and 2) stretch the meat I do invest in by filling up my plate with whole grains and veggies. Either way, steak once again becomes a luxury like back in the 50’s, rather than the centerpiece of your plate.
Making quinoa bowls is one way I like to make a little meat go a long way. In this case, I invested in some beautiful wild Sockeye salmon fillets (on sale at Whole Foods in NYC right now, FYI!!). Instead of the usual 6-ounce portion, I had the fish counter cut these down into thinner fillets so I only had to buy a pound for 4 people. If you see wild salmon on sale, stock up! You can freeze extra portions and have them on hand for quick added protein for your quinoa bowls.
Below the salmon, my quinoa bowl is a riff on one of my favorite kale salads with chickpeas, currants and carrots. For even more healthy protein and omega-3’s you can add a tablespoon of hemp seeds to the quinoa, which blend right in. The salad keeps really well as a make-ahead side for the week, as does the tahini yogurt sauce you’ll want to generously douse it in.
If you’re hopping on the detox band wagon this month, this salmon and quinoa bowl is exactly what you need to feed your cravings and keep your resolutions in check. For more tips from my Wellness Project, check in later this week for some detox do’s and don’ts!
Salmon and Quinoa Bowls with Kale and Tahini-Yogurt Sauce
- 1 cup white quinoa
- 1 bunch Lacinato, Tuscan or dinosaur kale, thick stems removed and thinly sliced
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- Olive oil
- Sea salt
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas, rinsed and drained if canned
- 1/4 cup dried currants, cranberries or cherries
- 1 tablespoon hemp seeds (optional)
- Four 4-ounce sockeye salmon fillets (skin on)
For the sauce:
- 1/4 cup tahini paste
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
In a medium saucepan, combine the quinoa and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, cover, and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 15 minutes, then let stand covered for 10 minutes off the heat. Fluff with a fork and set aside.
Meanwhile in a large mixing bowl, combine the kale, carrots, lemon juice, garlic, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon sea salt. With clean hands, toss the kale until very well coated in the lemon and oil. Add the cooked quinoa to the kale along with the chickpeas, dried fruit and hemp seeds (if using). Mix until well-incorporated and taste for seasoning.
Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large nonstick or cast iron skillet. Pat the salmon dry and season with salt. Cook the salmon skin-side down over high heat until nicely browned, 2-3 minutes. Carefully flip the fish and cook for another 2 minutes, until opaque up the sides.
Divide the quinoa between 4 bowls and top with the seared salmon.
In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the ingredients for the sauce until smooth. Add more water as necessary to make the sauce drizzle-friendly. (The sauce can be made up to a week in advance). Spoon over the fish and serve immediately.
The quinoa and tahini sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance.