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salad

chicago cheap ass (8)
Food, Recipes,

Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing

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Each Sunday I dread the idea of starting another work week and preparing the same boring food. I’d rather just go to Protein Bar and get a delicious salad, but that’s an easy way to quickly drain your bank account.  When I came across this recipe on the Ambitious Kitchen (http://www.ambitiouskitchen.com) I was so thrilled to find something new I could prep for the entire week:  Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing.  Bonus:  it’s gluten free AND vegan.

INGREDIENTS
For the salad:
  • ¾ cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1-2 cups shredded red cabbage
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ red onion, diced
  • 1 cup shredded or sliced carrots
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro
  • ¼ cup diced green onions
  • ½ cup cashew halves or peanuts (I like both for texture and saltiness)
  • 1 cup edamame or garbanzo beans
  • Fresh lime, for a bit of tang

For the dressing:

  • ¼ cup all natural peanut butter
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 3 tablespoon soy sauce, gluten-free if desired
  • 1 tablespoon honey (use agave if vegan)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame or sunflower oil
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Sriracha for spice
  • Water to thin, if necessary
Start with making the dressing, it’s better to let this sit and allow the ingredients to blend.  The prep can take some time so I chopped while the quinoa was boiling. 
Screenshot_2015-07-28-12-26-17 
  1. To make the dressing: Blend the peanut butter and honey or agave to a medium microwave safe bowl then heat in microwave for 20-30 seconds. Next, add your fresh grated ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, and oils. Stir until the mixture is creamy and blended.  If you want a thinner dressing, slowly add water or more oil.
  2. I’ve never cooked quinoa before so this was new to me but its similar to making cous cous.Start by rinsing quinoa with cold water in mesh strainer, if this is difficult don’t worry – it’s not crucial. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 ½ cups of water to a boil. The water to quinoa ratio is very important for the texture. Then add in quinoa and bring mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low and let simmer for 15 minutes or until quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Remove from heat and fluff quinoa with fork; place in large bowl and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes. This will yield a little over 2 cups of quinoa.
  3. Once the quinoa is cooled add your dressing.  Add as little or as much as you would like.
  4. Finally, fold in your vegetables.  Sprinkle cashews and/or peanuts then squeeze a bit of lime for zing and Sriracha for spice.
 
This recipe gave me exactly five lunches, with all the protein and vitamins it’s a great solution to a new lunch to rotate into your routine. 
Nutrition Information:
  • Serving size: 1/6th of recipe
  • Calories: 260
  • Fat: 13.5g
  • Carbohydrates: 27.7g
  • Sugar: 7g
  • Fiber: 4.3g
  • Protein: 8.6g
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  15 mins
Total time:  25 mins
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chicago cheap ass (3)
Food, Recipes,

Work Salads – An affordably healthy lunch

This post isn’t specific to Chicago, but when I started this blog, I told people I wanted to incorporate tips for money saving in general. This one also happens to revolve around health.

About 2 months ago, a coworker and I decided to try an experiment. We’re both fairly health-conscious and recognized a need to offset holiday over-indulgences. Seemingly simultaneously, we decided to each buy and prepare a set rotation of salad ingredients. Here’s what we decided upon and split up:

Produce

  • Peppers
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Onion or Scallions
  • Lettuce
  • Spinach
  • Carrots (shredded)
  • Avocado

Protein

  • Turkey
  • Chicken
  • Cheese (we choose feta, although occasionally I use mozzarella)
  • Almonds

Extras

  • Craisins
  • Salad Dressing

Obviously, what you pick is based on taste preferences. My coworker and I luckily like the same things on our salads. Sometimes we rotate items week over week to keep it interesting.

Other solid ingredient suggestions:

  • Beans (Black, Garbanzo, Lentils)
  • Kale or Brussel Sprouts for additional green superfood powers
  • Quinoa to add some carbohydrates
  • Different types of cheese to rotate flavors
  • Different types of nuts (though use sparingly as they pack a lot of calories)

The produce and meat we buy have to be replaced/refilled on a weekly basis. The rest of our supplies last two weeks to one month.

If you work in the Loop, you can easily spend $10 a day on lunch. On average, I probably spend about $10 each week or less replacing what’s been used. Since produce goes bad quickly, you should try to partner up with a coworker who likes salads and can be content eating them everyday. That’s the hard part. But once you get started, you’ll save money and lose pounds.

What other ingredients do you use to keep your salads interesting? Let me know in the comments.