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Meatless Monday Guest Post: Lime Quinoa

By the time you are reading this, I should be sitting on a sunny beach building sand castles with my kids.   I will do my best to eat meatless in the South. I am not yet sure if that will be a challenge, there is a lot of fried food here.

 Author of Feast for All Seasons, Sarah Letain offered to write this week's Meatless Monday post.  Her blog is visually beautiful and her photography makes me hungry.  For more Sarah, follow her on Twitter.

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Raise your hand if you have ever had the passing thought that maybe vegetarian food is a little bit .... boring?  Now, keep your hand up if you also think you may not like vegetarian food because it's:
a) flavourless
b) too healthy to taste good
c) about as much fun as watching paint dry, grass grow, etc.
d) all of the above

Hmmm. Now if you know better, and you're among the flavour-enlightened and you understand that meatless doesn't mean lame, raise that other hand. While both hands are over your head, do a little dance and get ready for a delicious, easy vegetarian recipe!
If you're taking note of healthy food trends like "Meatless Monday" you may have noticed that there is an "ancient grain" craze happening right now where previously obscure (but delicious!) grains are taking the main stage in many meals.

The recipe here for Bean and Pepper Salad with Garlic-Lime Quinoa is no exception. Although the beans and peppers are the star, the quinoa provides a sound nutritional component. You might be asking yourself: "What's the big deal with quinoa?" Well, quinoa is an incredibly nutritious grain packed with fiber, great taste and protein. When reducing the meat and animal proteins in your diet, for whatever reason, it's important to balance that decrease in obvious proteins and find healthful, interesting and appetizing ways to keep yourself properly nourished. So, if tofu and tempeh and TVP aren't your thing but you want to swap out some meat for more veg, consider quinoa. It's a nutty, flavorful way to round out a meal. (And that concludes the speech on quinoa)

This recipe comes together quickly, is easy to prepare and will serve 4 as a main meal, or 8 as a first course. If you don't have quinoa on hand, substitute brown or white rice (along with the beans you'll still get the protein kick)

For the Garlic-Lime Quinoa
1 cup quinoa
1 clove of garlic,

minced zest of 1 lime

For the Bean and Pepper Salad:
4 bell peppers (any colour)
1 cup canned black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large tomato, diced
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup chopped green onion
a pinch each of sea salt and black pepper
1 teaspoon minced fresh mint

For the dressing:
juice of 1 lime
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons tahini (sesame paste)
1 tablespoon red miso paste

Bring 1-3/4 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add 1 cup of quinoa. Stir the quinoa and allow to boil again. Cover with a tight fitting lid and reduce the temperature to low. Cook, undisturbed, for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, add minced garlic and lime zest, stir and re-cover. Stir well before serving.

Halve the bell peppers. Remove the ribs and seeds. Steam the pepper halves for 3-4 minutes, until just tender -- you can do this in the microwave or in a steamer basket over simmering water.

In a medium bowl, mix together the beans, tomato, pumpkin seeds, green onion, half the mint and salt and pepper.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lime juice, olive oil, tahini and miso paste.
To serve, fill each steamed pepper half with the bean salad and serve over the quinoa. Drizzle with the dressing or serve a puddle of it beside the peppers.  Enjoy!

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