Earth Day, Eating Organic & Triple Berry Quinoa Salad Recipe

Have you hugged your planet today? If you haven’t, you should – that’s because it’s officially Earth Day.  Celebrated every April since 1970, this environmental and civic movement is credited with activating more than 1 billion people to take part in a wide range of earth-friendly initiatives. Whether saving whales, improving drinking water accessibility, “greening” schools or planting trees in impoverished countries, the diverse network of past and present Earth Day programs has had a profound impact on this place we all call home.

As a health advocate and food blogger, the issue of organic food is a personal area of interest. Not only does most conventional farming (with the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers) create tainted edibles that can negatively affect our health, it also harms the Earth through contaminated top soils, polluted drinking water and an array of ancillary issues. In general, I think it is best not to mess with Mother Nature. However, as a busy modern mom on a budget, I do understand that committing to a 100-percent organic diet is not always realistic – organic food can be expensive and hard to find and I don’t have the time or temperament to tend a garden.

Berries Berries

 

I tell friends and family who want to “go organic” that they can get the most bang for their buck by purchasing a mix of organic and traditional products – the key is being an educated consumer.  For example, when it comes to picking out produce, some fruits and vegetables are very prone to chemical contamination while others are not. Typically, it’s the low-to-the-ground growing foods (like berries and lettuces) along with fruits and vegetables with thin, chemical-absorbing skin (like peaches) that are the most tainted. This is where you should spend your money on organic options. Fruits and vegetables with thick edible skin, and better yet, an inedible protective encasing (like pineapple), usually have much lower levels of pesticide contamination and can be purchased through a traditional supply chain.

Dirty Dozen, Clean Fifteen Poster Dirty Dozen, Clean Fifteen Poster

 

The country of origin should also play a role in the decision-making process of which organic foods to buy. I recommend purchasing products grown in the USA; locally-sourced is even better as it supports area farmers. Food from other countries, even when labeled “organic,” may not be held to the same production practices and standards. Also, don’t forget to wash all produce, both traditional and organic, before eating. Even the thickest-skinned produce, like cantaloupe and watermelon, should be cleaned prior to cutting – if not, the knife could drag harmful residue from the outside down through the flesh.

Berry Quinoa Salad with Limes Berry Quinoa Salad with Limes

 

In honor of Earth Day and eating organic food, I created a delicious recipe for Triple Berry Quinoa Salad featuring one of Litehouse Food’s organic dressings, Raspberry Lime Vinaigrette. Litehouse Food’s collection of organic dressings is made with fresh, delicious organic ingredients and meets the high standards required for QAI Organic and USDA Organic certification.

Triple Berry Quinoa Salad Ready to Eat Triple Berry Quinoa Salad Ready to Eat

 

Triple Berry Quinoa Salad

Serves 4 | Finish in 40 minutes
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Celebrate Earth Day 2014 with this beautiful berry salad, a delicious dish that can be served as a side or stand alone as a light entrée boosted by the protein found in quinoa. Also, find out which fruits and vegetables are best bought “organic” versus “regular” and why you should always wash your produce.

Ingredients

1 cup red quinoa,
2 cups water,
½ teaspoon salt,
1 pint organic strawberries,
½ pint organic blueberries,
½ pint organic raspberries,
3 Tbsp Litehouse Food’s Instantly Fresh Red Onion,
2 Tbsp Litehouse Food’s Instantly Fresh Jalapeno,
½ cup Litehouse Food’s Organic Raspberry Lime Vinaigrette,
2 ounces Litehouse Food’s Feta Cheese Crumbles,

Directions

1. Add quinoa, water and salt in medium pot, bring to boil. Cover and let simmer for 15 – 20 minutes, or until all water is absorbed.
Spread out cooked quinoa on baking sheet and set in refrigerator for 15 minutes for quick cooling.
2. Meanwhile, wash, drain and dry berries. Chop strawberries and cut blackberries in half if they are large.
3. In large bowl, add cooled quinoa, berries, red onion, jalapeno and dressing; stir to combine.
4. Serve sprinkled with feta cheese.
5. Leftovers may be stored in the refrigerator for 2 – 3 days.


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