cracked pepper + mint quinoa.

In springtime, a selection of specific foods offers detoxifying, energizing benefits to the body. Naturally, we undergo a detox as the weather starts to warm up. After many cold months of moving less and eating fewer fresh foods, the body tends to be in a stagnant state. We've accumulated toxins as the by-product of eating heavier foods which have not been properly eliminated. Our intestines have acquired a protective layer of mucus. We're more acidic and more tense. Our digestion and our moods tend to be down. 

Thankfully, the planet provides some beautiful nourishing foods - not to mention lightening, astringent, and cleansing foods - at this time of year, specifically to get us back in alignment and to help us shake off the last few months of winter.

minted quinoa closeup

Sprouts, surface roots, light greens, and warming spices pop up in spring, and not by coincidence. All of these are highly detoxifying and alkalizing for the body, which means they help us release toxins and regulate blood pH. 

I threw together this recipe after teaching a Spring Cleaning Foods class at the Westside Y in Manhattan in March -- it's similar to the cracked black pepper + cilantro quinoa dish we had on the menu, but as I had a bunch of mint in the fridge to put to use, I thought I'd mix things up a bit. 

minted quinoa closeup centered

It incorporates a slew of really beneficial foods for spring, including:

  • quinoa (nice and light, and packed with fortifying proteins to allow us to rebuild as we start to move about more)
  • mint (highly cleansing, and a digestive aid)
  • lima beans (light, fibrous, super nutrient-dense)
  • lemon juice (all citrus is great in spring; super cleansing)
  • almonds (nourishing, a great source of energy, nutrient-dense)
  • apricots (add warmth to the body)
  • cracked black pepper (this spice promotes circulation and breaks up stagnation)

I've experimented with nuts and apricots in quinoa before [like in this Mediterranean Quinoa], which coincidentally is based on a dish at a restaurant in NYC that I absolutely love. The restaurant serves their quinoa salad with a green sauce [ingredients undisclosed], although after multiple tries, I've determined there's mint, tahini, and olive oil in it for sure. And thus! Cracked pepper + mint quinoa was born!

I tossed the whole bunch of mint, plus a couple of tablespoons of tahini and a little olive oil into the Vitamix and blended until smooth. It didn't become quite as creamy as I'd expected, but perhaps the next batch just needs more tahini. This version was a little more pesto-like, but still really yummy! I added some salt, then tossed into the warm quinoa and lima beans, mixing until it all melted nicely together. Another 60 seconds to chop Turkish apricots and some almonds, and dinner was on the table. (I'd also thrown a tray of Brussels sprouts - perhaps the last for this season! - into the oven while finishing up some work at home, so those made for a convenient and delicious side for this main dish salad. For the most delicious way to prepare Brussels sprouts, see here.)

Toss this together for a quick weeknight meal or easy throw-together lunch -- and watch the natural magic of spring detoxing takeover! For more easy weeknight recipes, hop on over to the Eat Deliciously, Live Vibrantly eCookbook download... then stay tuned for more recipes to your inbox.

Lightness, brightness and great digestion to you, springtime folks!

amy be well signature





Looking for more simple ways to detox? Check out the posts below, along with our signature detox plans. 10 or 30 days to feeling simply fantastic -- brand new you! :)  

cracked pepper + mint quinoa
Serves 4
A minty fresh quinoa salad with apricots, almonds and freshly ground black pepper -- great served warm or cold.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
20 min
  1. 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa
  2. 3 cups fresh cold water
  3. 1 1/2 cups cooked lima beans
  4. 1 bunch mint, large stems removed
  5. 2 tbsp tahini
  6. 2 tbsp olive oil
  7. 1 tsp sea salt + more to taste
  8. 2 tsp whole Tellicherry black peppercorns (or other whole peppercorn of choice)
  9. 10 Turkish apricots, halved
  10. 1/4 cup almonds, coarsely chopped
  1. 1. Combine water and quinoa in a pot. Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat and allow to stand 5 minutes.
  2. 2. In the meantime, combine mint, tahini, 1 tsp of salt and the peppercorns in a food processor. Begin to process, slowly pouring in the oil to combine. Mixture should form a smooth paste by the time all ingredients are incorporated. Add a little more tahini or oil if needed.
  3. 3. Chop apricots and almonds.
  4. 4. Add mint tahini mixture and lima beans to quinoa, stirring to combine.
  5. 5. Portion out into dishes, topping with apricots and almonds, plus a tad more sea salt to taste if desired. Enjoy!
From The Ground Up Wellness
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Posted in dinner, gluten-free recipes, health coaching info, homepage featured, lunch, recipes, side dishes

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