The "basic salad" (from the post below...I got questions in my email) really is basic! I feel like everyone and every restaurant has their own variation of it. My sister has one here. My version is usually whatever I have in the fridge. Sometimes I add celery, green onion, red onion, craisins, mangos, pears, etc (not all of those in the same salad...that sounds gross, but whatever I have that goes together). Really it just depends on what you like. But here's what I added this particular salad.
cooked red quinoa (you could use white also, but I think the red looks pretty, and I like the nuttier flavor better. just cook it up following the recipe on the box or if you bought it in bulk, cook it like you would white rice. i usually add 1/2 c cooked quinoa person. but if you're just starting/getting used to quinoa, add 2-4 T instead and work your way up)
fresh berries (i used blackberries, but you could use any other berry or halved grapes are great too)
caramelized nuts (i used to spend the time caramelizing nuts a couple times a week for salads. i got tired. now i buy a big bag of Kirkland Cashew Clusters with Almonds and Pumpkin Seeds from Costco and chop them up. much easier)
cheese (i used white cheddar with caramelized onion from Trader Joes, but you could use any kind you like)
Viniagrette (my sister Rebecca made it up)
1/3 c pure maple syrup
1/3 c + 1 T apple cider vinegar
1/3 c olive oil
salt and pepper
Mix maple syrup and vinegar together, and while whisking really fast, add the olive oil in a stream.
*A few notes on the quinoa. You have to have it cooked already, or you're never going to "throw it in" a salad, or soup. I learned about quinoa a little over 5 years ago, and was petrified to use it unless I had an exact recipe to follow. You really can add it to so many things, but I admit it took me until now to be brave enough to do it. I LOVE it. I cook up the whole box, spread it out on a cookie sheet to cool off and then bag it up in 1 cup portions and freeze. I pull one out before dinner or the night before and add it to salads, soup, and in place of rice for Mexican food, Indian food, Thai food, etc. Of course you can add it to so many other things, but this is about where I'm at right now. I think this week I'll try adding a bit to Tanner's smoothies. We'll see. But my point is, don't be a pansy like I was and wait 5 years and just DO IT. Cook up a batch and try it. Start small. Especially if you have a suspicious significant other or children. Add hardly any. See if they notice. See if the flavor goes alright with the recipe you're using. Next time add more. It's just a small way of adding in a perfect protien (meaning all the essential amino acids needed), a load of fiber and real whole food to your family's diet. Some times it may taste weird in a recipe, but most the time it will taste GREAT. I promise I'm not being endorsed by the quinoa companies. = )