Wellness Wednesday meal: Pick and mix quinoa pasta salad with almond feta is lovely picnic food, or a fun buffet style meal to enjoy with family and friends. We enjoyed this colorful meal on Sunday evening, but it’s pretty quick to prepare and would brighten up any weekday too! This meal is vegan, gluten-free, wholesome and kid-approved.
Pasta salad essentials and protein sources
You need just a few ingredients for the delicious base: pasta, quinoa, almond feta and herb oil sauce. You can also use herb-avocado sauce if you want to eat oil-free.
Quinoa is a complete protein containing all nine essential amino acids so it’s a great base for the salad (or any meal) together with pasta. Also the almond feta is a filling protein source and I crumble it into the pasta salad.
Pick and Mix
I love to make buffet style meals, because it gives me more freedom with the ingredients: I can add everyone’s favorites to the mix. What I chose for this pasta salad is a pretty simple collection of my kids favorite veggies and my favorites: tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, olives, capers, sauerkraut, baby spinach, fresh basil.
I find these pick and mix style meals very convenient now that two of my kids are having a picky phase. My 2 year old loves pasta, tomatoes and cucumbers and that’s what she ate this time, too. My 5 year old on the other hand has a picky phase with veggies, but he loves sauerkraut and olives.
Plant-based clean eating with kids
I’m not going to lie, my clean eating diet which I’m on for the second week now is somewhat stressful at times when I need to cook different foods for my kids. The first week of clean eating I was super excited about all the healthy recipes and didn’t mind experimenting and cooking for just myself and then later prepping different food for my kids.
This week I’ve been a bit frustrated about all the cooking, and I’ve tried to reduce my time in the kitchen. Currently I’m thinking of ways how to combine a more regular plant-based diet with my very clean and restricted diet. This pasta salad is one of the first meals I cooked for us to enjoy together and I think more buddha bowl style meals will be on the menu from now on.
So why don’t I cook the same clean vegan food for everyone?
My diet at the moment is a very restrictive elimination diet and I see no reason why my kids or husband should go through the same, as they don’t have health issues like I do (hypothyroidism for example).
For example I’m not eating any legumes at the moment in addition to eating gluten-free, without refined sugar, vegan. I see no reason why my kids shouldn’t eat legumes, as they are a good and delicious source of protein. As I’m also mostly grain-free now, I’m not eating any store bought bread, but my kids eat bread and I have no problem with that.
My kids and husband are not vegan, but they eat mostly vegan food at home. Of course ideally I would love us all to eat super healthy wholesome vegan food all the time, but I know it’s not going to happen by pushing. But it can happen by showing what a difference eating wholesome food makes.
Clean eating for health
I started this wellbeing journey because I wasn’t feeling good. I didn’t feel like myself anymore. Losing myself somehow happened so little by little that it was difficult to notice at first. And when I did, it took me a while to take the first steps towards change. Change is scary, it is stressful, and I wasn’t ready for it until now.
I am not doing this health journey on my own. I searched for help, because I didn’t have the strength to make changes on my own nor did I know exactly where to start. I’m working with lovely Julia Michelle and I can recommend her to anyone thinking of starting a health journey! Her Instagram page is an amazing source of health and wellness information too!
Becoming the best version of myself
I’m on this health journey to become a better person, to become the best version of myself at this point in my life. My kids are going to see positive changes happening over time: my mood and energy levels will be better, I’m going to be less anxious and nervous, I’m going to be more patient and present.
And I can then honestly say it is because I’m eating all this healing food and following a healthy lifestyle in general that helps me become the best version of myself!
If you want to follow along my health journey, I’m posting a Wellness Wednesday recipe post and health journey update every week! Here’s where my journey began: Healthy blueberry pie blender pancakes
Pick and mix quinoa pasta salad with almond feta
- 1/2 cup dry quinoa
- 3 cups dry gluten-free pasta
- almond feta
- 1 cup very tightly packed herbs such as basil and parsley
- 1,5 tbsp lemon juice
- 1/4-1/2 tsp salt (to taste)
- 5 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil If oil free: use one avocado
- Bell peppers
- Baby spinach
- Sun dried tomatoes
- Cook quinoa and pasta according to instructions.
- Bake almond feta in the oven while quinoa and pasta are cooking.
- Chop herbs and mix all herb oil ingredients.
- Mix quinoa, pasta, herb oil and crumbled almond feta.
- Add whatever extras you like. Enjoy!