Fresh Veggie Quinoa Salad with Lemon Tahini Dressing

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It’s March! That’s the start of spring, right? The Beast and I went on a vacation last week (more on that later…) and on the first day The Beast said to me, “You know what’s nice? When we come home it’ll almost be golf season.” The next day he said the same thing, but replaced “golf season” with “spring,” and then he went so far as to say we’d basically be coming home to summer. Welcome to the mind of a Minnesotan.

We ended up flying home in the middle of a snow storm…welcome to the life of a Minnesotan.

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When warm weather becomes such a foreign concept that I can’t even remember what it feels like to walk outside without the cold stealing my breath away, I like to eat something that at least reminds me of summertime. Take this salad, for instance. It’s jam-packed with fresh veggies, bright flavors, and pretty colors…which sounds silly, but when you live in a monochromatic winter world, colorful food helps.

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As a bit of a texture freak, I love the multiple crunches that come up as you bite through the raw onions, red pepper, and sliced almonds. Alongside that crunch, you get juicy tomatoes, nutty quinoa, and bright, creamy lemon tahini dressing. It’s so refreshing you might just think summer has a chance of coming around…eventually.

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I actually made this salad a few days before we left for vacation, thinking it would help get me in the spring/warm weather swing of things. Mission accomplished!…until we actually arrived for our vacation and experienced a very cold, very windy version of Florida. Oh well, it’s almost summer here anyway.
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Chocolate-Dipped Coconut Macaroons (Gluten and Refined-Sugar Free)

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I rarely buy desserts when I’m out and about, but when I see chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons, I need them. Neeeeeed them. Do not pass go, do not collect your things or walk away, just get your wallet out and pay for the damn macaroon. I’ve come to embrace my weakness…because embracing it means I get more macaroons.

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I love that most restaurants sell HUGE macaroons, because you can eat the whole thing and truthfully say, “I’m just eating one cookie!” (side note: this same logic also works for a large glass of wine). However, when I make macaroons at home I try to be much more responsible. Take this recipe, for instance, where the macaroons are not only a normal cookie size, but they’re also gluten AND refined-sugar free! What?! I know.

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Part of my inspiration for these little bites of heaven came from the honey in our pantry; I geek out at any opportunity to use our super flavorful clover honey from the Beast’s family farm in Wisconsin. No matter where your honey comes from, using a combination of honey and applesauce instead of white sugar keeps the inside of the macaroons chewy, soft, and without even the slightest hint of dryness. The chocolate coating is daaaark, silky smooth, ever-so-slightly bitter, and absolutely perfect.

Warning: you NEED to double, triple, or quadruple this recipe. 24 hours later, almost all of my macaroons were gone. Not only can I physically not stay away from them, but the Beast loved them, and even my mother, who always suspects that I put “weird” stuff in food, and hates baked goods without “real” (aka white) sugar, devoured the one I brought to her. Who even needs white sugar and gluten? Not me, and not even my mom, as long as we have macaroons.

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