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New Year’s resolutions are in full swing, and long gone are the days of carb slashing and starvation. I think Americans are beginning to understand that their mindsets, along with colorful fruits, veggies, whole grains, and unprocessed foods, are winning the war on health. This last year, to maximize my health, I focused on improving my sleeping patterns and upping my water intake, both of which yielded greater results than any diet I’ve ever adopted.

Now I want to add a veritable rainbow of color and crunch to my diet. As an aging millennial — yes, it’s a thing — I am astounded at how immediately food affects my moods and sense of well-being. When I’m getting extra servings of vegetables, I have more energy and feel lighter on my feet. I’m no doctor; I just love to cook. And I’m beginning to appreciate my body. Say goodbye to all the fad diets, and get more wholesome food into you.

Grain also has been put in a corner for the last several years, but I think ancient, chewy, delicious grains are going to have a moment in 2022. Here are three ways to achieve a fabulous lunch throughout the week by cooking just once for all three of these recipes. These stay fresh for up to five days.

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Maple Pecan Farro Salad

Prep time 15 minutes

Cool time up to 25 minutes

Serves 4–6

Did you know?

Farro is a term that refers to several species of hulled wheat.

Maple Dijon Citronette Dressing

½ cup olive oil

½ cup pure maple syrup

2 heaping tablespoons

Dijon mustard 1 clove garlic, crushed and minced

Juice of 2 lemons

Salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients, and whisk. Set aside.

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The Grains

3 to 4 cups cooked farro, wheat berries, or barley

1 cup dried cranberries, chopped

1 cup toasted pecans, chopped

2 to 3 cups chopped kale

2 to 3 cups cooked winter squash such as butternut or acorn, diced

4 ounces crumbled goat cheese

1. In a large mixing bowl, toss all grain salad ingredients.

2. Whisk, and add ½ of the dressing to start. Gently combine; taste for seasoning. Add more dressing as desired when served.

3. Enjoy for a vegetarian lunch, or add a fi let of cooked salmon or chicken breast for a protein-packed dinnertime meal.

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Thai-Inspired Wild Rice Salad

Prep time 45 minutes

Assembly time 5 minutes

Serves 4

Spicy Soy & Lime Dressing

  • Juice of 2 limes
  • ⅓ cup soy sauce
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce or chili garlic paste
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed and minced
  • 1 tablespoon sesame seeds
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine ingredients, whisk, and set aside.

Wild Rice Salad

  • 1 pound extra-lean ground turkey, or chicken
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
  • 3 cups cooked wild rice (may take up to 45 minutes to prepare)
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup shredded carrot
  • 1 bunch green onions, chopped
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • ½ cup chopped peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

1. In a large skillet, brown the turkey in the olive oil over medium heat. Season with soy sauce and fresh garlic.

2. In a large mixing bowl, add the rice, hot meat, cucumber, carrots, green onions, cilantro, peanuts, and sesame seeds.

3. Whisk, add ½ of the dressing, and toss to mix.

4. Serve warm or chilled. Add more dressing to taste when serving.

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Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

Prep time 15 minutes

Cool time 15–20 minutes

Serves 4

Lemon & Shallot Vinaigrette

  • ½ cup olive oil
  • 2 lemons, juiced
  • ¼ cup white vinegar
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons honey
  • 1 small shallot, finely minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients, whisk, and set aside.

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Quinoa Salad

  • 3 to 4 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 pound cooked shrimp
  • 2 cups sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup pitted kalamata olives
  • 1 cup chopped fresh sweet basil
  • 1½ cups fresh mini mozzarella balls
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill or ¼ cup fresh dill
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and diced
  • Salt and pepper to taste

1. Assemble all salad ingredients in a large mixing bowl.

2. Add ½ of the vinaigrette, and taste for seasoning. Add more when ready to serve, according to preference.