Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Salad with Soy-Miso Dressing

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This salad is packed with healthy fats, and flavor! Ginger and orange roasted carrots pair perfectly with a soy-miso dressing, nutty quinoa and creamy avocado. 

Dietary fat is unfortunately named. It’s easy to draw a parallel between the fat on our plate and the fat around our midsection.  Unfortunately, the importance of (healthy) fats in our diet is often overlooked. Here are my favorite reasons not to overlook fat: 

1. It's delicious. Fat contributes a distinct mouthfeel, helps caramelize natural sugars in foods and adds another dimension of flavor.  Think a bit of cream swirled into tomato soup, sweet potatoes roasted with coconut oil or a salad dressing whisked with an herbaceous, fruity olive oil.   2. It's filling. Fat slows down the release of food from your stomach into your small intestines, which increases satiety. This is a big reason low fat diets tend not to work.  3. You need fat to absorb the fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Vitamin A is needed for visual health, immune function and healthy skin. Vitamin D deficiency has been linked to a multitude of chronic disease including depression, multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, cardiovascular disease, and many types of cancer. Vitamin E is a potent antioxidant, powerfully protective against heart disease and vitamin K plays a vital role in blood clotting a bone health.

4. Your head is fat. No seriously. Your brain is made of about 60% fats.  Since we are what we eat, dietary fat is eventually incorporated into your brain. That's probably part of the reason why a diet high in healthy fats is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer's disease.  5. As fat slows the release of food from the stomach and into the small intestine, it also slows the rise in blood glucose after eating.  The fact that a low fat diet is still recommended for diabetics is particularly worrisome.   6. A low fat diet for high cholesterol was commonly recommended, and unfortunately still is.  Some high fat foods, like olive oil, nuts and avocado are well known for their cholesterol-lowering effect. 

If I see a food advertised as "fat free," to me, that's a sign to put it back on the shelf.  When you remove fat from a food that is supposed to have fat in it, like salad dressing or cheese, it means there's something else taking it's place, namely sugar, emulsifiers and starches.  Instead of looking at grams of fat or even the type of fat, ask yourself where the fat is coming from.  You'll find the answer to that question on the ingredients list.

My favorite fats?

Healthy fats

Extra-virgin olive oil
Nuts & seeds
Nut butters (look for ones made with nuts and salt)
Avocado
Coconut oil
Sesame oil
Walnut oil (and other nut oils)
Flaxseed oil
Peanut oil (preferably organic)
Canola oil (preferably organic)

Healthy-ish fats

Organic dairy
Pastured eggs
Pastured, organic animal proteins
Grassfed, organic butter
I refer to these foods as healthy-ish because they do contain a significant amount of omega 3 fats and are more sustainable and humane options compared to their conventional counterparts.  These foods are nutritious when used in moderation.
When you think of a "fatty" salad, you're probably thinking fried chicken strips, blue cheese and bacon bits.  But this salad is fatty in a good way, packed with healthy fats from coconut oil, sesame oil and avocado.  The miso dressing is to die for...I maybe, possibly, kinda sorta ate the rest with a spoon...then licked the bowl.  Lets keep that one to ourselves ; )
Roasted Carrot and Quinoa Salad with Soy-Miso Dressing
Author: Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE
Serves: Serves 4
Ingredients
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 lb carrots
  • Juice and zest of 1 orange
  • 1-2 teaspoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
  • 2 tablespoons miso paste (I used red miso)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • Microgreens (I used arugula)
  • 2 avocados, peeled and sliced
  • Sesame seeds
Instructions
  1. Place quinoa in a fine-mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly with water until it runs clear. This removes bitter tasting saponins, which naturally coat quinoa. Add quinoa and 2 cups water to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer and cook 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let stand, while covered, for 5 minutes. Set aside to cool to room temperature, or in the refrigerator/freezer to speed up the process - just give it a stir every so often to allow it to cool evenly.
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Trim the tops off the carrots. Cut in half lengthwise, then half or quarter lenthwise, depending on the thickness. Place on a rimmed baking sheet. Toss with orange juice, zest, coconut oil, ginger and season with salt and pepper. Roast for 20-25 minutes until crisp-tender.
  3. Meanwhile, make the dressing by whisking together miso paste, sesame oil, soy sauce and 1/4 cup water. Set aside.
  4. Divide microgreens among 4 plates. Top each with a scoop of quinoa, roasted carrots, 1/2 avocado and drizzle with dressing. Garnish with sesame seeds.