01 AUG 2022

Healthy Choice Ideas for Warm Weather Meals

A man wearing a burgundy red apron tossing together quinoa salad with wooden spoons in a wooden bowl.
Try out our clinical dietitian's Mediterranean quinoa salad recipe for your next summer get-together.

Looking forward to summer picnics, barbecues and festive gatherings? You may be asked to bring a side dish or some condiments. If you want to contribute something on the healthy side, consider these ideas offered by Laura O’Mary, clinical dietitian at NorthBay Health.

“I have a favorite Mediterranean Quinoa salad,” she said. “It’s great because it can be made in advance, is gluten free and vegetarian friendly.”

Find her recipe, below.

Prefer a pasta salad, but want to watch the carbs?

“You can definitely do a pasta salad but use whole grain pasta instead. And, anytime you have a salad with a mayonnaise base, you can replace half of the amount of mayo with plain Greek yogurt,” she added.

Another thing to keep in mind is that the condiments — such as barbecue sauces, ketchup or teriyaki sauce — can have a lot of added salt and sugar.

“If you’re watching your salt or sugar intake, use just enough to add flavor, and maybe experiment with adding more herbs and spices instead,” she advised.

Mediterranean Quinoa Salad

This dish makes 8 servings.

Salad Ingredients:

  • ½ cup quinoa, uncooked
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 3 artichoke hearts canned in water, drained
  • ½ container cherry tomatoes, halved
  • ¼ cup red onion, sliced
  • ½ cup cucumber, sliced
  • ¼ cup Kalamata olives, sliced
  • ½ cup feta cheese

Dressing Ingredients:

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine vinegar
  • ½ Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • salt and pepper


  1. Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh colander under cold water.
  2. Add quinoa and 1 cup of water to a small sauce pan and bring to a boil. Stir once, reduce heat to low and cover with a lid. Let simmer for 15 minutes then take off the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. After 5 minutes transfer quinoa to a separate container and put into the refrigerator to cool.
  3. Drain and rinse the garbanzo beans and drain the artichoke hearts.
  4. Wash and slice the tomatoes and cucumber.
  5. Once the quinoa has cooled, combine all ingredients in a large bowl with dressing and toss until evenly coated.

If you'd like more guidance on incorporating nutritious recipes and other healthy choices into your life, you can schedule an appointment with NorthBay dietitian, Laura O’Mary at (707) 624-7900.

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