Black Quinoa Kale Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts

Black Quinoa Kale Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts

This week I'm switching things up.  Switching blogs that is.  I will be sharing my recipe for Turnip Oven Fries & Raw Avocado Dip on Straightforward Nutrition's website and Linn will be sharing her salad recipe here!  Linn creates delicious healthy recipes and has great advice on how to live a healthy vibrant life.  I'll let her tell you a little bit about herself:

My name is Linn Thorstensson. I am Swedish Nutritional Therapist based in Co. Cork, Ireland. 

Originally it was my love of race horses which brought me to Ireland. After just a few months though, I had fallen head over heels in love with the beauty and serenity of this country. Having lived here more than a third of my life now, certainly consider it my home. 

I currently work as a Nutritional Therapist in Cork, running weight loss programmes with the focus on helping people eating well, feel well and get of the “diet-treadmill”.  

What is your food philosophy?

The name of my business and website describes it pretty well I think. To me eating well should be simple, wholesome, taste great and be nourishing on all levels. I love recipes with just a couple of basic ingredients, as close to nature as possible.

My food philosophy is about abundance. I try to keep it varied, eating what makes me feel good and usually when I eat something processed which I thought I fancied, it mostly serves as a reminder to why I don’t eat those foods on a regular basis.

What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?

I have a really sweet tooth. Ever since I figured out how bad processed sugary treats made me feel, I stay clear of them. So instead when I feel my blood sugar drop and I crave something sweets, dates are my go to food. Nothing beats a soft moist medjool date with some cashew nut butter on top! 

I also have a thing for red lentils. And chickpeas… I blame my vegetarian upbringing for this. I just feel so good when I eat them.  And the variations are endless.

What is your best advice for living a healthy lifestyle?

Tune in to your body. Learn to listen to what it really wants. When I eventually gave up dieting and stepped off the scales for good, it became about eating foods which would nourish my body instead of punishing it. There is no “good” or “bad” foods as such. Only food which will make you feel great. And stuff which makes you feel sluggish, tired, bloated and miserable. You choose. I do believe processed “edible food like substances” should be limited, (or eliminated) though. They bring nothing to the table really. Other than that, eat what sits well with you and your body. Make any changes gradually and take care to enjoy the experimenting and exploration. You are worth feeling a million dollars, every day!

I believe the same thing applies to exercise. Move. It will also make you feel good. Choose to move and exercise in a way that makes YOU feel happy and energized. Chances are you won’t keep it up otherwise. One belief I used to hold though, was that the fitter you got the less it would hurt. However I let this notion go, as I no longer believe it is true. You will get fitter and stronger which means you can DO more, but you will probably still be sore, at least those times when you are stretching your boundaries. On a personal note I have also noticed that the stronger my body gets, the stronger I feel mentally. Win-Win.

What inspires you to live a healthy lifestyle?

Since I joined the Instagram community, it has proven to be a daily source of inspiration. I just love how you can connect with likeminded people and get tons of inspiration from all the stunning images of lovely dishes people eat every day.

In the past year I have discovered more and more amazing blogs, like yours (of course!) but also other great ones like the First Mess, My New Roots, My Darling Lemon Thyme and Green Kitchen Stories of course. One of the first blogs I found, many years ago was Heidi Swanson’s stunning 101 Cookbooks. I still visit it from time to time and use some of her recipes.

As for cookbooks, I’m worried I have developed and addiction… And I am quickly running out of space for them all. The most loved ones are the ones with great photography coupled with simple recipes using only wholefood ingredients. Dale Pinnock’s new The Medicinal Chef & Healthy Every Day are just fab.

Sometimes my inspiration to live a healthy lifestyle simply comes from within. I am grateful for all the good things in my life. That I get to do things I love and things which make me feel good. The fact that I can do just that inspires me to do more good and continue to grow and develop both my business and personally.

I thank you Chelsea for the opportunity to share part of my story and a simple salad recipe with your readers.

This recipe pretty much sums up my food philosophy of assembling a couple of wholesome ingredients in to one healthy nourishing meal.  I know kale is in fashion at the moment and so is quinoa, so it might not be the most original of ideas, but all the flavours here marries into one amazing taste experience! Enjoy 

For my recipe for Turnip Fries and more info about Linn & Straightforward Nutrition visit:

Black Quinoa Kale Salad with Toasted Hazelnuts


4 cups curly kale, washed, stems removed & finely chopped

1 cup black quinoa, rinsed – If you can’t find black quinoa, red or white will work fine too.

2 cups cold water

1 pomegranate, seeds removed

2 small apples, finely sliced – preferably organic. Use a crunchy sort which will give the best texture and flavour.

½ cup raw hazelnuts

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

3 tbsp olive oil

A pinch of sea salt, to season

Heat your oven to 390 degrees (200°C). To toast the hazelnuts, place them on a baking tray. Then toast in the oven for about 10 min. Keep an eye on them, they burn easily. Once you see the skin beginning to crack, remove from the oven. Allow to cool a little before giving them a gentle rub to remove the skins. Chop roughly and set aside.

To cook the quinoa; rinse it well to remove the bitter outer coating. Place it in a saucepan with the cold water and a tight fitting lid. Bring to the boil and then reduce the heat to very low and cook covered for 12 minutes, until the grain is tender. Turn off the heat, but leave the lid on for a further 10 minutes. Set aside to cool down

In a salad bowl, add the balsamic vinegar, olive oil and a pinch of salt. I love using Himalayan Pink Salt as it has great taste. Whisk until combined then add in your chopped kale. Massage the dressing in to the kale gently with your hands. Add in the cooked quinoa and pomegranate seeds. Mix until well combined. Add the sliced apples and hazelnuts, just before serving. Give the whole thing a gentle toss. Tuck in! 

It will taste even better the following day. Serves 2 hungry people.