Crowd-Pleasing Golden Potato Honey Citrus Quinoa Salad



Last week while we were in California, my man’s little hometown had a pre-Fourth of July potato salad contest.

“I’m going to enter,” I announced the morning of.

“You don’t make potato salad,” he said with a laugh.

He was right. Potato salad isn’t something in my normal repertoire of food. I didn’t grow up with it, I’ve never been a fan of store-bought versions, and I’m not a big user of mayonnaise in many things. None of those facts were going to stop me from trying, though.

“Hey, but I do know quinoa,” I announced with a confident smile. “So I’m just going to make a quinoa salad that’s heavy on the potatoes.” We high fived and I was off to the kitchen.

The key for quinoa (and most any salad, really) is it only tastes as good as the things you put in it. So, I asked my mother in law what’s typically in a potato salad then decided simple and ‘traditional’ ingredients would be the base for my quinoa: potatoes, hardboiled eggs, celery, and green onions. Regardless of the ingredients, though, I knew what mattered most was my dressing – and I needed something that seemed traditional even though I was going against the grain and not using mayo. Hmmmm….

It took a bit for the flavors of the dressing to come together just right. I tasted, amended, tasted again, amended a little more, and then, when I felt it was done, I called in the big guns: my girls. They are my thumbs up, thumbs down critics – and I can always count on the truth and nothing but the truth when it comes to my food.

“What are you making,” Kenna asked with Selah in toe.

“Here, it’s the potato salad I’m taking to enter in the store’s contest,” I said as I maneuvered a bite into her mouth.

Three, four, five seconds passed as she let the flavors fall on her palate. She was looking me in the eye the whole time she chewed.

“Mmmmm, I’ll have another bite,” she said as she grabbed a new spoon and dug into the bowl.

“I want to try it, too,” Selah said, almost as if she was being left out of something spectacular.

Now I had both of them chewing… both of them saying ‘mmmmm’ as they looked at me and each other… and both of them asking for their own little bowl to take out by the pool for lunch. I was pleasantly surprised, to be totally honest – surprised I got them to eat potato salad! But they did – and they loved it – and it was time to get it to the store.

I walked my quinoa potato salad to the back of the market hosting the challenge and threw my proverbial hat in the ring. I was told they were only expecting 5 or 6 entries for the contest, but when I arrived there were close to 30! I didn’t have high expectations. I recognize with food that ‘good’ is subjective… and dressing my quinoa potato salad with a non-mayonaise, non-traditional dressing in this All-American town was a stretch. But, we can’t win if we don’t try, right?

Did I win? …no. And, that’s okay. When they announced the winner it was a gal a little older than me – a local mom that screamed a little when she heard her name then called her daughter with the news. She was so excited for the $500 prize I got a little teary-eyed seeing that blessing fall down on her and make her day. “It was my grandma’s recipe,” she bubbled as I congratulated her – her face was bright and her eyes were beaming. Her joy warmed my heart.

was declared a ‘Crowd Favorite’ made it to the top 5 judge off, though. And you know what else? While I wasn’t the champion of the store’s competition, the fact I got my girls to not only try this salad but ask for more… well, that’s all the win this mama needs to feel like a champion.

So, in case you’re looking to please a crowd tomorrow with your potato salad and you love quinoa and you love going against the grain of ‘traditional’, I highly suggest giving this a try. 🙂

Ingredients for Salad:


5 pounds gold potatoes, chopped into small cubes and boiled in salted water until soft
3 cups cooked quinoa
5 hardboiled eggs, diced
1 cup finely chopped celery
3/4 cup chopped green onions

Ingredients for Dressing:

3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2  cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/4 rice vinegar
2-3 TBSP fresh dill, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, diced and smashed
1 TBSP mustard (yellow or dijon)
1 TBSP honey
1 TBSP lemon zest
1 TBSP + 1 tsp sea salt
1 TBSP + 1 tsp black pepper

Dice your potatoes in little cubes then place them in a pot of salted water to boil til soft
While your potatoes boil, whisk all your dressing ingredients together, and set aside.
When potatoes prick easy with a fork, drain them and put them into a large bowl. Add your diced hardboiled eggs, celery, and green onions.
Pour your dressing over the mixture.
Stir the mixture until all ingredients are evenly coated, then add your quinoa and stir again to incorporate.

Then…. ENJOY!



(NOTE: This recipe will feed 20-25 people.)

Have a wonderful and SAFE Fourth of July! As always, I’m honored you’re here with me…


Halloween Sugar Overload? Maybe Not…

candy overload

I don’t mind candy. Really, I don’t.

I’ve said it before: candy is an identifiable evil around here. We all know it’s junk; we all know if we eat too much it will make us feel like junk. So, we ‘treat’ ourselves with it… we don’t make it a regular part of our day or our diets.

(It’s the junk food masquerading as ‘healthy’ that get’s me concerned… but that’s for another day.)

So, the issue for me today isn’t the candy… the issue is: how can I teach my children that, even in the face of an over-abundance of treats, they can exercise self-control, moderation and even a little gratefulness?

Today on AM Northwest I shared my four easy steps for fending off the sugar overload (and using tonight as a platform for lifelong lessons). They are:


Just like we’re told not to grocery shop on an empty stomach, kids shouldn’t be sent out trick-or-treating on an empty stomach. They need protein and fiber – both of which will keep them feeling fuller, longer.

So, tonight of all nights, make dinner. Throw together a big pot of  hearty bean and vegetable stew that will be warm and filling before they head into the cold night. Make a quick fried quinoa with sausage for them; or, just put out some hardboiled eggs, a plate of fruit, and some salami and cheese! (Filling them up on pasta or heavy cheesy food like pizza is a prime foundation for a stomach ache after the candy is added in.) If they get out with a tummy full of good stuff, it will be easier for them to exercise self-control when they are out and about with a bag of candy in their hand.


Mind the Water! Make sure your kids drink lots of water before heading out the door. (Hydration is the key to suppressing the urge to overindulge – for kids as much as adults!) No sugary drinks – WATER. Often we eat thinking we’re hungry… but we’re really just thirsty. So, keep them hydrated and, again, it will be easier for them to fight off the cravings and use self-control.


When my kids return with their stash, no candy gets eaten until they understand the rules of engagement with the candy: how much they’re allowed to eat, how much they’re allowed to keep, where it will be kept, and where all the leftover candy goes. (And, they always return home to fruit, cheese, and something warm, like apple cider.) They spread out, categorize, horse-trade, and, yes, I even let them eat until they can’t eat anymore. (Funny thing: they usually can’t eat as much as you would think because I’ve already stuffed them full of good food and water. Ha! Mommy wins without even fighting the battle!)

They each get a quart sized bag that they’re allowed to stuff to the brim with their favorites. (Lesson: Discernment.) The think and even agonize a little… but, ultimately, each child walks away with a bag of candy that is theirs and theirs alone.

(SIDE NOTE: I never allow candy in their bedrooms – ever. All the candy stays in the kitchen and they are allowed to pick one ‘treat’ a day (and maybe an extra or two with permission).)

And the extras? The extras become ‘family domain’; we toss everything else in a big plastic container and then….


There are so many things to do with the ‘extra’ candy that doesn’t include eating it:

  • create a beautiful display of candy for an ice cream / froyo topping bar on a family movie night
  • mix chocolates in with dried fruit and nuts for kids snacks
  • create ‘thank you’ bags for your local firefighters, police officers, mail carriers, garbage workers – all those whose service often gets overlooked
  • create ‘you’re a sweet friend’ bags the kids can surprise their friends with over the next couple of months
  • drop the extra off in the teacher’s lounge at school with a little note that says “thank you for all you do”
  • call your dentist / Orthodontist – many will often buy the candy from the kids
  • send it to our troops via Operation Gratitude – again, another way to get our kids thinking about and appreciating those who give their lives for our safety.
  • save it for your gingerbread houses (I can’t wait to tell you about our gingerbread house tradition in December!)

Sound too harsh? I hope not… because it works. It relieves my stress, it keeps us on track as a family. And, believe it or not, I think my kids are happy to have parameters put around this day of over-indulgence – not to mention I think they’re thrilled to know that, while mommy makes them eat quinoa on a regular basis, they’ll never be forbidden a little extra sweetness in their day.

Happy Halloween everyone! Be safe…and here’s the link: