Quinoa salad is a healthy alternative to eating salad greens for lunch every day. If you’re not familiar with quinoa, here is some useful information as well as a healthy salad to try.
What is Quinoa?
Quinoa has only recently become popular in the United States, but it has been cultivated by native peoples in the Andes Mountains of South America for over 5,000 years. Quinoa flakes are flattened grains of quinoa that still contain all the nutrition of quinoa, but cook more quickly.
Higher in protein than any other grain, quinoa is so nutritious that NASA has used it to feed astronauts on long-term space missions.
Unlike most plant-based foods, quinoa is a complete protein, which means it contains all of the essential amino acids. Amino acids are the building blocks of the proteins that make up your muscles, bones, skin, and blood. The nine classified as “essential” must be obtained from food daily — your body cannot produce or store them — and quinoa provides all nine.
The USDA recommends that at least half of the grains you eat be whole grains like quinoa. Refined grains have been stripped of most of the fiber, iron, and vitamins present in the whole grain. Including whole grains in your diet can help lower your risk of diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.
Quinoa is a great source of fiber. Fiber can prevent or treat constipation and may lower your risk of intestinal cancers. It also helps you feel full longer, so it may help with weight loss.
Maintaining a healthy weight is important for heart health. The fiber in quinoa can also help with cholesterol and blood sugar levels, lowering your risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Quinoa is rich in antioxidants, which can prevent damage to your heart and other organs. A diet high in antioxidants has been linked with a decreased risk of heart disease.
Quinoa Salad Bowl with Ginger Dressing
I like the warm kale and quinoa to mingle with the cold ingredients. The contrasts in temperature and texture make every bite interesting.
Ingredients (serves 2)
6 cups packed baby kale or spinach
1 cup cooked warm quinoa
1 cup shelled edamame, thawed from frozen
½ avocado, sliced
¼ cup matchstick-cut or grated radishes
½ cup matchstick-cut or grated carrots
1 scallion, thinly sliced (optional)
¼ cup sunflower seeds
6 Tbs. Ginger Dressing (see recipe below)
1. In a large pan, bring ¼ cup of water to a boil over high heat. Add the kale and cook until tender, 1–2 minutes. Drain well.
2. Arrange the kale and the remaining ingredients in 2 bowls. Top each bowl with 3 Tbs. of the Ginger Dressing.
Nutrition Per serving (2 cups salad + 3 Tbs. dressing):
• Calories: 450
• Total fat: 24 g
• Sat fat: 3.5 g
• Carbs: 44 g
• Fiber: 15 g
• Total sugar: 8 g
• Added sugar: 0 g
• Protein: 20 g
• Sodium: 570 mg
Ginger Dressing for Quinoa Salad (makes 1 cup)
No miso? No problem. Substitute reduced-sodium soy sauce and omit the water.
¼ cup white or red miso paste
1/3 cup applesauce
2 Tbs. rice vinegar
2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
2 Tbs. peanut oil (or other neutral oil like grapeseed, safflower, or sunflower)
2 Tbs. water
1. Combine all the ingredients in a blender and process until smooth. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Click here to get full quinoa salad recipe.