Summer is now full-blown in NJ! It is really hot. When it gets hot, I like to have lighter, cooler lunches. Salads are my go to meal. I really like Quinoa, there are so many nutrients in it and it contains quality protein. In fact, Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it has all nine of the amino acids. This is very rare to find in one food. Usually, if someone is concerned about protein intake, they would have to combine a couple of foods together to get all nine amino acids.
Not only is Quinoa a complete protein but it also promotes energy production, heart health, helps protect the body from free radicals and contains tryptophan. That's right! Eating turkey is not the only way to get a good sleep! (Source: World's Healthiest Foods). Quinoa is gluten-free so if gluten is an issue for you, this grain is a perfect option.
Quinoa is very versatile. It can be used in stir-fry's, sandwich wraps, soups or salads. Some people even eat it for breakfast with fruit and uncooked oats. While I would not give up oatmeal and blueberries for breakfast, if I wanted to eat something different, quinoa would be a great alternative. Another great reason to eat quinoa is that it is not genetically modified. Also, quinoa has a built-in bug repellent so farmers don't need to spray it with a lot of pesticides. (Source: Prevention Magazine)
There are different types of quinoa. The Whole Grains Council states that white, red and black quinoa are the most harvested. White is the most popular to see at grocery stores. Red and black have slightly different characteristics than the white quinoa. Red tends to hold it's shape better so it is better for salads. Black is a bit earthier and sweeter compared to white quinoa. Whichever you choose, it will work well for this recipe.
I happen to have a tri-color quinoa in the cupboard so that is what I used in the salad. But if I had white available, I would have used that as well. This salad is loaded with veggies to ensure I am getting enough nutrients in my diet. I baked the veggies all together with a little garlic olive oil. However, if you wanted to roast the vegetables, that would work for this salad as well.
The salad is easy to put together once all the ingredients are cooked. Simply add a few chopped raw vegetables and hemp hearts for added crunch. Then toss with a dressing (or not) and lunch for the week is done. Plus, it is healthy and filling, giving you enough energy to last until dinnertime.
If you make my Quinoa Vegetable Salad, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram as @heatherleehurst and use the #heathershealthhabits hashtag. I love seeing your takes on my recipes! If you want to receive free healthy living tips and recipes, follow my blog on Bloglovin.
Makes 4 Servings
1/2 cup quinoa
1 medium sweet potato
1 medium eggplant
12 Brussels Sprouts
2 Celery sticks
1 cup arugula
1/3 cup hemp hearts
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds
Vinaigrette of your choice
Salt & pepper to taste
1) Preheat oven to 250 degrees
2) Cook Quinoa according to directions
3) Chop sweet potato and eggplant into bite size squares. Place into baking dish. Slice Brussels sprouts into thin slivers. Place on top of sweet potato and eggplant. Drizzle with garlic olive oil. Bake until sweet potato is soft. This can take 3-4 hours on a low temperature. If you are pressed for time: place vegetables on a sheet pan in a single layer, preheat oven to 400 degrees, drizzle with olive oil and bake for 20 minutes.
4) Let vegetables and quinoa cool.
5) Chop celery sticks into bite-sized pieces.
6) Toss quinoa, cooked vegetables, celery sticks, arugula, hemp hearts and pumpkin seeds together. Add salt & pepper to taste.
7) Drizzle vinaigrette on top. Place in refrigerator to cool for 3-4 hours.