Formula Meals: Quinoa Salad

Whip up a tasty, vegetarian quinoa salad that everyone will love! In minutes you can have a simple lunch, a quick weeknight meal, or the perfect picnic fare – no recipe required! 

Formula Meals: Quinoa Salad..learn the formula to make simple, healthy quinoa salads! Perfect for lunch or easy weeknight dinner!

I’m being very efficient today by combining my monthly Recipe Redux post with a Formula Meals post! This month’s Redux theme is spring cleaning. We were challenged to go through our pantry, cupboards, freezer, or fridge and choose an ingredient, spice, or condiment that’s been hanging out for a while. Then share a healthy recipe made using this new-found pantry prize. I decided to use this theme as a way to clean out my fridge. And what better way to clean out your fridge then to make a quinoa salad?

I perfected the quinoa salad last summer when I was doing some catering for a client. I made her a different quinoa salad each week and got pretty good at it. I discovered quickly that there was a formula for creating the most delicious quinoa salad. You don’t need a recipe, but the best iterations were those that contained a few specific ingredients.

I was never a real quinoa fan before making these salads for my client. Now I know that if I have some quinoa already made in the fridge, a delicious meal is just 10 minutes away!

What’s the Formula?

1 part quinoa: I like to mix the red and white quinoa together (or buy the tricolor).  To make, use one part quinoa and two parts water. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer for about 18 minutes or until the water is absorbed. I like to add lemon zest to the pot while cooking and then add a squeeze of lemon after cooking.  

2 parts vegetables: here’s where you can get as creative as you want. Whatever you go with, make sure you chop into bite-sized pieces. Some ideas are: steamed asparagus, chopped cucumbers, sliced cherry tomatoes, chopped zucchini, chopped broccoli (steamed or raw), fresh/frozen corn or peas, sliced radishes, chopped bell peppers, roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted cauliflower, etc.

1 part greens: the trick for adding the greens is to make sure you chop them into bite sized pieces!  I love using softer greens like baby kale, spring mix, baby spinach, arugula, watercress, pea shoots, etc.

1 part fresh herbs:  fresh herbs add so much flavor, don’t skip this part!  Experiment with chopped basil, mint, parsley, tarragon, dill or cilantro.

1 part fruit:  you can use fresh or dried fruit here. I love sliced apples, grapes, and strawberries. Dried cherries, cranberries, currants and golden raisins are fun, too!

1 part nut:  Every salad needs some crunch — sliced almonds are my go-to but I also love chopped walnuts, pecans, pistachios, and hazelnuts!

Always the same: a simple dressing of 2 parts olive oil, 1 part vinegar (of your choice), salt and pepper, juice from half a lemon, 1 tsp Dijon mustard, a few drops liquid stevia or 1 tsp honey.

Other optional add-ins:  black beans, chick peas or lentils are also a nice touch to any quinoa salad. 

Prepare quinoa and let cool while you chop the vegetables. If using already prepared quinoa, place 1-2 cups into a large bowl. Add your chopped vegetables, greens, herbs, and fruit to the bowl. In a small Mason jar, add the dressing ingredients and shake well. Pour dressing over salad and toss well to combine. Top with nuts and serve.

And that’s it! Don’t forget to check out what my other reduxers are whipping up for you this month!

Kung Pao Tempeh -- awesome veggie dinner when you're craving Chinese food!

Kung Pao Tempeh

Kung Pao Tempeh -- awesome veggie dinner when you're craving Chinese food!

Eating a primarily plant-based diet can leave you wanting more when it comes to some cuisines. Chinese food is one of them. Except for Eggplant with Garlic Sauce, Chinese veggie dishes are a bit of a drag. It’s either a ton of greasy noodles with broccoli or a soggy tofu dish. I don’t mind a good Vegetable Chow Mein, but it’s hard to come by. That being the case, I rarely enjoy Chinese food. Instead, I tend to experiment at home re-creating the great flavor of Chinese food using tempeh.

Kung Pao Tempeh #vegan #glutenfree #dinner #chinesefood

This Kung Pao Tempeh was inspired by this recipe using chickpeas. I subbed the chickpeas for tempeh and gave it my own twist. It was delicious. I find that many people think it’s the meat that makes a dish taste good. This is a prime example of how that is not always the case. It’s not the meat that makes this dish delicious, it’s the Kung Pao sauce. Master the sauce and you can have Kung Pao anything.

Kung Pao sauce with tempeh #vegan

Tempeh is a great way to experiment with Asian-inspired flavors because it soaks up the sauce so well. If you’re looking for more recipes, try one of these. Tempeh is much more meat-like in texture than tofu and a lot healthier. It also soaks up the delicious flavor that makes Chinese food so good!

Kung Pao Tempeh #vegan #dinnerFor the recipe, head on over to my Inspired Vegetarian column on Healthy Aperture. You can find it here. And don’t forget, you can eat tons more clean food just like this on my Nourish:21 Days of Clean Eating program that starts April 13th. Learn more about it below.

Nourish: 21 Days of Clean Eating spring program starts April 13th


vegetarian flavor bible review

Book Review: The Vegetarian Flavor Bible

The Vegetarian Flavor Bible is an essential reference for flavor pairings, nutrition information, and how-to tips for creating a plant-based diet. 

vegetarian flavor bible review

As National Nutrition Month comes to a close, I have the chance to introduce a book that will hopefully leave you inspired to get into the kitchen and create veggie-based meals. If you’ve ever asked yourself “What can I make with this?” The Vegetarian Flavor Bible, authored by award-winning Karen Page, has the answer. It’s a valuable reference to have on the kitchen counter for anyone, not just those of us who cook mainly with vegetables. More of a reference manual than a cookbook, it combines the basics of plant-based nutrition and how to maximize vegetarian flavors with in-depth lists of creative food pairings and tips.

One of the most valuable aspects of the Vegetarian Flavor Bible is its generous section on flavor matchmaking. As you know, I am big on creating simple meals with what I have on hand. I love to turn leftover black beans, some sprouts, sliced avocado, and crumbled tempeh into a week-day lunch. Since I’m pretty familiar with all of those ingredients, it comes easily to me. But what if I had never used tempeh before? The Flavor Bible’s matchmaking section describes tempeh’s flavor, its nutritional profile, tips on how to steam and marinate it, what flavors tempeh goes with, and it lists menu ideas on food pairings. Want to use tempeh in a sandwich? The flavor matchmaking guide suggests it pairs well with Russian dressing, sauerkraut, and Swiss. Tempeh Reuben, anyone? For a quick dinner idea the Flavor Bible suggests tempeh with coconut milk, collard greens, curry, and sweet potatoes and also lists the spices and complementary vegetables to go along with it.

If you’re in a vegetable rut and want to learn a few surefire ways to make them more of a focus on your plate, the Vegetarian Food Bible is worth scoping out. It will help give you the confidence to try new foods and help you make simple steps towards incorporating more real, whole foods into your lifestyle. Click here to learn more or buy the book!



Nourish: 21 Days of Clean Eating spring program starts April 13th