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Thursday, June 19, 2014

Easy Quinoa, Black Bean & Veggie Salad with Tangy-Sweet Dressing (Vegan, Gluten-Free, Soy-Free, Refined Sugar-Free)

I really cannot stand boring salads. And many salads are, in fact, a snooze fest. That is honestly why I sneak most of my leafy greens into my smoothies so I can drink 'em down in a glorious, flavor-filled (thanks, fruit), smooth, and creamy green smoothie. I wish I could say I love how leafy greens taste and that they make me jump for joy, but I'd be lying to you, and I'm here to keep it real, because you're my friends. But I do get them in one way or another because they're essential for good health. :-)

So, what do I do to spruce up an otherwise insipid salad? I add one of my food crushes, quinoa, black beans to bulk it up and my favorite vegetables with a bangin' dressing. It is still all incredibly healthy for you, it is just healthy and a treat for your taste buds. Some think eating healthy food means sacrificing flavor but I am here to lay that misconception to rest! I certainly didn't sacrifice nutrition to have a delicious meal. Nope, everything is intact here and ready to nourish your body!

This super flavorful and totally non-boring salad is filled with an ample amount of plant-based protein thanks to the quinoa (1 cup = 8g) and black beans (1 cup = 14g). It also contains heart-healthy, LDL cholesterol-lowering mono-unsaturated fats and vitamins E & K from the extra virgin olive oil and avocado. The cilantro helps rid the body of toxic heavy metals, apple cider vinegar assists in liver detoxification, breaks up mucous in the body, which has been shown to relieve allergies, and helps keep the body's alkaline pH levels balanced. It also contains plenty of fiber to keep the digestive system moving and grooving and an abundance of disease-fighting antioxidants from the bell pepper and carrots.

The quinoa, black bean & veggie salad is paired with a slightly tangy and slightly sweet dressing. It's got a bite to it, which I love. It would work great as a side, but it also makes for a satisfying lunch or dinner on its own. You could serve it with a side of asparagus, broccoli or roasted brussels sprouts. Best of all, it is really easy to put together! I suggest doubling the recipe so that you have leftovers/meals for days. I am ALL about that. I am actually the leftover queen, if y'all didn't know (now ya know). I figure, if I am taking the time to make a meal, I want it to last for at least one more meal, although I usually make enough for 2 or 3 more meals. It would also be a wonderful lunch to take to work because it's no fuss and is meant to be eaten cold so no need to bother heating it up. You could even bring an avocado with you to slice up when it's ready to be eaten to give it some more bulk!

Quinoa, Black Bean & Veggie Salad with Tangy-Sweet Dressing
YIELD: 2-3 servings as an entrée; 4-6 servings as a side

For the salad:
• 2 cups cooked quinoa (click here to see how to make the perfect batch of quinoa)
• 1 (15 oz.) can black beans or 1 1/2 cups home-cooked black beans, rinsed and drained
• 1 bell pepper any color, chopped (I used 1/2 of 1 red bell pepper and 1/2 of 1 green)
• 1/3 cup cilantro, chopped
• 1/4 cup red onion, chopped
• 10 pitted green olives, sliced
• 1 large carrot, peeled
• 3 Tbs currants or chopped raisins or 2 dates, finely chopped (optional - gives it a nice, sweet punch)
• 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
• Avocado, pitted and sliced, for topping (optional)

For the dressing:
• 1 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
• 3 Tbs raw apple cider vinegar
• 1 large garlic clove, minced
• 3 drops liquid stevia (or use 1/2 tsp raw coconut nectar or pure maple syrup)
• 1/4 tsp cumin
• A few generous pinches of fine sea salt

1. In a small mixing bowl, whisk all of the dressing ingredients together. Let the flavors mingle while you prepare the other salad ingredients.
2. In a medium mixing bowl, mix all of the salad ingredients together. Then, mix in the dressing until well-combined. Enjoy!
*Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.

"To my mind, the life of a lamb is no less precious than that of a human being. The more helpless the creature, the more that it is entitled to protection by man from the cruelty of man." Gandhi


  1. This is my kind of salad! I'm like you and totally hate the idea of eating a boring bowl of just leafy greens for dinner. I need my add-ins like olives, beans and quinoa in order to be totally satisfied! Love that this salad uses all of my faves :) I definitely need to make this and tupperware it to be eating during the week! Thanks for another awesome recipe Claire!

    1. Just another similarity to add to the list! :-P Exactly... I wouldn't want to eat healthfully if it didn't taste good. Sooo, with that said, I am going to make more vegan Nutella hahaha.

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