We love a quinoa bowl as a heartier version of lunchtime salads. You can squeeze in just as many nutrient-dense vegetables, but the grain base helps make the meal more satisfying. You can rotate the ingredients as seasons change, simply using this recipe as a guideline that will work year-round.
Gluten-free grain for the win
Quinoa is one of our favorite gluten-free grains. It is a complete protein, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids that our body requires for optimal health. This is noteworthy, because most complete proteins come from animal sources like meats, making quinoa an important grain for vegans and vegetarians in particular. Amino acids are crucial for many functions in the body, like energy production, immunity, and building or maintaining muscle mass.
One thing to note about quinoa (and most legumes, grains, and nuts) is that we recommend buying “sprouted” quinoa or sprouting quinoa yourself, by soaking it in water before cooking. This is an important part of the process because quinoa contains enzyme inhibitors that make it harder to digest and also blocks nutrient absorption. The process of sprouting or soaking breaks these inhibitors down, so that this quinoa bowl is better digested and its nutrients are accessible by the body.
Asparagus for brain health
Asparagus is a favorite vegetable that peaks during warmer months. We love it for this bowl because it is so quick to prepare and adds a pop of color and many benefits. It’s loaded with fiber, folate, and vitamins A, vitamin C, E, and K. Thanks to its folate content, asparagus is particularly helpful at preventing cognitive decline, which is common with aging. It’s important to consume enough B-12 as well since the two nutrients work as a team to improve brain health.
Asparagus is often labeled as a “cleansing” vegetable since it helps reduce bloat and removes excess water from the system. Asparagus acts as a natural diuretic, thanks to its content of the amino acid asparagine. This compound increases urination, which not only removes excess fluids from the body but also helps remove excess salt. This is important for maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and reducing the risk of heart disease.
1 cup uncooked quinoa
4 cups arugula
3 cups asparagus
1/4 cup parsley, minced
1/4 cup mint, minced
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for cooking asparagus
3 tablespoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon lemon zest
2 cloves garlic
Salt and pepper to taste
Cook quinoa according to package. Set aside to cool.
Cut asparagus into 2-inch pieces, discarding white ends. Heat a nonstick pan over medium heat. Drizzle a light coat of olive oil in pan, then add asparagus, salt, and pepper. Cook, occasionally tossing, until the asparagus is slightly tender and bright green (4-6 minutes). Set aside.
Mince garlic. Whisk minced garlic and remaining dressing ingredients together.
Peel and remove the core of avocado. Cut into chunks. Combine quinoa, arugula, asparagus, avocado, parsley, and mint. Toss with dressing and serve.
Recipe and photography by Kaitlyn Noble
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