I have always wanted to be one of those people for whom healthy eating seems effortless for no matter what the situation.
You know what I mean.
The kind of person who can go to a restaurant and order a steamed vegetable plate not caring that they are spending $8 on, well, steamed vegetables. (That require almost no culinary skill to prepare and would cost approximately $1 to make at home.)
Or the kind of person who eats before parties and then doesn’t even seem to care about all the delicious treats on the buffet table.
Sadly, I’m just not there. Deprivation isn’t my thing.
I know that I eat better than a lot of people.
Certainly following a plant based diet has to count for something. And for someone who had Stage 3 hypertension in their 20’s to be over 40 and have their most recent blood pressure reading be 112/72 mean something is going right. (And it sure isn’t exercise….)
But my reality is that I’m a foodie at heart and rich dishes, breads and salty treats will probably always have a place in my life.
Lately it seems I’ve been doing especially bad. I’ll blame it on excessive cookbook testing (I have to make sure those bread recipes are right!) and a little something else that’s given me the excuse to eat for, oh, the last 4 months. (Can anyone guess what that might be?)
Anyhow, I’ve made a commitment to myself that given the time of year that instead of striving for perfection, I’m just going to make sure that I eat enough healthy foods first. (Before I hit the bread and chocolate.)
It’s recipes like this quinoa salad that make this commitment easy. It’s simple to put together and loaded with all my favorite things. It’s perfect just like it is with a salad, but for those of you who hate to eat the exact same thing twice in a row, it also makes a great wrap.
It’s the kinda lunch that makes me feel not so bad about that Green & Blacks chocolate bar sitting in the freezer with my name on it.
I found I only needed about 1/2 of the dressing for this when I first ate it, but by the time I got around to left overs I was glad that I had more for drizzling. The only thing I wished that I had on hand was corn. The grocery store closest to me doesn’t carry organic corn and I wasn’t up for a Whole Foods run, so I ended up making it without it. If you have corn on hand I think it would make a great addition. If you are starting with dried black beans I encourage you to try adding paprika in as I’ve suggested in the recipe notes. My 7 year old, who is by far the pickiest eater in the house, ended up eating 2 bowls thanks to this simple addition. (He said they smelled like hot dogs. I don’t get it but he used to really love hot dogs so that was a good thing.)
- 1 ½ cups cooked black beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 ½ cups cooked quinoa
- 2 roasted red bell peppers, diced
- 1 cup diced red onion
- 1 tomato, seeded and diced
- 1 poblano pepper, seeded and diced
- 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
- For Topping
- 1 avocado, pitted and diced
- 4 tablespoons (Vegan) Sour cream OR Greek Yogurt
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice
- 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 1/3 cup water + 2 teaspoons chia seeds OR 1/3 cup olive oil
- In a medium bowl combine black beans, quinoa, red pepper, red onion, tomato, poblano pepper and cilantro. Toss with desired amount of dressing (I used about half) and serve at room temperature or chilled. Drizzle with additional dressing and top with avocado and/or sour cream if desired.
- If you are using chia seeds for the dressing, combine chia seeds and 1/3 cup water and set aside for 10 to 15 minutes, until a gel forms.
- In a small bowl or jar combine lime juice, Dijon mustard, smoked paprika, chipotle chili powder and sea salt. Stir or shake to combine. Add olive oil or chia gel and whisk or shake until well combined.
Note: If you are starting with dried black beans try putting in a teaspoon of smoked paprika per one cup of dried beans! Similarly, if you don’t already have quinoa cooked and are cooking it specifically for this recipe (or for this and any other Mexican style quinoa), add in a teaspoon of smoked paprika per cup of uncooked quinoa.