I originally developed this recipe, which was my first full meal original creation for which I wrote a recipe, because I am a big fan of salads that have a lot of colour, a variety of flavours, and are a complete, well-balanced meal by themselves. It was for a recipe assignment for the Academy of Culinary Nutrition’s Culinary Nutrition Expert program.
You can imagine my excitement when just a couple of months later this recipe was selected to be included in the Academy of Culinary Nutrition From Scratch 2019 Cookbook!!!
I thought buckwheat groats would be a good gluten-free grain to add to a hearty “full-meal” salad, because it contains B-vitamins, folate, manganese, and zinc, all important nutrients to support bone health as well as emotional well-being. It is one of the few plant proteins that contains all nine essential amino acids. One of these amino acids is tryptophan, which is the precursor to serotonin (the mood enhancing neurotransmitter). Buckwheat supports cardiovascular health and blood sugar balance.
Roasted spicy sweet potatoes add a delicious layer of spicy-sweetness to the salad. I love combining roasted and raw vegetables in full meal salads.
I wanted to include leafy greens in this dish because they are rich in antioxidants vitamins A, C, E, and K, which help reduce inflammation, as well as selenium, which supports thyroid function, and zinc. ZInc is needed for vitamin A metabolism. I chose kale instead of spinach because it is not as delicate as spinach and would hold up better in this dish. Kale contains mood-boosting B vitamins, including B2, which helps the body deal with stress, has indole-3 carbinol to detox xenoestrogens and, like all cruciferous vegetables, is high in sulforaphane, an anti-cancer and antimicrobial phytochemical.
Chickpeas provide a source of complete protein, help to balance blood sugar, and are an excellent source of magnesium and folate.
Sweet peppers and purple cabbage offer beautiful colour and are rich vitamins and antioxidants, so they were tossed into the mix as well to maximize the nutritional value of the recipe. Did you know that sweet peppers have a higher vitamin C content than orange juice?
I also decided to add rosemary, turmeric and hemp seeds to my regular standby salad dressing to increase the essential fats, and antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties of the dish. Feel free to play around with the ingredients and make it your own.
Mood Boosting Buckwheat Groats Salad
- 1 cup buckwheat groats
- 1.5 lb. sweet potatoes
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- ½ tbsp. tamari soy
- ¼ tsp. cumin
- ¼ tsp chili powder
- ¼ tsp pepper
- ¼ tsp paprika
- 1 can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 cup chopped sweet pepper mixed colors
- ½ small red onion diced
- 1 cup purple cabbage chopped
- ½ cup grated carrots
- 1 cup chopped kale
- ¼ -½ cup parsley
- ⅓ cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. maple syrup
- 1 clove garlic minced
- ½ tsp. dried rosemary
- ¼ tsp. dried turmeric
- ¼ cup hemp seeds
- salt to taste
- Heat oven to 400°. Peel sweet potatoes and cut into small cubes, about 1/2 “. Toss sweet potatoes in olive oil and tamari soy and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Mix the cumin, chili powder, pepper and paprika together and sprinkle over the sweet potatoes. Roast the sweet potatoes for 25 minutes.
- Rinse one cup of buckwheat groats well. Add the buckwheat groats and 2 cups of water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer and simmer, covered for 15-20 minutes. The groats should be cooked al dente. When cooked, rinse the groats under cold water to stop the cooking process and remove the gel-like consistency that forms during the cooking process.
- Chop the peppers, red onion, cabbage, kale and parsley and grate the carrots.
- Make the dressing by adding all ingredients to a glass jar and shaking to mix.
- Add the roasted sweet potatoes, cooked buckwheat groats, chickpeas and all vegetables to a large bowl. Pour the dressing over the salad and mix in.