Once you try this summer-y tasting Quinoa Berry Salad with a hint of warming spices, you’ll want to have it as part of your salad rotation all year long.
From my conversations with clients, I have realized that some people have little to no experience cooking and preparing quinoa, so let’s start with some facts about this nutrient dense superfood.
Facts about quinoa
- It is pronounced KEEN-wah.
- Quinoa was originally grown in the Andes mountains of South America thousands of years ago
- It has been grown here in Canada, in Saskatchewan, for almost 30 years.
- It is technically an edible seed even though it is referred to as a whole grain. It is often called a pseudograin or psuedocereal (a seed that acts like a cereal and a grain).
- Quinoa plants grow to more than a metre tall and have dense flowering buds.
- After flowering the seeds dry on the stalk before being harvested.
- Quinoa contains saponin, which is a natural pest deterrent. Saponins are removed as part of commercial processing. The name saponin comes from the fact that the seeds create a lather like soap buds when they are rinsed.
- Fun fact: people who grow their own quinoa can remove the saponins by “washing” it in water in a blender or even out some quinoa in a cotton bag or pillow case and run it through the cold water cycle of your washing machine.
Nutritional benefits of quinoa
- gluten free, so is a great choice for people who are allergic to gluten containing grains or are not able to tolerate gluten for other reasons
- one of the few plant based foods that is a complete protein, containing all of the essential amino acids. Once cup of cooked quinoa contains 8 grams protein
- Has a low glycemic index, making it a good choice to support blood sugar management
- Is a good source of dietary fibre.
- Contains the antioxidant quercetin, that provides anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer benefits.
Other nutrient dense foods in this salad
- In addition to quinoa, the berries are rich in antioxidants and contain loads of fibre, vitamin C and manganese.
- Spinach is an excellent source of vitamin A, B vitamins including folate, calcium and iron.
- Almonds and pumpkin seeds are both a great source of vitamin E to protect cells from oxidative damage. So now let’s get to it!
How to make the salad
- Cook the Quinoa
- Make the dressing
- Assemble the salad
If you try this Quinoa Berry Salad, I’d love to hear what you think or, if you make any changes, what you do differently. Leave a comment and rate it below.
Quinoa Berry Salad
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup berries of your choice
- 2 cups baby spinach
- 1 tablespoon mint or more to taste preference, finely chopped
- ¼ cup almonds chopped
- ¼ cup pumpkin seeds
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- ½ tablespoon honey
- 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- nutmeg freshly grated (or dash of powdered nutmeg)
- In a medium saucepan, bring water and quinoa to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until water is absorbed, 13-15 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool. Fluff quinoa with a fork.
- Combine dressing ingredients in a jar and shake.
- Add cooled quinoa and remaining salad ingredients to a large bowl. Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat. Top with freshly grated nutmeg. Serve chilled or at room temperature.