Quinoa & Lentil Salad Vegan Recipe
Recently, I’ve been posting about the important health benefits of fiber in kids’ diets. I’ve also gone through a top ten list (part 1 & part 2) of the best high fiber foods to try on your kids. But having a good recipe or two helps, so here’s one I made this week for my family: Quinoa & Lentil Salad!
Sadly, much of the processed food kids eat today is very low in fiber. Refined carbohydrates, like white flour and white rice, have the fiber-rich outer casing of the grain removed. And of course, animal products don’t contain any fiber at all. Meat, poultry, fish, dairy, and eggs, are lacking in fiber. Kids who eat lots of these foods are likely to not be getting enough fiber and can end up developing other health issues. Constipation is the health issue most likely to arise first, and should be taken as a major warning sign. Unfortunately, other more life threatening diseases such as heart disease and cancer are also linked to low fiber intake. It is very easy to increase fiber intake if you have a few good recipes!
One of my favorite ways to increase fiber intake is to use juice pulp left over from juicing fruits and vegetables. There are many ways to use this leftover pulp! One of the most popular ways to use leftover fruit pulp is in muffins or cupcakes. I also use vegetable pulp to make crunchy crackers we all love to snack on.
But the best way to get more fiber in your kids’ diets is just to give them fiber-rich foods as part of their daily diet. That’s why I made this Quinoa & Lentil Salad. My kids are both happy to eat it (my 2 year old likes to pick out all the lentils and eat them first). It also keeps well in the refrigerator and is easy to pack in a container and take to school. Unlike leafy salads, it won’t get soggy or gross, so make a big batch and it can easily be lunch for a few days!
This quinoa & lentil salad contains not one, not two, but three high fiber ingredients. Quinoa, lentils, and artichoke hearts all feature in this delicious salad. One one-cup serving of quinoa & lentil salad will give your kids more than half their daily fiber requirements! And it’s vegan and gluten free, too!
Quinoa & Lentil Salad
- 2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed
- 1 cup uncooked brown lentils, rinsed
- 8 large artichoke hearts, quartered
- 1 large English or 2 smaller Lebanese cucumbers, chopped (peeling optional)
- 2 large or 3 medium tomatoes, chopped (I omitted these because my hubby cannot eat them, but added them into the salad when I served to the kids & myself.)
- 1/4 cup fresh herbs, finely chopped (I used dill, basil, and tarragon in equal amounts, but use whichever herbs you like best or have on hand.)
- 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tbsp organic apple cider vinegar
- pinch himalayan pink salt (optional)
- Cook the quinoa with 4 cups of water, per package instructions, until all water is absorbed. Fluff cooked quinoa with a fork.
- Boil lentils until soft but not mushy (approx. 25-30 minutes).
- If using fresh artichokes (as I did), quarter & steam your artichoke hearts. If using jarred/preserved hearts that are ready to eat, simply quarter them.
- Allow quinoa, lentils, and artichokes to cool.
- Combine quinoa, lentils, artichokes, cucumbers, and tomatoes, and mix.
- Mix herbs, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, and salt to make dressing.
- Pour dressing over salad and mix well. Serve immediately while salad is slightly warm or place in fridge and allow to sit. Keeps for 3-4 days.
- For a non-vegan version, replace the salt with some finely crumbled feta cheese or some finely grated parmesan.
- For a vegan alternative, omit the salt and add in some finely chopped olives (black, green, or kalamata are all fine).
- Vary the vegetables! Consider adding some other veggies or fungi, such as mushrooms, finely diced red onion, capsicum (bell pepper), wilted or fresh baby spinach, or baked pumpkin cubes.
- Mix up the herbs. Changing the herb mixture will greatly alter the flavor of the dish. Quinoa, lentils, and atichokes all have mild flavors, so the flavor of this dish is pretty much controlled by the herbs in it.
This quinoa & lentil salad is pretty much a complete meal in itself. Most of the major nutrients are featured in it. Jazz it up by mixing in some baby kale or baby chard and you’ll be certain to have hit all the high points. It is not only a high fiber dish, but a high protein one, too! Quinoa is pretty much a complete protein in itself, but lentils are also very high in protein. Other essential nutrients like iron and vitamin C also play a major role.
I hope you enjoy this salad as much as we have!