Quinoa Super Salad with Ginger Lime and Sweet Chilli Dressing

When The Health Bay invited me to take part in a January healthy recipe challenge, I knew which recipe would be perfect for sharing this month. It’s one of my family’s all-time favourite salads, packed with vibrant colours, contrasting textures and dressed in the most delicious tangy vinaigrette. It also happens to be brimming with antioxidants, vitamins and minerals, so it’s great for keeping our immune systems strong and warding off those nasty Winter bugs.

Quinoa Rainbow Salad

Forget chips and chocolate, this is the food I most often crave. Every time I eat it, I feel so energized. My body feels like it’s literally zinging from all that goodness. Lil’ L absolutely loves it too and it sure does brighten up his lunchbox!

The salad contains two complete sources of protein – quinoa and edamame beans – which, combined with the healthy fats in the dressing, help to keep you feeling full up for longer. You don’t normally think of salads as being filling, but this one definitely is!

Quinoa is widely available these days. You can even buy ready-cooked pouches, which could be a useful starting point if you’re a newbie to this super seed. Though more expensive and a little more difficult to find, I love the tri-colour quinoa. Not only is it pretty, but it also has a lovely, slightly crunchy texture.

Tri Colour Quinoa

To save time in the week, I often cook a double batch of quinoa, then we use one batch for salad and the other for a hot main meal. However, if you’re starting this salad from scratch, you can prepare the other ingredients and dressing while the quinoa is cooking.

Boil or steam a cup of edamame beans for 3 minutes.

Edamame Soya Beans

Deseed and finely chop a sweet romano or bell pepper.

Sweet Romano Pepper

Finely julienne a carrot.

Carrot Julienned

Roughly chop some fresh coriander leaves and spring onions.

Coriander Leaves

Whizz all the dressing ingredients together until smooth.

Ginger, Lime & Sweet Chilli Dressing

Once the quinoa is cooked, I like to stir through a couple of teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil. I find this greatly enhances the texture and flavour of the quinoa.

Quinoa Cookied

You then simply need to combine all the salad ingredients and stir in the dressing until the quinoa is fully coated.

Time to tuck in!

Quinoa Rainbow Salad

Purple Haze Salad with Blackcurrant, Hemp and Mustard Vinaigrette

Salads have been noticeably absent from my blog and that’s because I only share recipes that are ‘Lil’ L approved’. Until recently, salad was definitely not on his love list. Last summer in Provence, I started to put tiny amounts of lettuce on his lunch plate and he would eat it… providing it was slathered in hummus or salad dressing. We slowly increased the portion size and, since Christmas, he’s actually been tucking in with enthusiasm. Finally, he’s feeling the love for salad leaves and he’s even enjoying taking them to school in his lunch box 🙂

Unlike Lil’ L, I’ve always been a fan of salad. As a kid, I would munch my way through my Dad’s homegrown salad patch – tomatoes, radishes, lettuces, beetroot, celery, cucumber – I loved it all! However, just like Lil’ L, I much prefer my salads well dressed. Tangy vinaigrettes or creamy mayonnaise can really help to bring a bowl of salad to life and definitely make it more appealing to kids!

When I was invited to take part in a Maison Maille Culinary Challenge, I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to devise a new, family-approved salad recipe. We were invited to select two products from their range, and I opted for the Dijon Mustard Originale and Red Wine Vinegar with Dijon Blackcurrant Liqueur. Unfortunately, the vinegar never arrived, however it did provide the inspiration for my recipe.

Blackcurrant, Hemp and Mustard Vinaigrette

While shop-bought salad dressings tend to be high in empty calories with little or no nutritional value, I try to make my home-made dressing the exact opposite. I love to pack them with nutrient-rich ingredients so I can drizzle on the dressing to my heart’s content, in full knowledge that it’s actually good for me and isn’t going to pile on the pounds. The dressing I’m sharing today is actually oil free. And check out that amazing colour!

I absolutely love the flavour of this dressing, and it’s been a huge hit with the rest of the family too (including Lil’ L!) It’s tangy, with a touch of sweetness and beautiful hint of blackcurrant. I’ve used real blackcurrants in the dressing which are loaded with antioxidants. To add a touch of creaminess, I blended in some hemp seeds, which also happen to be a great source of omega 3.

To complement this beautifully vibrant dressing, I’ve compiled a colourful, crunchy, protein-rich salad. I love the contrasting colours of the Ruby Gem lettuce. Like most lettuces, it’s packed with phytonutrients to keep us healthy.

Gem Lettuce 500

And surely nothing can beat red cabbage for vibrancy? As well as adding flavour, crunch and colour, red cabbage is packed with antioxidants, including vitamin C. Just one cup of shredded cabbage contains 85% of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C!

Red Cabbage copy

And here’s another antioxidant-rich, immune-boosting, tasty addition to my salad bowl – red pepper. I opted to use a sweet romano pepper, but bell pepper would work fine too.

Sweet Romano Pepper copy

For protein, I added some edamame (soya) beans. I love their fresh flavour and colour. I tend to undercook mine slightly so they’re nice and firm for salads or snacks. Soya beans have great health benefits but have received some bad press lately. If you want to find out more, check out this report from Viva!

Edamame Soya Beans

For an extra boost of protein and slow release energy, I added some chickpeas. This time, I opted for maple soy roasted chickpeas, but my Dukkah spiced chickpeas would also work well in this salad. Chickpeas are a nutrient powerhouse packed with protein, dietary fibre, antioxidants, B vitamins and minerals including iron.

Roasted Chickpeas copy

While not featured in today’s pics, I also highly recommend adding avocado to this salad bowl. It adds another great dimension of flavour and texture, as well as heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and vitamin E. Lil’ L is a huge avocado fan and always loves to add a few slices to his salad plates.

After snapping the photos, I couldn’t wait to tuck in!