Happy Friday! I’d say TGIF and all that, but this will be a weekend of Orgo, Orgo, and more Orgo. So I’ll just say TGMEWBOS (thank God Monday’s exam will be over soon).
Yesterday, we talked about making veganism accessible with easy, elegant, and healthful recipes. My reader Fiona pointed out that veganism isn’t always quite so easy as I like to make it seem; it can be lonely, challenging, and the early weeks, months, or even years can present challenges in the form of cravings for old favorites. I’m glad she raised the point, because it’s important: veganism isn’t always easy. I think it’s easier than the media sometimes suggests, but that doesn’t mean it’s a piece of (vegan) cake: if it were, I suppose a lot more people would be vegan already! That said, the challenges of veganism (as I edited my post to say) are rivaled–and hopefully surpassed–by the joys and pleasures of its food.
If you’re finding it hard to be vegan, please don’t feel as though you’re doing something wrong, or as if you’re the only one: most new vegans find the transition to be a little bumpy. But don’t feel that you need to give up, either: instead, focus on simple, healthy, and flavorful food that can be put together without too much fuss. If you’d like, you can start with this salad, which is as vibrant and satisfying as it is nutrient-dense.
This salad is a standard variation on any number of my nutrient dense salads, which tend to use the formula of:
Healthy fat + complex carb + protein source
As their starting point. I’m not dogmatic about this, and I’m open to nuance; beans, for instance, fit both the protein and the complex carb bill nicely, as does quinoa. But I’m generally mindful of getting all of my macronutrient groups in, if I can. Frequent nutrient-dense stars in my salads include beans and/or lentils, avocado, sweet potato, tempeh or tofu, raw crackers, nutritional yeast, hemp seeds, raw nut cheeses, and whole grains. I often add protein-rich dressings, such as my liquid gold dressing or my red pepper hemp sauce, for nutrient bonus points. After that, the bulk of my salads is raw vegetables and fruits, with an emphasis on variety and color.
This salad falls squarely within all of these lines. Quinoa provides protein and complex carbs, while avocado provides healthy fat. The beets, cucumber, and kale provide a varied array of color and micronutrients (and you could certainly expand on this to include more veggies) while the grapes add lovely, bright flavor. I rarely eat grapes on their own, but I do adore them in salads, and this one is no exception! Finally, white balsamic vinegar (a mellow relation of regular balsamic) brings it all together flavorfully while also eliminating the need for a great deal of extra oil; the half avocado in here takes care of creaminess well on its own.
I served the salad, as you can see, with some raw almond and veggie bread and my sweet pea hummus. Using leftovers wisely helps to make veganism affordable and easy! If you’re not going to include a side dish, you may want to consider adding some tofu or white beans for a little extra protein punch.
Grape, Avocado, and Baby Kale Salad with Quinoa (vegan, high raw, gluten free, soy free)
Serves 2-4 as either appetizer (4) or meal (2)
6 cups baby kale (or baby spinach)
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1/2 cup grapes, halved
1 cup beets, cut into small cubes
1 cup cucumber, cut into small cubes
1 whole avocado, cubed
3-4 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Mix all ingredients together well and season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Serve!
Once again, a beautiful, elegant dish that comes together very quickly if the quinoa is prepped in advance. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, and enjoy your weekends, too.