Sunday, February 2, 2014

Quinoa Black-Bean Salad.

A year ago, I decided to make some lifestyle changes towards better health and healthy living. As part of this, I decided to avoid gluten.One of the gluten- free grains I came across was the protein-rich quinoa. Quinoa was all the rage then. It has come a long way from being in health food stores into mainstream grocery stores. It is a superfood with several health benefits. I did not know what to do with it. I have a colleague of mine who has food sensitivity and uses quinoa as a rice substitute. She gave me some quinoa to try out and I  could not do it. I love my rice! I decided to make upma with it just by substituting the sooji( semolina) for quinoa. It turned out horrible!  She then gave me some quinoa- black bean salad one day for lunch & I loved it! I decided to again try making quinoa again ( especially since I had a 5lbs bag of it!). The quinoa black-bean salad was a great hit ! It has been liked and devoured every single time I made it! Of course I have tweaked her recipe a little!This is for you Lyra.Here is my recipe:

Servings: 6


Quinoa : 1 cup
Water: 2 cups
Black beans: 1 8oz can
Corn kernels: 1 8oz can
Spring onions( scallions): 1 small bunch, finely chopped.
Red/white onion: 1 small, finely chopped.
Bell pepper green( capsicum): 1 small, diced.
Orange/red/yellow bell pepper: 1 small,diced.
Cucumber: 1small, diced.
Tomato: 1 small, deseeded and diced ( optional).
Dried cranberries: 2 tbsp( optional)
Coarsely chopped walnuts: 2 tbsp( optional)
Feta cheese: 6oz, crumbled.
Olive oil ( preferably) extra virgin:3 tbsp.
Lemon juice: from 1 whole lemon.
Pepper powder ( preferably freshly ground): 1tsp
Salt to taste.


Boil 2 cups of water in a saucepan with 1/4 tsp salt. When the water comes to boil, add quinoa, cover the pot. Reduce the flame to low and let it cook for 15 mins. Once cooked, let it cool down completely to room temperature.

In the mean time, rinse thoroughly and drain the canned black-beans & corn. While that is draining, chop the vegetables.

Take a large salad bowl,add all the chopped vegetables, black-beans, corn, feta cheese, cranberries, walnuts, cooled quinoa,cilantro, olive oil, lemon juice, salt & pepper. Mix well. Keep in the refrigerator until it is served.

Serve chilled. You can garnish with sprigs of cilantro.

Cooking made easy:

  • This salad is very versatile and can be made with pretty much anything that you have in your pantry & fridge.
  • You can add all colored peppers or just the ones of your choice. You can skip it altogether if you don't like them.
  • Instead of black-beans, you can use red kidney beans or pinto beans. You can also add either of them in addition to the black-beans.
  • You can substitute fresh corn for canned corn kernels.
  • Queso de fresco or cottage cheese can be used instead of feta cheese.
  • You can cook the quinoa ahead of time ( like the previous night) and put it in the refrigerator.

Tip for healthy living:

You must have heard of several celebrities being on a gluten-free diet. Is it a FAD? May-be. But gluten has been known to be the cause of several health issues like joint pain, fatigue, bloating to name a few. Gluten is the root cause of Celiac disease.Should you go on a gluten- free diet? Not necessarily. These health issues are present in those who are gluten- intolerant (like those with celiac disease )and those who are gluten- sensitive. This is the population who experience issues like fatigue, bloating & joint pain. So what exactly is gluten? Where is it present? It is a protein component present in wheat, rye and barley.Gluten is what gives these foods their stickiness/elasticity. To learn more go here.Even though there are only 3 kinds of grains that contain gluten, avoiding gluten means avoiding a whole array of foods that are fattening. Examples include pasta, bread, pastries, cakes, donuts, cookies, crackers, so on and so forth. This automatically makes you choose more healthier foods like fruits, vegetables and grains like quinoa, oats & millet. When you eat healthy you will not gain weight.I think celebrities predominantly go on a gluten- free diet as one of the ways to keep their weight under control.

Food for thought:

Failure is the stepping stone for success ( Source:unknown).