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Lentil and Quinoa Salad

This dish is a staple in my house as well as a wonderfully nourishing and delicious salad.

Key ingredients – lentils and quinoa.

These incredible ingredients are so versatile and once you trial a few recipes yourself; you will find your own swing with them.

LENTILS

Lentils are some of the most nutritious, and at the same time economical, foods in the world. They come in a variety of colours and are a rich source of protein, folic acid, dietary fibre, vitamin C, B vitamins, essential amino acids and trace minerals.

Lentils are legumes, seeds of a plant whose botanical name is Lens ensculenta. They grow in pods that contain either one or two lentil seeds. These amazing creations from Mother Nature can also help you balance blood sugar levels while providing steady and slow-burning energy. This is all round perfection for sufferers of PCOC, insulin resistance, diabetes and the list goes on…

The crucial point however with cooking and eating lentils (all legumes in fact) is their packaging. The most readily available source; do not be fooled into this being cheaper; of lentils is in cans. What you need to know though; as I learnt about some time ago; is the presence of a chemical within these cans.

Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a high-volume chemical found in the epoxy resin coatings used on the inside of metal cans for food. It can also be found in polycarbonate plastic, which is labeled with the number 7; in plastic food wrap, and even in refrigerator shelving, water bottles, plastic food storage containers, water pipes and flooring. It has been used by manufacturers in various plastics for over 50 years.

Dried and fresh is always best

Dried and fresh is always best

It must be said that BPA can also be found at very low (trace) levels in the environment and in human breast milk. Also very interesting to note is that it has been banned in the EU, the US and Canada.

The Australian perspective on this issue is from Food Standards – Australia/New Zealand who have long argued that there is no case for restricting BPA. They have gone on record to state “…(the) overwhelming weight of scientific opinion is that there is no health or safety issue at the levels people are exposed to”.

So what is the concern here??

BPA disrupts our endocrine system; as it mimics the hormone estrogen. Studies have shown harmful biological effects on animals using low-doses of the chemical and harmful effects on humans have been observed outside of studies.
Anyone concerned about BPA in consumer products is advised to choose those products packaged in glass containers rather than plastics or metals. HOWEVER I would advise to buy them dried and therefore fresher; avoid this chemical completely! More on the preparation required below….

QUINOA

The quinoa grain is a relatively new addition to the Western diet, but has been cultivated by the native Incas of the Andes Mountains in South America since before 3000 BC. The Incas considered quinoa to be sacred and it was known as Chisiya Mama – the mother grain. Although often referred to as a grain or cereal; quinoa is not strictly either because it is not a member of the grass family. It is actually a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium) – so called because of the shape of the leaf – grown primarily for its edible seeds.

Included in the wonderfully long list of quinoa nutrients is its’ high protein content. It contains all eight of the amino acids generally regarded as essential for humans and is therefore a complete protein source. Quinoa also provides us with niacin, iron, phosphorus and potassium. This wonder food is high in unsaturated fats and lower in carbohydrates than most grains with calories coming in at about the same as a serving of brown rice.

Plus it is simple to prepare and deliciously filling…

INGREDIENTS – to feed 2 hungry adults
  • 1 cup brown lentils 
  • 1 cup white quinoa
  • 1 finely diced Spanish onion
  • 3 crushed garlic cloves
  • 1/2 bunch finely diced celery
  • 2 diced vine-ripened tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped parsley
  • 60mL Maggie Beer‘s Verjuice
  • 2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary
  • Smidgen of olive oil for cooking
  • Drizzling of EVOO (extra virgin olive oil) to serve
  • Sprinkling of sea salt to serve
  • 20g freshly grated parmesan to serve

METHOD

  1. At least the night before (though I often do this days in advance when best suits me) soak the lentils in a large bowl and cover with water – note that this cup of lentils will almost double once soaked and cooked

    Soaking time (yes these are chickpeas)

    Soaking time (yes these are chickpeas)

  2. Drain soaked lentils and rinse with cold water to remove any dirt/grit and pour into a medium saucepan. Cover with cold water and place on the stove on a medium heat
  3.  Once boiling, turn the heat down to simmer and within between 20-30 minutes the lentils will be soft
  4. Take off the heat, drain and set aside
  5.  Add quinoa to a medium saucepan and cover with water bringing to the boil and then lowering to simmer for 15 minutes until cooked (soft) Should the water evaporate before the quinoa is soft do not fear! Simply pour more cold water in the pan until quinoa is done!
  6. Take quinoa off the heat and set aside to cool

    Done in 15 minutes!!

    Done in 15 minutes!!

  7. Place diced celery, tomatoes and parsley in a large bowl and set aside

    The basics - as fresh as possible

    The basics – as fresh and high-quality as possible

  8. Warm a smidgen of olive oil in a medium to large frypan on medium heat
  9. Add the Spanish onion and cook until softened and fragrant – roughly 5 minutes – stir constantly
  10. Add garlic cloves and rosemary and cook for another few minutes
  11. Pour the verjuice through the pan and cook only for a minute or so until almost all the liquid has evaporated
  12. Take off the heat and add contents to the bowl of lentils, stir through and leave to cool for roughly 10 minutes

    Yummy lentil mixture cooling down

    Yummy lentil mixture cooling down

  13. Add the cooled quinoa and celery mix to the lentil mix and season with sea salt and cracked black pepper
  14. Drizzle with EVOO and stir through
  15. Serve in bowls and top with parmesan – YUM!!!
The finished bowl

The finished bowl

Calories – 400 per serve (roughly) – based on the exact ingredients and brands that I have used here.

This is a brilliant lunch OR dinner and will make your heart sing. You will feel nourished, content and happy!! Play around with the recipe and for less calories and grains simply remove the quinoa. However in doing this you should keep in mind you are lowering the protein content also and should look to add another source – grilled chicken or even eggs would be yummy too!! Another suggestion would be to make more of the lentils and quinoa for other recipes in the week as preparation and organisation is your best friend after a long day!!

Nadia xxxx

References:

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/health/evidence-grows-against-chemical-bpa-in-cans/story-fn59nokw-1226480595967

http://www.productsafety.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/971446

http://www.naturalnews.com/022848_BPA_Bisphenol-A_exposure.html

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=142&tname=foodspice

http://www.nutrition-facts-info.com/quinoa-nutrition-facts.php

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