Updated: Aug 31, 2019
How to prep a nutritious salad delicious enough to love your lunch right through till Friday!
First off, you will have to like beets, you don’t need the love that I have for them, but at least be able to stomach them. If you have never worked up the nerve to try this delightful bright red vegetable, now is your chance!
I LOVE beets, in fact I have a whole garden box dedicated strictly to beets. My husband on the other hand does not share this love, therefore I try to satisfy my cravings with my packed work lunches. This is what lead me to discover this un-BEET-able salad. Here a few quick facts to get you excited about beets:
- they are high in nitrates which help lower blood pressure, support brain health and may improve athletic performance
- they contain many nutrients including iron, folate and manganese
- they are a good source of fiber which is great for digestive health
Now when I make a “meal” salad to take to work for lunch, I make sure that it has a good carbohydrate source that will get me through the day, and not leave me feeling hungry 30 minutes after lunch. This is where another great love of mine comes into play… Quinoa it is so versatile, holds up great to moisture and easy to cook. From a nutrition point of view, it is a little powerhouse of greatness! First off it is a complete protein… meaning it contains all 9 essential amino acids that your body needs. Usually this only comes from animal protein, which makes quinoa such a great choice for plant-based diets! It is also high in fiber, iron, and gluten free!
The beets and the quinoa are the perfect base to a great salad! So now we know the why, lets talk about the how. Really it is quite simple, with just a little of your time this salad can be prepped and ready for easy assembly in the morning, or evening before work.
!. Start with the beets, they will take the longest so they can cook while you get everything else ready. Remove the stalks and leaves from the beet root and wash off any dirt. You will be cutting them into bite sized pieces and roasting them, so no need to go into the trouble of peeling them!
2. Dice up the beets, toss with a generous amount of olive oil and garlic. Don’t be shy with the garlic if you think its too much, add another clove just for good measure! Now spread the beets onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Trust me, you’ll want the parchment paper, they tend to get messy when they are roasting! But it is so worth it, roasting brings out the sweet flavor that takes the salad to a whole new level!
3. Let the beets do their thing in the oven and move onto the quinoa. Cooking the quinoa is like rice, 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water. I find that 2 cups of quinoa is a good amount to get me through a work week. Use a pot with a tightly fitting lid, add 4 cups of water, and a drizzle of olive oil. Bring the quinoa to a boil, cover tightly and let it simmer for 20 minutes.
4. While the quinoa is cooking, gather and prepare everything else for the salad. Dice up some red bell peppers, cucumbers, and red onion and store in seal-able containers. Make sure that you have some fresh spinach, feta cheese, pecan pieces, blueberries and raspberry vinaigrette handy to complete the salad.
5. Putting it all together is easy when everything is ready. Start with the beets and quinoa on the bottom and mix with dressing. My preferred dressing is PC White Balsamic and Raspberry vinaigrette, I like to add in some balsamic vinegar for the tang. But I know that it is not everyone’s thing and can be overpowering, so use your discretion. Layer on the blueberries, cucumbers, peppers and red onions. They are all fairly hardy and will be fine if they are mixed in with the dressing. I actually prefer to make it the night before and let the flavors blend together. Then for the feta, it doesn’t take much to add a lot of flavor! Chop some fresh spinach and lay on the top. Be sure that you don’t mix it in, or it will be a soggy mess by the time lunch rolls around. Sprinkle the pecans on the top to finish it off.
It is bright, tangy, sweet, crunchy and packed with nutrients all at the same time. It is exactly what you need to spice up your lunch and get your beet fix!
When you want to enjoy this salad at home: You can layer it with the spinach on the bottom so that it is more visually appealing!