Protein-Packed Vegan Salad

Photo by Nuraan Ackers

The question I get asked most of the time when I say we (my toddler and I) are vegan is: where do you get your protein from? I am sure this is a very common question most vegans get too. The truth is that there is a general belief that we need a high amount of proteins to be healthier and have energy. While I am aware that protein is important for us, evidence also shows that its importance has been overestimated, especially animal derived protein. There is also a general misconception that protein can only be obtained from animal sources too.

Is protein important for us? It certainly is. Protein plays a key role in many aspects of our body functions such as growth and repair so, it is important you get enough in your diet. However, if you eat a well-balanced vegan diet, meaning a wide range of foods like vegetables, greens, legumes, beans, tempeh, grains and so on, you will easily meet your protein needs.

Protein is made of amino acids. There are twenty different amino acids that our bodies need. However, our bodies can only make eleven of them and the other nine, called ‘essential amino acids’, we need to obtain from our diet. While it’s true that animal products are complete protein sources, they are also very high in saturated-fat, which we know can lead to high cholesterol and heart disease to name some known health issues. There are also many plants that are complete protein sources too, such as soy products, hemp seeds and quinoa. Also, remember legumes like beans, when combined with grains like wheat, rice and corn also give you a complete protein source.

In this post I want to share evidence of how by following a vegan diet we can meet our optimum dietary requirements, including our required amounts of proteins. So, rather than labelling some food as a ‘complete protein’ and other as ‘incomplete protein’, make sure that you eat a variety of foods and that way you are consuming your required amount of protein.

Photo by Nuraan Ackers

Now let’s get to the recipe. This is a super easy and filling salad. It’s perfect for those lunch days when you want to eat something quick and yet nourishing. The star ingredient is quinoa. As I promised in my previous quinoa recipe, I am sharing with you another idea on how to cook quinoa and include this goodness in your diet. Quinoa is such a versatile food, you can cook it in a big batch and have it handy, plus it’s a complete protein.

Actually, a friend of mine served a similar salad for her 2 year old son’s birthday party and it was a success amongst all the little ones. So, here you have another serving idea!

In this recipe I also added some sweet corn, black beans, romano pepper, pomegranate seeds for a bit of crunchiness, arugula or rocket, fresh coriander and parsley. I also prepared a dressing with olive oil, lime and a bit of chipotle sauce for a bit of heat. However, for kids you can just add a bit of salt, dash of lime juice and olive oil.

Photo by Nuraan Ackers

Photo by Nuraan Ackers

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked quinoa (about ½ cup uncooked)

½ romano pepper

1 cup of cooked black beans

½ cup of sweet corn

2 handfuls of rocket

3 Tbsp pomegranate seeds

2 Tbsp chopped parsley

2 Tbsp chopped coriander

For the dressing:

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp lime juice

½ tsp chipotle sauce

Pinch of Salt

Pinch of pepper

A dash of maple syrup (optional)

How to:

  1. In a small pot, cook the quinoa with 1 cup of water. Bring to boil and then reduce to simmer for about 15 mins.
  2. Chop the romano pepper, parsley and coriander and set aside.
  3. Prepare the dressing by mixing all the ingredients in a glass container. Close the container with the lid and give it a good shake.
  4. Once the quinoa is cooked, add the beans, sweet corn, romano pepper, chopped parsley, coriander and pomegranate seeds.
  5. To serve, add the rocket as a base, with the quinoa salad on top.
  6. Finally add the dressing.
  7. Enjoy!

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