In the summer I try to replace heavier carb based salads with lighter grain salads.

Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is currently my favourite grain. It has been around in South America for centuries where it was the staple food of the Incas. It has only gained popularity in the rest of the world recently.

It is one of the few cereals that contains all 9 essential amino acids making it a perfect meat replacement and ideal for vegetarians and vegans. It does contain a good ratio of carbs but the high protein (amino acid) and fibre content makes it lighter than other carb-laden foods. It is also naturally gluten free. A good dash of B vitamins and a few minerals all contribute to this grain being classified as a ‘super food’.

Quinoa is available as a red or white seed. I like to buy the combo pack where the two colours are mixed.

Cooking quinoa is pretty easy. As for rice and many other seed based grains you merely add water and a dash of salt. I add a couple of teaspoons of vegetable stock powder for added flavour. You know it’s cooked when the seeds swell and burst.

In this recipe I add drained tinned black beans, adding an extra boost of protein!

The recipe uses a prepared pesto or chimichurri base, as well as the convenience of the tinned beans, showing that you can make a seemingly complex salad with minimal effort.

Serve quinoa warm, on its own as a replacement for rice or other grains or at room temperature as a base for a salad.

In winter, replace the avo with colourful roast veggies and then you create another beautiful dish.

Here’s the recipe for my easy Quinoa salad.  Click here