Summer is in full swing now and I don’t know about you, but I have been eating salads just about every day – especially this Zesty High-Protein Bean and Quinoa Salad! It is chock-full of plant-based protein, healthy fats, and tons of flavor! It is by far my favorite go-to summer salad!Jump to Recipe
Salads are the perfect meal for summer because not only are they light and refreshing, but they are full of the freshest produce available! As the summer proceeds, more and more fruits and veggies are ripe for the picking, and that means a greater variety of salads we get to eat!
Plus, with all those veggies, they are packed with so much nutrition and can be made in an infinite variety of ways. When you add whole grains or protein sources like beans, tempeh, or tofu, they become hearty enough to be a complete meal and not just a side dish.
How does a salad become high protein?
I have been reading a lot lately about protein needs in an effort to answer the question that every vegan/vegetarian gets at some point,
“Where do you get your protein if you are not eating meat?” (and especially if you don’t eat dairy either!)
As it turns out, it is quite easy to get enough protein to meet your daily needs by eating only plant-based foods!
This means veggies, fruits, beans and legumes, grains, starches (think sweet potatoes), nuts and seeds, as well as foods made from these products. All of these foods have some protein in them – some of them have a lot (like beans, with 15g per 1/2 cup serving)!
This salad has red kidney beans, quinoa (each has 5g protein per 1/2 cup), and sunflower seeds (with 6g of protein per 1/4 cup). That’s about 24g per serving of this salad as a side dish, or 48g of protein if you eat it as a meal. That is almost enough to fulfill the recommended requirement of 66g of daily protein for adults!
If you would like to learn more about meeting all your protein needs from plant-based foods, download my FREE Plant-Based Protein Guide!
What about healthy fats?
This delicious salad also has plenty of healthy fats such as avocado, olive oil, and sunflower seeds, as well as lots of healthy fiber!
Healthy fats are important for a healthy diet because they help protect organs such as the brain and the heart. They promote healthy cell growth and help regulate hormones, and help keep your body warm. They are also essential for the absorption of certain vitamins such as A,D, E, and K. The body does not produce these fats on its own, so they need to be supplemented through the food we eat.
Oils such as flax, hemp, and walnut, provide Omega-3 essential fatty acids, which are provided by foods such as fish in a standard diet. These fats can help reduce cholesterol and reduce inflammation in the body.
Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or nutritionist and nothing in this post should be construed as medical advice. If you have questions about your diet, you should consult your doctor or a licensed nutritionist. To see my full disclaimer, please click here.
This recipe uses Extra-Virgin Olive Oil for the flavor as well as health benefits, as well as a little flax or hempseed oil. These last two oils are optional, but they provide a healthy dose of those Omega-3s. They have a slightly nutty flavor too. I really love the taste of these oils, but they are optional in the recipe.
Perfect for Meal Prepping
This salad is great for meal prepping because it is super easy to make and will keep in the refrigerator for a few days. I like to make a big batch of quinoa ahead of time, use some immediately, and then freeze the rest. With cooked quinoa already in the freezer, making this recipe is a snap!
If you are new to veganism or are simply wanting to add more plant-based protein foods to your diet, this salad for you! It is high in protein, fiber, and vitamins, simple to make, and totally refreshing and delicious!
Make it for your family as a side dish, for a BBQ, picnic, or potluck, or for a quick meal. Any way you eat it, you’re going to love it, and your body will too!
Other recipes you will enjoy:
Print out the recipe below:
Zesty High-Protein Bean and Quinoa Salad
High in protein and flavor, this salad makes a perfect meal or side dish on a hot summer day.
- 1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
- 1 1/2 cups rinsed kidney beans (black beans or chickpeas work well too) (1 can)
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 cup bell pepper, diced any color
- 2-3 green onions (scallions), sliced thinly or 1/3 cup red onion, diced
- 1/3 cup cilantro or parsley, chopped finely
- 2 Tbsp rice vinegar or white wine vinegar
- 2-3 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil
- 2 tsps flax or hempseed oil optional
- 1-2 tsps hot sauce
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 lemon or lemon juice
- 1 avocado, diced optional
- 2 Tbsp toasted sunflower seeds optional
Cook your quinoa according to package directions to get 1 1/2 cups cooked. I like to make a big batch of quinoa ahead of time and freeze until needed. You may also be able to find pre-cooked quinoa in the freezer section of your grocery store.
To make the dressing, add the vinegar, olive oil, flaxseed oil (if using), hot sauce, and a pinch of salt and pepper to a small mixing bowl. Whisk together until emulsified. Set aside.
To a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked quinoa, rinsed beans, celery, bell peppers, onions, and cilantro. Pour your dressing over the top and stir to combine. Add more salt and pepper to your taste.
Toast your sunflower seeds and sprinkle them over the top. Serve with diced avocado and a squeeze of lemon juice.