A nutritious and protein-packed citrus quinoa salad with orange segments, pistachios, and avocado.
This post is brought to you in partnership with Kroger. As always, all opinions are my own.
If you’re anything like me, your December was filled with way too many treats. Way too many. The minute January hits there is nothing I crave more than big hearty salads to save me from my sugar coma. My sister got married 3 days after Christmas and we spent the two days leading up to her wedding baking 800 cookies. These snickerdoodles, these chocolate-chip toffee pecan cookies (we left out the pecans), and these caramel-stuffed chocolate cookies were definitely the favorites!
Baking 800 cookies really means we probably baked around 900 cookies and ended up with 800. All in the name of taste testing of course 🙂
I’ve lost count of how many cookies I’ve eaten the last couple of weeks, and I am certainly ready to increase my salad intake for the next month or so to re-balance a bit. 🙂
I take my salad creation seriously, and this one is no exception. It’s packed with delicious ingredients and is hearty enough to pass as a stand-alone meal.
What makes this salad healthy?
- Avocados and pistachios: both are loaded with healthy, natural fats. “Healthy Fat” is referring to fats that have lots of benefits for your body including reducing LDL cholesterol (the bad cholesterol that clogs your arteries), decreasing your risk of type-2 diabetes, and reducing blood sugar levels. Avocados are also really high in potassium (more than a banana!). Potassium is a mineral linked to all kinds of health benefits (bone strength, muscle strength, and cardiovascular strength to name a few) and most people do not get enough of it!
- Quinoa: a common misconception is that protein has to come from an animal, but you can actually get lots of protein from grains, such as quinoa. The quinoa in this salad is packed with protein — 8 grams per 1 cup. Quinoa also contains ALL of the essential amino acids our bodies need.
- Organic and Raw Apple Cider Vinegar: raw apple cider vinegar provides a slew of health benefits including regulation of blood sugar levels, weight loss enhancement, lowering cholesterol, and improving your skin’s health.
- Orange juice: there are actual oranges in this salad as well as orange juice in the dressing which together are going to provide a hearty dose of Vitamin C. Vitamin C helps guard against sickness and boosts our immune systems, along with also improving cholesterol, reducing inflammation/bloating, and helping to prevent against kidney stones.
I’ve said it many times before, but my single biggest “secret” to being a better cook or baker is using better ingredients. Simple Truth Organics is one of my favorite lines of foods because the ingredients are top quality AND affordable. Their sea salt pistachios are unbelievable (my toddler’s favorite!), the orange juice tastes like it’s fresh squeezed, and the apple cider vinegar has ALL the health benefits left in it. You’ll also want a good quality goat (or feta) cheese, as well as fresh, ripe avocados for this salad to taste its very best.
If you’re looking to balance some of those holiday sweets, I hope you give this salad a try! Enjoy!
More Healthy Salads:
This Avocado Quinoa Salad is packed with good-for-you ingredients and the best healthy lemon vinaigrette.
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa (I use tricolor; regular works great!)
- Optional: 1 cup chicken broth or veggie broth
- 3-4 cups fresh spring mix
- 1 can (15 ounces) mandarin oranges OR 3 fresh clementine mandarin oranges
- 1/3 cup Simply Organic Sea Salt Pistachios, shelled and coarsely chopped
- 1/3 cup crumbled goat or feta cheese, optional and to taste (I like goat cheese best with this salad)
- 1 large ripe avocado, pit removed and chopped
- 1 large lemon
- 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, do not use regular mustard
- 1/4 cup Simply Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar
- 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons Simply Organic orange juice
- 1/3 cup Simply Organic extra virgin olive oil
- 2-3 tablespoons honey, add to desired sweetness
- Sea salt and freshly cracked pepper
Cook the quinoa according to package directions. You can cook it in chicken broth or veggie broth for additional flavor if desired. Fluff and set aside to cool.
Meanwhile, prep the dressing. Add all of the dressing ingredients to a mason jar. Add salt and pepper to taste (I add about 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper, but add to your personal preference). Seal the jar and shake until ingredients are combined. Store in the fridge until ready to serve.
Prep the rest of the salad: drain the mandarin oranges, shell & coarsely chop the pistachios, remove the skin and pit of the avocado and thinly slice or chop. Squeeze a wedge of fresh lemon over the avocado.
In a large bowl, add in the spring salad mix and the cooked + COMPLETELY cooled quinoa. Add in the mandarin oranges, pistachios, goat cheese, and avocado. Remove the dressing from the fridge, shake it well, then pour over the salad*. Add some fresh cracked pepper and sea salt to taste.
- Enjoy immediately.
*If you aren't planning on finishing this salad all in one day, I'd recommend keeping the dressing separate from the salad and only dressing what you'll be eating. Also, only prep the amount of avocados to what you'll be eating that day (so if you'll have leftovers, only add 1/2 of an avocado and add the other one the next day)