While pasta has taken an absence from many store cupboards around the country, Quinoa seems to have taken the number one spot. It is the only grain that contains all 9 essential amino acids and so very popular with vegans and vegetarians who do not consume animal products. Additionally, it is a great source of magnesium and zinc, necessary for optimal muscle contraction and repair.
Quinoa is a very versatile ingredient; it can be added to curries as a bulking agent; served as a side dish to accompany a casserole or an integral component of a salad.
Nutrition tip: Try making a large quantity of quinoa at the start of the week and then add different components every day to provide yourself with a nutritious and anti-oxidant filled salad at lunch.
Chicken & Quinoa Salad
This salad is a great choice to take to work if you have an evening training session planned, or to cook after a late workout when you don’t want to spend ages preparing a meal. Quinoa is a slow-release carbohydrate; additionally it is one of the only grains with a high protein content. I have suggested the use of walnut oil here, which adds a nutty taste but also provides omega-3 fats, which can be useful in preventing fatigue.
Serves 4 Preparation time: 15 minutes, plus 20 minutes cooling Cooking time: 15 minutes
- 150g quinoa
- 1 litre chicken stock
- 400g skinless, boneless, cooked
- Chicken, cut into chunks
- 150g cherry tomatoes
- 100gcucumber, chopped
- 1 red or green pepper, deseeded and chopped
- 1 tbsp walnut oil
- 1 avocado
- Juice of 1⁄2 lemon
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Put the quinoa and stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil over a high heat, then turn the heat down to low and simmer for 12 minutes, or until the quinoa is soft and has absorbed most of the stock. Drain off any remaining stock, put the quinoa in a bowl and leave to cool.
- Add the chicken, tomatoes, cucumber, pepper and oil, season with salt and pepper and toss together to mix.
- Peel the avocado, remove the pit and cut the flesh into chunks. Toss with the lemon juice, then gently fold into the salad. Serve straight away or put in an airtight container and chill in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Nutrition facts (per serving) Calories 408 Carbohydrate 33.5g Protein 30.5g Fat 17.6g (of which saturates 3.9g)