Quinoa Grain Bowl

Happy Monday, friends!! I hope you all had a relaxing weekend! I enjoyed the warmer weather we’ve been getting here and made this quick, easy, absolutely delicious meal prep!

I went back to a prep a used to make allllll the time: quinoa salad! There are so many variations but it’s all based off of a few key components that you can take in so many different directions. I love this because it’s a no-reheat meal which, in the before times, was perfect when I knew I was going to have to eat during meetings with folks. No reheating = fewer smells to bother my coworkers, and also quicker which still makes it perfect for busy weeks during work from home times.

Let’s take a look at the components:

  • The greens – optional I guess, but highly encouraged I always use spinach because I love it, however it is definitely not the easiest to store for the whole week. Kale or another more hearty green would be even better here, but I went for what I love. Either way, be sure to store it correctly to make it last: wash, dry really, really well, and then store with a paper towel or two to absorb moisture and keep things fresh all week long
  • The quinoa – pretty straightforward! The grain provides protein and make it heartier so it keeps you full all afternoon
  • The veg – definitely my favorite part! You can use anything you like, really. I usually go for one starch (potato, squash, etc) and one non-starch (brussel sprouts, broccoli, etc), but you do you
  • The crunch – I love having a crunchy component with all the other soft pieces here. I usually go for almonds, but any kind of nut would work! Be sure to toast the nuts to bring out their full flavor for maximum impact
  • The vinaigrette – I prefer something punchy and bright to go with what could be very heavy with all the starches. Here I’ve used a honey and balsamic vinaigrette that I’m loving. A bit sweet, lovely acidity from the balsamic, all yum!
  • The herbs – I didn’t use any this week, but putting fresh herbs into a salad it a perfect way to bring fun flavors and brightness to the party! Grab your fav and throw it in
  • The extras – this week I threw in some dried cranberries, but I love putting a bit of fruit in! Apples, strawberries, or orange segments are all so fun in salads
  • The optional protein – I included some lemon chicken, but you can leave this out to make it vegan or use your fav protein source on top! Just make sure it’s cooked through and it’ll be totally fine for the week and when eating straight from the fridge

It feels like a lot of components, but they’re all so easy and come together so quickly! I suggest picking a flavor profile and then tailoring each component to fit that. You want all the flavors to play nicely together and complement each other rather the compete for attention.

That’s it! Let me know what variations you go for, I love getting new flavor ideas!

Quinoa Grain Bowl
makes 5 servings

Ingredients

for the veggies

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes
  • 1 lb brussel sprouts
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • freshly ground pepper

for the chicken

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

for the vinaigrette

  • 6 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 3 Tbsp honey
  • 2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper

for serving

  • 1/2 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1/2 cup slivered almonds
  • 1/3 cup dried cranberries
  • spinach

How to do it

  1. prep: preheat the oven to 425*. wash the veggies and chop the sweet potatoes into 1/2″ cubes and quarter the brussel sprouts
  2. roast the veggies: toss the prepped veggies with the other ingredients for the veggies. spread out onto two baking sheets and bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes, until soft and easily pierced with a fork. once done, set aside to cool
  3. marinade the chicken: while the veggies are cooking, combine all of the chicken ingredients in a small bowl. let marinade for 10-15 minutes
  4. cook the quinoa: while the chicken is marinating, cook the quinoa according to the package instructions
  5. cook the chicken: heat a large skillet over medium heat. add teh chicken and cook for 15-20 minutes, flipping at least once during that time, until the internal temperature reaches 160*. remove from the heat and let rest, carry over heat will bring it up to 165*
  6. make the vinaigrette: combine all vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar and shake well. taste and adjust seasoning as desired
  7. combine all the elements: in a large bowl or container, combine the cooked quinoa, roasted veg, almonds, cranberries, and vinaigrette. mix well, then taste and adjust seasoning as desired
  8. enjoy: if eating immediately, serve the quinoa salad on a bed of spinach and top with sliced chicken. if using for meal prep, store the chicken and quinoa salad in airtight containers. clean the spinach then dry it very, very well. store in a ziploc bag with 1-2 paper towels to absorb any extra liquid

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