Quick and Easy Lunch: Lemony Super-Protein Salad

 

I just ate this, and I HAD to share the recipe!  I threw this together with things around the kitchen yesterday, modified a recipe I had seen on Pinterest, and I am hooked.  Best of all, this keeps you full for hours. I know, because I had it for lunch yesterday too, and was barely hungry for dinner!

Lemony Protein Salad

2/3 cup uncooked quinoa (any kind)

1 can rinsed and drained garbanzo beans

1 small tomato, diced or 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes

1 small onion, diced

Handful chopped mint, parsley, or lemon balm

Salt and Pepper

Optional add-ins: chopped olives, feta cheese, chopped cucumbers, pine nuts, dill, etc etc etc

For Dressing:

1/4 cup white wine vinegar

1 T olive oil

1 T Lemon juice

A combination of fresh rosemary, sage, pepper, salt, to taste

Cook the quinoa according to directions.  I threw in a few lemon balm leaves and a sprinkle of ground sage for flavor, which made the quinoa smell and taste amazing!  Feel free to cook it with some broth or even tea to add flavor.

Let the quinoa cool, then, in a large bowl, mix with garbanzos, tomato, onion, chopped herbs, any additional ingredients that suit your fancy, and salt and pepper.  Prepare the dressing (make sure it’s well combined) and pour over the quinoa-garbanzo mixture, stir to coat evenly.  At this point, you can eat the salad slightly warm (as I did yesterday, and it was great) or allow to cool for at least two hours in the refrigerator (as I did today, which was divine).  Seriously, a cold bowl of this lemony goodness on the back porch hits the spot!

As is, the meal is delightfully gluten-free and vegan.  The intense shot of protein you are getting from the quinoa and garbanzo beans will stabilize blood sugar and fend off the afternoon sleepies, while tomatoes add a punch of vitamin C.  A vinegar-based dressing helps regulate the digestive system with friendly probiotics, and onions help boost the immune system!

I have to give the lemon balm spotlight in this post: famed for it’s antidepressant and anxiety qualities, lemon balm is a versatile ingredient to have handy to throw in a salad or even blend into tea.  It grows wild in my backyard, and being a member of the mint family, there is never a shortage!  I try to always keep some dried leaves handy, as they add brightness to any dish.  Try to find seeds or a starter plant at your local nursery and cultivate it yourself!