Medically reviewed by Shahzadi Devje, Registered Dietitian (RD) & Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)
On a hunt for a simple and easy way to enjoy lunch at the office? Try this gluten-free, low GI and portable Mediterranean Quinoa Chickpea Salad in a jar. It's delicious, nourishing and oh so satisfying – minus the sogginess!
I'm always on the hunt for nourishing lunch ideas that I can prep ahead of time and take to work. This trick of using mason jars to make delicious and simple salads has been my new obsession.
The jars are the perfect size for one portion and a creative and simple way to get in more veggies.
This recipe was inspired by my quinoa moong bean salad recipe that so many of you loved. You probably know by now how much we *heart* quinoa; it's a staple in my kitchen and shows up in cold and hot dishes.
Yay for quinoa; it's so versatile. It's one of those foods that can either be spectacularly flavorful or bland.
If you're used to the latter, then you need to keep reading on and learn how to make quinoa taste better. Trust me; you don't want to miss out.
For this recipe, I've mixed things up – to bring new ingredients, and a burst of flavour, because lunch should never be boring. And all the fun in mason jars – delightful and creative.
Don't they look beautiful?
This lunch in a jar contains:
- Herbs or greens
- Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Lemon Juice
Why quinoa is regarded to be a superfood
Quinoa has been around forever. It has gained considerable traction recently, for being a superfood. Not only this, but the UN also declared 2013 as the "year of quinoa," because of its important role in the eradication of hunger, poverty and malnutrition. Quinoa is easy to cultivate and has an excellent nutritional profile. Not surprising then, that it won this accolade.
Did you know that 1 cup of quinoa has 8-9 g of protein - the same amount as one cup of whole milk. Regarded to be a complete protein, quinoa has all nine essential amino acids (building blocks of protein) that your body needs. I think you'd agree that it's a great plant-based source of protein.
As someone who struggles to digest gluten, I rely heavily on quinoa - it's a life-saver! When I discovered I couldn't handle gluten too well and began to omit it from my diet, I would worry that I'd be compromising on important nutrients, like fibre. I had my eyes set on finding nutritionally balanced recipes - with ingredients I could tolerate.
Soluble Fiber - Why it's Important.
Both quinoa and chickpeas offer loads of fibre; insoluble fibre, found in the quinoa, helps to keep you regular and has shown to help reduce the risk of diabetes. Chickpeas, on the other hand, contain both soluble and non-soluble fibre.
Soluble fibre helps to control your blood sugar and cholesterol levels. Women aged 19-50 years should aim to get at least 25 g of fibre daily.
Remember, you want to increase the amount of fibre in your diet slowly. Increasing your level of physical activity and drinking plenty of water will help to prevent symptoms of gas and bloating.
How to Make Mediterranean Quinoa Chickpea Salad in 4 Easy Steps
- In a medium pot, combine the quinoa with water and bring to boil. Once the water starts to boil, turn the heat down to a low, simmer and cover the pot—Cook the quinoa until tender. Once the quinoa is cooked, drain and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside to cool.
- Prepare all the vegetables and herbs separately and set aside (photos 1-6)
- Make the dressing by combining olive oil, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a shaker and mix well (photos 7-8)
- In a clean and dry mason jar, start creating the layers. Start with some dressing, followed by the vegetables, chickpeas and herbs (photos 9-16)
Top tips for creating an incredible salad in a jar
- Make sure all your ingredients are washed, dried and chopped - ready for assembly. This will save you heaps of time.
- Your first bottom layer should always be dressing. This prevents your salad from getting soggy
- The next few layers should be your sturdy ingredients, like your cucumber, tomato, and peppers, along with the chickpeas.
- Keep the quinoa near the top - away from the dressing, so it stays nice and fresh.
- End with your favourite seasonal greens or herbs, so they're crisp and full of flavour. We love to add a generous handful of fresh spinach.
- Store in the fridge for 3-4 days
Have you tried salad in a jar?
If you try this recipe, would love to hear from you!
Leave a comment, rate it, or share a photo and hashtag with #desiliciousrd on Instagram and Twitter! Can't wait to see your photos.
Lunch in a Jar: Mediterranean Quinoa Chickpea Salad
- 4 cups water
- 2 cups quinoa thoroughly washed and drained
- 1 onion medium, yellow, diced
- 1 tomato medium, cut into small cubes
- ½ cucumber large, diced into small cubes
- 1 bell pepper yellow, diced into small pieces
- 1 cup parsley fresh, finely chopped. Spinach works great too!
- ⅔ cup mint leaves fresh, finely chopped.
- 2 cups cooked chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 3.5 tbsp olive oil extra virgin
- ⅓ cup lemon juice freshly squeezed
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- In a medium pot, combine 2 cups of quinoa with 4 cups of water and bring to boil. Once the water starts to boil, turn the heat down to low, simmer and cover the pot. Cook the quinoa for 10-12 minutes or until tender. Once the quinoa is cooked, drain and transfer to a large bowl. Set aside to cool.
- Prepare all the vegetables and herbs separately and set aside
- Make the dressing by combining olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper in a clean dry mason jar and shak to mix well.
- Now it's time to assemble the mason jar salads in 10 jars. Make sure the mason jars are clean and dry. Start with 2 tsp of dressing, followed by 1.5 tbsp onion, 2 tbsp pepper, 3 tbsp chickpeas, 1 tbsp tomato, 2 tbsp cucumber, ¾ cup quinoa, 1 tbsp parsley and 1 tbsp mint. You could also add spinach which works really well in this recipe. These are approximate measurements. You want to divide all the ingredients evenly in 10 mason jars.
- Once done, place the lid on and store them in the fridge. When it's time to serve, simple pour the salad onto a plate and enjoy.
- Make sure all your ingredients are washed, dried and chopped - ready for assembly. This will save you heaps of time
- Your first bottom layer should always be the dressing. This prevents your salad from getting soggy
- The next few layers should be your sturdy ingredients, like your cucumber, tomato and peppers, along with the chickpeas.
- Keep the quinoa near the top - away from the dressing so it stays nice and fresh
- End with your favourite greens (spinach) or herbs, so they're crisp and full of flavour
- Store in the fridge for 3-4 days
Please note the nutritional analysis values are estimates and suggestions. This nutrition facts table does not know your life - your body, including your hunger and satiety cues, change daily. It's okay to eat more or less. Say no to food guilt and instead embrace mindful eating.
Shahzadi is an award-winning registered dietitian (RD) regulated by the College of Dietitians of Ontario and certified diabetes educator (CDE), approved by the Canadian Diabetes Educator Certification Board. A YouTuber and notorious foodie, she's dedicated to helping you end your cooking wars, transform your health, and be the best version of yourself! Shahzadi is an on-air nutrition expert for CTV Your Morning and a regular contributor for Global News and other national media outlets.