Cooking is something that doesn't come naturally to me. When I'm following a recipe it generally goes pretty well, but when I'm trying to come up with something on my own I'm completely out of my comfort zone. This year I'm challenging myself to stretch my cooking muscles. I decided to set a goal of making one meal a week that is new to me - salads, veggie burgers and cereal for dinner don't count! Yikes.
As a runner and mostly vegetarian, I'm always looking for meals that are nutritious and have a good mix of non-animal protein and whole grains to get in some quality carbs. Quinoa is my go-to grain - it is not only high in protein, but is a complete protein, meaning that it has all 9 essential amino acids, including lysine (essential for tissue growth and repair) and riboflavin (necessary for energy production) - aka an athlete's best friend. Black beans are a great source of protein and fiber, and the olive oil and avocado in this dish add healthy fats. I have almost zero patience, especially in the kitchen, so while I'm still learning I wanted to start with something simple and this salad could not be easier.
Mexican Quinoa Salad
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and prepared according to package directions
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can corn
1 red pepper, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
2-3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
1 avocado, chopped
1 lemon, juiced
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
1 tsp sriracha or hot sauce of your choice
salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Cook quinoa according to package directions - I always toast it first for a few minutes until it starts turning brown. This gives it a nuttier flavor. After cooking the quinoa, let cool for a few minutes. Add black beans, corn, red pepper, shallot and cilantro. Mix ingredients together for the dressing and add to quinoa. That's it!
I made a huge batch of this and then had it for meals all week - it keeps really well. Plus you can mix it up, add in more peppers, serve it over greens as a salad, wrap it in a whole wheat tortilla as a burrito - go crazy!
Caitlin is a runner, yogi and SoulCycle addict from Seattle who, thanks to Hot Bird, has come to love crushing Harlem Hill repeats. She is an educator at lululemon Soho, a nutrition student, and blogs at Caitlin Lives Well.