This Rainbow Kale Quinoa Salad is loaded with carrots, red cabbage, bell peppers and tossed with a creamy ginger dressing – This recipe is nut-free, has no added sugars, vegan, and gluten-free.
Prepare yourselves. We’re getting deep today…
I’ve been thinking a lot lately – about how my outlook on wellness has completely shifted over the past few years, and what living a healthy lifestyle really means. From worrying about every ingredient that went into my body to finding peace with food and letting go of the control. I finally feel like I am in a place where I actually understand the meaning of balance, or at least what balance looks like to me.
As I was preparing the red cabbage for this kale quinoa salad, I was snacking on some pieces. And it brought me back to three or four years ago, when I went on a beach trip with some girlfriends. Leading up to the trip I remember worrying about what I would eat while we were there. I worried about whether or not I would drink alcohol (extra calories). I was also afraid I wouldn’t be able to find anything remotely healthy, so I brought a lot of my own snacks. I brought some go-t0 healthy snacks like energy balls, carrots, hummus… and then a ziplock bag of raw red cabbage.
Who brings a bag of red cabbage to the beach. Who does that? Unless you actually do because you truly REALLY enjoy it… But that was not the case here.
I distinctly remember packing that bag of cabbage strips, telling myself, “This will be a good snack.” I snacked on those cabbage strips and told myself I was being healthy. That I was basically a better person for choosing to snack on cabbage instead of grabbing something (much less healthy but way more delicious) from the hotel bar.
I still have this picture of my friend and I from that trip. I look at it and think “Wow, I was quite thin then…” But in my mind I was no where near where I thought I “should” be. That was probably the year I was also getting comments from close friends and family that I was getting “really skinny” but brushed them off because I didn’t feel like I looked any different. I was just eating healthier and working out was all. It’s weird how our mind works, isn’t it?
But back then I was worrying about everything from how much food I ate, what kind of food I ate, and how much I got to exercise in a week. I wasn’t really living much because all of my spare thoughts revolved around food and exercise.
When I look at that picture of myself I can see how much my body has changed – I take up more space, but I’m much stronger. It’s a weird feeling to look back on that photo. And then to see more current photos of myself and how different I look.
I’m not sure if it it’s that I am getting older or if I have finally found a better sense of confidence in myself, but honestly? I just don’t GAF what my body looks like in photos anymore. That’s not to say I don’t second guess it sometimes. But overall when I look in the mirror I feel pretty damn good. And when I see a photo of myself with a less than flattering angle, I look at it for a split second and then just brush it off and move on with my thoughts. Because I remind myself of how strong and healthy I feel. And there is SO much more to life than working out tirelessly and restricting your diet for smaller legs, arms, a six pack – whatever it may you’re trying to achieve. That “smaller is better” mentality has to go. That is not to say I don’t think you can’t work for aesthetic goals… but when there is an underlying obsession with food and exercise, and actually living a happy life gets “in the way” of your goals, maybe it’s time to reassess your goals?
I’m not here to tell you what to do, of course. Just sharing my experience and thoughts on a subject I am sure so many of you can relate to. But all in all, everyone is different and has their own way of living their life. Just remember to think about HOW you want to live. Finding freedom around food and learning to love your body is a wonderful thing.
But what are we here for again?? Oh yes…
Rainbow Kale Quinoa Salad
This kale quinoa salad is definitely a new favorite of mine. Perfect for large gatherings! With the 4th of July coming up I was thinking I needed another kind of healthy side dish to share with you, and test out on family too. Of course Drew said it was very “kale-y”… but we all know with his sweet tooth I take these kinds of comments with a grain of salt 😉
WHAT YOU NEED
red bell pepper
yellow bell pepper
sunflower seed butter
This salad is pretty easy and I am in LOVE with the dressing. It actually reminds me of this tahini sauce I shared. Except I went with sunflower seed butter instead of tahini. No real reason other than I was at the store and couldn’t find tahini. It happens! And I thought, “Well if I can’t find tahini maybe my readers have trouble too…?” So I went with sunflower seed butter, which is likely easier to find than tahini and also has a milder taste. Note: you could also sub your favorite nut/seed butter like cashew or almond too.
This rainbow kale quinoa takes just about 30 minutes to put together, including the quinoa cooking time. Prep your vegetables and dressing while the quinoa cooks and cools, then toss everything together in a large bowl.
The salad could be prepped a day or two in advance, just toss with the dressing before serving and you’re good to go!
Let me know if you try this recipe! I love hearing from you <3
for the salad
- 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
- 2 cups shredded red purple cabbage
- 2 large carrots, skinned and thinly sliced (I used vegetable peeler)
- 1 large red bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 large yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
- 1 TBS extra virgin olive oil, or avocado oil
- 4 cups chopped kale
for the dressing
1. Rinse quinoa in fine mesh strainer and place in small pot of water with 1½ cups of water. Allow pot to come to a boil. Simmer for about 15 minutes, until quinoa is tender and water has mostly gone. Remove from heat and gently fluff with fork before transferring to heat-proof bowl to cool.
2. While the quinoa is cooking and cooling, prep all of your veggies.
3. Place chopped kale in large bowl and drizzle oil over kale. Gently massage oil into kale with your fingertips to soften the kale. This will help take the bitterness away as well.
4. Add in the rest of your prepped veggies – red cabbage, carrots and bell peppers – with the kale.
5. Once quinoa has cooled, transfer to large bowl of kale and veggies and use tongs to gently toss.
6. Make the dressing: In a small food processor or blender add all of the dressing ingredients, sunflower seed butter through salt, and blend until smooth. Adjust consistency with 1 tablespoon of water at a time. I used 3 tablespoons.
7. Pour dressing over bowl and use tongs to coat salad with the dressing. Chill salad until ready to serve.
Salad can be prepped a day or two in advance. I would cover salad bowl with lid, then toss with dressing just before serving.
Store leftovers covered in fridge 4-5 days.
Making this recipe? I would love to see it!
Tag @fitmittenkitchen and hashtag #fitmittenkitchen
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