There are some foods that are essentially tasteless, and yet dietitians and nutritionists run around telling everyone everywhere to get their fill simply because they're healthy. Think: quinoa, tofu, chicken breast, and the list goes on. But with so little flavor, these foods can easily run the risk of being extremely boring.

And let me tell you: no one maintains a lasting healthful regimen by eating boring food. No one. Steamed chicken and broccoli leads to chocolate cake and doughnuts. Baked tofu and asparagus sends you straight to the cookie jar. And plain quinoa is just a booby trap for the eventual ice cream sundae that will ensue.

I don’t subscribe to boring, tasteless meals and neither should you. So, when it comes to healthful foods that have no flavor, I use their blandness as an opportunity to explore spices, herbs, and dressings that will bring the dish to life.

Take quinoa for example – this summer, I used peppadew peppers, cauliflower, and corn to add spice, tang, and texture. But as fall creeps in, I’m turning to heartier foods like chickpeas, brussels sprouts, and grapes. The earthiness from the chickpeas, crunch from the raw Brussels sprouts, and pop of sweetness from the grapes is a perfect combination. But don’t take my word for it, get in the kitchen and see for yourself!

INGREDIENTS: (serves 12-14)

  • 3 cups cooked quinoa
  • 2 ½ cups raw shredded Brussels sprouts
  • 2-15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed, drained, and dried
  • 1 ½ cup red grapes, halved
  • 1 tsp kosher salt

Lemon Tahini Dressing:

  • 1 cup tahini/sesame paste
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 ½ Tbsp lemon juice
  • ¼ Tbsp kosher salt

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Combine salad ingredients in a mixing bowl.
  2. Mix dressing ingredients in a blender.
  3. When ready to serve, mix dressing into salad, and enjoy!

A FEW NOTES ABOUT THIS RECIPE:

  • When I envisioned this recipe, I was imagining white quinoa. But when I got to my pantry, all I had was tricolor quinoa (white, red, and black combined). All 3 varieties are equally healthy and have just a slightly different texture and taste. With the tricolor variety you actually get a nice balance of all 3, so it can be a perfectly fine substitute when making a salad like this. In fact, I might even like it better!
  • You can purchase pre-shredded Brussels sprouts, but to shred them on your own, you can simply use a food processor, cheese grater, or mandolin. If shredding manually, be careful not to cut yourself on your sharp gadgets. No one likes a bloody Brussels sprout!
  • When using canned beans or legumes, which in this case is the chickpea, be sure to rinse and drain before using. This way, you can control the level of sodium that ends up in your dish.

 

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