Quinoa Taco Salad

Quinoa “Taco” Salad has all the flavor and protein of a regular taco salad, but is so much healthier.

It tastes clean and rich with flavor instead of laden with greasy, over-salted chips and low nutrient lettuce. This version uses a mixture of baby spinach and cilantro as a substitute for iceberg lettuce, a common taco salad ingredient.

Instead of corn tortilla chips, you have the nutty flavor and slightly crunchy texture of quinoa. That doesn’t mean you can’t crumble a couple chips for garnish and texture on top of your plate, but you probably won’t even miss the chips.

One of my goals for this year was to eat better lunches instead of snacking on low nutrient foods all afternoon. This made over taco salad is packed with vegetables, grains, and protein. It’s the perfect lunch to help me get through that afternoon energy decline.

I highly recommend trying quinoa if you haven’t already. It is one of the most nutritious grains available. Quinoa has a similar texture to couscous, but a little more crunch and a slightly nutty flavor.

HEALTH BENEFITS OF QUINOA

The Quinoa in this recipe for Quinoa Taco Salad is a grain-like crop with edible seeds. It is a complete protein and contains slow-releasing carbs to help maintain blood sugar levels. Quinoa is a great grain substitute for rice if you are aiming for healthier meals.

QUINOA IS AN UBER PROTEIN

One cup of the grain has 9 grams of protein, and contains all 8 of the essential amino acids, which makes it a complete protein. A single cup actually has more protein than an egg! This recipe for Quiona Taco Salad uses 1 cup of quinoa!

QUINOA IS GOOD FOR YOUR WAISTLINE

Quinoa is rich in fiber and has a low glycemic index, which means you won’t be stuck with a post-meal blood-sugar spike after indulging in this delicious zucchini bread recipe. It’s rich texture will leave you feeling fuller longer.

QUINOA IS A DETOXIFYING GRAIN

Because quinoa is a complex carb, it actually eases the progress of food through your digestive tract. Adding some quinoa to your diet will keep you free from constipation and bloating.

It’s high in Vitamin B and folate, as well, which can aid your liver in eliminating wastes from your body. Another benefit to eating this Quinoa Taco Salad!

QUINOA IS A BONE BUILDER

Quinoa is a source of plant-derived calcium, a single cup contains about 30 milligrams. Better yet, you’ll also be getting potassium, magnesium and zinc, minerals that help your heart, nerve and muscle functions stay strong.

QUINOA GUARDS AGAINST MOMMY BRAIN

A cup of cooked quinoa offers 15 percent of the U.S. Recommended Daily Allowance of iron, which helps to deliver oxygen to the blood, boosting energy and brain power.

Quinoa’s vitamin B content can help keep the mind sharp, maintain brain volume and stabilize mood. (SOURCE)

Quinoa Taco Salad Tips

The quinoa mixture is best made ahead of time so it can chill, but it tastes great warm as well.

If you’d like to add meat to this recipe for Quinoa Taco Salad, this Crock Pot Mexican Chicken is an easy and delicious option. Just add the chicken at the same time as you do the beans.

If you prefer beef to chicken, brown a 1/2 pound of ground beef with this Homemade Spicy Taco Seasoning. Then, add that to the loaded nachos.

For a pork option, try this Slow Cooker Southwestern Pulled Pork.

I have not tested freezing this recipe. It will last refrigerated for up to 3 days. Store the quinoa mixture separate from the greens and assemble just before eating for best results.

Have you ever made a Quinoa Taco Salad before?

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Quinoa Taco Salad

Quinoa Taco Salad

Yield: serves 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes

Quinoa “Taco” Salad has all the flavor and protein of a regular taco salad, but is so much healthier. It tastes clean and rich with flavor instead of laden with greasy, over-salted chips and low nutrient lettuce. This version uses a mixture of baby spinach and cilantro as a substitute for iceberg lettuce, a common taco salad ingredient. Instead of corn tortilla chips, you have the nutty flavor and slightly crunchy texture of quinoa. 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • half a red bell pepper, chopped
  • half a green bell pepper, chopped
  • half a yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1-2 teaspoons chili powder, depending heat preferences
  • dash cayenne pepper
  • 1 -15 ounce can black beans, drained
  • 3/4 cup diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
  • 2 limes
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 6-8 ounces baby spinach
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1/3 cup cheddar or feta cheese
  • 1 avocado, diced

Instructions

  1. Cook the quinoa according to package instructions.
  2. Meanwhile, swirl a bit of olive oil in a saute pan. Heat oil over medium high heat.
  3. Add onion and saute for 3-5 minutes, until translucent and tender. Add garlic, cumin, oregano, chili powder, cayenne and peppers and saute an additional 2 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat. Stir in the black beans, tomatoes, and the juice of 1 lime. Stir in quinoa. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Chill.
  5. Roughly cut baby spinach into strips like you would shred iceberg lettuce for tacos. Remove about 1 cup of cilantro leaves from the bunch, rinse and pat dry, and toss with the spinach.
  6. Divide spinach and cilantro mixture evenly among 4 salad plates.
  7. Top each plate with a scoop of the quinoa salad.
  8. Top each salad with your choice of cheese and diced avocado. Cut the remaining lime into slices to garnish the plates.

Notes

Meat Options

If you’d like to add meat to this recipe for Quinoa Taco Salad, this Crock Pot Mexican Chicken is an easy and delicious option. Just add the chicken at the same time as you do the beans.

If you prefer beef to chicken, brown a 1/2 pound of ground beef with this Homemade Spicy Taco Seasoning. Then, add that to the loaded nachos.

For a pork option, try this Slow Cooker Southwestern Pulled Pork.

Storage Tips

I have not tested freezing this recipe. It will last refrigerated for up to 3 days. Store the quinoa mixture separate from the greens and assemble just before eating for best results.

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Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per ServingCalories 423 Total Fat 16g Saturated Fat 5g Trans Fat 0g Unsaturated Fat 9g Cholesterol 16mg Sodium 986mg Carbohydrates 57g Net Carbohydrates 0g Fiber 23g Sugar 8g Sugar Alcohols 0g Protein 24g
GoodLifeEats.com offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy and is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although GoodLifeEats.com makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.