I love this meal because it is fast, easy, and super flavorful. This is a lunch go-to for me—especially when I have grown tired of sandwiches and soup. I recommend making a batch of “staple” foods once a week so you always have them on hand for quick meals. For me, this includes quinoa, brown rice, lentils, beans, etc. Then all you have to do is literally throw all of the ingredients together and toss with the dressing. It is especially a great meal when you are pregnant! It is quick but doesn’t skimp out on essential nutrients.
¾ cup cooked quinoa
½ cup black beans
1 tomato, chopped
2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
½ avocado, sliced
1 tbsp. lime juice
1 tsp. lime zest
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
½ clove garlic, minced or pressed
Directions: Cook quinoa. Stir quinoa, black beans, tomato, and cilantro together in a bowl. Add dressing ingredients in a separate container and shake until well mixed. Add dressing to quinoa bowl and stir. Top with avocado and salt and pepper to taste.
Did you know that canned beans, especially black beans, are one of the most nutritious foods in the grocery store? Not only are they great sources of fiber, protein, zinc, iron and folate, but they are high in antioxidants. In fact, in a 2004 USDA survey of the most commonly eaten fruits and vegetables, legumes were three of the top 4 foods for the highest phytonutrient content—surprising right? Not only are they highly nutritious, they are also very affordable and especially easy to prep if you are using canned beans, all you need is a can opener!
Quinoa is a super grain and a great plant protein source that contains all of the essential amino acids, which makes it a favorite for vegans and vegetarians. It is a good source of fiber, zinc, and iron, all of which are especially important during pregnancy. It is also rich in anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. Store in the refrigerator in an airtight container to help maintain freshness.
Tomatoes are most well known for their high lycopene content. Lycopene is a carotenoid with high antioxidant activity. It has been linked with lower rates of several cancers including prostate and pancreatic cancers. Tomatoes actually become most nutritious when they are cooked. Cooked tomatoes have significantly higher lycopene levels because it is more bioavailable. So cooked tomato products, like spaghetti sauce, are actually the highest in lycopene content. Tomatoes are also rich in potassium, a mineral that most Americans don’t get enough of. Potassium is important for heart health as it is an essential contributor to normal blood pressure.
To top it off, this bowl also contains avocados—one of my favorites both in taste and nutrition! Avocados have more antioxidants than red cabbage, broccoli, grapes, and even bell peppers. They are full of good fats that improve the absorption of fat-soluble nutrients, like lycopene in the tomatoes. If you have leftover avocado, you can keep it from browning if you pour olive oil or lemon juice over the flesh and put in a plastic bag and store in the refrigerator.