Quinoa Kale Avocado Salad – Veg of the Week

Where tasty meets healthy to have a party

Where tasty meets healthy to have a party

I always used to think that January was such a dreary month, but I am discovering that I actually quite like it: things slow down a bit and there is suddenly time to curl up on the couch and read a book or even just do some day dreaming.

The one thing I really do not like about January is that no one seems to be having any fun eating. It is all clear broths and leafy salads. Where does this idea come from that healthy food has to be boring, bordering on punishment?

I was shocked when I was watching this program on healthy eating a while back. This doctor actually declared that one of the main problems is, that food plays too big a role in our lives. He made an argument that food should not be at the center of parties and our time with friends and family. I think I actually gasped out loud!

My belief is that appreciating the simple, daily things in life is what brings happiness and joy. And we have to eat, which makes every meal an amazing opportunity to embrace and enjoy life. I say, spend more time cooking together and eating together. The real question is what you eat; if you use every single special occasion as an excuse to stuff yourself with food your body does not need, of course you will not live healthily. But if you look at every meal as a chance to enjoy beautiful food that nourishes, you will eat healthily AND have a smile on your face.

And just in case I have not made my point, here is a recipe to prove it – quinoa salad with kale, avocado and dried cranberries. This dish is a party of super foods on a plate with every single ingredient containing loads of nutrients that are essential for the body.

The first time I had this dish was when my friend LS invited me over for dinner as a sort of house warming (about a year after she moved into a place – but that just goes to show there is always a good excuse for a dinner party). But then she would have never knowing this dish if her sister had not prepared it for her a few months before.

Not convinced yet? Make this salad for someone you care for and you will be. Actually: even if you are convinced you should still make this salad 😉

A big thank you to LS and RS for passing this recipe on!

Finally a small note on the preparation:
As I am not a regular eater of kale I loved the fat that LS lightly stir-fried the kale to soften it a little. But if you prefer raw kale than you can “massage” it as RS does: tear the kale into small pieces and place in a bowl with some olive oil, lemon juice, a dash of salt and pepper. Then “massage” the kale with your fingers.

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(this recipe was discovered by RS who then passed it on to her sister and my friend LS who then cooked it for me. I had a guess at what the dressing might have been.)
4 servings as a side dish or lunch

400g (2 cups) of left-over cooked quinoa or about 150g  (2/3 cup) uncooked quinoa
olive oil
3 tbsp lemon juice (or 2 tbsp apple vinegar)
2 tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
1/2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1-2 bunches of kale, about 12 leaves (NL: boerenkool, DE: Gruenkohl)
15g almond slivers (or blanched almonds walnut halves or pumpkin seeds)
1-2 avocados
50g dried cranberries


  1. If using uncooked quinoa: rinse the quinoa (this is important to remove the bitter taste). Cover with twice the amount of water. Bring to a simmer and then turn the heat low (I move my pot to the smallest flame and turn it as low as possible.) Cook for about 15 minutes or until just soft, allow to sit covered for another 5 min. Then spread on a large plate, drizzle with a little olive oil and allow to cool a little (in the fridge).
  2. Make a dressing from 2 tbsp olive oil, the lemon juice, maple syrup, salt and pepper.
  3. Toss the dressing with the quinoa. Taste; depending on the amount of quinoa you are using you might need more dressing.
  4. If the kale has thick stems you should tear the leaves off the stems. Cut the kale into thin short ribbons.
  5. Heat a large frying pan or wok and briefly stir-fry the kale until just wilted. (Alternatively “massage “the kale – see “Tips & Variations”).
  6. Spoon the kale on top of the quinoa and allow to cool a little. (The dish can be prepared ahead until here.)
  7. Briefly fry the almond slivers in a dry pan until golden. Allow to cool slightly.
  8. Cut the avocado into cubes.
  9. Toss the quinoa with half the avocado and the half cranberries.
  10. Place on your serving plate(s) and top with remaining avocado, the rest of the cranberries and the almonds.

Tips & Variations

  • Instead of stir-frying the kale you can massage it by placing it in a bowl with some olive oil, lemon juice, a dash of salt and pepper. Then “massage” the kale with your fingers.
  • Add a little feta or soft goats cheese

Some of the health benefits

Kale is being called “the new beef”, “the queen of greens” and “a nutritional powerhouse.” Here are ten great benefits of adding more kale to your diet:

  • Low in calorie, high in fiber and has zero fat. One cup of kale has only 36 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 0 grams of fat. It is great for aiding in digestion and elimination with its great fiber content. It’s also filled with so many nutrients, vitamins, folate and magnesium as well as those listed below.
  • High in iron. Per calorie, kale has more iron than beef. Iron is essential for good health, such as the formation of hemoglobin and enzymes, transporting oxygen to various parts of the body, cell growth, proper liver function and more.
  • High in Vitamin K. Eating a diet high in Vitamin K can help protect against various cancers. It is also necessary for a wide variety of bodily functions including normal bone health and the prevention of blood clotting. Also increased levels of vitamin K can help people suffering from Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Filled with powerful antioxidants. Antioxidants, such as carotenoids and flavonoids help protect against various cancers.
  • Great anti-inflammatory food. One cup of kale is filled with 10% of the RDA of omega-3 fatty acids, which help, fight against arthritis, asthma and autoimmune disorders.
  • Great for cardiovascular support. Eating more kale can help lower cholesterol levels.
  • High in Vitamin A.Vitamin A is great for your vision, your skin as well as helping to prevent lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • High in Vitamin C. This is very helpful for your immune system, your metabolism and your hydration.
  • High in calcium. Per calorie, kale has more calcium than milk, which aids in preventing bone loss, preventing osteoporosis and maintaining a healthy metabolism. Vitamin C is also helpful to maintain cartilage and joint flexibility
  • Great detox food. Kale is filled with fiber and sulfur, both great for detoxifying your body and keeping your liver healthy.

(Source: http://www.mindbodygreen.com/0-4408/Top-10-Health-Benefits-of-Eating-Kale.html)

    • afracooking said:

      Thank you so much for that compliment. It honestly makes me feel happy to hear that (and it made me blush) 🙂

  1. Love this!! Great recipes and so many Superfoods on one plate – fantastic! Beautiful pictures too – looks so appetizing! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    • afracooking said:

      And coming from you, superfoodista. that really is a compliment 🙂

    • afracooking said:

      Thank you!

  2. This looks so good! I want to try this with whole grain sorghum.

    • afracooking said:

      It has been aaaages since I have eaten sorghum – I do not even have any in my cupboard. Must make some soon! Thank you so much for the inspiration!

  3. Afra…your photos are so beautiful…the salad looks and sounds amazing. Every single ingredient just complements the other… I LOVE the idea of maple syrup!! Just lovely… xx

    • afracooking said:

      To read a comment like this just make me smile! I really feel I still have to learn a lot when it comes to taking pictures, so your comment just makes me feel proud. Thank you!!

      • 🙂 you should be proud, your blog is wonderful, and your photos are always perfect! ❤

      • afracooking said:

        That is so sweet of you to say! Thank you!

  4. This is all of my favorite things in one salad! I’ve become pretty fond of roasting my kale (sprinkled with some garlic powder) so I may try it that way. Also — goat cheese is a must haha 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

    • afracooking said:

      I am starting to see how much I have missed out on. I still have to try roased kale – really like you tip of adding garlic powder!

  5. What a superfood sslad! I love it all beautifully combined in here! Yum Yum Yymmm!

    • afracooking said:

      I knew this would be just up your alley 🙂 xxx

    • afracooking said:

      And one recipe at a time we will spread that message 🙂

  6. Delicious, nutritious, and GORGEOUS! Fabulous recipe!

    • afracooking said:

      Thank you. That is so lovely of you to say!

  7. Gah, this looks so good! I have only tried kale once, but would love more recipes for it.

    • afracooking said:

      I do not eat kale that often either, but after discovering this recipe that has changed. Really looking forward to trying some new dishes – but until now, whenever I have bought some kale I end up making this dish 🙂

  8. Yum this sounds so light and delicious! It has so many awesome things going on in it, the kale, avocado, quinoa! Great recipe 🙂

    • afracooking said:

      Thank you so much! It really is a lovely combination of different tastes and textures.

  9. Let’s see, a salad that incudes quinoa, kale and avocado. How can you go wrong? Thanks for sharing such a simple yet wonderful salad. Yum.

    • afracooking said:

      It really is a plate full of goodness.

  10. ciao! raw kale is quite different from other greens that i enjoy, but it is gaining presence on my plate. really like your recipe and will try it. you always share such treats.

    • afracooking said:

      I am so glad you like it. Thank you for the compliment.

  11. Amy Jo said:

    kale & avocado = two of my favorite foods!

    • afracooking said:

      It really is a winning combination – I am going to experiment with it a little more (I can see it in a quesadilla for example)

  12. Love all your Veg of the Week posts! I am so curious about kale! Need to start using it. This looks great!

    • afracooking said:

      With all you healthy recipes I was convinced you would already be on the kale bandwagon 🙂 It really is a vegetable that has suprised me – looking forward to your recipes 🙂

      • I have looked around here… and sometimes it’s in stock, and other times nowhere to be found. Just when I think of doing something with it, it’s out… every time! Must just grab some the next time I see it. 🙂

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