Protein boosting roasted veg & quinoa salad
A roasted veg salad is perfect for winter lunchtimes. It's really easy to make, nutrient dense and satisfying enough to see you through the afternoon. Serve it warm and freshly made, or pre-cook the ingredients, keep them in the fridge and throw them together for something quick when you need it or take it into work as a packed lunch.
You can make variations of this salad with whatever veg you've got in the fridge. In this version, I mix the roasted beetroot, carrot, red pepper and onions with peas and quinoa to up the protein content, and add mixed salad leaves to pack in some greens.
These ingredients are an ideal combination for pregnancy - beetroot is rich in iron and boosts the immune system, while carrot and red pepper are great sources of beta carotene, converted to vitamin A in the body and which supports your baby's growth and development. Greens add some extra folate, magnesium and vitamin C - all key nutrients for supporting your growing baby.
Although entirely plant-based, this salad is great for boosting protein - quinoa is one of the only plant-based foods which contains all the essential amino acids to build proteins. And during pregnancy, your body needs protein as it builds your baby's cells, tissues and organs as well as your own tissues to form the placenta, increase blood volume and prepare for milk production. Including protein with every meal can also help to balance your blood sugar so you feel more energised and fuller for longer. Balancing blood sugar is especially important if you are feeling tired or nauseous.
The lemony tahini dressing - as well as giving the salad a fiery kick from smoked paprika (you can omit the paprika if you like), provides some calcium and additional Vitamin C.
Serves 2 (heartily)
1/2 cup quinoa
1/2 cup frozen peas
Handful of mixed salad leaves (I used rocket, watercress & spinach)
1 large beetroot
1 red pepper
1 red onion
2 tbsp avocado oil (coconut oil would work too)
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp olive oil
Juice of half a large lemon
1/4 tsp sumac
1/4 tsp smoked paprika
Soak the quinoa in water, ideally overnight, and rinse well. Preheat the oven to 180°.
Place the quinoa in a saucepan, add 3/4 cup of boiling water (or 1 cup if the quinoa is un-soaked), bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 15 minutes until the water has been absorbed.
Chop the carrots, beetroot, pepper and onion. Place in a roasting tin and coat with the avocado oil. Roast for 40 minutes, turning halfway through.
Put the peas in a bowl of boiling water for a minute, then drain.
Mix all the salad ingredients together, adding the chopped mixed leaves.
Combine the dressing ingredients, mix well, then drizzle over the salad and serve.
If you want to split this into two separate lunches, I recommend mixing the peas and quinoa, but storing the rest of the salad ingredients and the dressing separately in the fridge for up to 3 days.