According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, plant-based diets promote health in all stages of human life. Research shows that vegans, vegetarians and people who consume low amounts of lean meat have a lower risk of heart disease, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, stroke, obesity and cancer.
Excluding or reducing meat from your diet is not only good for your health, it also helps the environment.
Plant-based diets require fewer resources, especially water and fossil fuel. And, they also have much less of an impact on global warming. A recent study claims that avoiding meat and dairy is the single biggest way to reduce your environmental impact on the planet.
According to researcher Joseph Poore, at the University of Oxford,
A vegan diet is probably the single biggest way to reduce your impact on planet Earth, not just greenhouse gases, but global acidification, eutrophication, land use and water use … It is far bigger than cutting down on your flights or buying an electric car, as these only cut greenhouse gas emissions.
But plant-based meals don’t have to be tasteless. The salad featured in this post is a complete meal rich in protein, fibre, vitamins and minerals. Made with lentils, edamame beans and quinoa, it’s an absolute favourite in my family. The toasted sesame seeds and sesame oil give it a delicate nutty flavour. It’s a great side dish or a meal to serve on a hot summer day or all year round. Bon appétit!
Lentil, edamame and quinoa salad
Serves: 6 to 8
- 2 cups cooked quinoa (red or white) * (see note)
- 1 cup cooked green lentils * (see note)
- 1 1/2 cups grated carrots
- 1 cup fresh edamame beans, removed from pods (I use the frozen kind)
- 2 green onions, chopped fine
- 2-4 tablespoons (tbsps) black sesame seeds (if you use white sesame seeds, toast them by tossing them frequently in a dry hot pan on stove-top for a few minutes or until golden)
- 1 cup mix of fresh herbs, chopped fine ( I used a mix of coriander, basil, mint and thyme)
- Sea salt and ground pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons (tbsp) apple cider vinegar
- 2 tbsps sesame seed oil
- 3 tbsps grape seed oil (or vegetable oil)
- 2-3 garlic cloves, pressed or finely grated
- ½ teaspoon powdered ginger or 1 tsp freshly grated ginger root
- Add more oil and/or cider vinegar according to taste and after the salad has marinated for 30 minutes ** see note below
* Note: Can also use black lentils cooked according to package. If you’ve already pre-mixed together the cooked quinoa and lentils, as in this recipe, then add the equivalent of 3 cups total.
Cook the quinoa and green lentils separately and according to packages. When done, drain any water that may remain in the lentils. Also, cooked quinoa should not have any leftover water at all. Transfer these into a large bowl, toss to combine and set aside to cool to room temperature. If you have never cooked quinoa, read the instructions here.
Meanwhile, in a separate medium-size bowl, mix together the carrots, edamame beans, green onions, sesame seeds, fresh herbs, salt and pepper.
Add the grated carrot and edamame mixture to the cooled quinoa and lentils. Toss to combine.
In a small bowl, add the vinaigrette ingredients and whisk until blended. Alternatively, you can also blend the ingredients in a small blender or NutriBullet. Pour the vinaigrette into the salad and toss until all ingredients are coated. Cover and allow the salad to marinate in fridge for 30 minutes, tossing from time to time.
** Note: After marinating in the vinaigrette for 30 minutes, much of the dressing will have been absorbed by the quinoa and lentils. Taste it with a spoon. Adjust by adding more oil and/or cider vinegar by drizzling a little bit of each at a time directly from the bottle(s), tossing and tasting the salad with a clean spoon each time.
Serve. Store salad in a covered container in the refrigerator.