Quinoa is a relatively quick-cooking grain, but the Instant Pot makes it even faster. It’s also a very hands-off, heat friendly method—I don’t turn on my stove or oven unless I have to in the hot, hot summer. The IP makes quick and easy work of healthy quinoa without heating up my kitchen. Score.
Instant Pot Quinoa
1 cup rinsed and drained quinoa (any color)
1 1/2 cups water or broth
1 teaspoon oil
1 big pinch salt
Combine all ingredients into the Instant Pot and shake the inner pot to level the quinoa and make sure it is all submerged. Secure the lid and cook at high pressure for 1 minute. Use a natural release and fluff with a fork.
As much as I love food and to eat eat eat, one of my least favorite tasks is lunch prep. Sometimes I’m working from home and can whip up my meals when I’m hungry, but it inevitably takes too long and leaves less time for my lunch break. Leftovers like soup, rice dishes, and curries heat up quickly and easily, and when possible I fall back on these heat-and-eat dishes. But I often don’t have leftovers to lean on and I need something fresh instead. This brings us to meal prep: no-cook meals that are easy to make the night before and simply mix up and eat at lunchtime. The obvious choice is salad, but there are way more variations than you may think, and options that can be filling and flavorful.
Here are some combos to get to started. Simply use this as a jumping off point—you can mix and match based on your preferences and what you have available. If you’re still looking for ideas, I wrote a roundup a year ago about this very topic. These are in layering order, from the bottom to the top.
Asian Rice Salad
ginger, lime, and soy dressing + cooked brown rice + shredded cabbage and carrot mix + sugar snap peas + grilled tofu or chicken + sesame seeds
Quinoa Protein Salad
honey mustard vinaigrette + cooked quinoa + radishes + crumbled goat cheese + arugula + golden raisins + toasted almonds
balsamic vinaigrette + olives + grape tomatoes + cucumber + green pepper +spinach + feta cheese + freshly ground black pepper
Healthy Chopped Salad
roasted garlic and lemon dressing + cucumber + tomato + carrot + radish + butter lettuce + chicken (optional) + cheddar cheese + crumbled hard-boiled eggs
Sweet Potato and Kale Salad
grapefruit vinaigrette + kale leaves + avocado tossed with lemon juice + cubed roasted sweet potato + parmesan cheese + crunchy croutons (stored separately)
lime and cilantro vinaigrette + tomato + bell pepper + corn + black beans + chopped romaine + cojita or shredded cheddar cheese + avocado (added before eating)
I’ve been obsessing over a salad lately, and it all started when I needed lunch now-now-now and cobbled together a few items I had handy. It’s a flavorful bowl of goodness that’s really nutritious but satisfying, comes together quickly, and allows for customization. Do it!
Kale and Quinoa Salad
makes 1 salad
1 cup packed baby kale or torn kale leaves
1/4 of a lemon or lime, juiced
salt and pepper
1/2 to 2/3 cup quinoa, cooked (hot or cold)
1 large radish, chopped
1/4 of a pomelo, pith removed and cut into small wedges (1/2 a small grapefruit also works)
1 ounce of crumbled feta cheese (or goat cheese)
1 handful golden raisins (or other dried fruit)
1 handful toasted almonds (or other nut)
Dress the kale with the lemon juice, a glug of olive oil, and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.
Add the quinoa to a bowl. Top with the kale followed by the radish, pomelo, feta, raisins, and almonds. Eat it!