Sprouted Quinoa Salad – superfood supper, made raw

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(Sprouted Quinoa Salad with Goji Berries, Almonds, and Kumquats. Raw, vegan, gluten-free – recipe in post)

What are these ‘super foods’ I keep hearing about? I’m beginning to think the whole fad of “super” this, and “super” that has all gotten a little out of control. Yeah, some foods are pretty dang awesome – nutritionally as well as tastily – but aren’t all foods technically “super”? I mean, think about it. How amazing is it that when we eat a potato, our bodies break it down into sugars, proteins, and over twenty different vitamins and minerals. How incredible is it that we can, and have, lived off virtually nothing else? So why isn’t the potato a super food?
Now it seems like the label is slapped onto just about anything foreign or unusual to us – a fruit or berry that’s been shipped in from the other side of the world. And while the nutritional information may be baffling, is it really so much more “super” than, say, a banana?
I’m not debating that there are certainly some foods more super than others – I’m just saying we’ve gotten a little hasty with it, is all.

All ranting aside, though… this salad is pretty super. Comprised of one of my favorite so-called super foods, Quinoa. Probably one of the most under-appreciated ones out there, but with it’s popularity growing I thought I would share another, perhaps less familiar, way to prepare it – raw.

Raw diets are nothing new. The basic idea behind them is that foods contains many nutrients, as well as the things our bodies need to digest and utilize these nutrients – but that cooking often times destroys many of the necessary, naturally occurring, compounds. That means we get significantly less of the things we need, and that much of what we do get has been compromised.
To a certain extent I agree with this – think about steamed vegetables, for instance, and how quickly the color drains from them and the water becomes rich like broth. Whatever’s being left behind in that water isn’t going into our tummies anymore, it’s going down the drain. And it isn’t hard to imagine the vitamins and proteins breaking down and deteriorating when heat is applied.
Of course, some foods require cooking – cannot be eaten without it – to remove poisons, toxins, or to make them otherwise suitable for digestion – but being raw isn’t as limiting as it sounds. Many foods that can’t be digested in their normal state can be sprouted – including most beans, grains, and seeds.
I went raw/vegan for a time, and was happily surprised by all the options available to me. I never got bored – in fact, just the opposite. I was continuously discovering new and exciting ways to use food, while keeping it raw.

Of course, I’m neither raw nor vegan for now, but whether or not you’re interested in being ‘raw’, it never hurts to keep some whole, unadulterated foods in your diet. So long as their delicious, that is!

First – how to sprout quinoa!

If you have a sprouter, you can follow the instructions provided with it. Otherwise, this method has worked for me every time.
This will make approx. 2 cups of sprouts, enough for one batch of salad, and takes a couple days (pretty fast, for sprouting!)

In a bowl of other container, combine 1 1/4 cups dry quinoa with enough water to thoroughly cover. Give the quinoa a swirl to make sure the water has reached everything. Let this sit for 10-12 hours, or overnight, at room temperature.
Thoroughly rinse the quinoa through a cheesecloth or other very fine strainer with cool water.
Line a baking sheet with paper towels, and spread the quinoa evenly across it.
Cover with another layer of paper towels, and let the quinoa sit at room temperature for 6-8 hours.
Uncover the quinoa and rinse again through a fine strainer. Return to the paper towel covered tray, cover, and let sit for another 6-8 hours.
Continue this, rinsing every 6-8 hours, until the sprouts are as long as you’d like them. I like to keep them short, and it usually only takes 2-3 rinse cycles. After your final rinse, keep the quinoa uncovered to help it dry out. The drier it is, the better it will store in the fridge. Sprouted quinoa should last several days in a chilled, sealed container.

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(This is about how long I like my sprouts, but you can sprout for a couple more rinse cycles if you like.)

Sprouted Quinoa Salad
Raw, vegan, gluten-free

2 cups sprouted quinoa (about 1 1/4 cups dry)
2 TBSP ground flax seed meal
1/2 cup sliced or slivered almonds – or other nuts, if you like
1/2 cup fresh fruit – I used kumquats, but fresh apple, pear, or other sweet citrus would work well
1/4 cup dried fruit – I used Goji berries to keep with the ‘super food’ theme, but cranberries or raisins would be delicious
1/4 cup raw seeds – I used sunflower (or you could use sprouted sunflower seeds)
1/2 cup fresh leafy greens – I chose kale, though rainbow chard or spinach would be nice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. powdered ginger
1/8th tsp. garlic
1/8th tsp. cayenne (optional)

(Clearly, you can feel free to use whatever you’d like in this salad. Use the amounts as a guide, but feel free to change up the fruit, nuts, seeds, and even the spices to whatever appeals.)
Method:

Toss all ingredients to combine, and enjoy! Store any extra in a sealed container in the fridge for up to a few days.

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Of course, you could make the same salad with cooked quinoa, toasted almonds, roasted sunflower seeds, and sauteed greens… but why would you? Complete protein, full nutrients, and delicious flavor. All of the things the body needs!

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24 Responses to Sprouted Quinoa Salad – superfood supper, made raw

  1. Samantha February 24, 2012 at 2:35 am #

    I just started to incorporate quinoa to my repertoire on a regular basis. I will certainly have to consider sprouting it too. Thank you for sharing!

    • Willow February 24, 2012 at 2:37 am #

      You’re welcome! I hope you liked sprouted quinoa. :)

  2. Pennie February 24, 2012 at 3:48 am #

    Wow, this looks wonderful! I love quinoa, but have never had it sprouted, so will have to try. Also love the idea of combining it with fruit–thanks for sharing this!

    • Willow February 24, 2012 at 4:04 am #

      No problem. :)

  3. Country Gourmet Traveler February 24, 2012 at 3:59 am #

    Great idea, I have never tried to sprout, so will have to try. You have great photos

    • Willow February 24, 2012 at 4:05 am #

      Thank you – I hope you like sprouting!

  4. RavieNomNoms February 24, 2012 at 2:34 pm #

    I have never seen quinoa like this! I am intrigued! This dish looks SO good!

    • Willow February 24, 2012 at 2:50 pm #

      If you’ve never tried sprouting it’s definitely worth a try – I hope you like it!

  5. Kiri W. February 24, 2012 at 4:01 pm #

    Sounds very interesting – I’ve never had sprouted quinoa, but it looks like a gorgeous salad, for sure.

  6. Sunday Morning Banana Pancakes February 24, 2012 at 4:49 pm #

    I am so SUPER excited to make this; you have made sprouting look so much easier than some methods i have researched- I love that it takes only 2-3 rinsing cycles for baby sprouted quinoa.

    Beautiful dish & photographs as always!

    Love it Willow:)

    • Willow February 24, 2012 at 4:51 pm #

      Thanks! And yeah, sprouting can definitely seem intimidating (I’m still a little nervous when I try a seed/grain I haven’t done before, especially since the methods vary) but this is super easy. :D

  7. Suzi February 24, 2012 at 7:32 pm #

    Wow how cool, sprouted quinoa, I am going to have to try this, I do have a sprouter just never thought to sprout the quinoa. Beautidul salad.

    • Willow February 24, 2012 at 7:36 pm #

      Thanks – hope you like it!

  8. Rachel @ My Naturally Frugal Family February 27, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    Holy smokes what a process…you might have a little more patience than I do…although the salad looks fantastic.

    • Willow February 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm #

      Haha – when it comes to sprouting, things generally take a couple days. But it isn’t like it’s a lot of work – just waiting. And totally worth it! :)

  9. Viviane Bauquet Farre March 2, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    What a treat! Nature, unadulterated, and at its best. Your ingredient list is superlative and I appreciate your documentation of the sprouting process. Food that takes process is so much more rewarding and enjoyable. Brava!

    • Willow March 2, 2012 at 2:26 pm #

      Thanks! And you’re right – it’s quite rewarding to sprout, or to make anything that takes some time/patience. Watching the little sprouts start to appear and then grow was so exciting, it was worth every moment of waiting!

  10. Choc Chip Uru March 5, 2012 at 6:15 pm #

    What a gorgeous salad – so healthy and refreshing :D
    Yum!

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru
    Latest: Lemon Meringue Tart

  11. Anonymous June 6, 2012 at 6:59 pm #

    You can buy sprouted quinoa in bulk at WF

    • Willow June 6, 2012 at 8:02 pm #

      Really? I’ve never seen it at my WF, but I’ll have to check – that would be great! :)

  12. ella@lifeologia August 5, 2012 at 12:58 am #

    Beautiful salad and beautiful photos….
    and sprouted quinoa sounds wonderful ;)
    So happy to ‘meet’ you and thanks so much for coming by the potluck party last week. (just sorry I didn’t get a chance to visit earlier…. it was just a busy week)
    I love your blog and your recipes.
    xo Ella

    • Willow August 7, 2012 at 1:30 am #

      Thanks! I was so happy to be able to participate. :)

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