In recent years, nutrition research has shown us that eating mostly plant-based foods is better for our health than eating mostly animal-based foods. That doesn’t mean you need to cut out all animal-based foods though – I certainly still enjoy eating meat, poultry, fish and eggs – but it’s good to eat some meat-free meals on a regular basis to improve your overall health. And this Chickpea and Quinoa Salad is a delicious way to do it.
Plant-based meals and a low FODMAP diet
Since animal-based foods are an excellent source of protein, if you’re going to have meals that are purely plant-based, you need to include other sources of protein. This is important for the health of your muscles and your body, but also to help you feel full and satisfied after a meal.
The catch here is that legumes are the plant-based protein source that’s normally used to replace animal-based proteins. But while legumes are excellent for your health and are loaded with fibre that keeps the gut healthy, they aren’t always that great for sensitive tummies because they’re high in galacto-oligosaccharides (GOS), the most gas-producing of all of the FODMAPs.
Not all is lost though because you can still eat small amounts of legumes on a low FODMAP diet. In fact, it’s actually a good idea to eat these small amounts regularly to make sure that you’re eating a healthier low FODMAP diet, since the fibre in legumes is a source of the prebiotics that are essential for keeping your good gut bacteria healthy.
Chickpeas… and how you can still enjoy them on a low FODMAP diet
My favourite low FODMAP legume is chickpeas, which are safe to eat in a serving size of 1/4 cup. It’s best to use canned chickpeas that you’ve rinsed really well with water. This is because the canning process helps to pull out some of the GOS into the canning liquid, which reduces the amount of FODMAPs in the canned chickpeas. But this also means there will be lots of GOS in the canning liquid, so make sure you get rid of all of that.
Now, 1/4 cup of chickpeas doesn’t provide a lot of protein, so if you’re going to have a purely plant-based meal, you need to add another protein source. My preferred option is quinoa, which has more protein (and fibre) than most other low FODMAP (and gluten-free) grains. And I also like to add a few seeds or nuts to boost the protein and fibre just a tiny bit more.
Let’s talk a little about quinoa
Some people don’t like quinoa much though and think it tastes and smells funny. But that’s what happens if you don’t wash it properly because there are saponins (natural detergents) on the outside of the quinoa that need to be washed off before you cook it. So you need to rinse the quinoa really well otherwise it isn’t going to taste nice.
How I wash quinoa… I put the quinoa into a mesh strainer and sit the strainer over a bowl. I then almost fill the bowl with water so that the quinoa is covered and I stir the quinoa with either my fingers or a spoon for a couple of minutes. This will make the water cloudy as the saponins are released. I then drain the water and repeat several times until the water remains clear. Then the quinoa is ready to be cooked.
Rounding out a plant-based meal
Lastly, to finish creating your Plant Protein Power Bowl, so that it’s got lots of protein, fibre and colour – which by the way is the theme of this month’s Recipe ReDux – you need to add in some colourful veggies. I normally just throw in whatever leafy greens and salad veggies I have on hand, so this part of the recipe does change from day to day. So how about making a Chickpea and Quinoa Salad today?
This easy to make chickpea and quinoa salad is low FODMAP, gluten-free and dairy-free. A great way to have a meat-free meal without upsetting the tummy.
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 1 cup water (for cooking)
- Dressing: 3 tsp extra virgin olive oil, 1 tsp of white balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 cup (84g) well-rinsed canned chickpeas
- 60g Lebanese cucumber, chopped
- 2 medium radishes, sliced thinly
- 130g cherry tomatoes, chopped
- 2 tbsp pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
- 2 large handfuls of mixed lettuce (or any other salad greens), roughly chopped
- Put the quinoa into a mesh sieve and put the sieve over a bowl. Fill the bowl with water until the quinoa is covered. Stir the quinoa with your fingers or a spoon for a couple of minutes. Drain and then repeat two more times or until the water runs clear. This soaking and rinsing step is essential to remove the saponins from the quinoa. Then drain the quinoa, shaking off excess water, and put into a saucepan with 1 cup of water. Cover the saucepan, bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and keep covered for another 5 minutes. Remove lid and fluff quinoa with a fork, then allow to cool a little. Note: this step can be done ahead of time, or you can also use leftover quinoa.
- Meanwhile, put the olive oil and vinegar into a large bowl. Mix with a spoon. And chop the salad ingredients so that they’re ready for when the quinoa is cooked.
- Add the remaining salad ingredients to the bowl, along with the cooled cooked quinoa, and toss well to coat with the dressing.
- Divide the salad between two bowls.
- This recipe is suitable for a low FODMAP diet, provided that the recommended serving size for this recipe is not exceeded.
- This recipe is naturally gluten-free, dairy-free and nut-free. However, if you have an allergy to any of these items, or have coeliac disease, please check the labels on any purchased ingredients to ensure they are safe for your requirements.
- Chickpeas are low FODMAP at a serving size of 1/4 cup. It’s best to use canned chickpeas and ensure that you rinse them thoroughly before using.
Low FODMAP Portion
- Serving Size: 1 bowl of salad (1/2 the recipe)