Make Your Coworkers Jealous at Lunchtime: Winter Quinoa Salad

It’s a brand new year which means everyone is creating resolutions (or complaining about why resolutions are stupid).

Either way, most of us are on a kick to eat more healthfully after gorging ourselves on cookies, booze, and heavy dishes during the holidays.

What is the quintessential dish that everyone turns to when they are trying to be “good”?


Quinoa Root Vegetable Salad

Yup. But, if you’ve resolved to eat more salads for lunch this January, you may be unintentionally setting yourself up for big time failure. I’ll explain why in a second.

But first, quick story for you…

When I worked at an accounting firm in Boston, I would always start January fresh by bringing salad ingredients to keep in the office kitchenette with the intention of building a big-ass healthy lunch each day (and saving a couple of bucks in the process).

But when lunch time rolled around I’d either:
A) put together my “good girl salad”, eat it, then immediately go on a hunt for chocolate covered pretzels at the office convenience store
B) walk right past the fridge, laughing, “PSSSHT! That salad?! Yeah right! Now on to the deli!

Why did I keep doing that?

Take a look at the ingredients in a typical salad (the ingredients that I kept thinking I would eat): lettuce, grape tomatoes, raw bell peppers, cucumbers, and some lame low-fat dressing.

And when do all of those ingredients grow?

You bet your freezing buns they don’t grow in Boston in January…these foods are abundant in the summer. Which is great because of their cooling properties they naturally help you keep from overheating.

But when you eat light, cooling foods in winter, your body craves more to warm up and feel satisfied. Usually sugar and fat.

You’ve heard the term “cool as a cucumber”, right? That’s not the way to go in bitter winter, especially if you’re one of those people who is cold ALL of the time.

So, if you love the ease of throwing together a salad for lunch but don’t want to drive yourself nuts this winter, here are three things you can do to warm up your salad:

  1. Add grains like brown rice, farro, or quinoa.
  2. Add protein like roast chicken, eggs, or white beans.
  3. Ditch the summery veggies (that taste like nothing anyway!) and swap in some root veggies like carrots or yams.

They’ll help keep you grounded and satisfied. In this recipe we’re killing two birds with one stone by using the high protein, gluten-free grain quinoa.

Here’s a great winter salad that’s even better the next day (even with the dressing already on it!):

Winter Quinoa Salad with Roasted Root Vegetables and Honey-Mustard Vinaigrette

Time saving tip: The quinoa and veggies can be made a day or two ahead and be thrown together in the salad on a moment’s notice.


1 cup dry quinoa
2 cups water
3-5 assorted root veggies (carrots, parsnips, sweet potato, turnips, etc.)
2 tbsp olive oil
sprinkle of sea salt
2-3 cups baby kale (or regular kale cut into bite-sized pieces)

Dressing Ingredients

4 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp sherry or red wine vinegar
2 tbsp Dijon or whole grain mustard
1 tbsp raw honey


  1. Make quinoa:  Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer for 10 seconds. Add to medium pot with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Then lower to a simmer, cover, and cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Make roasted veggies: Preheat oven to 450. Peel veggies and cut them into two to three inch cubes. In a medium bowl, mix veggies with olive oil and a pinch of salt until coated. Spread on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (fun trick in the video!) and slide into oven. Roast for about 15 minutes until tender and slightly golden at the edges.
  3. Make dressing: whisk all ingredients together with a fork or small whisk.
  4. When you’re ready to make the salad: toss quinoa, roasted veggies, baby kale and dressing until coated. Enjoy or save for lunch tomorrow.

The great thing about using kale is it’s heavy enough to handle dressing and still be good the next day. Enjoy!

What about you? Do you find typical salad ingredients unsatisfying in the colder months or could you eat them all year round?

P.S. If you like this recipe you’ll love what I’ll be cooking up with Monique from on January 21st.  Check out the invite below and click to RSVP:



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