Recipe: Southwestern Quinoa, Black Bean and Avocado Salad

This Southwestern inspired salad is rich and textured and so nutritious it can serve as a meal in a bowl. Quinoa is often thought of as a grain, but it is really a seed that originated as a nutrient dense staple food of the Incas in the Andes Mountains of South America. Because quinoa is really a seed and not a grain, it is lower in starch and carbohydrates and higher in healthy fats and proteins. Quinoa is therefore a great grain substitute, especially for people looking to eat low glycemic (low sugar, low starch, low carbohydrate) diets that keep insulin and blood sugar low. A low glycemic diet is recommended for promoting an anti-cancer physiology, anti-diabetic, heart healthy physiology. Black beans are rich in iron, fiber and protein and avocados are a wonderful source of super antioxidants, healthy monounsaturated healthy fats and glutathione. Cilantro or fresh coriander leaves contribute not only flavor, but also cell protective super antioxidants beta carotene, quercitin and rutin. And according to Dr. Yoshiaki Omura from the Heart Disease Research Foundation, New York, NY, USA, fresh cilantro may support the removal of toxic heavy metals such as mercury, as well as free radicals  from the body.

Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten Free, Dairy Free

8 servings


  • 6 cups cooked quinoa
  • 4 cups cooked black beans
  • 4 green onions (scallions)  sliced into thin rounds
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 jalapeno peppers, seeds removed, finely diced
  • 2 avocados, diced


  • 1/2 cup fresh lime juice
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1-2 teaspoons sea salt to taste

Quinoa Preparation (use either red or yellow quinoa or both mixed together)

  • 2 cups quinoa
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 tsp salt

Rinse the quinoa in a fine sieve until the water runs clear to remove any husks and debris that make the dish bitter.

Place all ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil. Immediately reduce the heat to a low. Cover with a tight fitting lid.  Let simmer 15-20 minutes until all water is absorbed. Turn of the heat. Keep covered. Let the pot sit for another 5 minutes.  Then uncover  and place in a large mixing bowl, fluff with a fork and allow to cool to room temperature. You may also make the quinoa ahead of time.

Place quinoa, black beans, scallions, cilantro and jalapeno peppers in a bowl. Add the dressing ingredients and toss well. Add diced avocado just before serving.

Tip: If you leave the avocado out of the salad you can prepare it ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator.  Add the fresh avocado just before serving.

Make the quinoa ahead of time to that it will be room temperature or cool before mixing


Coriander (Photo credit: Ruby’s Feast)


  • 1-2 tablespoons of toasted pine nuts or toasted pumpkin seeds
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red, green, yellow or orange bell peppers
  • 1/2 cup finely diced red onion instead of scallions
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh mint
  • 1/2 cup fresh or cooked corn kernels
  • If fresh cilantro is not available use flat leaf parsley, fresh basil or fresh oregano
  • Substitute lentils, red beans, aduki beans, pinto beans or garbanzo beans for black beans
  • Serve on a bed of fresh arugula or salad greens
  • Surround with tomato wedges or cherry tomatoes
  • Top with a dollop of yogurt or sour cream (if you are not sensitive to dairy products)
  • Substitute wild rice for quinoa
  • Add slices of  cooked organic hormone free chicken breast or cooked grass fed high omega 3 hormone free free range beef, lamb or bison
  • Serve the salad inside of scooped out bell peppers or tomatoes or on top of a broiled or grilled portabello mushroom