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Quinoa Beet Bowls


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These quinoa beet bowls are colorful, hearty, and full of texture. They feature my favorite marinated beets, crispy chickpeas, cooked quinoa, curly kale, and a tangy orange tahini dressing. These bowls are perfect for meal prep, as all of the components can be made ahead and stored.

A glass, rectangular storage container holds the components for a plant-based meal, with a small container of dressing nearby.

When The Vegan Week was published this past winter, I spent a lot of time writing and talking about meal prep.

While I may not be writing about it as frequently now as I was then, meal prep is still a big part of my weekly life.

Meal prep lunches fuel weekdays stacked with appointments with my nutrition clients. And if there’s anything I’ve learned about myself, it’s that I don’t have patience or energy for weeknight cooking—especially when my work schedule is demanding.

Vegan meal prep dinners come to my rescue, again and again.

The Vegan Week

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Whether you have three, two, or even just one hour of time to spare, The Vegan Week will show you how to batch cook varied, colorful, and comforting dishes over the weekend.

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While many different types of recipes can lend themselves to meal prep, grain bowls are especially good make-ahead lunches.

You can prepare each component for a bowl—cooked grain, protein, dressing, etc.—in advance, as your schedule allows.

Store components separately and assemble right before eating, or store complete, prepared bowls in divided, airtight containers.

These quinoa beet bowls are my latest favorite make-ahead bowl creation. They feature the marinated beets that I shared a couple weeks ago, along with cooked quinoa, crispy chickpeas and a tangy orange tahini dressing.

The bowls are full of texture, flavor, and solid nutrition to fuel busy days. I’ve enjoyed them a lot in the last couple months, and I’m happy to share them.

Quinoa beet bowl components

Any bowl recipe is really just the sum of a few great components, brought together in a single vessel.

A round, white ceramic bowl holds cooked quinoa, chickpeas, beets, and finely chopped kale.

My bowls always start with a nutritional premise: a protein, a complex carbohydrate, and a source of vegan protein.

This is the formula that shaped my cookbook Power Plates. To this day, it’s how I think about and execute my own meal planning.

So, what are the sources of those nutrients in this quinoa beet bowl?

An overhead, close-up image of crispy roasted chickpeas, which are laid out with their crumbs on a metal baking sheet.

Protein

The source of plant protein here is a batch of crispy, savory roasted chickpeas.

You could certainly use regular, cooked chickpeas here—straight from the can, or from a pot that you’ve cooked from dry.

However, roasting chickpeas gives you a chance to add more flavor to the otherwise plain beans. It also adds nice texture to the quinoa beet bowls.

I enjoy roasted chickpeas so often that I often double the batch when I make them. You’ll be surprised at how quickly they dissapear!

If you don’t have chickpeas at home, you can substitute another protein in these bowls. Some ideas:

  • Any cooked bean
  • Cooked lentils
  • Chickpea oat balls
  • Baked balsamic tofu
  • Air fryer tempeh nuggets
  • Lemon pepper baked tempeh
  • Balsamic mustard baked tempeh
  • White bean balls
  • Leek white bean salad
A stainless steel saucepan is filled with fluffy, freshly cooked red quinoa.

Carbohydrate

The complex carb here is cooked quinoa.

Quinoa also happens to provide extra protein in the recipe, which reminds me to say that this protein/carb/fat meal planning principle is nuanced.

Many plant foods are a source of more than one macronutrient. When I plan a meal, I identify what will be the primary source of each macronutrient.

For example, I categorize beans primarily as proteins, but they also provide some complex carbohydrate.

Nuts are primarily a fat source, but they also provide a little protein.

And quinoa, a carbohydrate, boasts a nice 6-7 grams plant protein per serving, too.

You can use either white or red quinoa in the recipe—either will work well. If you don’t have or don’t care for quinoa, you can try cooking one of these grains instead:

  • Farro
  • Brown rice
  • Barley
  • Bulgur wheat
  • Pearl couscous
  • Freekeh
  • Millet
  • Spelt berries
  • Wheat berries
Freshly squeezed orange juice and thick, creamy tahini are being mixed with a small metal whisk.

Fat

The sources of fat in this recipe are avocado oil, which is used to roast the chickpeas, some olive oil on the beets, and my bright, citrusy orange tahini dressing.

There are tons of additional tahini dressings on my blog, since tahini dressings are a household favorite of mine; I probably make a batch of the stuff every single week.

I really love the way that the orange tahini dressing vibes with the sweet and tangy marinated beets. However, you could use any of the following dressings instead:

  • Dijon lemon tahini dressing
  • Turmeric tahini dressing
  • Tahini beet dressing
  • Cashew carrot dressing
  • Greek vinaigrette
  • Sweet Dijon vinaigrette

Other tasty and nourishing fats that you could add to this bowl: chopped or sliced avocado, toasted pepitas, dry roasted, salted almonds, or any other nut or seed.

An angled photograph of a round, white ceramic bowl, which is filled with beets, quinoa, and crispy chickpeas, along with a creamy white dressing.

How to make quinoa beet bowls

In essence, preparing the quinoa beet bowls is as simple as preparing the individual components, then assembling them into bowls.

You can make the crispy chickpeas, cooked quinoa, tahini dressing, and marinated beets in any order you like.

The last time I made these bowls, here’s what I did:

Day 1: prepare oven roasted beets and tahini dressing

Day 2: prepare marinated beets, cook quinoa

Day 3: wash and chop kale, assemble bowls

When I’m overwhelmed, my best coping strategy is to break everything I need to do down into baby steps.

If I can keep my focus on doing one, small thing at a time, I end up with much less stress and anxiety than if I were to think about everything that needs to get done.

This applies to work, social life, and household tasks. And it especially applies to recipes.

An overwhelmed me will struggle to execute even a simple recipe in its entirety.

Preparing a recipe stepwise, on the other hand, feels mentally and practically achievable—especially if I give myself a couple days to do everything.

Meal prep bowls like this one are perfect for gradual preparation. And there’s a lot of delight when it comes time to put everything together.

How long do the quinoa beet bowls last?

The tahini orange dressing, marinated beets, cooked quinoa, and roasted chickpeas will all keep for up to 5 days in airtight containers in the fridge.

Prepared bowls that include the chopped kale ought to keep for 4 days, total.

In addition, the tahini dressing and cooked quinoa can each be frozen for up to 6 weeks, making it even easier to get a head start on the complete bowls.

A glass storage container holds bright green pieces of chopped kale.

Can I substitute another green for the kale?

The green that I use in the quinoa beet bowls is stemmed, chopped curly kale. I love raw kale—in fact, I prefer raw kale to cooked—and it resists wilting better than salad greens.

This makes it a great choice for meal prep and make ahead bowls.

However, the slightly bitter taste of raw kale isn’t for everyone. If you prefer, you can use shredded romaine, baby greens, chopped baby arugula, mizuna, baby kale, baby spinach, or any other green that you like in the bowls.

Are the quinoa beet bowls gluten-free?

They sure are. Just be sure to purchase a gluten-free certified quinoa, if you have celiac disease.

The bowls are also free of a couple other common allergens: tree nuts and soy.

More make ahead vegan bowls

If the fact that this bowl is so friendly for meal prep appeals to you, then you may also enjoy some of the following:

  • Chickpea burrito bowls
  • Teriyaki tofu noodle bowls
  • Chili roasted cauliflower and brown rice kimchi bowls
  • Vegan harvest bowls
  • Turmeric rice bowls
  • Lemon pepper tempeh pasta bowls

And without further ado, here’s the quinoa beet bowl that will be my main squeeze for picnic lunches and desk lunches alike this summer!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry white or red quinoa (180g)
  • 1 large bunch curly kale, stemmed and chopped  (you’ll want 6-8 cups chopped kale for the bowls)
  • 1 batch marinated beets (5-6 cups)
  • 1 batch roasted chickpeas (1 1/2 cups)
  • 1 batch orange tahini dressing (3/4 cup / 180ml)

Instructions

  • Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse under cold running water for about 30 seconds. Transfer the rinsed quinoa to a medium pot and add the water and salt. Bring to a boil over medium- high heat. Cover the pot, turn the heat to low, and simmer until all the water has been absorbed, about 13 minutes. Remove the quinoa from the heat and allow it to sit for 5 minutes. Uncover the pot and fluff the quinoa gently with a fork. Allow the quinoa to cool to room temperature. 
  • Divide the chopped kale into 4 bowls or storage containers, if meal prepping. Top with one quarter (each) of the cooked quinoa, Marinated Beets, and Crispy Roasted Chickpeas. If storing the bowls for the week ahead, pour 3 tablespoons of dressing into small storage containers and dress the bowls directly before enjoying.
  • If serving right away, top each bowl with 3 tablespoons of Orange Tahini Dressing and enjoy. 
A vegan quinoa beet bowl is resting on a white surface. There's a creamy tahini dressing poured on top of the bowl.

I know that I’ve mentioned this before, but so many of my nutrition clients struggle more with lunch than with any other meal.

I get it. On some days I’m so focused on clients and notes that I find it hard to make time for a bathroom break, let alone a proper midday meal.

Still, I feel more focused and energized, not to mention happier and significantly less cranky, when I have a great lunch. Not merely a lunch that sates my hunger, but one that’s also a pleasure to eat.

Here’s to making lunchtime count. If that’s your intention for yourself, too, then I hope the quinoa beet bowls will help.

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