Asparagus Chickpea Quinoa Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette

Celebrate spring with this salad recipe from the MGH Be Fit program.  Leftovers work well for a quick lunch—just keep the dressing separate and add before eating, so the greens don’t wilt.  You can also add a hard-boiled egg to further increase the protein in this recipe.


For the lemon vinaigrette
¼ cup lemon juice
½ cup olive oil
2½ teaspoons Dijon mustard
Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste

For the salad
1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 bunch asparagus (15 to 20 spears), cut into 1-inch pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 (14-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
3 large handfuls of arugula
2 scallions, thinly sliced
½ cup crumbled feta cheese

To make the vinaigrette:
Place all ingredients in a small jar with a lid and shake until thoroughly combined (or whisk together in a small bowl). Taste vinaigrette; add salt and pepper as needed.

To make the salad:
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the quinoa with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then cover and lower the heat to a simmer. Cook for 15 minutes or until the quinoa is tender. Let sit for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork. (If your quinoa still has water in it simply strain it out.) Set aside until ready to assemble the salad.
While the quinoa is cooking, sauté asparagus in olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until cooked through, about 7 minutes.

To assemble the salad:
Combine the cooked quinoa with asparagus, chickpeas, arugula, and scallions. Top with vinaigrette and feta cheese.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition Information per Serving:
Calories: 390 • Protein: 10g • Sodium: 240mg • Carbohydrate: 31g • Fiber: 7g •
Fat: 26g • Sat Fat: 5g

Recipe adapted from Two Peas & Their Pod

Apple Barley Salad

Pearled barley cooks quicker than hulled barley (hulled barley still has the bran of the grain attached and takes about an hour to cook). Though pearled barley is technically not a “whole grain,” it is still a good source of fiber. Avoid buying white pearled barley, it is more processed; instead, look for the variety that is “lightly pearled.”  Lightly pearled barley will be tan in color and has more fiber.

½ cup lightly pearled barley, uncooked
1 tsp salt, divided
½ cup plain low-fat yogurt
1½ tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
½ tbsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp black pepper
2 stalks celery, diced
1 apple, skin intact, diced into ½-inch pieces
¼ cup fresh mint, chopped
2 bunches arugula (about 6 cups)

Combine barley in a saucepan with 1½ cups water and ½ tsp salt and bring to boil (or see directions for cooking barley on package). Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes, until water is absorbed and barley is tender. Use a strainer to drain any excess water. Allow barley to cool.

Meanwhile, whisk together yogurt, olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, remaining ½ tsp salt and black pepper. Toss with celery, apple, mint and cooled barley. Divide arugula between bowls and top arugula with barley salad.

Yield: 4 servings

Nutrition Information per Serving:
Calories: 195 • Protein: 5g • Sodium: 650mg • Carbohydrate: 30g
Fiber: 6g • Fat: 6g • Sat Fat: 1g

Recipe adapted from Real Simple

Cranberry Gorgonzola Spinach Salad

This salad utilizes flavorful, seasonal ingredients without derailing your healthy diet and takes minimal effort to prepare. Add grilled chicken, salmon or flank steak to make it into a meal.

1 cup pecan halves
12 cups baby spinach
½ cup dried cranberries
1 cup gorgonzola (or other blue cheese), crumbled (about 4-5 ounces)
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp grated orange peel (optional)
Salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake pecans on an ungreased cookie sheet for 8-10 minutes or until golden. In a large bowl, combine spinach, cranberries and gorgonzola. Pour balsamic vinegar into a small bowl, whisk in olive oil and orange peel (if using). Pour over salad mixture and toss to combine.  Add pecans, season with salt and pepper to taste.

Yield: 6 servings

Nutrition Information per Serving (chicken, salmon or steak not included):
CALORIES: 300 • PROTEIN: 6g • SODIUM: 360mg • CARBOHYDRATE: 14g • FIBER: 3.5g •
FAT: 25g • Sat Fat: 6g

Nutrition, recipes

Pesto Artichoke Barley Salad

Consider cooking barley the night before a busy day. Simply refrigerate cooked barley overnight and add remaining ingredients before serving for a quick and refreshing cold salad.

4 cups water
1 cup uncooked pearl barley
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts, quartered, water drained
1 scallion, sliced
2 tbsp prepared commercial pesto
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
½ cup grated parmesan cheese


Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add barley, cover and reduce heat; simmer for 45 minutes.

Remove barley from heat and let stand for 5 minutes (or refrigerate overnight after barley is no longer hot to the touch). Add remaining ingredients and toss. This salad can be served warm or

Yield: about 7 servings, 1 cup serving size

CALORIES: 240 • PROTEIN: 10 g • SODIUM: 448 mg • CARBOHYDRATE: 35 g FIBER: 8 g • FAT: 6 g • Sat Fat: 2 g

(Recipe adapted from Cooking Light)
Nutrition, recipes

Strawberry Almond Spinach Salad

strawberry. Photo credit: Levi Szekeres Need a side dish to bring to this weekend’s cookout?  This quick and easy recipe combines some of summer’s freshest ingredients for a refreshing salad packed with nutrients. Just top it with some grilled chicken for a fast, tasty summertime meal!


1 pound fresh spinach, washed and dried 
1 pint strawberries, sliced, stems trimmed 
½ cup sliced almonds 
1 tbsp poppy seeds 
2 tbsp sesame seeds 


¼ cup olive oil
1/3 cup sugar
¼ tsp paprika
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1/3 cup red wine vinegar

Lightly brown almonds in a small frying pan on the stovetop on medium heat until golden: about 3 minutes; let almonds cool. In the meantime, combine spinach and strawberries in a large salad bowl; whisk dressing ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add poppy and sesame seeds to cooled almonds and sprinkle mixture over spinach and strawberries. Drizzle with dressing and enjoy!

Yield: About 7 servings

(2 cups salad mixture and 2 Tbsp dressing per serving)



SODIUM: 52 mg
FIBER: 4 g
FAT: 13 g
Sat Fat: 2 g 

(Recipe adapted by Ashley Reynolds, Dietetic Intern. Photo Credit: Levi Szekeres)
Nutrition, recipes

Easy Summer Salad

 Spices and measuring spoonsA light crisp salad can be the perfect meal on a hot summer day.  This healthy, modern take on a classic summer lunch is courtesy of MGH’s Nutrition & Food Services Department 

Chicken Cilantro Salad

2-4 oz cooked chicken breasts, shredded or cubed
2 tablespoons almonds, slivered
1 garlic clove, minced
2 teaspoons jalapeño peppers
1 tablespoon fresh cilantro (if fresh is not available, 1 teaspoon of dried can be substituted)
¼ cup light sour cream
¼ cup yogurt, plain, fat free
½ cup roasted red peppers, diced
Salt and pepper to taste (1/4 tsp is used to calculate the sodium content of the recipe)

Use leftover chicken or cook chicken ahead of time and chill thoroughly before serving. Pull chicken apart using hands or dice into small cubes. Mix all ingredients, except chicken, and combine well. Add chicken to mixture and stir to combine. Serve on 100% whole wheat bread, lettuce cups or a bed of mixed spring greens (also known as mesclun greens).
Yield: 16 ounces (4 servings)

SODIUM: 273mg
FAT: 7.5g Sat Fat: 1.5g

Guest Post, My Story, Nutrition

Assembling My Weekday Salad

By Monica

Colorful vegetables

I know eating plenty of fruits and vegetables is important for maintaining a healthy diet, so I usually bring a salad for lunch.  Sometimes though, I’d wait till the last minute to prepare my vegetables and find myself standing in front of the refrigerator saying “ugh, I don’t want to deal with these right now!”  But I don’t want to waste food either.  Some vegetables and fruits go bad after only a couple of days and throwing away anything I didn’t use is a waste of money.  

I have two suggestions for saving money on produce.  The first is look for smaller packages of fresh fruits and vegetables so there’s a better chance you’ll be able to use it all before it goes bad.  My second suggestion is chop your fruits and vegetables ahead of time. 

I have a bowl that comes with a gel pack to keep food cold while traveling, but I wasn’t really using it to transport food.  Instead I thought of another use for my bowl: storing my chopped vegetables.  It’s divided into compartments like this Tupperware® one, so I can chop up a week’s worth of vegetables like cucumbers, onions, carrots and red and green peppers and store each in its own section.  When I was ready to make my salad, all I had to do was take a little bit from each place and I was done!  So now, I chop up all the fruits and vegetables I need for the week on Saturday or Sunday and store them in a plastic container.  

Chopping my vegetables before hand saves time in the morning, and saves money since I’m more likely to use them before they go bad.  I also find it can be therapeutic.  It takes my mind off of other things—I’m so focused on what I’m doing (and making sure I don’t cut myself!) that I don’t have time to worry about anything else.  My husband also helps me cut up vegetables, too which is great.  

It’s not just fresh vegetables I prepare and store ahead of time.  I also portion out tuna and baked chicken or steamed vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and asparagus.  In many cases, cooked food I don’t use right away can be frozen and thawed out later.  

It’s nice to know procrastinating led to something so useful.