This Heart-Healthy Quinoa and Avocado Grain Bowl Packs an Entire Day’s Worth of Magnesium Into One Meal

Photo: Stocksy/Nataša Mandić
You’ve heard all about the benefits of vitamin B, done your research on plant-based foods packed with protein, and always make sure to consume plenty of fruit (and dark chocolate) to satisfy your daily allotment of antioxidants. And while these health-conscious eating habits should certainly be applauded, one of the most important minerals for the proper functioning of our body is one that often goes overlooked: magnesium.

As nutrition expert Lisa Moskovitz, RD tells us, “Magnesium is an essential micronutrient and mineral that plays an important role in muscle and nerve function.” The mineral is crucial for many of our body’s functions; for instance, it supports sleep, improves blood sugar levels, helps fight constipation, and even plays a role in your overall mood and mental state. So yes, magnesium is important.

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Alas, many Americans are not consuming sufficient amounts of magnesium. Some research, in fact, suggests that up to 75 percent of Americans are magnesium insufficient. And according to recent data from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), “The diets of many people in the United States provide less than the recommended amounts of magnesium.” For more on magnesium deficiency symptoms, check out this guide.

According to Moskovitz, current dietary guidelines suggest that adults consume between 320 mg and 420 mg per day. “This can be easily achieved through eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of veggies, nuts, seeds, and whole grains,” she says. Unfortunately, many aren’t consuming sufficient amounts of these magnesium-rich food groups—particularly some of the the strongest sources, such as beans, nuts, and leafy greens. Enter this heart-healthy quinoa and avocado salad from Cookie and Kate—think of it as a delicious one-stop shop for your daily magnesium needs.

We love this recipe not only because it begs to be photographed (thanks to its striking amalgamation of colors), but because it's as nutrient-rich as it is tasty. Every single ingredient contains plenty of vitamins and minerals, including the all-important magnesium. In fact, the vast majority of veggies and grains in this salad are considered major sources of magnesium, including edamame, spinach, avocado, pumpkin seeds, and quinoa. This salad is roughly two servings, each with roughly 416 mg of magnesium—aka an entire day's worth. To make it an even heartier meal, you can try serving it with an additional source of protein, like salmon (more magnesium!), tofu, or tempeh. But thanks to the beans, seeds, quinoa, and avocado, however, this dish is both delicious and satisfying.

Like most salads, this one is best made fresh, so we wouldn’t necessarily recommend making an enormous batch and trying to save leftovers. That said, if you find yourself tight on time and need to prepare in bulk, be sure to store the greens separately from the other prepared ingredients and combine just before serving. And, of course, dress right before serving rather than storing a soggy salad in your fridge.

Read on for the full salad recipe courtesy of Cookie and Kate, with the amount of magnesium you'll reap from each ingredient (per the NIH's guide to magnesium).

Quinoa avocado salad recipe from Cookie and Kate

For the salad:
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed (60 mg magnesium)
1 cup frozen organic edamame (100 mg magnesium)
1/3 cup pepitas, or green pumpkin seeds (421 mg magnesium)
1 medium raw beet, peeled (19 mg magnesium)
1 medium-to-large carrot, peeled (7 mg magnesium)
2 cups packed baby spinach, roughly chopped (168 mg magnesium)
1 avocado, cubed (58 mg magnesium)

For the vinaigrette:
3 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp chopped fresh mint or cilantro
2 Tbsp honey, maple syrup, or agave nectar
1/2 to 1 tsp Dijon mustard, to taste
1/4 tsp salt
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Cook the quinoa: First, rinse the quinoa in a fine-mesh colander under running water for a minute or two. In a medium-sized pot, combine the rinsed quinoa and 1 cup water. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then cover the pot, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 15 minutes. Remove the quinoa from heat and let it rest, still covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover the pot, drain off any excess water and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Set it aside to cool.

2. Cook the edamame: Bring a pot of water to boil, then add the frozen edamame and cook just until the beans are warmed through, about 5 minutes. Drain and set aside.

3. Toast the pepitas: In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the almonds or pepitas, stirring frequently, until they are fragrant and starting to turn golden on the edges, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a large serving bowl to cool.

4. Prepare the beet and carrot: Feel free to just chop them as finely as possible using a sharp chef’s knife or grate them on a box grater. If you have a spiralizer, you can spiralize them using blade C, then chop the ribbons into small pieces using a sharp chef’s knife. If you have a mandoline and julienne peeler, use the mandoline to julienne the beet and use a julienne peeler to julienne the carrot, then chop the ribbons into small pieces using a sharp chef’s knife.

5. Prepare the vinaigrette: Whisk together all of the ingredients until emulsified.

6. Assemble the salad: In your large serving bowl, combine the toasted pepitas, cooked edamame, prepared beet and carrot, roughly chopped spinach, cubed avocado, and cooked quinoa. Finally, drizzle dressing over the mixture (you might not need all of it) and gently toss to combine. You’ll end up with a pink salad if you toss it really well! Season to taste with salt (up to an additional 1/4 teaspoon) and black pepper. Serve.

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