Nancy's Health Talk Blog

Kale, Butternut Squash & Quinoa Salad

Sunday, June 17, 2018

The flavor of this salad is amazing, and it’s one of my favorite salads. I usually eat it once a week and bring it with us while traveling to the cottage in the country.

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It’s perfect for Spring/Summer and Fall. I can’t take credit for this salad, though. It came from my Aunt Roseline from Ottawa when we stopped by for lunch last year. Thank you, Rosy! 

One of the main ingredients is, of course, kale. Kale is a detox food that’s filled with fiber and sulfur, which are great for detoxifying your body and keeping your liver healthy. 

Butternut squash is part of the Cucurbita family, which also includes spaghetti squash and different types of gourds. Butternut squash nutrition includes many vitamins and minerals that are vital to maintaining premium health, and it only contains 82 calories per serving.


1 small clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
10 cups packed chopped kale leaves, thick stems removed
¼ cup chopped red /yellow bell pepper
4 cups cooked black or white quinoa (about 1 cup uncooked)
1 cup cooked butternut squash or Frozen Organic (optional) 
⅓ cup raisins or cranberry
2 Tbsp sunflower seeds or hemp seeds
½ cup mint leaves, torn with your hands
1 red onion, thinly sliced

Sea salt and ground black pepper

Butternut squash is most often roasted, but you can prepare it in a variety of ways. Generally, it’s cut into cubes before cooking. Preparing the squash in this way isn’t very difficult but does involve a few steps. First, cut the top and bottom from the squash, then cut the thinner “neck” from the fatter bulb area. Use a sharp peeler or paring knife to remove the thick skin. Out of the bulb, you want to remove the seeds (which can also be roasted, much like pumpkin seeds), then slice the squash into cubes, usually about an inch to an inch and a half in length.

Roasting isn’t the only option. Some recipes call for squash to be steam-baked, boiled, or baked. The taste of squash is sweet and buttery, somewhat similar to pumpkin.

In a large bowl, whisk together spices, garlic, balsamic vinegar, and olive oil.

Add kale, and massage it with your hands for 2 to 3 minutes, or until it becomes shiny and a little translucent and reduced in volume by one third to one half.

Add the remaining ingredients, salt and pepper to taste, and mix thoroughly.

Letting this salad marinate for a little while allows the kale to soften and all the flavours to intensify.

Serves 6.

Is Quinoa Good for Keto?

Generally speaking, quinoa is not the best choice on keto solely because it is a high-carb food. One serving of quinoa (½ cup) provides around 17g of net carbs. On a keto diet, a typical meal should ideally have fewer than 10g net carbs.

However, if you're following versions of keto that allow for higher carb intake, then quinoa may be a good choice.

How to Use Quinoa on Keto

On a standard keto diet, we don't recommend using quinoa. Even a small serving will bring you to close to your carb limit, leaving little room for other meals. There are two exceptions though:

The targeted keto diet (TKD)
The TKD involves eating 20-50g carbs around workouts, and that's the whole allowance for the day. However, endurance athletes may eat up to 100g of net carbs and still maintain ketosis. The latter can definitely include quinoa around their training sessions.

Cyclical keto diet (CKD)
The CKD is a relaxed keto diet where your cycle between a SKD and a typical high-carb diet. If you're following this version of keto, then there's no reason not to eat quinoa during your carb reloads.

Quinoa Substitutes
There are a couple of grain-like foods you can use instead of quinoa on keto. These provide just as many health benefits and can be prepared in a similar fashion.

Chia seeds
Flax meal
Hemp seeds
Shredded cauliflower
Chopped nuts

If you have questions or comments, please share them below!

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