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This quinoa avocado salad is a delicious and hearty bowl full of stress relieving foods! It’s drizzled with a zesty cocoa vinaigrette.

Stress Relieving Quinoa Avocado Salad | Stress relieving foods
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Survey: when’s the last time you felt stressed? Is it right now? Was it at work, when a client came to you with an unrealistic deadline? Or at home when your kiddos are refusing to nap to give you some peace and quiet? Life is full of potentially stressful situations. But did you know there are stress relieving foods that can help? This quinoa avocado salad bowl is full of stress relieving foods: keep reading for the recipe!

Related: 10 Easy Quinoa Recipes

What are stress relieving foods?

At one point in my life I got myself a pile of stress management books. Ironically, it was stressful to figure out how to find time to read them! While I didn’t make it through all of the books, I do remember learning that we have the power to control our reactions to stressors. I was used to being reactive, hoping that my increased heart rate and inability to draw boundaries would magically vanish one day when there were somehow no more stressors in my life. Perhaps once this or that in my life fell into place, I would no longer be stressed. So…that un-stressful time in life? It hasn’t happened yet. But the lesson that has stuck with me: not only can we learn to recognize our stressors, we have power over our reaction to them.

Fast forward to a few months ago. Our friend Katie, a Integrative Nutrition Health Coach passionate about nutrition, came to us with a challenge. Could we create a recipe with the best foods to eat in times of stress? She gave us a list of ingredients, Chopped-style. Of course, we couldn’t resist the challenge, and especially the tie in to replenishing nutrients in times of stress! Here are a few of the stress relieving foods she gave us to work with (which resulted in this quinoa avocado salad):

  • Avocado
  • Raw cacao
  • Almonds
  • Citrus: orange or lemon
  • Cauliflower
  • Greens: spinach or kale
Stress Relieving Quinoa Avocado Salad | Stress relieving foods

How to make this quinoa avocado salad

What did we come up with for our Chopped challenge with stress relieving foods? We created this quinoa avocado salad bowl! For this quinoa avocado salad recipe, start with a large, deep bowl: add greens, quinoa, protein (nuts, seeds, beans, tofu), various raw and cooked vegetables, and a tasty dressing. As with any quinoa bowl, we focused on incorporating a variety of colors and textures.

Whether it’s the huge bowl or the explosion of flavors and textures, but we couldn’t get enough of this quinoa avocado salad! The most unique element is the cocoa vinaigrette dressing. Using raw cacao and orange, it adds an earthy complexity to the salad that made us thoughtfully savor each bite. If you don’t have raw cacao, you can use cocoa powder instead. This quinoa avocado salad is a colorful, cheery bowl meal that makes you feel like a million bucks — and the quinoa makes it filling enough for a main dish. Even better, it’s full of stress relieving foods! So it’s a stress reducer too.

Step it up a notch! Make this salad with Grilled Avocado.

Stress Relieving Quinoa Avocado Salad | Stress relieving foods

Stay tuned for later this week where Katie will share in a new Healthy + Whole post more about foods to eat in times of stress and stress coping techniques. In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you — how do you manage stress?

Stress Relieving Quinoa Avocado Salad | Stress relieving foods

This recipe is…

This stress relieving quinoa avocado salad is vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant based, dairy free, naturally sweet, and refined sugar free.

Looking for bowl meal recipes?

Looking for bowl meal recipes? Aside from this stress relieving quinoa avocado salad, here are a few of our favorites:

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Stress Relieving Quinoa Avocado Salad

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  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 1x


This quinoa avocado salad is a delicious and hearty bowl full of stress relieving foods! It’s drizzled with a zesty cacao citrus vinaigrette.



For the quinoa avocado salad

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 small head cauliflower
  • ½ cup sliced almonds
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 yellow pepper
  • 1 avocado
  • 6 radishes
  • 16 cups spinach leaves
  • Kosher salt

For the cocoa vinaigrette (makes 1 cup)

  • 1 orange (4 tablespoons orange juice + zest)
  • 2 teaspoons raw cacao or cocoa powder
  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Cook the quinoa (or use our Instant Pot quinoa method): Place 1 cup quinoa in a saucepan with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to very low. Cover the pot, and simmer where the water is just bubbling for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the water has been completely absorbed. (Check by pulling back the quinoa with a fork to see if water remains.) Turn off the heat and let sit covered to steam for about 5 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, bring a medium pot of water to a boil and prepare a bowl of water with some ice cubes. Cut the cauliflower into florets. When the water is boiling, add the cauliflower and boil for 2 minutes, until just tender. Remove the florets and place in the cold water for 1 minute, then remove to another bowl.
  3. Make the dressing: Juice and zest the orange. In a bowl, vigorously whisk together all ingredients. Makes 1 cup; store refrigerated.
  4. Place ½ cup almonds a dry skillet and toast over medium low heat, shaking often, until toasted, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool.
  5. Peel the carrots, then cut them into long, thin strips with a vegetable peeler. Dice the pepper. Slice the avocado. Thinly slice the radishes.
  6. To serve, place spinach into large serving bowls. Top with the quinoa and vegetables. Sprinkle with kosher salt, then toasted almonds. Drizzle with the cacao citrus dressing (reserve unused dressing for future use).
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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  1. BJ says:

    Loved this! Fixed it for dinner tonight. Didn’t have cauliflower so used asparagus! The dressing was so delicious! My husband and nephew who’s living with us thought it was awesome. I would serve this again!

  2. Jessica Flory says:

    We loved this meal! Delicious :)

  3. Sandra says:

    Not only is this a gorgeous bowl of goodness, but so many foods that help reduce stress! I’m in! I am a huge fan of the benefits of raw cacao. Making a salad dressing with it is genius!

    1. Sonja says:

      Oh thank you! It can’t be bad when eating dinner also helps you destress, literally :) Thanks so much!

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