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Stress Reducing Avocado & Quinoa Nourish Bowl

Stress Reducing Avocado & Quinoa Nourish Bowl | A Couple CooksStress Reducing Avocado & Quinoa Nourish Bowl | A Couple CooksStress Reducing Avocado & Quinoa Nourish Bowl | A Couple CooksStress Reducing Avocado & Quinoa Nourish Bowl | A Couple Cooks

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 littles are refusing to nap to give you some peace and quiet?

Life is full of potentially stressful situations. 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 (an irony not lost on most of the book authors). 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, which was big news to me at the time. 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, and I’m about 99% certain that our decision to adopt a tiny human may put Alex and my chances at slim to none (parents out there, amirite?). However, that lesson 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. Would we be able to create a recipe with the best foods to eat in times of stress? She gave us a list of ingredients, Chopped-style: avocado, raw cacao, almonds, citrus (orange or lemon), cauliflower, greens (spinach or kale). Of course, we couldn’t resist the challenge, and especially the tie in to replenishing nutrients in times of stress. What resulted was this Nourish Bowl, our favorite way to make a humble salad into a delightful main dish. Start with a large, deep bowl: add greens, a grain (quinoa, rice), protein (nuts, seeds, beans, tofu), various raw and cooked vegetables, and a tasty dressing, focusing on a variety of colors and textures. I’m not sure whether it’s the huge bowl or the explosion of flavors and textures, but I can’t get enough of these Nourish Bowls. For this one, we incorporated the wildcard ingredient, raw cacao, by making a Cacao Citrus dressing. It adds an earthy complexity to the salad that made thoughtfully savor each bite, instead of plowing through like I normally do. It’s a colorful, cheery salad that makes you feel like a million bucks — and the quinoa makes it filling enough for a main dish meal.

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?

Why to make it: It’s a delicious and hearty bowl of foods that replenish nutrients in times of stress; the highlight is a zesty cacao citrus vinaigrette.
When to make it: Anytime; it’s most satisfying in fall or winter due to the earthy taste of the vinaigrette (many of the foods are available in fall at farmer’s markets in Indiana).
Caveats: It takes a bit of time to put together the salad components, but it’s absolutely worth it.
Diets: Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free

*For More*

Stress Reducing Avocado & Quinoa Nourish Bowl
Serves: 4
What You Need
  • 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
What To Do
  1. 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 (below).
  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 yellow 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.

Cacao Citrus Vinaigrette
Serves: About 1 cup
What You Need
  • 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
What To Do
  1. Juice and zest the orange.
  2. In a bowl, vigorously whisk together all ingredients. Store refrigerated.


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  • Reply
    October 26, 2015 at 5:58 am

    This looks amazing and I had no idea that all of these foods could help reduce stress. The fact that you made them all come together so flawlessly into one meal is very impressive! That cocao vinaigrette is genius!

  • Reply
    Katie @ Whole Nourishment
    October 26, 2015 at 8:44 am

    The name of this recipe alone makes me feel calm and nourished. ;-) I really love how you brought all of these ingredients together in a bowl and topped with a special vinaigrette. Thanks for being up to the challenge!

  • Reply
    Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    October 26, 2015 at 10:21 am

    That cacao vinaigrette has got to be the most creative dressing I’ve seen! It sounds so good. I’m definitely not stressed at the moment but certainly don’t need to be to eat a bowl like this! Yum!

  • Reply
    October 26, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Beautiful. Bowl foods really make the best kinds of meals, don’t they? Love this, it totally inspires me to get out there and eat fresh foods despite the busy med school hours! So thank you! :)

  • Reply
    October 26, 2015 at 1:13 pm

    Right now I’m going through a lot of stress at work. I recently made a career change as a professional cook, and love what I do- and end up putting in way more hours than I intend to. I keep going back and forth, because I enjoy my work, and the more I learn now the more opportunities will be available later, but I worry that I’m prioritizing work over relationships- agh! I try to combat stress by getting together with friends, making regular dates with my husband, and staying healthy- which isn’t always easy working in restaurants. This looks like just the type of thing I like to make at home to combat the foie gras pancakes and whisky shots that sometimes happen at work.

  • Reply
    Bethany @ Athletic Avocado
    October 26, 2015 at 5:28 pm

    This bowl is overflowing with nutrients and flavors! I love the cacao citrus vinaigrette! Looks amazinG!

  • Reply
    October 27, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    Very intriguing idea! By the way I love the why, when, caveats info! :)

  • Reply
    Michelle (Supper With Michelle)
    October 27, 2015 at 1:02 pm

    I could certainly use a bowl of this right now. Looks divine! And that dressing…yummm!

  • Reply
    Katie @ Whole Nourishment
    November 2, 2015 at 7:25 am

    I made this bowl this weekend and it was so satisfying. The citrus cacao dressing is out of this world amazing, and I see myself making it over and over again. :) Thanks again for collaborating on this project…so fun!

  • Reply
    Peggy May
    December 29, 2015 at 12:06 pm

    Where do you get raw cacao?

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    Happy Cooking! ~ Sonja & Alex