• Michelle

Quinoa, cabbage and sardine salad

Updated: Jun 30

I am popping this one up here because it is a really good end of week, nothing left in the fridge, meal and it was really, really delicious. I popped it through the nutritional database and it was a surprise too, but we will look at that a little later.




Oo, lovely, mine is the one covered in coriander, Mr T's is the one not.


Ingredients - Serves two


2 cups cooked quinoa - if you have not made this before there is a method in the recipe Quinoa and Cashew Salad, just pop it in the search bar and it will come up.

1 tin sardines in oil, drained

1/4 head of cabbage, shredded and lightly steamed

Any veg you have at hand, for me this was a dozen cherry tomatoes, cut in half, a small carrot cut into matchsticks, one rather sad spring onion, some parsley, chives and mint (yes, mint, it goes really well in this) from the garden and the heel of a wong bok, which is a type of Chinese cabbage and is very mild and unassuming. Cut all that up, pop it into a big bowl with your cold quinoa.

1 teaspoon caster sugar

1/2 teaspoon olive oil

1 tablespoon vinegar, I use an apple cider vinegar with a live mother for my dressings

2 tablespoons pepita

1 tablespoon sunflower seeds

toppers of choice


Mix together the caster sugar, olive oil and vinegar, pour over the salad mix, give it all a really good stir, decant onto two plates, arrange the drained sardines on top, scatter with your seeds, I toasted these first but you can have them raw if you prefer.

I served this with a round of lemon for a little extra acidity, some dried chilli and a handful of coriander for me, a scatter of black pepper for Mr t and you know what, it was really delicious! Which was a surprise to me, but it really shouldn't have been. Next time I make it I think I will add more greens and possibly some radishes, and I would likely increase the amount of dressing by about a half because it was very, very nice.


Right, let's have a look at its nutritional profile.


Kilojoules first, for me, for my age, physical activity level and BMI we are aiming at about 9400kJs a day, this meal had 1915kJs, so a little light, but I topped it off with hot chocolate and two dried cherry macadamia cookies, so that was okay.


Protein - 23g

Fibre - 12g

Fat - 34% (saturated plus trans fat 6%)

Carbohydrate - 39%


So. Looking at these numbers, the protein is at a good level for me, the fibre, which I always worry about, being grain free, is very nice, the fat is right at the upper level of the Australian Government Guidelines, good fats, yes, but right up there, and the carbohydrates are below where they should be.


This is a really good time to clarify something here. For me, this does not classify as a round meal at this stage, but if I added some more veg to the mix, it would. But we do not need every meal to fall into the guidelines, we need to step back and look at our meals over a day, over a week, see where they are then. Here, let me show you.


For breakfast I had buckwheat and quinoa porridge, baked beans with cherry tomatoes, a mandarin and a banana smoothie, you can have a look at it, it is on the post next door. For lunch I had tomato soup (just a tinned one thinned out with almond milk) and one of my zucchini cottage loaves with a little smudge of Flora Pro-active (which I use because it doesn't bring on the corset of pain the way butter does), for dinner I had this, two cups of hot chocolate and two homemade dried cherry, chocolate and macadamia cookies (gluten, grain and dairy free). I also had two cups of coffee, unsweetened, with almond milk and six mugs of water. This was my intake for the day. Let's have a look at how I did with my ratios and kJs by the end of it all.


Total kJs - 8150, so that is a bit low, need to add in a little more so I am getting enough, a banana, an apple and a cup of grapes would do it, or three pieces of toast with vegimite, or three tim tams, you get the message, a little more would top me up.

Protein - 60g, this is a bit high for a woman of my size, but it can be a tricky one to get right, by far the hardest one in my opinion.

Fat - 30%, (saturated plus trans - 8%) This is within the guidelines, and with a grain free diet this one can always be a bit of an issue as the nuts and seeds that help bulk it out are high in fats, good fats, but fats, still, I am happy with this number.

Carbohydrate - 52% - This is really good for me, I wish that I could eat oats and barley and wheat and rice, but I can't so I tend to struggle a bit with this one so to hit above 50% makes me very happy.

Fibre - 38g, this one makes me very happy.

My zinc, calcium, magnesium, folate, C and some B vitamins all well over the RDI, my iron a little low at 80% of the RDI, other B vitamins and iodine a bit low.

The sodium is an interesting one, it is sitting at 2243mg, so about 10% above where it should be, this is one we Aussies very commonly go over with, for me, a simple switch, if I am going to have a tinned soup for lunch, choose the reduced salt variety, when I change that in the database my sodium drops to 1900mg, under the recommended limits.


So stepping back for a look at this day as a whole, I am pretty pleased with it. Obviously I need to watch my protein intake, that is fine, I can do that, and my sodium intake definitely, and I need to eat a bit more, but otherwise a good, round, balanced day.

See what I mean about taking the long view? Look at this whole day record, compare it to the single meal that was pulled out of it.


Whole day Single meal

Carbohydrate 52% 39%

Fats 30% 34%

Protein 60g 23g

Fibre 38g 12g

kJs 8150kJ 1915kJ


You see? A day of meals can look very different to its individual parts. This gives us leeway and wriggle room. It is very difficult and would be a real drag to have to get it right every time, be kind to yourself and play the long game.


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