Quinoa and chickpea salad recipe


Today, I would like to share with you an easy, practical, and nutritious lunch recipe that you could actually take in your lunch box anywhere you want: a quinoa and chickpea salad. It is quite suited for this season!

It is rich in plant protein and many vitamins and phytonutrients that will help to keep you healthy and fit :).

Why is this recipe good for your brain?

This recipe includes many brain-friendly foods. As I wrote previously, green leafy vegetables can slow brain aging by 11 years. How wonderful is that?? The greens in this salad are spinach and onion greens.

Legumes are considered a brain food and are an important part of the MIND diet, a diet that has been shown to slash down Alzheimer’s risk by 53%! [1] Regular legume consumption has been associated with enhanced cognitive performance, especially in the elderly [2], while low legume intake is linked to cognitive decline [3]. Legumes are a plant protein powerhouse and are packed with my nutrients, such as B-vitamins (absolutely crucial for brain health), phytonutrients, and fiber. In this recipe, we use a good portion of chickpeas :).

Pumpkin seeds have a high antioxidant activity [4] and are rich in minerals that are crucial for brain function and energy, such as magnesium and zinc [5]. Zinc is crucial for our brain as it is involved in the communication between neurons, in the activation of both pro-survival and pro-death neuronal signaling pathways, among other functions [6]. Magnesium also plays several important roles in our brain, including nerve transmission, neuromuscular conduction and protection against excessive neuronal excitation (that could lead to neuronal death) [7]. Low magnesium has been implicated in several neurological diseases, namely migraines, stroke, depression, anxiety, chronic pain, epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s [7].

Whole grains like quinoa are also a part of the MIND diet [1]. Quinoa is also rich in magnesium as well as flavonols, protein and fiber!

Quinoa and chickpea salad

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes


  • 250 g chickpeas, cooked
  • 150 g quinoa
  • 100 g spinach
  • 100 g fresh onions (including the green part)
  • 50 g radish
  • 50 g red sweet pepper
  • 50 g pumpkin seeds
  • 1 bunch parsley
  • spicy red pepper (optional)


  • 1.5 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1.5 tbsp apple cider vinegar
  • Sea or Himalaya salt to taste


  • Wash the quinoa well using a sieve.
  • Cook the quinoa in a double amount of water for 10min.
  • While the quinoa is cooking, wash and cut all the vegetables and herbs into small pieces.
  • Transfer the quinoa to a bigger bowl and let it cool down.
  • Whisk all the ingredients for the dressing together.
  • Add all the other ingredients for the salad, as well as the dressing, to the bowl and mix well.


Enjoy your delicious and nutritious quinoa and chickpea salad! 🙂


Did you like this recipe? Let me know in the comments! 🙂


Ana Coito, Ph.D.


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[1] Morris et al. MIND diet associated with reduced incidence of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s and dementia (2015). 11(9):1007-14.

[2] Mazza et al. Impact of legumes and plant proteins consumption on cognitive performances in the elderly. J Transl Med. (2017). 15: 109.

[3] Chen et al. Lower intake of vegetables and legumes associated with cognitive decline among illiterate elderly Chinese: a 3-year cohort study. J Nutr Health Aging (2012). 16(6): 549-52.

[4] Kulczyński et al. Antioxidant potential of phytochemicals in pumpkin varieties belonging to Cucurbita moschata and Cucurbita pepo species. CyTA – Journal of Food (2020).

[5] Tardy et al. Vitamins and Minerals for Energy, Fatigue and Cognition: A Narrative Review of the Biochemical and Clinical Evidence. Nutrients (2020). 12(1): 228.

[6] Krall et al. The Function and Regulation of Zinc in the Brain. Neuroscience (2021). 457:235-258.

[7] Kirkland et al. The Role of Magnesium in Neurological Disorders. Nutrients (2018). 6;10(6):730.



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