Super Protein Packed Spinach Salad With Quinoa, Chickpeas and Creamy Orange Hemp Seed Dressing

by on July 17, 2012

I think it’s time for more salads. Yes, sometimes you can get tired of the same old ones, so I wanted to create a better recipe that was all around tasty, just like you’d find at a vegetarian restaurant.

All salads are not created equal of course… sometimes you just eat one because they’re good for you and you feel you’re “supposed to”. Other times you might have a delicious and gourmet salad at a restaurant, but it’s not really on the healthy side as it’s loaded with things like feta cheese, creamy dressing, bacon, battered chicken strips etc. If you’re vegan you may have a love/hate relationship with eating salads at restaurants.  Sometimes they are ok but often they don’t have many ingredients in them so you can have a rather small meal and let’s face it vegan salad dressing options at restaurants flat out SUCK.

Never fear, I am here to bring to you…


This salad is so good that you will actually crave more of it… You might even gets your kids or husband begging for it regularly. In fact I would bet that any vegetarian restaurant would be thrilled to have my super spinach salad on their menu.

What’s the secret to an amazing salad? Well several things, first picking delicious ready-to-go  ingredients that go well together, second that are healthy and lastly and more importantly are satisfying and filling but without all the guilt! (And it doesn’t hurt to top this salad off with my killer Creamy Orange Hemp Seed Dressing either).

I am NOT a fan of store bought dressing. In fact I despise it. If you’re in North America like I am you know there is often an ENTIRE wall of salad dressings at the grocery store. And yet still picking out a dressing that is tasty, healthy and you don’t get tired of is really hard.

Could it be that your taste buds are smart enough to know your body shouldn’t be consuming the same oily, vinegary, high fructose corn syrupy dressing all the time?

That may well be… Even just reading the ingredients in most salad dressings is enough to make me want to gag. Where’s the real ingredients and real flavour?

Well your salad dressing problem is solved! I guarantee that you’re going to love this protein packed spinach salad. I know it’s definitely going into my weekly lunch menu for myself. And my Creamy Orange Hemp Dressing is very delicious and will complement it perfectly.

BTW did I mention the dressing is also completely oil free? (Your pants should be rejoicing right now!)

Eat To Live fans will be happy to know that this is a Dr. Fuhrman style salad packed with nutrient dense ingredients that will curb your appetite and stimulate weight-loss as well.

Let there be salad:

Super Protein Packed Spinach Salad With Quinoa, Chickpeas, Tempeh and Cranberries

Serves 1


2-3 cups packed baby spinach
1/4 cup cooked quinoa (see my post here on how to cook quinoa)
1/3 cup cooked chickpeas (I used Eden Organics)
2 strips of cooked tempeh (I used Sesame Garlic Marinated Tempeh) or smoked tofu (optional)
1/4 cup shredded carrot (store bought is fine)
1 tbsp dried cranberries (I used apple juice sweetened ones)
small handful of micro greens or sprouts


Arrange salad ingredients into a large bowl and garnish with micro greens or sprouts as desired. Top with dressing.

Raw Vegan Creamy Orange Hemp Heart Dressing:

Serves 2


1/3 cup fresh orange juice from 1 medium orange (use sweet oranges)
1 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 tbsp hemp hearts/seeds (sub sesame or tahini if you can’t find)
1 tsp fresh ginger
2 small dates pitted and chopped (soaked if you don’t have a Vitamix)
1/8 tsp Herbamare or salt


Place all ingredients in Vitamix or blender and blend until smooth. Taste test and add more ginger, vinegar or salt if desired. Blend again.

Yields 1/2 cup of dressing. Best used within 3 days due to the nature of raw ingredients.


You can add a plethora of other ingredients into your protein packed spinach salad such as tomatoes, cucumbers, apple slices, other dried fruits, etc. What really makes this salad filling is the addition of quinoa and chickpeas, so it’s also a great salad to take to work without needing a giant salad container.

What’s your favourite dressing for spinach salad? 

Like this recipe? Get more here.

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Tracey February 20, 2016 at 3:42 PM

Thank you for this recipe!!! Couldn’t come at a better time. I was just looking for an easy lower cal lunch option.


2 Lynn February 27, 2014 at 5:38 PM

Hi Veronica,

It sounds like this has lots of protein from multiple sources and probably a meal in itself. But I am wondering what tool you use in planning a menu to ensure that your nutrients are balanced, especially proteins and fats, as it seems there is never a shortage of carbs on a vegan diet! What is your secret process to ensure proper balance in meals?


3 Barbara July 30, 2013 at 8:06 PM

This salad is so beautiful and delicious! I didn’t have the hemp this time, but, the dressing is wonderful with tahini. A 5 Star lunch! Thanks a million.


4 lani January 10, 2013 at 5:55 PM

I so appreciate your healthy recipes. I am basically following Engine 2 Essleysten’s plan and not eating oils at all. I find making salad dressings without a lot of fat difficult, as I am trying to lose weight as well. Tahini, hemp, chia all have so much fat in them and thus calories..Ideas??


5 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica January 10, 2013 at 6:51 PM

Hi Lani

You can still use some nut butters in small quantities for a low fat vegan diet, but if you have heart disease then Dr. Esselstyn would say no to that.

The only other base for salad dressings you can use then are fruits and vegetables if you are not allowed to have any nuts or seeds. The dressings won’t be the same, and it may take a while to get used to them. But you’ll have to blend fruits like ripe mangoes (not in season yet), ripe fuyu persimmons (wait until squishy and scoop out insides) cucumbers or zuchinni and then add fresh herbs and seasonings to that. Or blend fresh citrus juice with fresh berries as another option.

That’s all I can think of. Low fat and fat free dressings are different.


6 Kathryn January 12, 2013 at 6:34 AM

Lani, I am doing Esseltyn’s diet as well – try blending any of your favorite veggies, add lemon or lime juice, onion, garlic, mustard for a zing if you like that, fresh and flavored balsamic vinegar with your choice of herbs. Honey or maple syrup if you like a sweet dressing. You will problem invent a great dressing that you love!


7 Amy April 13, 2014 at 8:15 PM

My husband and I have a couple of solutions for easy and fast no fat dressings. We both like just a half of a navel orange squeezed over our salads of mixed baby greens (I love to sprinkle medium curry powder on top as well). My other favourite is to do a southwest style salad with black or pinto beans, corn, red pepper, tomatoes, a bit of diced ripe avocado etc. and then put some medium salsa on top. At restaurants we will tell them no dressing, sub with salsa on the side- it works great.

My hubby also fell in love with vegan parmesan this week (check out which is a blend of cashews, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, and a little bit of salt. He says it’s awesome sprinkled on his salads.


8 erin b January 3, 2013 at 3:45 AM

Love this and it will be on my meal plan soon.
I have sunflower microgreens almost ready to add to this.
I am new to LF- Vegan and I need help wrapping my mind around natural sugars and the acceptance of them ( I am a renewed paleo low carb person literally turning over a new leaf). I see anything with a sugar in it as the enemy, fruit has been a new thought and I am accepting them. I need help with adding things like agave, dates and yes even natural forms of sugars many vegan’s use. I am reading Fuhrman now and perhaps he will address this.
I know I have done a complete about face and know in time it will all flow, but help me relax with the idea of sugars like dates and agave….
Thank you, and by the way LOVE your site, your attitude and energy, your ideas and recipes!


9 Haroon December 31, 2012 at 12:10 AM

Hi Veronica,

I am looking forward to more raw, low-fat vegan salads in the future. I am especially interested in low-fat dressings. Also, I am looking forward to your new book.

By the way, I got the vegan soup E-book. I hope to try some of these recipes, soon. However, I am wondering if you will include more low-fat vegan soups that can be thrown into a high-powered blender in the future? Easy, fast and delicious – no problem, right? Soups with greater number of servings works better for a guy like me. I don’t know if I can stop at one. It’s great to know that those of us eating low-fat vegan (Cooked and Raw) have you to go to for amazing recipes!


10 Teresa de Souza December 4, 2012 at 1:53 PM

… I have tryed ‘ Cooked Food ‘ … I wanted to say above . It came , because of Typing Mistakes , as ‘ Cooked Good ‘ … I am Sorry !



11 Teresa de Souza December 4, 2012 at 1:51 PM

Hi again … I will come to You – the other emails below – in 2 or 3 Days , once I cannot pay Internet now . !!! . I will have it athome in 2_3 Days . Then it will be Great to read ALL Your Recipes ! And prepare them .

ALL MY LOVE , dear V eronica !

Teresa Honin


12 Teresa de Souza December 4, 2012 at 1:48 PM

Oh , dear V eronica ! How Great are Your Raw Recipes ! I need more of them … my Tendency is to eat the Raw Vegetables totally Pure with a Drop of Oil on the Top of it . So , please , more Raw Recipes !

I have tryed Cooked Good … the ‘ Taste the Waste ‘ at the clinic where I live . It gives Strengh for some Hours , I recognize – I feel very , very Weak still , but not Hungry – then , after this Time , I get Sick . So , I need at least 2_Two Meals a Day in RAW . RAW is LIGHT … I really know I need .

This One here above IS Great ! You know how to do it ! And my Husband will love it !
We love Spinach ! With Carrots and Red Beet Sprouts , specially ! Great Idea !
The Quinoa together gives a Special Clue on how to get Strengh !
And the Cranberries … together with the Green Peas … Wonderful !
I will prepare it , for sure !
I will , as always , nevertheless , add as a Basis_Bed , the Pure White Soy Yogurt , once White is my Colour … Its my Soul … and I am the Sweet Snow White … but not the Cold White Snow which has its White mixed up with the Unpurity of the Matter . The White gets Dirty very easily .

These Months to come – specially Dezember – I will eat … in 99 % – only Oat .. I cannot afford another kind of Food at the Moment . But Your Recipes are kept here with Me as the ETERNAL Recipes . So , it will be there with Me AS REALITY ! Once the Essence of them are with Me ! So , they will be there ! With Me !

BUT BUT BUT this Salad above I will eat every Single Day ! This is inside of my Budgettt ! GREAT !!!

TH a NK You , my dear V eronica ! And … the Hemp Dressing … Home Made … what a Wonderful Dream !

Best ,

Teresa Honin


13 PATRICIA December 4, 2012 at 5:14 AM



14 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica December 4, 2012 at 10:17 AM

As it’s winter time and super cold where I am I’m not doing as many raw recipes aside from daily smoothies. The blog is so full of raw smoothie recipes, but I will have some raw salads coming soon. And of course in the spring and summer much more naturally raw dishes. Where I am in Calgary, Alberta there is not a lot of great raw produce in the winter time, it can get quite repetitive.


15 Kelly October 24, 2012 at 2:47 PM

Hi there, cannot wait to try out this salad on my meat and cheese loving boyfriend. I agree- most salad dressings suck PERIOD. I make my own. can’t wait to try this one as I am trying to eat more nuts/seeds/beans into my diet. I eat ample greenies and fruits but not enough fats via nuts/seeds. My boyfriend does not really eat greens at all so any recipes incorp’ing beans/veggies and vegan cheese would be AWESOME. weaning him off refined foods and animal products is a big goal right now. 🙂


16 Erica Wollman September 30, 2012 at 8:33 PM

Thanks for the recipe! I have a hard time making salads taste good. This salad is delicious:)


17 Mary Jo August 6, 2012 at 12:41 PM

What are microgreens?


18 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica August 6, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Salad greens that have just sprouted and been picked. They are not like sprouted seeds, but little baby lettuce greens that are sprout sized.


19 Michele Brownlee July 25, 2012 at 12:42 PM

Hello, Veronica:
We had been having a long heat wave out here in rural Alberta and I was craving something easy and cool to make and then I received your “Super Protein Packed Spinach Salad” in my inbox. I had all the ingredients ,except for the tempehand micro green sprouts ( hard to find vegan products in the country supermarkets),. and went ahead and threw it together. I absolutely loved it and the dressing is wonderful. I also feel that this dressing would also go well with a Cabbage Slaw of some kind. I am a senior who is trying to become vegan for health and ethically sound reasons (I love and rescue animals) and I am pleasantly surprised that there is a large variety of many healthy dishes to be made. I am grateful for your low fat recipes, Veronica, and commmend you on your creativity and in sharing and producing such declicious and healthy recipes.

Michele Brownlee (Born and raised in Vancouver, miss the trees!)
Gleichen, AB


20 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica July 26, 2012 at 8:26 PM

Hi Michele,

That’s so great to hear! You can get these things at health food stores in Calgary like Community Natural Foods or Planet Organic. I like the tempeh strips, they make for really tasty vegan sandwiches too. Enjoy 🙂


21 Charlene July 20, 2012 at 8:40 AM

Made the salad yesterday with greens and carrots from my garden. Love it!


22 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica July 23, 2012 at 11:50 PM

Oh I’m so glad you enjoyed it!


23 Mark July 19, 2012 at 1:30 PM

Pretty impressive salad! The dressing is particularly intriguing.


24 Christiane July 18, 2012 at 2:13 PM

What a beautiful salad. I am making it today. What a marvellous person you are Veronica.


25 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica July 18, 2012 at 3:22 PM

Thanks Christiane! That’s so sweet of you to say. I hope you enjoy it 🙂


26 Irina July 18, 2012 at 1:51 PM

Looks sooo yummy:)


27 Vickie July 18, 2012 at 12:54 PM

Veronica, this is such a pretty salad and the salad dressing sounds so yummy!!! I can’t wait to try it! Thanks for making healthy food look so appetizing!!!


28 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica July 18, 2012 at 3:21 PM

Oh you’re so welcome Vickie! That’s my goal. 🙂


29 Karen July 18, 2012 at 10:46 AM

So beautiful to look at. I can’t wait to make it and DIG IN. In fact, I may not even share! Thanks, Veronica. By the way, I’m in Portland OR so I understand about the rain, but I’ll take it anyday over the extreme heat in other parts of North America.


30 Ann July 18, 2012 at 10:08 AM

This sounds great but your statement about it being oil-free is misleading. Yes, there’s no oil added but there is fat in the hemp seeds so a beginner might not know enough to make that distinction. Thanks!!


31 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica July 18, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Hi Ann. ALL plant foods have natural oils in them even fruits and vegetables. If you want to use that arguement then it’s impossible to createa salad based on ingredients that have zero plant oils naturally occuring in them. My recipes are added oil free. No olive, coconut or peanut oils are in my recipes.

The only overt fat in the whole recipe comes from hemp seeds so it is much lower in fat than most salads. This is a Dr. Fuhrman style salad with a seed dressing like he reccommends for small quantities of whole food fats in the diet. I never said this was a fat free recipe. It is oil free as there are no pure oils in the dressing.


32 Barbara Lowell July 18, 2012 at 9:56 AM

Victoria, what are those beautiful burgundy/purply red strands in the salad? Is it hibiscus? Love how you personalize your recipes conversation style!


33 Low Fat Vegan Chef Veronica July 18, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Hi Barbara, it’s Veronica.

They are micro greens I got at the store. Some are just red. Maybe they are red lettuce greens. I am not sure. They just looked good so i got them.


34 Lorna July 17, 2012 at 9:28 PM

Oh my gosh! This looks so good! I have to try this soon! The dressing looks devine!


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