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Fall-Inspired Grain Salads

Fall-Inspired Grain Salads

DIY Grain Salad Recipe

By Natalie Bickford, MS

Now that Fall is here, you can find us roasting up all the fall veggies to throw into hearty grain salads and power bowls. We love meal prepping double batches of roasted fall vegetables because they hold up really well in the fridge (unlike some more delicate summer veggies) and are perfect for throwing into grain salads for easy work lunches. 

Pro tip: On Sundays meal prep a big batch of grains and roasted veggies to use for lunches and repurpose for easy Power Bowls (see more Power Bowl ideas in Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.)! For dinner, top a bowl of grains with roasted veggies, a protein (fried egg, shredded chicken, leftover meatballs/burger) and smother in a flavorful sauce.

Our simple DIY Grain Salad recipe from Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. lets you get creative with your salads so you can use whatever you have on hand. You can find our go-to Apple Cider Vinaigrette and famous Lemon Miso Dressing in book 1 or book 2!

Below are some delicious fall variations to get you inspired. The beauty of this recipe is that you can mix and match so many ingredients so get creative!

Grains + Digestion: For many people, whole grains can be difficult to digest. To make your grains more digestible, soak them overnight and slow cook them with kombu (dried seaweed). Or try any variety of rice which is easier to digest. We love fall and winter salads made with wild rice. Also these salads can be made without the grains. Simply adjust the amount of dressing. 

Photos by Natalie Bickford

DIY Grain Salad 
(from RFCFES, p. 95)


1 cup whole grains, rinsed using a fine-mesh strainer   
1 large bunch kale, stems removed, chopped
2 cups seasonal veggies, chopped or grated*
1/2 cup something salty (Parmesan, feta, olives)
1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts or  seeds
1 recipe for Apple Cider Vinaigrette (RFES, p. 173 and RFCFES, p. 186)


  1. Cook your grain of choice according to the package directions being careful not to overcook (you want your grains to have enough texture to hold up to the dressing). For quinoa, we recommend using less water than typically recommended (see our foolproof quinoa cooking method on page 90). Set aside in a large salad bowl to cool.
  2. Add the kale, veggies, cheese or olives, and nuts or seeds to the grains and toss to combine. Add the dressing and salt and pepper to taste (go generous on the dressing as the grains will sop it up).
  3. This salad gets even better the next day, so don't be afraid to make it in advance.

*see Simply Roasted Vegetables (RFCFES, p. 159)

Favorite Fall Grain Salad Variations

Plug these ideas into the recipe formula above. 

Brown rice + kale + roasted mushrooms and winter squash + toasted walnuts + Parmesan + Lemon Miso Dressing (RFCFES, p. 184)

Farro + kale + roasted beets and brussels sprouts + toasted almonds + goat   cheese + Apple Cider Vinaigrette (RFCFES, p. 186)

Quinoa + kale + roasted carrots or parsnips + apple + toasted hazelnuts + feta + Apple Cider Vinaigrette (RFCFES, p. 186)


Natalie is a nutritionist and personal chef in Portland, OR who specializes in women's health and sports nutrition. She loves creating simple, nourishing meals and recipes to fuel your life. Find Natalie at nataliecooks.com. 

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