tahini-curry chickpea and broccoli salad with blueberries

Tahini-Curry Chickpea and Broccoli Salad with Blueberries

By Ahna Crum, R.D.N.
April 30, 2024

Food is one of the most powerful tools to help with stress management. Although we often turn to comfort foods for a feel-good fix, we don’t have to forgo good nutrition when looking for a lift. Healthier foods can help manage the impact of stress by decreasing stress hormones (like cortisol or adrenaline), lowering blood pressure, improving the immune system, and even potentially reducing anxiety.

A Stress-Busting Recipe

If you’ve been feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, Tahini-Curry Chickpea and Broccoli Salad with Blueberries can help you take the edge off and bolster your body against the negative effects of stress. This vegan meal includes all the colors of the rainbow for added antioxidant and phytonutrient benefits and will save you time in the kitchen without hurting your budget.

The recipe features the following great-tasting and good-for-you ingredients:

Chickpeas: Chickpeas help stabilize blood sugar and provide high levels of tryptophan, a chemical that helps us make serotonin to increase feelings of happiness and well‑being.

Magnesium: Research points to magnesium possibly playing a role in stress. Studies suggest that we aren’t just more likely to have increased anxiety and depression if we aren’t getting enough magnesium; chronic stress can also lead to lower levels of the nutrient. Cashews are rich in magnesium, as are arugula, broccoli, and tahini.

Vitamin B6: Studies have linked B6, when combined with magnesium, to significant improvement in adults struggling with severe stress. One way to help manage stress levels is to include foods rich in both these essential nutrients. In this salad, you’ll receive a vitamin B6 boost through the chickpeas, cashews, and tahini.

Fiber: An important nutrient for managing stress, fiber helps balance blood sugar levels so you feel fuller for longer, and also plays a role in feeding gut bacteria. Studies suggest that the microbes in your gut produce short-chain fatty acids that may help alleviate stress and decrease anxiety.

Turmeric: The dressing for this salad doesn’t just enhance the flavor—curcumin, the active metabolite in turmeric, may help you adapt to increased stress. Although previous research highlights the beneficial role of curcumin in depression and anxiety, emerging research suggests that the compound may help with resilience to chronic social stress, as well.

mixed bowl of salad

This recipe is: vegan, low sugar, anti-inflammatory, heart healthy, low calorie

Start to finish: 20 minutes

Serves 4

Ingredients for the salad:

  • 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 cups broccoli (about 1 small head), broken up into small florets
  • 2 cups watercress or arugula
  • 1/3–1/2 small head purple cabbage, shredded (about 2 cups)
  • 1 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2/3 cup blueberries
  • 1/4 cup roasted cashews (for nut allergies, omit or substitute sunflower seeds)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Ingredients for the dressing:

  • 1/4 cup tahini (or substitute nut/sunflower seed butter or Greek yogurt)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1/2 fresh lime, juiced
  • 2 teaspoons yellow curry powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1–2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • Water, to thin dressing to desired consistency
  • Salt and pepper to taste

To make salad: Separately rinse and drain the can of chickpeas and set aside.

Wash and prep the produce.

To make dressing: Whisk the tahini, rice vinegar, lime juice, curry powder, ginger, turmeric, chili powder, and maple syrup. If this is too thick, add a little water to thin until desired consistency. Top with salt and pepper to taste.

Combine the salad ingredients in a large bowl. Toss with the tahini-curry dressing.


  • Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  • If you like bowls more than salads, serve over rice or quinoa.
  • To increase protein, add a serving of canned chicken breast (canned in water). For a vegan protein option, add edamame, quinoa, or extra-firm tofu baked in tamari and rice vinegar.
  • You can substitute apple or pineapple for the blueberries, or add any combination of the 3.
  • For a flavor boost, add chile flakes, sriracha, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or honey-roasted or spiced cashews.

Nutrition: 331 calories; 15 g fat (2 g saturated fat); 0 mg cholesterol; 120 mg sodium; 43 g carbohydrate; 12 g fiber; 14 g sugar; 13 g protein.

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