Mediterranean Quinoa

When Monday rains...it pours!

I had a lot of rest over the weekend but Monday definitely made up for it! Not only did I leave work an hour and a half late, but when I got to the train it was jam packed and stuck in the station. Blah! I ended up waiting for the next one a while later. It all worked out, but definitely not how I was wanting to spend my Monday evening. Do you ever notice that when it rains it pours? I know in the scheme of life, these are tiny things, but they still make a difference!

 

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Anyhoo. I ended up on the couch in sweatpants for most of the evening, doing a little television catch up...I finally watched Bethenny from last week...and then some other reruns. I also did a little product sampling that I can't wait to tell you about. In time!

So lately I've been make a bunch of 'clean out the fridge' meals and trying to use up what we have. Many times I end up rebuying things that I already have, or planning new meals that don't utilize what I already have in my own kitchen.

This dish combines a bunch of ingredients that I had on hand and it created a delicious dish that was whipped up in under 20 minutes. Not too shabby, huh?

 

And here's just a little peak into my messiness in the kitchen. I seriously drop bits of food everywhere...all the time. Shaun loves that about me. ;)

Anyway.

I took a basic quinoa and added in some Mediterranean accoutrements in the form of feta crumbles, olives, tomatoes and spinach. Oh and a little lemon juice to boot. It even made Shaun enjoy quinoa, which is a serious feat in itself! Try it. I know you'll love it.

Mediterranean Quinoa
Serves 8; 1/2 C per serving; 3 Points+ per serving
2 C low sodium chicken broth (or 1 14oz can broth + 1/4 C water)
1 C dry quinoa, rinsed
1/4 C reduced fat feta crumbles
1/3 C kalamata olives
1 tomato, seeds removed & diced
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 handfuls baby spinach
salt and pepper, to taste

Place the chicken broth (+ water) and quinoa in a small saucepan over high heat. Once boiling, stir, reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook for 12 minutes.

After 12 minutes, stir in the feta, olives, tomato, lemon and spinach. Cover and cook 3 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm on its own or alongside some chicken...stay tuned for more on that chicken at a later date ;)

 

This also made a great on-the-go lunch at the office. It's delicious warm but could be equally as yummy at room temperature if you don't have the means for reheating.

This dish is simply a great way to turn up the flavor on your basic quinoa...and make a simple dish feel uber special! And for under 20 minutes to prep? Yes please!

So that's my new simple, veggie-friendly dish to date! Let me know if you give it a try!

Questions of the Day:

Do you find that if one thing throws you off for the day, the rest of the day is thrown off?

Are you a messy cook?

Surprisingly Delicious Vegetable Quinoa + Organizing Under My Bathroom Sink

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Last night Shaun had an idea to make a giant pan of sauteed vegetables and serve it over quinoa.

It's not the most exciting dish, but definitly fits within our 'get back on track to healthy eating' plan now that summer is over and we're both feeling a bit heavier. Though simple ingredients were used and no heavy sauces to speak of, I can't get this dish out of my head! A smattering of seasoned sauteed green squash, bell peppers, tomatoes, and mushrooms served atop an onion-laden quinoa made this dish so flavorful, filling and healthy. I couldn't believe how this seemingly boring dish turned out so deliciously! More. I want more.

In addition to finally watching the True Blood finale last night (holyyyy @#$%!!!!...and if you feel the same - or differently - head over to our FB page to discuss...), I felt that I had to get something productive done at home. The disaster I call under my bathroom sink has been bugging me for some time now. Can you tell why?

I didn't even know half of what was hidden under the top layer of hair products. Somewhere in there are loose packets of contact lenses, rogue lipsticks, hair brushes that I haven't seen in a year and lord knew what else. My real goal is to install a double-tiered pull out wire shelf, like this little number from Bed Bath & Beyond. But until I get around to that one, I couldn't stand this mess for one moment longer.

I started by pulling everything out of the cabinet. I moved it into the living room so that I could have space to organize. Here's the new and improved version:

I got rid of the small blue basket and changed it out for a larger wicker one that I had lying around. I separated my things into two categories...hair stuff and non-hair stuff. In the left side, I put all mousses, hairsprays, brushes, blow dryer, and flat iron in this one. I took an old, very cleanly washed out planter to corral my headbands, hairties and clips.

In the second basket, I added the rest of my 'products', including contact solution, deodorant, moisturizers, extra contacts (organized in an old box of twine), mouthwash and more. I corraled tampons and liners in 2 white Ikea planters. Yup, I just posted a photo of tampon organization. You saw it here first, friends. I also left space for my box of makeup remover face cloths and added a smaller basket in the back for rogue items like moisturizer samples, nail files, tweezers and pocket mirrors.

One more shot of the finished product:

Isn't that soooooo much better? I still don't have a solution for my giant makeup case, so that will need to rest on top of one of the baskets for now. It was nice to also make the decision that I do need to install the pull out so that everything, including my makeup, can fit and be easily accessible. For now, I'll take this organization until I get around to a more permanent upgrade! And the entire process really took about 15 minutes tops. Not bad, right?

Questions of the Day:

Have you ever made a dish that seemed unexciting, but you ended up loving?

What simple organizational projects have you tackled lately?

 

Vanilla Cinnamon Quinoa

Today is a big day for me. I went to the gym for Day 3. I consider this a bigger accomplishment than Day 1 or Day 2. It's harder to stay motivated when you're sore and tired. And I have a confession. I hadn’t been to the gym or done any workout whatsoever (unless you count walking around Manhattan in search of food) since our vacation in Aruba. And we know that that was a fruitless endeavor since I spent the week eating cheesy, ham-filled bagels and giant slices of red velvet layer cake. Mmmm...cake.


Sure, I generally try to counterbalance my unflinching palette which is easily distracted by Belgian fries, shortcakes, pizza dip and carrot cake, with dinners like fish tacos or substituting thick and calorie-filled bread with deli flats. But in my experience the only way to truly counteract the pounds from packing on is to get my butt moving at the gym. It’s not pretty. It doesn’t seem to get easier to motivate myself to go. In general, I hate it. But it’s a necessary evil. The good news, though, is that my reward after the gym is a healthy, filling and delicious breakfast.

And since my famous scrambled eggs are unlikely to survive my morning commute, I turned to a new, protein-packed breakfast that would travel well and cook up as I get ready for work. The answer? Quinoa. If you recall, I first sampled quinoa in my provolone stuffed chicken with pesto article and it occurred to me that this versatile item could easily be made sweeter and less savory, essentially as a fun change up from your standard oatmeal.

So instead of cooking my quinoa in chicken broth, I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk. Dressed up with some cinnamon and vanilla, this breakfast is hearty, filling and tasty to boot.



Vanilla Cinnamon Quinoa
2 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk of your choice, I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk, plus more for adding on top
1 C dry quinoa, I used the organic variety
brown sugar to taste, I used brown sugar Splenda rather than the real thing which I could eat by the spoonful
vanilla extract, just a splash to taste
cinnamon, sprinkled on top
chopped figs, or fruit of your choice (berries would also be great!)

In a mesh strainer, thoroughly - and I mean thoroughly - rinse your quinoa.

Meanwhile, bring milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Add the quinoa and bring to a boil again. Reduce the heat to simmer. Though the original recipe that I referenced suggested covering the saucepan at this point, I recommend against this unless you want a reappearance of the Ghostbusters Stay Puft Marshmallow Man all over your stove. Take it from those with experience (ahem, me). Now I have a pile of sticky scalded almond milk all over my beautiful new stove. Bah. Anyhow, the quinoa will absorb most of the liquid in about 10 minutes or so. Once it has, stir in brown sugar, vanilla extract and cinnamon to taste.

Top with fruit if ya like and enjoy!

So what do you think? Have you ever had quinoa for breakfast? What delicious eats do you start the day with?