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Tag Archives: Quinoa

Scrumptious Greek Chicken with Quinoa Salad and my First Encounter with Feta

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A couple of days ago, I showed you this tasty picture without giving you a recipe or even telling you what it was!

This meal of Scrumptious Greek Chicken with Quinoa Salad is a fabulous week night dinner that is tasty enough to be impressive, yet simple enough that it can be whipped up in no time.

When I headed to the grocery store last weekend, feta cheese sounded delicious.  I wasn’t quite sure what I was going to use the feta in during the week, but I knew it sounded great so I tossed some into the cart.

Whenever I think of feta cheese, I can’t help but think of my first encounter with feta.  When I was in high school, one of my best friends was very Greek.  On one occasion when me and our other friends were at her house hanging out, we were hungry and wanted something to snack on.  Upon opening the fridge, I saw a giant white tub with a clear lid full of some sort of giant white block.  I had no idea what it was, but I knew that I was not going to eat whatever that mystery block was.

The tub looked much like this, but with a clear lid.

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When I questioned what the tub was full of…FETA was the answer.  At that moment I simply knew that I did not like feta and I never would.  Well, I was wrong.  Because after actually tasting the salty, crumbly cheese I realized I couldn’t get enough of it!

So, after throwing the feta into my cart last weekend, I needed to figure out a meal to pair this delicious cheese with.  Scrumptious Greek Chicken with Quinoa Salad fit the bill.

Scrumptious Greek Chicken with Quinoa Salad

Yields: 2 servings of Chicken, and 2-3 servings of salad, can easily be doubled

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp Greek salad dressing, can be purchased OR recipe follows
  • 2 chicken breasts, thawed
  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa (about 1 cup cooked)
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomato, quartered
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 1/2 cup chopped cucumber
  • 1/2 cup raw spinach
  • 1/2 cup reduced fat feta


Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  Grease a glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  Coat the chicken breasts with half of the Greek dressing while poking holes into the chicken with a fork to get some of the dressing inside.  Place in the baking dish and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees.

While the chicken is cooking, prepare the quinoa salad.  The quinoa can be prepared at an earlier date or right before serving this meal, allowing that it has time to cool.  Prepare the quinoa according to package directions by placing 1/2 cup of the uncooked quinoa into a sauce pan along with 1 cup of water.  Cover the quinoa.  Allow the quinoa to come to a boil and turn the heat down to low for 12-15 minutes, or until the water is gone.

If preparing the quinoa right before the meal, stick it in the freezer to allow it to cool while the chicken is cooking.

Chop the tomato, onion, and cucumber.  Place in a large bowl with the spinach, feta, and the remaining Greek dressing.  Once the quinoa is cool, combine the quinoa into the feta and Greek dressing mixture.

Remove the chicken from the oven, serve along side the quinoa salad and enjoy!

Homemade Greek Dressing:

  • 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 4 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp evoo
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cumin
  • 1/8 tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Mix until combined, and serve over salads or use as a marinade.

ENJOY!

*This recipe is being entered into the Mr. Food Ultimate Weeknight Meal Contest.  Keep your eyes peeled for voting opportunities!

Salmon and Roasted Vegetable Feta and Quinoa Salad

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Today has been a busy day from the get-go, but first I will recap about last night’s dinner, because it was pretty tasty.

I noticed recently that with my crazy and unpredictable schedule and teaching classes at night, I often let dinners kind of fall on the wayside and end up making less than exciting things to eat.  In an attempt to change that, I found a couple of recipes that looked nutritious and delicious.  Both important factors 🙂  Last night’s dinner was a new-to-me recipe, once again inspired by Clean Eating magazine.

Salmon and Roasted Vegetable Feta and Quinoa Salad

Cook Time:  about 1 hour

Serves: 2-3

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup of prepared quinoa
  • 1 roma tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 head of cauliflower, chopped
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped into chunks
  • 1/2 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp mustard
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 cup of kale, just the leaves removed from the hard stems, rinsed and dried
  • 4-6 oz of wild salmon
  • 1/4 cup low fat feta cheese

Directions:

In medium sauce pan, prepare quinoa according to package.  Once cooked, spread quinoa out on a plate or baking sheet to cool.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.  In a glass baking dish (9×13) toss tomatoes, cauliflower, ball pepper, onion, and garlic.  In a separate small bowl combine the mustard, vinegar, olive oil and pepper.  Toss the mustard dressing with the vegetables.  Cover the dish with foil and place in the oven on the lowest rack.  Allow to cook for 15 minutes.  Then, remove the foil and cook an additional 15 minutes.

On a nonstick baking pan, spread out the kale.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.  In a separate pan, place the salmon and sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Place both in the oven on the top rack for about 15 minutes.

Break salmon into large flakes.

Add the quinoa and the feta to the vegetable mixture.  Divide the veggies into two or three dishes.  Top with kale and salmon.  Enjoy!!!

Nutrition:

2 Person Serving Option Calories:  369.3    Fat:  13.2g   Carbs:  37.2g   Protein:  29.2g

3 Person Serving Option Calories:  246.2   Fat:  8.8g   Carbs:  24.8g  Protein:  19.5g

 

Now, back to my busy day…recap lata gata 😉

Easy as…Quinoa

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After my afternoon run and smoothie, I headed out to turn in some resumes and job applications.  I then made a trip to my alma mater, Butler University, to hit up one of the group fitness classes called Pilates Barre Fusion.  Pilates, I know, but the Barre Fusion was all new to me.

The class was great!  It was a mixture of pilates and dance moves (such as plies and some leg extensions) that really focused on core and total body strength.  We did some exercises with just our body weight and some with light hand weights.  At one point, we even got up and used the ballet barre.  It was a fun new way to incorporate strength training into my weekly routine.

After the class and running a couple more errands, it was time to come home for dinner.  Somehow, I didn’t make it home until 8pm!  That is super late for dinner, so I was glad that I prepared it earlier in the day.

It was a simple mixture of quinoa, raw broccoli, raw tomatoes, red onion, left over haddock from last night, all tossed together with salt, pepper, garlic, Italian seasoning, and lemon juice.  Very simple, light and flavorful!

How to Prepare Quinoa

Quinoa is so simple to prepare, and it is a great source of vegetarian or vegan protein.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cup water
Directions:

Combine 1 cup of quinoa with 1 1/2 cups water in a medium sized saucepan.  Bring the water to a boil.  Once it is boiling, turn the heat down and allow to simmer for 15 minutes (no peaking!).  And that is it!!! Then, your quinoa is done and you can eat it any way you like 🙂

 

Now, I am off to prepare for a group fitness instructor audition that I have tomorrow and read more of the Hunger Games.

 

Have a great evening!

 

Homemade Protein Bars and Bowling

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When we arrived home from playing with puppies, I was in the mood to whip up a new and tasty snack: Homemade Protein Bars.  I found some recipes on Jamie Eason’s web site and had been wanting to try them for a while now, but since I had no kitchen on the boat I had to wait until I was home.  

The recipe called for oat flour, and since we didn’t have any I simply put oats in the food processor to create an oat flour and it worked great!

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I thought that these would be perfect for Brian to have as a snack between classes.  Also, when planning snacks, sometimes it is a little bit hard to incorporate protein simply because I don’t always want to include something like tuna or cheese, and these are a great alternative!

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Cinnamon Swirl Protein Bars (Based on the recipe by Jamie Eason)

Yield:  8 servings (cut into 16 squares, 2 bars equals one serving)

Cook Time:  24-28 minutes

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Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup NuNaturals Stevia BakingBlend
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/2 cups oat flour
  • 2 scoops Sunwarrior vanilla protein powder
  • 1 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 cup Nunaturals Stevia BakingBlend
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1 cup Vanilla Almond Breeze (I usually would use unsweetened but Mom only had the sweetened)
  • 1/4 cup Fage 0% plain Greek yogurt
Directions
Combine 1/4 cup Stevia and 2 tsp cinnamon in a small dish and set aside.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and spray an 8×8 glass baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.  
 
In a large bowl combine the oat flour, protein powder, baking powder, salt, stevia, egg whites, almond breeze, and Greek yogurt.  Mix until thoroughly combined, but don’t overmix.  
 
Pour half of the mixture into the bottom of the 8×8 baking dish.  Sprinkle half of the cinnamon and stevia mixture on top of the batter in the baking dish.  Pour the rest of the batter into the baking dish and top with the rest of the cinnamon and stevia.  
 
Bake for 24-28 minutes.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes.  Cut into 16 squares, 2 squares is one serving.  Bars will be slightly dense. 
 
Nutrition (for 2 bars)
Calories:  93.31g  Fat:  1.52g  Carbs:  13.46g  Protein:  7.62g

Enjoy!!!

 

After the baking was done, Mom had dinner ready for us!! She made a delicious meal of marinated shrimp, quinoa with cayenne, black beans, and corn, and steamed asparagus.  A completely nutritious and delicious meal!

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After dinner, Mom, Dad, Brian and I headed to the bowling alley.  We are slightly competitive as a family, and Mom decided to bring her own lucky bowling ball.  Mom and Dad used to be on a bowling league and are secretly pretty good at it…Brian and I are, however, not that good at bowling.

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I was able to get a couple of strikes…as well as a couple of gutter balls!

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Brian got some strikes as well!!

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Brian and Dad were the high scorers for the first game.

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Mom and I were the high scorers in the second game.  I still didn’t break 100 😉  It was a great way to spend the evening! 

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This morning, I woke up super early again simply because of the cruise ship schedule that I am used to, but I headed right down stairs to make myself some more oatmeal with Sunwarrior, peanut butter and strawberries.

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Now, Brian, Mom, and I are getting ready to head to Zumba…this is Brian’s first time and it should be interesting! 

Fancy Fennel

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Last night, I taught my cycle 45 spinning class and we did this workout:

Warm Up 5 minutes

Sprints 7 min:

  • 4×15 moderate
  • 4×15 sprint
  • 2×30 sprint
  • 45 sec sprint
  • 15 sec recovery

Hills and Jumps 10:

  • 2 min at race pace
  • Hills (30 sec each 5, 6, 7, 8 stand at the top)
  • Hill down (30 sec 8, 7, 6, 5)
  • 1 min Stay at moderate race pace
  • 2 min Jumps 8 up 8 down
  • 1 min Jumps 4 up 4 down

Combination 10.5:

  • 1 min standing run
  • 30 sec sprint
  • 1 min Jumps 4 up 4 down
  • 1 min moderate pace
  • Repeat 2x

Standing:

  • 45 seconds standing
  • 30 seconds seated race pace
  • 15 seconds sprint
  • 60 seconds standing
  • 30 seconds seated
  • 15 seconds sprint
  • Repeat 1x

The one thing I don’t like about teaching classes in the evening, is that I am literally starving by the time I am done and I cannot wait to get home to eat dinner.

I bought a bulb of fennel while I was grocery shopping and had yet to use it.  Last night was the night.  Fennel can be intimidating, but it is really easy to use!

I started out by cutting off the top green part so that I just had a round bulb at the end.  I then cut the bulb into smaller pieces that ended up looking kind of like celery.  Fennel has a very licoricy smell and taste to it when raw.  I would always hear Giada on the food network talk about the “licoricy” smell of fennel, and now I know what she was talking about!

Giada de Laurentiis

I then sprayed a pan with nonstick cooking spray and tossed the Fennel with some spud spice and sauteed it until tender.  To complete my meal I added shrimp to the fennel to cook for a couple of minutes, and prepared quinoa on the side.

The meal took a total of about 25 minutes including prep, and had a slightly “fancy” feel to it!  Brian said this meal was a keeper.

After dinner, Brian and I spent much of the night working on wedding plans, and we will be spending much of today on wedding plans too!  For wedding planning fuel, I made myself a super green smoothie:

  • 3/4 Frozen Banana
  • 1/2 Cup Almond Milk
  • Splash Vanilla Extract
  • 1 Tbsp Honey
  • Pinch Xanthum Gum
  • Large Handful of Spinach

It's not easy being green

I was also able to fit in a quick workout that I saw on Julie’s blog.  And I added in 8 minute abs at the end!

Each exercise should be performed for one minute, and then one minute rest before moving on to the next exercise.

  • Body weight squat
  • Jumping Jacks
  • Plank
  • Alternate leg lunge
  • Hip lift (lie on your back, knees bent, press your hips up, drop back down at a controlled pace).
  • Side plank (30 seconds each side)
  • High knee jog on the spot
  • Basic crunch
  • Mountain climbers
Hope everyone has a great Friday and is ready for the weekend, I know that I sure am!