Quinoa can be a great base for combinations of ingredients that can spice up meal time. Photo by: Leah Sullivan/Courtesy photo
November 3, 2012 8:38:06 PM
If variety is the spice of life then you could say my life is pretty spicy. I like variety and options and plenty of choices to chose from, especially when it comes to food. I'm not a fan of eating something twice in a row. Leftovers for example, no matter what, I just can't eat them as is; I have to use them in a new way, to come up with a meal totally different than what it was the night before.
I also cannot follow a recipe to save my life. I rarely ever cook something the same way twice. I always have to tweak this or that, add something new and take away something, or add more of one thing and less of another. And I never ever measure, preferring to just feel it out. This is why I don't bake.
To me cooking and creating beautiful delicious dishes is just another creative outlet. Like art. And I feel like when you eat a variety of different healthy whole foods every day you're also getting a variety of nutrients to keep you glowing from the inside out.
However, with that being said, I have stumbled upon a concoction that I am borderline obsessed with. It's the perfect meal, with plenty of fiber and protein and enough variety to keep me from being bored out of my mind. And believe it or not, I cook the base the same way every time.
Start with quinoa
Every Sunday I make a box of red quinoa according to the package instructions. As the quinoa is cooking I add a squeeze of Garden Gourmet garlic, sea salt and lots of fresh ground pepper. Once the quinoa is almost done I add two cans of rinsed and drained black beans, two cans of drained Rotel tomatoes, and two bags of thawed and drained frozen chopped spinach. I combine everything well, let it heat through, cool, and stick the whole pot in the fridge. Then every day for lunch (yes, seriously, almost every single day) I put about a cup of the quinoa/black bean/spinach mixture on a plate and let the real fun begin. The endless combinations of toppings keep my favorite go-to lunch interesting and exciting.
First I'll decide what protein I'm in the mood for or have on hand -- skinless rotisserie chicken, leftover lean flat iron steak, eggs sunny side up, scrambled, or hard boiled, canned tuna in extra virgin olive oil (I love the jalapeño, chipotle, roasted garlic, and sun dried tomato marinated varieties), grilled barbecue shrimp, or a turkey burger or veggie burger patty. Whatever I choose goes right on top of the quinoa.
Then I decide what fresh veggies I want to scatter around my plate -- red and orange cherry tomatoes, avocado, red/orange/yellow bell pepper, matchstick carrots, shredded purple cabbage and/or cucumber. I usually end up with a combo of whatever's in the fridge that needs to be used up.
Sometimes I'll add a little 2 percent cheese or plain Greek yogurt for calcium, or even homemade salsa or a little of one of Mezzetta's fantastic sandwich spreads for a pop of extra flavor.
Finally, everything gets a little sea salt and fresh ground pepper, and is drizzled with plenty of spicy Sriracha hot chili sauce. If you've never tried Sriracha you must get in the car and drive immediately to you closest grocery store. There are no words.
A word of caution: It's easy to get carried away with portions when there's so much going on on one plate. So I make sure to always use a salad or dessert plate to keep my portions in check.