And then summer sets in.
And it's nothing but barbecue after barbecue with tons of potato and/or macaroni salad, loaded with mayo, and waiting for me to consume 1,000 calories of that alone before I even think about eating anything else. And the anything else isn't just any old food - it's Spanish rice, sausage and peppers, BBQ chicken, pulled pork, and hamburgers and hot dogs (okay, I don't eat hamburgers, I eat veggie burgers. And I only eat turkey hot dogs... but still), and I haven't even thought about dessert yet. It's not okay.
So darling blog friends, listen up. Do as I am doing and STEP AWAY FROM THE BARBECUE TABLE, because things are about to get all kinds of healthified (yes, I made that word up. Yes, I think Webster needs to know about it).
Today, I decided that after eating like a disgusting wild animal for the past few weeks, I am finally FED UP and refusing to do it anymore. Luckily for me, my mom is the coolest human being alive and she bought me quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) a couple weeks ago and it has been sitting in my pantry since then. For those of you who don't know what quinoa is, it's a crop that is most closely related to beets and spinach, but is grown solely for its adorable little edible seeds (seriously cute stuff, wait for the picture). The important thing to know about quinoa is that, unlike most other grain-type foods, it is a complete protein all on its own, meaning it contains all of the essential amino acids human beings need, all in one super cute little package (which is very rare in the plant world). It looks like this when it's uncooked:
|Photo Credit: Wikipedia|
|Photo Credit: http://mmm-yoso.typepad.com|
Here's what I did today. I chopped up half an onion and threw it into a pot with 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil (yes, I know that's only a little bit but I'm trying to be healthy here and 1 tablespoon of olive oil has 120 calories, who knew?). I stirred that up a bit and added a sprinkle of cayenne pepper, chili powder, and paprika. I stirred that up until the onions were nicely red from all the spices and just let it cook low and slow for a while so the onions would caramelize (caramelized onions = tons of flavor, very few calories, even less effort - seriously, I think I stirred the onions twice in like 15 minutes and they did the rest of the work on their own). Then, I poured in 2 cups of water and 1 cup of uncooked quinoa (it's always a 2:1 ratio, liquid to quinoa, no matter how much you're cooking). I let it come to a boil and then turned the heat down to simmer (medium-low) and let it simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on. While that was happening, I defrosted a box of frozen spinach, squeezed out the extra liquid, and after 10 minutes I tumbled that into the pot as well. The quinoa spent 5 more minutes simmering on the stove with a lid after that and it was done and looked like this:
Make this. You won't be disappointed, I promise.
Quinoa with Onions and Spinach
1/2 of an onion, any color you'd like, chopped
1/2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 box frozen spinach, thawed and squeezed to remove extra moisture
1 cup quinoa (white, red, or black would all do just fine - yes, there are even different colors! I love this stuff.)
2 cups water (you could even use chicken or vegetable stock if you wanted to add some more flavor)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chop the onion and drop it into a pot with the olive oil. Add the cayenne, paprika, and chili powder, and stir to combine. Let cook on medium heat for approximately 15 minutes until the onions are slightly caramelized. Add water and quinoa and stir. Let the mixture come to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium-low, put on a lid, and let simmer for 10 minutes. Defrost a box of frozen spinach, squeeze to remove excess liquid, and add to the pot. Stir to combine and replace the lid and let cook for another 5 minutes. Stir, salt and pepper to taste, and serve!