Mediterranean Quinoa Bake
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When I’m short on time or I’m running low on fresh vegetables, I like to combine fresh veggies with canned ones for a quick and easy meal that still helps me meet my nutritional needs. When buying canned ingredients, I compare different brands and choose the one that is lowest in sodium, preferably no salt added,¬†if possible. I also drain and rinse my canned beans and veggies that do have salt added to help further decrease the sodium level. If you like to use a lot of canned ingredients I would suggest investing in a little mini colander so you can easily rinse off your canned beans and veggies without having to use your bigger one. That way you can save precious dishwasher space and you may be more likely to actually take the time to rinse them off ūüôā

 

 

Mediterranean Quinoa Bake

 

 

This week was pretty busy so I wanted to make a really easy, healthy and delicious meal that would be able to feed both me and my husband for two nights. Throwing veggies, beans, and whole grains into a pan and baking it seemed like a really good way to accomplish my goal. I also wanted to do a vegetarian dish because 1) I love vegetarian dishes, 2) Adding meat seemed like an unnecessary extra step, and 3) My friend Stephanie is a vegetarian who loves casseroles/bakes and is always looking for healthy recipes…so this recipe was partly for her. I chose to use mediterranean flavors in this recipe¬†because I love them… annnnd I also happened to have a can of artichokes in my pantry I wanted to use. So if you like easy healthy recipes, veggies, chickpeas, and quinoa, this recipe is just for you.

 

Mediterranean Quinoa Bake

Mediterranean Quinoa Bake

Ingredients 
1 Cup Uncooked Quinoa
1 Can (16 oz) Reduced Sodium Chickpeas- Drained and Rinsed
1 Can (14 oz) Quartered Artichoke Hearts- Drained and Rinsed
1 Can (12 oz) Roasted Red Peppers- Drained and Rinsed
3 Cups Raw Baby Spinach
4 Plum Tomatoes – Sliced
1 Cup Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
1 Teaspoon Minced Garlic
1 Teaspoon Dried Basil
1 Teaspoon Dried Oregano
3/4 Cup Reduced Fat Crumbled Feta Cheese
2 Tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar

Directions
Cook quinoa according to package directions and preheat oven to 350 degrees. While quinoa is cooking, add remaining¬†ingredients except for feta cheese and balsamic vinegar to a large mixing bowl. Toss ingredients together mixing well. After quinoa is done cooking, spread quinoa evenly in a 9×13 inch glass baking pan. Top with veggie mixture. Cook in oven for 20 minutes or until veggies are warm and soft. Remove from oven, sprinkle feta cheese and drizzle balsamic vinegar over the top of casserole. Place back in oven for about 5 more minutes until cheese is warm and slightly soft. Remove from oven and serve. Enjoy!
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Healthy Gluten Free Cauliflower Pizza Crust
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I love pizza and trying to make it healthier and gluten free can be a bit of a task. I have seen a lot of recipes for cauliflower pizza crust but have been afraid to try it due to a terribly failed attempt at cauliflower tortillas. Basically the cauliflower tortillas fell apart and just didn’t taste very good so I have been poo-pooing the cauliflower as a pizza crust trend. But I decided to give it a try (it actually took two attempts to get it the way I wanted it), and it turned out pretty flavorful and didn’t fall apart!

 

Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Cauliflower “Rice”

 

Basically making the pizza crust just consisted of making cauliflower “rice” in blender or food processor, cooking and squeezing the extra fluid out of the cauliflower, and then mixing it with eggs, cheese, garlic and basil to make a “dough.” And then bake! Super simple.

Cauliflower Pizza Crust Dough
Cauliflower Pizza Crust “Dough”

 

I didn’t put a lot of toppings on my pizza because I didn’t want to test the strength of the crust too much, due to my falling apart cauliflower tortillas…but it really didn’t need that many toppings to make it satisfying and delicious. I would recommend though that if you use watery veggies to top the pizza such as fresh tomatoes or mushrooms that you don’t use a lot and/or cook them a little in the microwave first to remove some of the water, because it will make the cauliflower pizza crust softer.

 

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

 

Making pizza crust out of cauliflower is a great way to get some extra veggies in your diet and it actually tastes good too!

 

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Ingredients
1 Head of Cauliflower
2 Eggs
1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon Dried Basil
3/4 Cup Reduced Fat Shredded Italian Cheese

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees and line a pizza stone with parchment paper. Rinse cauliflower head and remove stem. Break or chop cauliflower into pieces and pulse in food processor or blender until it looks like rice.¬†Place cauliflower “rice” in a microwave safe bowl and cook in microwave on high for about 7 minutes, uncovered. Pour out onto a clean towel and allow to cool slightly. Wrap up the cauliflower in the towel and wring out over the sink to squeeze out the excess fluid. In a mixing bowl combine cauliflower, eggs, basil, garlic and cheese. Mix together well. Place mixture in center of the parchment lined pizza stone and spread out into a circle,¬†about¬†1/4 of an inch thick. Bake in oven for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and top evenly with desired toppings and bake for another 15 minutes. Allow to cool slightly, slice and serve. Enjoy!

Healthy Gluten Free Cauliflower Pizza Crust
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Spaghetti Squash
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Spaghetti squash is one of those unique vegetables that you can easily transform into a pasta without the use of a spiralizer. With¬†spiralizers being a food trend now (I see zoodle recipes and pins everywhere), you can turn almost any veggie into a pasta. But today we are going old school and using spaghetti squash and a fork to make a veggie noodle “pasta.” So if you didn’t get on the spiralizer band wagon, don’t worry….there is no need with this healthy recipe.

Baked Spaghetti Squash

Spaghetti Squash is a winter squash that is low in calories and fat and contains vitamins and minerals such as potassium, vitamin A,vitamin C, vitamin B6, and fiber.It can definitely help you cut calories and lose weight when you use it in place of pasta. For comparison, 1 cup of cooked spaghetti squash has 42 calories and 1 cup of cooked whole grain spaghetti ranges from 180-200 calories. Even if you aren’t trying to lose weight, adding more veggies in your diet is always good¬†for your health!

 

Spaghetti Squash with Italian Herbs

Ingredients
1 Large Spaghetti Squash
2 Tablespoons Olive oil
1 Teaspoon Minced Garlic
1 Teaspoon Dried Basil
1 Teaspoon Dried Parsley
1/8 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
1/8 Teaspoon Sea Salt
1 Tablespoon Champagne Vinegar
Reduced Fat Cheese (if desired)

Directions
Preheat over to 375 degrees. Rinse off squash and use a knife to poke holes in the squash so steam can escape during cooking. Cook in the oven for 1 hour. All squash to cool slightly before cutting open. Cut open, remove seeds and scrape out strands of squash with a fork, set aside. Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pan. Add garlic, basil, parsley, black pepper and salt.  Stir and heat for a minute or two until fragrant. Add squash strands and mix until warm. Finish with champagne vinegar. Serve and top with cheese reduced fat cheese if desired. For extra protein you can add a little chicken or tofu. (Leftover chicken from the night before makes a great topping)

 Spaghetti Squash

****Recommendation: Cooking the squash in the oven does take some time so you can do this the night before or pop it in as soon as you get home from work and get in a work out during the cook time. Alternatively, the microwave is another faster option for cooking.
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