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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I love making homemade¬†chex mix because you can make it with the exact amount of flavor you want and choose whatever kind of chex cereal and additional add ins¬†you want to use. Because I am gluten free and don’t tolerate corn very well, I stick to the rice chex flavors, but there are still plenty of choices, so you can always mix it up.¬†Rice chex comes in plain,¬†cinnamon, chocolate and¬†vanilla….mmmm ūüėõ

Chex uses whole grains and simple ingredients so it is easy to turn your breakfast cereal into a healthy snack, as long as you make sure the rest of your ingredients are¬†also¬†good for you, or at least in moderation.¬†Nuts, seeds, whole grains and dried fruit¬†are all good choices for a¬†healthy homemade chex mix, and the possibilities are endless! Just make sure you don’t add too much sugar and/or butter which could catapult your healthy intentions¬†into a problem for your waistline.

Last weekend I was in the autumn spirit and wanted to make a chex mix that highlights fall flavors so I thought I would share my recipe. I used lots of cinnamon, allspice, ginger and nutmeg along with chex cereal, pecans and craisins to make my perfect seasonally appropriate chex mix.

Bowl of Harvest Chex Mix

Harvest Chex Mix

Ingredients
6 Cups Rice Chex
3 Cups Vanilla Rice Chex
2 Cups Pecan Halves
4 Tablespoons ¬†“I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter Light”
1 Tablespoon Honey
2 Tablespoons Cinnamon
2 Teaspoons All Spice
2 Teaspoons Ginger
2 Teaspoons Nutmeg
1/4 Teaspoon Salt
1 1/2 Cups Craisins

Directions
Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. Mix together cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg and salt in a small bowl. Set aside. Add Chex and pecans to a large mixing bowl. Melt butter substitute in a small microwavable bowl or mug (put in microwave on 30 second intervals until melted) and mix in honey until dissolved. Pour mixture over Chex and pecans and mix until evenly coated. Add the spice mixture that was set aside earlier and continue mixing until evenly coated. Spread out on parchment paper lined baking sheets and bake in oven for twenty minutes. Remove from oven, toss mixture and then bake for another 15 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool. Add to large serving bowl, mix in craisins and serve.
Harvest Chex Mix Ingredients
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I am a big fan of adding extra fruit or vegetables into recipes…they can contribute a lot of nutrients such as fiber, vitamins, minerals and are generally low in fat and calories. And also, I think they are delicious. But you still need to be careful with what you add to your fruits and veggies. Yes, french fries are made from potatoes but when you deep fry them you can no longer call them healthy. Zucchini bread is also great in theory, you can hide some veggies in a delicious mixture of sugar and all purpose flour, but the sugar and refined flour part really isn’t so good for you. But no worries, you can definitely make it healthier by replacing refined flour with whole grains or nut flour and using less sugar, and maybe using something like fruit to help sweeten it a healthier way.

So last weekend I wanted to try making a healthy gluten free zucchini bread as a treat to share for after yoga, but didn’t want to have to worry about slicing it up and plates etc… so I decided to make it in cookie form, and it worked out really well. Everyone seemed to really like them and I hope you do too! I will definitely be making these again…maybe next time I will try and make them in mini muffin form ūüôā

Gluten Free Zucchini Bread Cookies

Ingredients
1 Medium Banana, Mashed
1 Cup Shredded Zucchini
1 Egg
1/2 Cup Uncooked Quinoa
1 Cup Almond Flour
1/4 Cup Honey
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
1 tsp Cinnamon
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/4 tsp Salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Bring 1 cup of water to boil in a medium saucepan. Add quinoa and cover and reduce to a simmer for about 15 min or until quinoa is cooked. Add almond flour, cinnamon, baking powder and salt to a large mixing bowl and stir. Add egg, mashed banana, zucchini, vanilla, honey and mash together with a spoon until uniform. Add quinoa after it is done cooking and is mostly cooled; stir in. Drop by spoonfuls down onto a parchment paper lined baking tray. Batter won’t be as thick as usual cookie dough and consistency will be more like thick muffin batter. Bake for about 30 minutes or until cookies become slightly brown on edges and cooked through.

GF Zucchini Bread Cookies

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