Easy and Healthy Pasta Salad
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Originally Published in May 2015

Last weekend I turned 30 (old lady now…) so we thought we would do a beach party on Saturday to celebrate. So of course I wanted to make some nutritious and delicious food to bring. I had to think of something I could keep cold in a cooler and that would be refreshing and not too messy or complicated. Pasta salad seemed to be an easy solution…so my recipe for sweet potato pasta salad was born!

I used whole grains (good carbs for sustained energy and fiber), olive oil (good fat, anti-inflammatory properties), and fresh veggies (lots of antioxidants, vitamins and minerals). I was able to keep it in a large aluminum tray in the cooler and it did stay cool until we were ready to eat. I also made a fruit salad to bring because it is super easy to just chop up some melons, grapes and strawberries….and who doesn’t love cool, fresh fruit on a hot day? Plus…it has a ton of nutrients and can help keep you hydrated. My pasta salad turned out really delicious and fed about 16-20 people so keep that in mind when you see the large amounts of ingredients.

Sweet Potato Pasta Salad

Sweet Potato Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

32 oz Dry Whole Grain Pasta (I used Brown Rice Pasta to make it Gluten Free)

2 Large Sweet Potatoes

1 Head of Broccoli

4 Large Tomatoes

1- Fresh 8 oz Bag of Baby Spinach

1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil

3/4 Cup Champagne or White Wine Vinegar

Juice from 2 Lemons

1 Tablespoon Chopped Garlic

1/2 Teaspoon Salt

1/4 Teaspoon Sugar

Ground Black Pepper to Taste

Directions:

  • Cook pasta according to package directions in a very large pot.
  • While pasta is cooking, clean off sweet potatoes and poke several holes through the skin with a fork. Microwave on high for 10 minutes or until sweet potatoes are cooked through.
  • Rinse broccoli and tomatoes and start chopping into pieces while sweet potatoes and pasta are cooking.
  • Remove sweet potatoes (be careful they will be very hot) and let cool.
  • Put chopped broccoli in the microwave on a microwave safe plate on high for 2 minutes…but only if you are like me and prefer your broccoli to be slightly cooked but still firm and crunchy. If you prefer it raw you can skip that step.
  • By now your pasta should be done cooking; drain and rinse with cold water to prevent sticking and add to your aluminum tray or serving dish.
  • Add the bag of spinach to the warm pot you just removed the pasta from and put back on burner on low heat stirring occasionally to warm and wilt spinach until it shrinks to about half.
  • Add warm spinach, broccoli, and tomatoes to pasta.
  • If your sweet potatoes are cool enough, peel off the skin and chop into bite size squares. If they still feel hot please be patient and let them cool down more… you can get burned by hot potato steam. The potatoes should peel very easily with a knife now that they are cooked.
  • Add the sweet potato pieces to the pasta mixture.
  • Mix together the olive oil, vinegar, lemon juice, garlic, salt and sugar in a small bowl and pour over pasta. Mix well and add ground black pepper to taste.
  • Refrigerate until ready to eat, can be made the day before.

Healthy, Sweet Potato Pasta Salad, Whole Grain, Easy

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Who said quiche has to have crust? Unless you are buying a premade crust, adding a crust can add a lot of extra time and steps. For a lazy cook like me, a crust is just not necessary. To make up for the lack of crust,  and keep it satisfying, I added potatoes to my quiche to provide some carbohydrates and extra nutrients such as potassium (important for heart health) and vitamin C (antioxidant, necessary for your skin). This crustless quiche recipe actually reminds me of a tortilla espanola due to the lack of crust and the addition of potatoes. However, unlike the tortilla espanola, this dish is baked in the oven like a quiche.

Crustless quiche is really one of my go to staples. You can sub in or out whatever cheese or veggies you have on hand to make it easy and prevent food waste. Just make sure you don’t go crazy and add too many veggies, and cook them before adding to your egg mixture so your crustless quiche does not end up watery. And by cook them, throwing them in the microwave is perfectly acceptable. Or use leftover already cooked veggies. No need to complicate things.

Crustless Quiche with Potatoes and Spinach

Crustless Quiche with Potatoes and Spinach

Ingredients
5 Large Eggs
3/4 C Skim Milk
1/4 Tsp Salt
1/4 Tsp Pepper
1/4 Tsp Onion Powder
1/2 Tsp Dried Oregano
1/2 Tsp Dried Basil
1/3 C Chopped Spinach, Cooked (excess water removed)*
1 C Diced Potatoes, Cooked**
1 C Shredded Cheese ( I used an Italian Blend)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9″ glass pie pan with cooking spray. Add eggs and milk to a large mixing bowl and whisk together. Add salt, pepper, onion powder, oregano and basil to egg mixture and whisk until uniform. Evenly distribute spinach in the sprayed pie pan and layer potatoes on top. Sprinkle cheese over spinach and potatoes. Pour egg mixture into pie pan. Bake in oven for approximately 45 minutes or until quiche is set.

* I microwaved frozen chopped spinach per package directions and squeezed out excess water with paper towels
** I microwaved the potatoes (because I am lazy and didn’t want to make a mess) but you could also sautee them in a small amount of olive oil

Easy Crustless Quiche with Potatoes and Spinach

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Easy vegetarian and gluten free Mediterranean Quinoa Bake
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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 Mediterranean Quinoa Bake recipe is just for you.

 Easy, vegetarian, and gluten free Mediterranean Quinoa Bake

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 🙂

If you are in need of a little colander I think this one looks pretty darn cute:

Tablecraft HC1 0.75 quart Mini Colander  *

*Amazon affiliate link – if you click on purchase through this link I may receive a percentage of the sale to help run my website at no cost to you

Looking for more vegetarian dishes? Try my Sweet Potato and Kale Frittata, great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Easy, vegetarian, and gluten free 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!
 
 
 Easy, vegetarian, and gluten free Mediterranean Quinoa Bake
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