Friday, 6 July 2012

Light, Fast Cooking Quinoa Lunch Recipes

SmartCooks here.

My never-ending quest for healthy, easy lunches scored a winner -- lunches that use quinoa as the base ingredient and add vegetables and herbs.  And, bonus, each one is about 250 calories.  All good!  Given that life as I know it now is about to change dramatically (more on that later), I am stockpiling all the easy and best lunch recipes I can find.  

One of the best magazines, and now websites/apps/twitter feeds is called Cooking Light.  The website is chic-a-block full of easy, fast, light, vegetarian-friendly suggestions for eating smart and living healthy.  With the hot, summer weather upon most of us, ideas are timely and delicious.  

Quinoa Lunch Ideas 

I've featured quinoa before, a fast-cooking, tasty grain, ready in about 20 minutes, with 150 calories in 2/3 cup... plenty for lunch-time salads.  Quinoa comes in a variety of colours and I like to mix 'em up... white, red, black or whatever's on hand.  It's a nutritional powerhouse food that is becoming more and more popular.   

And, fyi, brown rice has 144 calories for the same 2/3 cup amount; farro, 133; barley, 129; and bulgur 101.  So all good variations, although quinoa remains the top nutritional grain of choice. 

250-calorie Lunch Salads 

The basic idea is to prepare a bunch of quinoa on a Sunday night. It keeps well in the fridge for a couple days.  I tend to make more Wednesday evening.  Each day, add a variety of foods to the quinoa to complete a lunch. 

Cooking Light examples of seven days of lunches:

Heirloom tomatoes, avocado, cilantro

1) Heirlooms & Avocados  
2/3 cup quinoa
1/2 cup heirloom cherry tomatoes (red and yellow)
1/4 cup sliced avocado
3 T fresh cilantro
3/4 tsp olive oi

2) Nuts and Chickpeas 
2/3 cup quinoa
3 T cooked chickpeas
1/4 cup grated fresh carrot
2 tsp toasted pine nuts
2 T chopped fresh parsley

Mint, corn, ricotta, zucchin
3) Summer Mint
2/3 cup quinoa
1/3 cup corn (ideally fresh) 
1/2 ounce ricotta cheese
2 T fresh mint
1/4 cup grated yellow zucchini (also called squash)

Snow peas, radish, lime, goat chees
4) Radish and Vegeys
2/3 cup quinoa
1/4 cup thinly sliced fresh radishes (any type)
2 T thinly sliced snow peas
1 ounce crumbled goat cheese
1 T fresh lime juice

Strawberries, goat cheese, hazelnuts, arugul
5) Strawberry Fields
2/3 cup quinoa
1/3 cup fresh strawberries
1 T toasted hazelnuts, chopped
1/4 cup baby arugula
1/2 ounce crumbled goat cheese

Spinach, sweet potato, green onions, pecans

6) Roots and Greens
2/3 cup quinoa
1/4 cup roasted sweet potato cubes
1/2 cup baby spinach
1 T chopped toasted pecans 
1 T thinly sliced green onions

Lemon, dill, currants, sesame seeds, zucchini

7) Dill Freshness
2/3 cup quinoa
1 T fresh lemon juice
2 T dried currants
1 T chopped fresh dill
1/4 cup yellow/green zucchini ribbons (also called squash)
1 T toasted sesame seeds

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