Necessity The Mother of Invention Aka Italian Chicken Quinoa

We keep most of our meat in the chest freezer in the garage.  Usually on the weekends I have my husband bring in what we will need for the week.  This weekend, I forgot.  Shouldn’t have been a big deal, but I somehow misplaced my key to the garage.  All we had in the freezer were some chicken necks and backs for making broth, cranberries, a chopped up zucchini, and one frozen cooked leg quarter.  If I had made my menu over the weekend or taken meat out of the inside freezer the night before, like I’m supposed to, I wouldn’t have had this problem.   I had to have supper made and ready to eat when he got home, because we were going to church tonight. Perfect storm.  After some frantic searching, I realized I’d have to come up with something using what I had.  So I started some quinoa cooking.  Quinoa is a high protein grain, I chose it because one leg quarter between the two of us isn’t much protein.  If you don’t have quinoa you could substitute rice. I put the chicken in the toaster oven to thaw, and thought.  After the chicken was thawed through I got to work. I put some olive oil in a pan and threw in the frozen zucchini.  I added the shredded chicken, a can of diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning, salt and pepper.  And you know what, it actually turned out pretty good.  I admired my mom when I was younger because of how she could make a meal out of pretty bare cupboards.  I’m grateful that the creative tips she taught me has allowed me to do the same.  Here’s the handy dandy recipe for when you are low on ingredients, and need something quick and easy to make.

 

Italian Chicken Quinoa

1 cup quinoa

1 Chicken leg quarter, pre-cooked (could use any other cut of chicken)

1 chopped zucchini

1 tbs olive oil

1 can diced tomatos

2 -3 tsp Italian Seasoning

Salt and Pepper to taste

1. Cook up some quinoa. While that’s simmering do the following steps.

2.  Put olive oil in skillet on medium heat.  Add the chopped zucchini.  Stir occasionally.

3.  While the zucchini is warming, shred the chicken. Add it in to the pan.

4.  Stir in a can of  diced tomatoes. Add Italian Seasoning, salt and pepper. Put the lid on the skillet.

5.  Its done with the zucchini pieces have turned semi-transparent, about 20 minutes.

Serve chicken tomato mixture on a bed of quinoa.  Feel free to add to this; some crushed garlic, extra oregeno or basil, or other vegetables you have on hand could go well.

 

How to Cook Quinoa

Quinoa is an ancient high protein grain.  It looks a little like barley, and has a very subtle nutty flavor.  It can be used as a substitute for barley, bulgur, or rice in many recipes. It is a staple in our gluten-free house. When preparing quinoa it is best to be prepared.  Soaking it for 4-8 hours before cooking makes it easier to digest.  In a pinch you can skip or shorten this step.  Quinoa grains are covered with bitter tasting powder called saponin so they need a quick rinse in a strainer. Place the quinoa in a sauce pan with 2 cups water for every one cup quinoa.  Add a pinch of salt.  Bring the water to a boil.  Then cover it and bring the heat down to a simmer.  Let it simmer for 15-20 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the cover on letting it steam for 5 minutes. The water should be fully absorbed.

Quinoa is huge online right now. Its high protein makes it a great alternative to less nutrient dense carb choices. You can use this in many recipes, such as my Italian Chicken Quinoa.

How to Roast Squash or Pumpkin

I was spoiled growing up. My mom always used fresh pumpkin in her holiday baking. It makes such a difference in the flavor. Roasting a pumpkin, or squash, isn’t difficult. I had a big butternut squash i needed to cook up for preparation for another recipe. First, preheat the oven to 350 Fahrenheit. Then cut the squash in half.

Scoop out the seeds and stringy bits with a spoon. To keep the squash from sticking tothe pan smear some coconut oil, butter, or ghee on the cut side of the flesh. Place the squash on a large sheet pan with lips, or roasting pan.It’s better if you can fit them both in laying flat,but if you need to lean one on the other a bit like in the picture below it’s ok. They just might not cook as evenly.

Put them in the oven for 45 minutes to an hour and a half, depending on the size of the squash. These I did for an hour. They are done when you can stick the tines of the fork through the skin of the squash with almost no force. Take the out and let them cool.

The one on the left is done, if they get as dark as the one on the right, they are a little bit overcooked.

The skin will peel right off, just watch out for pockets of heat. At this point prep it for whatever recipe you are using. Or you can mash it up with a little of your favorite milk/milk substitute and enjoy as a yummy side dish.

 

Creamy Salsa-mole

Story Time!

Shortly after I went non-dairy, a craving struck. I needed something creamy, but not necessarily sweet, and I needed it right away. Okay, so what foods are creamy? I had recently been introduced to avocados, and they are kind of creamy, but I needed REALLY creamy. So, I decided to add some mayonnaise. Right. So then I had this messy green goo, that’s kind of bland and, well, green. I needed to add some kick to it somehow. I opened the fridge, and my eyes fell on the jar of salsa. Just the thing. So I stir in some of that, and now I have a messy green goo with red in it. Well, at least it didn’t look boring anymore, but I didn’t really want to just eat this stuff with a spoon…. so… lets pretend its a dip. I grabbed some crackers and dug in. And WOW this stuff actually tasted really good…. not sure how that happened. Out of a craving a recipe was born.

Creamy Salsa-Mole

1 medium avocado

2 tablespoons mayonnaise (I use Spectrum brand)

2 tablespoons salsa

lime or lemon juice (optional)

  1. Chop up an avocado and toss it in a bowl. Not sure how? Check out this video.
  2. Add 2 tbs of mayonnaise. Using a fork, mush the avocado and mayonnaise together against the side of the bowl
  3. Mix in 2 tbs of salsa

Serve with your favorite gluten free cracker. I like using Sesmark’s original rice thins for this, though I love Mary’s Gone Crackers. If you’re not going to be eating this right away, add a splash of lime juice (if you don’t have that lemon works too) to keep the avocado from turning brown. Feel free to add more salsa if you like more kick. I’m not big into spicy.

 

Energy Trail Mix Recipe

There are many energy bars out there today, but a lot of them are high in sugar. Because of this they raise energy levels quickly, but then the dreaded crash sets in. I was planning a vacation with my husband that involved a 14 hour road trip, one way. We were also planning on doing a lot of walking and hiking so I knew we needed a snack that would help provide us with lasting energy without the crash. This trail mix recipe was born out of that need. Unfortunately we had to postpone the trip, but it certainly did the trick while we were raking our yard!

Keep scrolling after the recipe to read some of the health benefits of the individual ingredients. And of course, remember to use all organic ingredients whenever possible. I am sensitive to even natural sugars so this recipe is really low in all forms of sugar. If you are less sensitive than me you could add a small amount of dried fruit such as cranberries or cherries.

 

Energy Trail Mix Recipe:

(Yields 4-5 cups)

1 1/2 cups almonds

1 cup shelled pistachios

3/4 cup pumpkin seeds (roasted or raw)

3/4 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes

(optional 1/2 cup dark chocolate chunks and/or 1/2 cup unsweetened dried fruit)

You can combine all the ingredients in a bowl and mix them together, or toss them in a resealable bag and shake them up a bit. Easy, right? Make sure only one of your nuts is salted, the first time I made it I didn’t pay attention to that and boy did it make you thirsty,

 

Health Benefits:

Almonds

  • High levels of copper, riboflavin, and copper aide in energy production
  • Good for your heart, brain, skin, blood pressure and cholesterol balance
  • High in vitamin E, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, iron and fiber

 

Pistachios

 

  • High in vitamin B6, which is essential for your nervous system, red blood cell production, energy production and immune system
  • Contains the minerals copper, manganese, magnesium, potassium, iron, calcium, and zinc
  • Has as much fiber as oatmeal per serving
  • Antioxidant
  • Aides in glucose tolerance
  • Cholesterol balancing

Pumpkin seeds

  • Contains diverse forms of vitamin E
  • High in minerals manganese, tryptophan, phosphorous, copper, iron, zinc and magnesium
  • Antioxidant
  • Lowers bad cholesterol
  • And men, it’s good for prostate health

Coconut

  • High in fiber, B vitamins, potassium
  • Raises good cholesterol

 

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