zesty quinoa

Zesty Quinoa Salad

With the new year officially in tow (Happy 2014!) I’m sure many of you are looking to check a few resolutions off the list – some of which might include adopting a new healthier diet or dropping a few post-holiday pounds. In my opinion quinoa brings you the best of both worlds – it is a superfood packed with nutrients that stays low in calories and as a bonus is super tasty! It is a complete protein (supplying you with all 9 essential amino acids) AND is cholesterol & gluten-free! No wonder it was called “the gold of the Incas” 😉

Zesty Quinoa Salad

This quinoa salad won’t disappoint. It’s full of color and flavor that packs a punch. Fresh ginger and garlic add a spicy note while golden raisins add a touch of sweetness for the perfect combination. Get excited – your path to this deliciousness begins now.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 c. quinoa
  • 2 tsp.  ground cayenne
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 large red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 lemon, juiced
  • 1 TBSP Extra-Virgen Olive Oil
  • 3 scallions, sliced
  • 3/4 c. (1/2 can) chickpeas
  • 1/4 c. diced red onion
  • 1/4 c. (handful) cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • 1/4 c. (handful) golden raisins
  • salt & pepper

MAKES 2 SCRUMPTOUS SERVINGS

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Start by cooking the quinoa – preferably in broth of some sort for added flavor. Next, chop up the fresh ginger, garlic, red onion, bell pepper, tomatoes and scallions. Once the quinoa is fully cooked, combine it with the veggies (except the scallions) in a large bowl. Add in the EVOO, lemon juice and ground cayenne. Pour in half a can of chickpeas, mix it all up, and top it off with scallions, raisins and a touch of salt & pepper! Delish and super easy to make – eat up and enjoy 🙂

Click here to see the nutrition facts

Don’t forget to subscribe for more healthy recipes & comment below if you try this one out! For another way to enjoy this tasty superfood, take a trip to the Caribbean with my Pineapple Quinoa Salad!

xo SkinnyGirl

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Skinny Stacked Enchilada Casserole

Like any other true Texan, there’s nothing I love quite like some cheesy chicken enchiladas. However, if there’s one thing Tex-Mex isn’t, that’s healthy. Restaurants like to slather on the oil and cheese in a horribly delicious pile of unnecessary calories. I decided to put my creativity to the test and try to come up with a nutrient-dense, low-calorie (and still delicious) recipe for chicken enchiladas.

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I was surprisingly happy with the way this recipe turned out. Not only does it taste AMAZING, but it’s only 295 calories per serving! It would be a great meal to serve with pinto or black beans – when I made it I was so hungry I couldn’t spare even a minute to make a side… I mean, look at my plate.

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This recipe requires a few special ingredients, which of course you can substitute, but the caloric values won’t stay the same.

You’ll need:

  • 5 green chile La Tortilla Factory tortillas (whole grain & corn blend); if you can’t find the La Tortilla Factory brand I also like The Mission brand (Artisan Corn & Whole Wheat blend)
  • 8 slices of weight watchers pepper jack cheese
  • 1 serrano pepper (or a jalapeño if you don’t like spice)
  • 8 c. baby spinach
  • 1 tsp EVOO
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • cooked chicken 6 oz, shredded or in small pieces

*YIELDS 4 servings

First start by cooking your chicken in EVOO with salt and pepper or use your own pre-cooked chicken. Next sauté the onions in EVOO and once they begin to caramelize add the spinach and garlic. After the spinach has wilted down, you can start stacking the enchiladas. Start the bottom layer of a 9×9 casserole dish with 2 and a half tortillas, split them up so the bottom of the dish is covered. Next, spoon half of the veggies and half of the chicken on top. Cover this layer with 4 slices of the pepper jack cheese. Now repeat the process! After adding the second layer of cheese, add your serrano or jalapeño to top it all off! Now bake the casserole at 350 for 15-20 minutes!

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Look at all that cheesy goodness! What’s not to love?

Sauteed Zucchini and Squash

Sauteed Goat Cheese Squash & Zucchini

As I was perusing the produce section at HEB I got inspired after I found some good-looking squash and zucchini. They’re some of those vegetables that nobody likes raw but when cooked right are absolutely delicious. I made them my favorite way – with goat cheese & garlic (even the boyfriend who HATES squash & zucchini admitted this was good). This is such an easy side dish to make and is also great to serve with your favorite whole grain pasta for a healthy meal.

You’ll Need:

  • 1 large clove of garlic, minced
  • 1 c. yellow squash and zucchini, sliced
  • 2 1/2 tsp. EVOO
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 oz. goat cheese

*MAKES 1 serving

I bought my veggies pre-sliced so if you need to slice up your vegetables do so. Pour the EVOO into your skillet and put it on medium-high. Add the veggies and cook for about 3 minutes.

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Add the minced garlic and salt and pepper to your liking (I find these are great with lots of pepper). After a few more minutes, once the veggies are turning a golden color, take them off the heat and top with about an ounce of crumbled goat cheese. Voilá! Absolutely delicious.

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Enjoy it at only 225 calories a serving!

Click here to see the nutrition facts

-SkinnyGirl

Tropical Fried Rice

Tropical Fried Rice

fried rice

Today I’m sharing one of my very favorite recipes! I don’t know if you’re like me, but I can eat ridiculous amounts of fried rice. When I go to Benihana I eat more than should be humanly possible. In homage to my love for the stuff I came up with this healthy version so that I no longer have to feel bad about eating an absurd amount of food. Also, spice lovers rejoice: I’m heating up the kitchen with this one, get ready.

You’ll Need:

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 lb shrimp
  • 2 c whole grain brown rice (I used organic)
  • 4 garlic cloves minced
  • 1- 2 habanero peppers finely chopped (depending on your spice tolerance)
  • ½ onion diced
  • ½ red onion diced
  • 1 bell pepper (I used green) diced
  • 6 tbsp soy or tamari sauce
  • 1 tbsp grapeseed oil (or canola oil)
  • ½ pineapple core, diced into chunks (or 1 can of pineapple chunks)
  • 1 small mango, peeled & diced
  • 1 small head broccoli, chopped in florets
  • 3 tsp cayenne powder
  • 3 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 TBSP sriracha (OPTIONAL)
  • 3 c. chicken stock (OPTIONAL) for rice

Makes 8 good-sized servings

Click to view nutrition facts

Start by cooking your rice. I like to cook my rice in chicken stock because it give the rice a richer flavor & chicken stock is very low in calories. If you read my last post then you know my favorite brand to use is Pacific Foods.

After you’ve got the rice going, chop up your veggies, peppers, pineapple & mango, & mince the garlic.

Heat up your skillet & pour in one tablespoon of grapeseed oil, then season the shrimp with salt, pepper, and 2 tsp of cayenne, garlic powder, and oregano. Cook the seasoned shrimp in the skillet with 2 teaspoons of the minced garlic. After cooking the shrimp for about 2 minutes, add in the remaining vegetables & fruits – including the rest of the garlic.

fried rice

In a smaller, separate skillet scramble the 4 eggs with salt & pepper. Your rice should be about done now so you can pour it into the shrimp skillet & add the eggs once they are finished cooking.

Add the remaining cayenne & garlic powder (1 teaspoon, each) into the skillet & stir. Mix in 6 tablespoons of soy or tamari sauce (I happened to have tamari so I used that) & sprinkle with salt & pepper.

If you really want to set your mouth on fire add the optional tablespoon of Sriracha (I’m obsessed with the Rooster). However, be warned – this will be VERY spicy! Only add the extra spice if you REALLY REALLY LOVE spicy food like myself 🙂

This recipe is so full of flavor and healthy! The great thing about spice is that it kicks up the metabolism & can actually help you lose weight – so eat up & enjoy the fruits & veggies. The amazing thing about this recipe is that the whole thing only has 1 tablespoon of oil, but trust me, you will LOVE it! Each serving is only 329 calories so fill up that plate 😉

Don’t forget to join the cool kids club: subscribe on the left to stay updated on all the healthy recipes & tips that I’ve got to offer! Happy cooking!

-SkinnyGirl

Be a Little Ball of Energy!

I’ve been wanting to share this recipe for a while, and I finally got around to making it!  It’s my Chocolate Energy Balls! These are a great post-workout snack or a snack for when you’re in dire need of something sweet. I honestly crave these more than cookies sometimes.

Energy Balls

Energy Balls…ZING!

These are so simple to make and are actually good for you! Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3 TBSP peanut butter (I like the Central Market brand)
  • 1/3 c. old fashioned oats (or whatever kind you prefer)
  • 30 dark chocolate chips (about a handful)
  • 1 TBSP ground flax seed
  • 1/8 c. golden raisins
  • 1 tsp. honey
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

MAKES about 9 energy balls (about 3 servings)

Start by throwing all the ingredients in the bowl – at the same time. Couldn’t be easier.

Energy Ball Ingredients

Mix Em’ Up

Stir it all up and then shape into balls. That’s seriously it, you’re already done. You can pop them in the fridge or eat them right now.

Shape Into Balls

Shape Into Balls

I know these aren’t exactly the most photogenic snack…but trust me, if you love chocolate and if you love peanut butter, these will rock your world. Although this recipe isn’t fat free by any means, your body does need some fat & that’s why these are perfect after a workout or long day. They have fiber and protein and not a single ingredient in them is bad for you. Each ball has about 70 calories, so you can eat a few without feeling bad!

Click here for nutrition facts

If you’re feeling adventurous you could add in cranberries instead of raisins, add chia seeds, or put some instant coffee powder in there to really get your energy going. This recipe is so fun to make because you can put your own spin on it & it will always taste great! Enjoy!

-SkinnyGirl

Chicken Soup for the Sick Person’s Soul

All of us have those days where all you feel like doing is laying in bed…all day. Unfortunately today was one of those days for me. I’m not sure if it was because I stayed up (basically all night) a few days ago or because I just have a virus of some sort, but either way I was definitely lacking in energy and well…the ability to function. In these times of trouble I find one solution…Chicken Noodle soup.

The more I’ve read and learned about diet, the more I’ve realized what an effect it has on how we feel. It happened to be my mother’s birthday this weekend so we went out to an italian restaurant for lunch today – even though the food was DELICIOUS I really have no intention of returning. The portions were enormous – only four of us were eating and they brought us about sixteen pieces of bread. The problem with this is that their garlic bread is extremely tasty and hard to resist…so I had about 3 and half slices. Not only is this bad calorically speaking (which I really wasn’t THAT concerned about) but I’ve noticed that after eating a lot of bread I just feel tired and weighed down. After this they brought us salad, thickly coated in dressing, and then my entree which was once again fantastic, but just too rich. It was chicken covered in a thick white wine cream sauce – I ordered it because it had vegetables: sun-dried tomatoes, artichokes and mushrooms but it was just too much. I only ate half of my meal and I was about to burst. After this enormous lunch I proceeded to taking a 2 hour nap after which I woke up feeling very sick and exhausted. I’ve learned that if I want to feel good I need to understand portion control and pick foods that are less rich and more nutritional.

That said, for dinner I wanted something light and healthy that wasn’t very complicated to make. So I created my own version of “Chicken Noodle Soup”, to make it you’ll need:

  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1/4 organic white quinoa
  • 1/4 onion, chopped
  • 1/3 c. shredded carrot
  • 4 oz. chicken (baked, sauteed, broiled, grilled – however you prefer)
  • 3 oz. 2% milk cheddar cheese
  • 24 oz. chicken broth
  • 1/8 tsp. tumeric
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 1/16 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder

MAKES 2 servings

I started by cooking the quinoa. To give it extra flavor I cooked it in chicken broth instead of just plain water.

Trader Joe's White Quinoa

Trader Joe’s Organic White Quinoa

I LOVE the Pacific foods organic free range chicken broth, I think it tastes great and it’s usually not very expensive at the grocery store.

Pacific Foods Organic Free Range Chicken Broth

Pacific Foods Organic Free Range Chicken Broth

I chose to use quinoa as opposed to a whole grain noodle in this soup because I wanted it to be lighter and grain-free since I had ODed earlier on bread. After the quinoa was done (around 10 minutes) I put it in a separate bowl & added the chopped onion and garlic to the saucepan.

chopped onion & garlic in the saucepan

chopped onion & garlic in the saucepan

I like to keep chopped onion in a airtight container in the fridge so that I can add it easily without having to chop it up all the time. The great thing about onion and garlic is that both are extremely healthy for you and are filled with antioxidants. Next I shredded the chicken which had been sauteed in olive oil with salt and pepper and was kept in the fridge (another great thing to have on hand). You could simply boil your chicken or grill it if you’re watching calories. Then, I poured enough chicken broth to cover the ingredients and added the carrots.

Chicken, onion, garlic and carrot slightly covered in chicken broth

Chicken, onion, garlic and carrot slightly covered in chicken broth

Next comes the spices: I added tumeric for flavor and that nice, yellow chicken-soup color. I love cayenne so I added it for spice and because its a wonderful metabolism booster – plus spicy food always opens up your sinuses when you’re feeling sick. The cinnamon was also for the same purpose – although it sounds odd to put cinnamon in a soup, you barely notice it but you still get its benefits. After adding the spices and cooking the ingredients for about 2 minutes I added the rest of the chicken broth. After everything was heated up, I added the quinoa, stirred the soup and topped it with shredded cheddar cheese! Delicious, easy and healthy – you can’t get better than that.

Chicken Soup

Chicken Soup

After a hearty bowl, I’m already feeling better 😉 Especially since one bowl will only cost you 342 calories

Chicken Soup Nutrition Facts

Chicken Soup Nutrition Facts

Enjoy & check back later for more recipes, promise I’ll update more often!

-SkinnyGirl

Spinach, Blackberry & Goat Cheese Salad

This recipe is perfect for summertime – light, fruity and containing goat cheese (I’m obsessed with the stuff). It’s really simple to make and is just great for the occasional day where you might be feeling a salad for lunch.

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What You’ll Need:

  • 1/2 TBSP EVOO
  • 1/2 TBSP Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 TBSP honey
  • 1 TBSP chopped fresh basil
  • 3-5 pieces of tangelo, sliced into 1/2 in. pieces
  • 1 slice of red onion
  • 3 oz. blackberries
  • 2 oz. goat cheese
  • 3 oz. spinach

This yields about 2 servings or 1 extremely hungry person serving

First you can make the dressing by mixing the first 4 ingredients.

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Whisk until evenly mixed.

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Next place the onion slices, tangelo pieces, blackberries and goat cheese in a bowl.

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Pour over the dressing and voilá! Eat up and enjoy

SkinnyGirl

P.S. Check out the stats on this recipe: only 164 calories for eating half of this recipe (2 smaller salads)

blackberry goat cheese salad nutrition facts

Caribbean Quinoa Salad

I am SO very excited to be sharing with you my first blog post. This recipe is one of my favorites because it’s not only healthy, but flavorful and delicious. I came up with this recipe like most all of my recipes – because I had a random assortment of ingredients in my pantry (it’s my own little version of an Iron Chef challenge). I’ve also been on a pineapple-mango-coconut milk kick lately because I’m ready for summer & like to pretend I’m in the Caribbean.

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This recipe can be made as a side or a main course, but I prefer to serve it as a side with this AMAZING tilapia recipe by Bobby Dean (make it with olive oil instead of butter to be healthier).

I also decided to pair this recipe with a Sauvignon Blanc (which I’ve never had before) called Procrastinate. Obviously I was attracted to its name after just finishing my final exams and getting done with school! Now I’m allowed to procrastinate a little 😉 The wine was actually surprisingly sweet (meaning I could drink it) since I normally only like super sweet wines like moscato.

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As for the Quinoa salad itself, it’s not too difficult to make, the ingredients you’ll need are:

  • 1 c uncooked whole grain couscous or quinoa
  • 1 20 oz can pineapple chunks (in its own juice, no sugar added)
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 small red onion diced
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 1 deseeded habanero pepper
  • 1/2 package mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 lime
  • 1 Tablespoon EVOO
  • salt
  • pepper
  • chili powder

YIELDS 3 SERVINGS AS A MAIN DISH OR 6 SERVINGS AS A SIDE

The first step is to follow the instructions that come with the quinoa or couscous of your choice. While the quinoa is cooking, dice the red onion and add it to a skillet on medium with 1 TBSP of EVOO. Next add the sliced mushrooms and 1 clove of minced garlic.

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Then, slice up the habanero pepper (WEAR GLOVES, TRUST ME) into tiny pieces, and deseed unless you prefer it spicy like myself. Add the habanero to the skillet. Once the onions have caramelized and the mushrooms have softened, drain the canned pineapple & coat the chunks in about 1/4 teaspoon of chili powder, but add more to taste. Then add the pineapple to the skillet with the other ingredients and cook for about 5 minutes until pineapple softens a bit.

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Now add some salt & pepper to taste, mix the skillet ingredients & quinoa together & squeeze 1/2 fresh lime on top & stir. Top with 2 sliced green onions and dinner’s done!

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Not only is this recipe healthy, easy & delicious – one side serving ranks in at only 188 calories! (So that means more than one helping is encouraged!)

Click to see nutritional info

Happy Eating – subscribe for more recipes!