Like any conscientious parent, you want to feed your family nutritious meals; but between work, kids’ after-school activities, errands and chores, you don’t always have the time. Yes, I’m also guilty of pouring Cheerios and milk into a bowl and calling it dinner every now and then. But if you have about 30 minutes, here is a great dish that is a complete, well-rounded meal. Even though it has so many shortcuts, it’s actually better than most make-from-scratch meals because of the nutritional quality of the ingredients.
Quinoa with Vegetables
Sometimes when you purchase quinoa it will say on the box that it’s pre-washed. But if it’s not – it’s very easy to rinse it (unrinsed quinoa will taste bitter). I have a very small strainer with fine mesh and I rinse the quinoa in it for about one minute under cold running water. Quinoa is considered an ancient grain but it’s actually a seed of a plant. It’s a complete protein, which means it has all eight essential amino acids and it’s also high in complex carbs, so together with the vegetables it makes a complete meal. Frozen mixed veggies can be healthier than fresh ones because they are picked at their prime and retain more of their nutrients, even while frozen. This is especially true for fresh vegetables that are picked before they are ripe and spend days in transit. I find that the secret to making frozen veggies taste fresh is to thaw them for at least a few hours before cooking them. I usually leave them on the counter in the morning and cook in the afternoon.
1 and a ½ cups quinoa
1 tbsp Canola oil
1 large red onion
2 tsp minced garlic (I buy it ready in a jar)
1 cup fresh broccoli stems (optional)
2 lbs. bag mixed frozen veggies, thawed. (I usually use a mix of peas, carrots, string beans and corn)
½ cup low-sodium soy sauce (or low-sugar teriyaki sauce)
a few teaspoons of stevia
Cook quinoa according to instructions on box. I use a rice cooker and cook it in the microwave. For 1.5 cups quinoa I add 3 cups water and cook in microwave for 27 minutes but you might need a little more or a little less.
While quinoa is cooking, finely chop the onion and the broccoli stems. Heat a wok with cooking spray and one tablespoon canola oil. Saute onion on medium-low heat until golden and add garlic. Saute for a minute while stirring and add the broccoli. Saute for about a minute and add the mixed vegetables.
Add soy sauce. Wait until dish is completely cooked and add the stevia in the end, to taste.
Dish will be ready when the vegetables have softened (make sure the string beans are soft). Add water if you need to cook it a little more.
Both the quinoa and the vegetables should be ready at about the same time. If the quinoa is too soft, or if there’s still water left over, leave it for about 10 minutes to absorb the extra water. If it’s still soggy drain the water. If the quinoa is too dry add half a cup of water. When the quinoa is ready fluff it with a fork and mix with the vegetables. Check the flavor and see if you need to add more agave syrup or stevia.
Note: you can substitute whole-wheat couscous for quinoa, which takes slightly less time to make. If you do, you should add some form of protein to the stir-fry, such as tofu cubes, or serve the dish with a tall glass of milk on the side.