Heart Healthy Quinoa Greek Salad

image.jpegJune is Stroke Awareness Month. As the Nutritionist for Sobeys, we are partnering with the Heart and Stroke Foundation to offer you Wellness classes every Monday night of June. Last night our first class topic covered the basic of eating healthy, cholesterol, and nutrition tips that may help reduce your risk of stroke.

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The recipe that I prepared for my Heart and Stroke class last night was a Quinoa Greek Salad that I had altered from the Heart and Stroke’s recipe online. This recipe is fresh, easy, and delicious for summer. It ensures to include all the heart healthy ingredients and can be used as a main dish or a side to any dinner.

I made sure to add in a few of my favourite items. For example:

Chickpeas: A great plant-based source of protein and fibre. The bean I’m sure you know by now is my ultimate favourite! This item has 13g of fibre per 1 cup. 

Avocados: A great source of heart healthy unsaturated fats and soluble fibre (6.7g fibre per 1/2 avocado).

Red & Green Pepper: Peppers have high antioxidant and vitamin C content. This means they will fight off pollutants (free radicals) in the body that can cause cell damage.

Black Olives: Are low in a cholesterol. A source of dietary fibre, iron and copper. However, olives are high in sodium. Make sure to rinse and drain the olives before using them in this recipe and don’t overdo it. Slice them in to thirds to make a smaller amount go a long way.

Heart Healthy Quinoa Greek Salad Recipe

(Serves 10 people as a side dish)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa, cook and chill
  • ½ cup red pepper, diced
  • ½ cup green pepper, diced
  • ½ cup cucumber, chopped
  • ¼ cup green onion, diced
  • ¼ cup black olives
  • ¼ cup red onion
  • ½ avocado, sliced, diced
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/3 cup feta cheese (reduced fat if available), rinse and drain to remove sodium.
  • Optional: Add a fibre and protein boost with ¼ cup rinsed and drained chickpeas or add a salted crunch with roasted chickpeas!

Dressing:

  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • ½ tsp basil fresh
  • Ground sea salt and pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. In a small pot, cook 1 cup dry quinoa as per package instructions.
  2. When quinoa is fully cooked, remove from heat and allow to cool. Place in the refrigerator while you are preparing the rest of your ingredients.
  3. Prepare diced vegetables and crumble feta cheese.
  4. Whisk together dressing ingredients.
  5. In a large mixing bowl, stir the veggies and cheese into the cooled quinoa.
  6. Pour the dressing over quinoa mixture and toss.
  7. Enjoy!

 

Take aways from our class: 

  • Choose foods lower in sodium (less than 15% Daily Value, always read the nutrition facts label!)
  • Choose healthy fats (UNSATURATED fats), avoid saturated and trans fats where possible.
  • Choose high fibre foods, soluble fibre has been found to have a greater impact in lowering cholesterol compared to insoluble fibre
  • Choose lean protein sources: fish, chicken, turkey, lean meats
  • Avoid highly processed foods and sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Watch out for canned food items, they tend to be high in sodium
  • Limit added sugars: less than 12 tsp or 48g of added sugar a day!!

 

Thank you all so much to those of you who came out to our first Heart and Stroke Awareness Month Class at Stratford Sobeys last night! It was so much fun sharing my knowledge with all of you who are so eager to learn. We will be offering these classes every Monday night at 6:30 PM here. Please email me for more information if you are local and would like to attend! brooke@ateaspoonofbliss.com

 

Puffed Quinoa Seed Bars

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Gluten-free, dairy-free and nutrition packed bars made with only whole ingredients.

I was looking to make bars similar to one of my favourite brands, KIND bars. However, I had no almonds and nuts in the house so I decided to do a puffed quinoa bar version instead using whatever ingredients I could find! They are actually SO good and quite easy to make!

What you will need (makes ~6 small bars):

  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 tbsp almond butter, softened
  • 1 tsp natural vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp almond meal/flour (or you could use coconut flour)
  • 1/2 tsp ground sea salt
  • 3/4 cup puffed quinoa (can be found at Bulk Barn)
  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds
  • 1 1/2 tsp hemp seeds
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • 2 tbsp raisins
  • Optional: dark chocolate chunks (at least 70% cacao).
  1. Preheat oven to 300°F (149°C). Line an 8 or 9-inch square baking pan with parchment paper with enough overhang on the sides to easily remove the bars from the pan. Set aside.
  2. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, mix the honey, vanilla, almond meal, salt, and almond butter together until combined. Fold in the puffed quinoa, pumpkin seeds, hemp, peanuts, raisins, and optional dark chocolate chunks (at least 70% cacao).
  3. Transfer mixture to prepared baking pan and press very firmly into an even layer. You really want it packed in tight- as tight as possible. Bake for 20-22 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack for 1 hour, then transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 1 more hour. This helps firm up the bars which makes them stay compact. Remove bars from the pan using the overhang on the sides and cut into bars. Individually wrap each bar in plastic wrap or parchment.
  4. ENJOY!

Eggplant Quinoa Lasagna – Guilt-Free!

Everyone loves lasagna on cool winter days. It is such a hearty meal but, the traditional lasagna has a bad rep with all that cheese, ground beef, and refined carbohydrates (white pasta!).

So, since I was craving something like lasagna… I decided to make one with a healthy twist. This lasagna is made from quinoa, eggplant, and veggies. The only cheese it contains is the little bit that I grated on top. Instead of ricotta or cheese in the inside – I created a layer using Skotidakis Jalapeño Greek yogurt dip. 

As a vegetarian dish, low in fat, and with protein coming from the quinoa… it is completely guilt-free.

Veggie Quinoa Lasagna

Ingredients:
1 cup uncooked red/white quinoa
1 can diced tomatoes (796mL)
1.5 tsp italian seasoning
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp basil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 orange pepper, chopped
1 red pepper, chopped
1 small red onion, chopped
2 cups spinach
1 medium sized eggplant (chopped into circles)
1.5 cups Skotidakis Jalapeño Greek Yogurt dip (COSTCO! duel packs for a better price 🙂
+ desired amount of shredded marble cheese
2 cups marinara (I used white linen marinara sauce from costco.. all natural ingredients– avoid marinaras that have sugar on the ingredient list).

Directions:
1. Cook 1 cup of quinoa as per package instructions.
2. While quinoa is cooking, in a large bowl combine diced tomatoes, italian seasoning, oregano, basil, and crushed garlic. Mix.
3. Put the tomato base into a large baking dish. (layer 1)
4. Saute peppers and red onion in 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet for ~10 minutes to soften.
5. Quinoa should be finished cooking now, add it into the baking dish on top of the tomato layer.
6. Using washed and trimmed spinach, make a spinach layer on top of the quinoa.
7. Disperse eggplant circles evenly on top of the spinach layer.
8. Add the sauted vegetables on top of the eggplant layer.
9. Spread 2 cups marinara sauce over this vegetable layer.
10. Spread 1.5 cups Skotidakas Jalapeño Greek Yogurt dip on top of this marinara layer.
11. Sprinkle shredded cheese on top as desired.
12. Preheat oven to 350F – bake for 40 minutes until brown. Broil for 5 minutes to help with browning.
13. ENJOY!!! 🙂 Add ground pepper and salt as desired. My mom also added a little bit of parmesan on top of hers!

Veg Quinoa Lasagna

Greek Quinoa Salad

Greek Quinoa Salad

Ingredients (Serves 4-6)

 
1.5 cup COOKED red/white quinoa
1 large cucumber, peeled, chopped/diced
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
1/3 cup black olives
1 small red onion, chopped/diced finely
1/3 cup crumbed feta (add more if you are a feta lover!)
Pinch ground pepper
1 tsp lemon juice
Add FarmBoys Greek dressing to taste.

Directions:
1. Follow quinoa package directions – make 1.5 cups cooked quinoa.
2. Once cooked, chill quinoa in the fridge for a few hours.
3. Prepare/chop other ingredients.
4. Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and store in the fridge.
5. Serve chilled – the longer it sits, the more the flavours come out… it is good either way but best when prepared in advance as it can sit longer 🙂

I choose Farmboy’s dressings as they are all natural and have no added refined sugars and preservatives. Choose dressing that you can pronounce and know what every ingredient is! Farm boy is a reliable source for these types of products 🙂

Quinoa Flour “Pita Bread”

Quinoa Flour Pitas

Ingredients (serves ~2):
1 1/2 cups quinoa flour
1/4 cup egg whites
1 tbsp olive oil
1.5 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 cup water
Optional: Add a pinch ground salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in a small bowl (The consistency should resemble that of pancakes).
Preheat the oven to 350F.
In a skillet on medium/high heat on the stove, add 1 tbsp olive oil.
Make “pancakes” from the batter.
Cook each side for ~2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Cut into triangles. Sprinkle with ground sea salt.
On a baking sheet, bake in the oven for ~15 minutes until crispy/brown.

Enjoy with you fav dip! Mine is tzatziki 🙂

Stuffed with the GOOD stuff! Stuffed Peppers with Quinoa & Ground Chicken

Stuffed Peppers

This is seriously one of my favourite dinners so far. A little fiesta in a “bowl”! The quinoa, beans, chickpeas, and ground chicken combination make for a  protein packed and filling meal. I promise you will be so satisfied! Additionally, if you are vegetarian you can make this recipe too. Remove the ground chicken and add more quinoa. It will still be a protein packed meal without the chicken.

Ingredients (Makes 5 large stuffed peppers):
5 large peppers
1/2 cup uncooked sprouted quinoa–cook quinoa based off package instructions.
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb. lean ground chicken
3/4 cup chickpeas, rinsed & drained
3/4 cup black beans, rinsed & drained
1/2 cup frozen corn
1/2 cup red onion, chopped
3 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp crushed chili flakes
Shredded marble cheese, as desired
Serve with: plain greek yogurt (0%), salsa, and shredded marble cheese.

Cook your quinoa according to the package instructions before preparing the chicken mixture.
Directions:
1. In a skillet on medium heat, add 2 tbsp of olive oil and the ground chicken.
2. Add chili power, cumin, and crushed chili flakes to the skillet.
3. Cook chicken until no pink throughout/browning, approximately 15 minutes.
4. When the chicken is cooked thoroughly, turn the burner on to low heat.
5. Add the cooked quinoa, chickpeas, black beans, onions, and frozen corn to the skillet. Cook for 5 minutes. Regularly mixing.
6. Preheat the oven to 350F.
7. Chop the tops off each pepper and remove the inner core to create small “bowls”.
8. Put the peppers in a small casserole dish.
9. Fill each pepper with the chicken mixture from the skillet.
10. Add shredded cheese on top.
11. Cook for 15-20 minutes at 350F.
12. Turn oven to broil for 3 minutes to brown the top.
13. Finito! Serve with salsa, shredded cheese, and plain greek yogurt (instead of sour cream).

Why choose plain greek yogurt instead of sour cream? Greek yogurt is a substantial source of protein. It is a lower fat alternative versus sour cream. Choosing a low fat plain greek yogurt will help you avoid any additives (sugars, salts, and fats).

Why choose quinoa instead of rice? Quinoa is a higher protein source compared to rice. It will leave you feeling satisfied for a much longer period of time. Additionally, quinoa contains more substantial nutritional content like iron and fibre. It also has a low glycemic index. Quinoa is a complete-protein source unlike many grain and vegetable sources. Therefore, it is a suitable for vegetarians as it contains all the essential amino acids our body needs to function (which usually come from animal sources). With such high nutrient content, you can consume less and still feel full. Quality > Quantity! 

Nutrition Facts Info: (Per 1 large pepper with added cheese on top)
Calories: 350 kcal
Protein: 25 g
Fat: 16 g (sat fat 4.5 g)
Carbohydrates: 28.1 g
Sugar: 5 g

Note: Never be afraid of fat! Especially the good fat. As you can see I noted, there is 16 grams total fat in one serving and only 4.5 grams of which are coming from saturated (bad) fat. The rest (72%) is from the healthy unsaturated fats! Fat is essential to our body’s function and makes a strong contribution to the feeling of full-ness. Unsaturated fat is important to help contribute to a healthy heart. You should work to limit saturated and trans fats from your diet… not the good stuff 🙂

Sprouted Quinoa Salad ft. Broccoli, Maple Glazed Nuts, Edamame, ETC!

Quinoa Salad - Broccoli

I freaking love quinoa! Have you been able to tell throughout my blog posts?

I tossed this salad together to have as a side with dinner this past week.

Ingredients (serves ~8):
1 cup uncooked sprouted quinoa, cook according to package directions.
1 cup broccoli, chopped finely, steam in a covered container in the microwave with 2 tbsp water.
1/2 cup edamame beans, from frozen (will thaw in the salad during preparation)
3 green onions, diced/chopped
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/3 cup raisins
1/2 cup Maple Glazed Pecans (directions below)
Homemade Dijon Balsamic Dressing to taste. (directions below)

Maple Glazed Pecans:
You will need:
1/2 cup pecans
3 tbsp maple syrup
Directions: In a small pan put 1/2 cup pecans and pour 3 tbsp maple syrup evenly on them — to coat the nuts. Put the burner on medium heat. When the maple syrup begins to bubble, turn the burner off. Allow the nuts to sit for 5 minutes. Then, remove the nuts from the pan and allow them to dry with the maple syrup coating on parchment paper.

Dressing:
(Mix in a separate bowl — add to salad to taste)
2 tbsp honey
1 tbsp dijon
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp lemon