A few months ago, I went to an upscale deli and had this beautiful quinoa salad that was so delicious and flavorful. I didn’t know how to reciprocate it since I didn’t know all the ingredients used. But I decided to get creative and try to achieve something close. I call it Cheesy Quinoa Salad because, well, there’s cheese in it. Maybe I should have come up with a different name but, hey, my kids will eat anything that starts with “cheesy.”
This makes for a great gluten-free, vegetarian side dish with dinner or you can eat it by itself for lunch. Filling and tasty!
1 cup quinoa
1/2 to 1 cup of grilled asparagus, zucchini, steamed spinach (or whatever cooked veggies you may have)
1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese (Not the dry pre-grated that comes in a can but the one that comes fresh in a resealable bag or plastic tub. But you can really use any kind of cheese you prefer: Mozzarella, Cheddar, Swiss, Monterey Jack, etc.)
10-12 cherry tomatoes, halved
salt & pepper to taste
Cook your quinoa following the directions on the package. I cooked mine in my rice cooker using 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water.
While that is cooking, grill or steam your vegetables, then rough chop them in to big bite size pieces. I like to see and bite into my veggies.
After the quinoa is cooked, mix in a couple tablespoons of olive oil, the juice from the lemon, and salt & pepper. (You can add red pepper flakes if you want more heat!)
Let the quinoa cool for about an hour, then add the Parmesan cheese.
Add the tomatoes and stir.
Add more olive oil, lemon juice, and salt & pepper depending on your taste.
One of my favorite comfort foods is lasagna. I love the smell of it while it’s baking or seeing it come out of the oven with the cheese bubbling over. I would take a serving and eat everything that I could scrape off the noodles. (That’s how I eat pizza too!) I thought I would never be able to enjoy a “whole” lasagna anymore. Then I discovered No-Noodle Lasagna by using zucchini slices as a substitute. My whole family likes it too! And it’s a great way to “sneak” the veggies into the kids’ meals. So now we can all enjoy this lovely low-carb, gluten-free dish together for lunch or dinner. (And the leftovers are still as delicious, or even better the next day!)
Sorry, I don’t have a recipe. I just layer my sauce, 2-3 large zucchini slices and grated mozzarella cheese into a baking dish. I particularly like a layer of ricotta cheese mixed with a bit of spinach in one of the layers, and make sure I top it with a layer of mozzarella. So my layers go in this order:
Cover bottom of baking dish with a little sauce.
Preheat oven at 375˚ F
Cover your lasagna with foil and bake for 45 min.
Remove the foil and bake for another 15 min or until the cheese is golden brown.
Just like kale chips, here’s similar version which I found on nomnompaleo.com: Brussels Sprout Chips. Nutritious, delicious, and guilt-free! You only want to use the outer leaves. The trick to successful chips is to make sure you get the edges brown. See my photo? I could add another 5 minutes to these to get them more brown and crispy but I wanted to make sure you could still tell these were fresh green Brussel sprout leaves.) They may look burnt or wilted but they’re actually crunchy. The lemon zest is optional. I loved it! I thought it added a freshness to the chips.
2 cups of Brussels sprout leaves (outer leaves from 2 pounds of sprouts)
2 tablespoons of melted ghee or butter or olive oil
Kosher salt to taste
Lemon zest (optional)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a salad bowl, toss the leaves with oil and salt. You can add the lemon zest at this stage or after baking.
Line a baking sheet or two with parchment paper for easy clean-up. Arrange leaves in a single layer.
Bake for 10-12 minutes or until leaves are crispy.
Do you want another guilt-free alternative to rice? I got this tip from my cousin in the Philippines who does the Primal Diet. She uses cauliflower as a rice substitute. At first I was, like, “OMG! Really? How do you substitute cauliflower for rice?” But you know what folks—Cauliflower Rice just works! Look at the picture. Doesn’t that look JUST LIKE FRIED RICE? And the taste is amazing! While I’m cooking this I forget that cauliflower is a vegetable and I still add in more vegetables as if I was making real fried rice.
Don’t get me wrong, I still love my Faux Fried Rice, but Cauliflower Rice is lighter so if I “accidentally” overeat this dish, I don’t feel too full and I’m able to burn it faster. It’s also gluten-free, low-carb and a true guilt-free side dish.
Here’s the recipe as SIMPLE RICE which you can eat as a side dish with grilled chicken or a steak. And this is such a delicious complement to curries and stews.
1 head of cauliflower, grate it or chop/mince the whole thing up including the stalks until it looks like rice. Set aside.
butter or olive oil
garlic or garlic powder, salt and pepper to taste
Heat up the butter/oil in a wok or frying pan.
Sauté the garlic.*
Throw in the cauliflower and season with salt and pepper.
Stir-fry until cauliflower is cooked.
(*If adding meat, sauté and cook the meat with the garlic before tossing in the cauliflower.)
Here’s another version where I cooked it with langostino (the imposter lobster) tails.
It looks like fried rice, but it’s not. I call this Faux Fried Rice because it’s made with quinoa, not rice.
What is Quinoa?
Quinoa is 100% whole grain and is an excellent source of protein, about 12 to 18 percent! Technically it’s not a grain but the seed of a leafy plant related to spinach. According to The National Academy of Sciences, quinoa is “one of the best sources of protein in the vegetable kingdom”. Quinoa contains the amino acid lysine which helps the body produce protein. It also helps the body process the protein in the quinoa and in other foods. The World Health Organization has rated the quality of protein in quinoa to be equivalent or superior to that found in milk products.
Amazing, right? So it’s guilt-free, gluten-free and delicious! And you know what else, it tastes JUST LIKE FRIED RICE! I’m not kidding. Rice by itself doesn’t even have any flavor. The secret is all in how you spice up the proteins and veggies you’re going to mix with the quinoa. This is perfect for lunch or dinner, or even as a side dish – although I must warn you, this can be pretty filling.
Look at the photo again. I swear, every time I look at it, I think it’s real fried rice. 🙂
1 cup of quinoa (cook as directed– I cook mine in my rice cooker. Set aside.)
8 oz. or so of any protein you want (chicken, shrimp, pork, tofu)
1 cup of diced vegetables you like (fresh or frozen: zucchini, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, etc.)
1/2 an onion, chopped
cooking oil (any oil you want: olive, canola, vegetable)
salt & pepper to taste
soy sauce (optional)
In a skillet, sauté garlic and onion in oil.
Add in your protein until cooked.
Season with salt and pepper.
Toss in veggies.
When protein & veggies are cooked, then push it to the side of the skillet so you have enough room to scramble the 2 eggs in the same pan.
When eggs are cooked, mix it all up (protein/meat, veggies, eggs.)
Throw in the quinoa. Season as needed. You can use soy sauce if you want.
Mix it all up in the skillet…. then BAM, fried rice! I mean, FAUX fried rice.