Dinner in 30 minutes: Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Bowls

One of the main complaints I read often about real food is that it takes a long time to make. While many people don’t have time to cook up extremely elaborate meals, you can feed your family good, nutritious, homemade food without spending hours in the kitchen.

Here’s a recipe that takes 30 minutes from start to finish, and produces enough leftovers for at least a few extra meals. It’s outrageously good, ridiculously cheap, filling, and nutritious. What’s more, you can make this for a weight-loss or weight-maintenance diet while still feeding your spouse/partner the same meal. I enjoyed one serving of this for dinner, while my husband got the nutrition he needs by doubling his portion of quinoa, adding more cheese, and eating a roasted sweet potato on the side.

Directions:

Cook up about 1c dry quinoa (makes 3c cooked -great for leftovers, and it freezes well!)
Meanwhile, bake your chicken. I bake mine in the oven for 10-15 minutes & then finish them on the stovetop.
Chop up a few cucumbers and carrots, plus some celery if you have it on hand. (I didn’t.)
When the quinoa is done, portion it into bowls and top with goat cheese or blue cheese.
Stir the cheese around so it melts in the hot quinoa.
Fold in the chopped vegetables and chicken.
Top with buffalo sauce of choice and stir well so that everything is mixed together.

One serving is 3/4c cooked quinoa, 1 chopped chicken breast, 1-2 tbsp buffalo sauce of choice, and 1/2c chopped cucumber plus any other veggies you want.

I used organic quinoa from Costco, a 4-oz Perdue frozen chicken breast (also from Costco), 1 tbsp of Wing Time buffalo sauce (medium), 1 oz goat cheese from Whole Foods, and 1/2 c chopped cucumber with the peel.

Nutrition facts: 11 g fat (4g saturated), 34g carbs, 3g fiber, 1g sugar, 646 mg sodium, 33g protein, 9% vit A, 8% vit C, 3% calcium, 27% iron. Cost: $2.00 for 6 generous servings

I served this with roasted summer squash on the side for extra vegetables. I roasted the squash while I cooked the chicken, so that didn’t add any extra time. It 30 minutes from start to finish and was well worth the minimal effort.

This would also be delicious with blue cheese instead of goat cheese!

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A delicious breakfast

I have been so negligent about posting lately, but wanted to share my amazing breakfast from this morning!

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One roasted sweet potato with raw almond butter. It was so good that I had seconds. It sounds like an odd combination, but it was absolutely scrumptious.

Lunch today will probably be a salad. Snack is a lemon Quest bar and a diet coke. Dinner? Who knows.

Hope everyone is having a great week!

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Weekend Recap

I hope everyone had a great weekend! Ours was busy from dawn to sundown. Saturday was spent with family. I got a pedicure, played outside with my toddler, and ate some really delicous gluten-free chocolate cake.

Sunday was spent shopping, cleaning, and moving around heavy furniture. I got a cleaning bug and decided to rearrange the house. It looks pretty good!

My arthritic knee was really aching and sore on Friday, so I took two days off of exercise. I’m still not sure if that was the best decision… this morning’s workout (just 10 minutes on the elliptical + 20 minutes biking) was tough. I keep having to remind myself that it’s okay for that to be all I can do right now. I have to take a long view and just put the time in with light impact, and hope that I’ll be back to some kind of routine at this time next year.

Really, when it comes down to it – my “workouts” are nothing to write home about. I can barely break a sweat. But it has to be enough. I have to remember that it’s literally all I can do right now. I can’t work out to burn calories… I just have to move a little bit to keep sane. And so, it has to be okay.

Today’s menu is pretty simple.

Post-workout breakfast: spinach shake (frozen banana, 1 c almond milk, 4c spinach), coffee (with 3 tbsp whole milk + 2 truvia), 1/3 of a large avocado, supplements

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It was delicious and so filling!

Morning snack: 1 hard-boiled egg
Lunch: 2 chicken breasts drizzled with lemon juice
Afternoon snack: 2 hard-boiled eggs
Dinner: 6 oz wild salmon filet, asparagus, a few slices of avocado
Dessert: 1 slice GF bread with 1 tbsp almond butter

Heavy on the protein, light on the carbs (35g sugar total), filling, home-cooked, and delicious. Today is shaping up to be a lower calorie day, I think.

Happy Monday, everyone!

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Fake Fruit Cobbler… the best dessert ever.

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Hope everyone had a great holiday! We had a wonderful time celebrating my birthday a day late and America with burgers, grilled veggies, and a bodacious salad with home-grown lettuce. (Sandra, if you happen to see this, happy belated birthday to you!)

My stomach has been feeling off lately. I don’t know if it’s stress or the heat, but I’m frequently hitting 8 pm with hundreds of calories remaining. Not surprisingly, my weight has dropped… imagine that, what you eat affects your weight. 😉 anyway, I’d like to keep it above 124, so I’ve been adding a fake fruit cobbler to my evening meal.

I used to LOVE cobbler – the more sugar, the better. Now, I wouldn’t eat a normal one anyway since I’m gluten-free. But I’ve been experimenting a little bit and have found that baked fruit by itself is probably my favorite dessert of all time. It’s filling and there’s automatic portion control, since it takes about 20 minutes to make.

By cutting my fruit intake to one bowl for dessert, picking more nutrient dense fruit (peaches and berries instead of grapes), and upping my protein a lot, I’ve been able to pretty much eliminate cravings. 5c of grapes in the morning just was not working out.

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This beautiful bowl is one white peach, sliced, with about half a cup of frozen blueberries and a few local raspberries thrown in. I like to slice the peach thinly and then layer it with berries. Bake at 375 for about 18 minutes or until the fruit is the texture you want. The juices run together and become thick and delicious. You can top a bowl with 1 tsp of sugar or your sweetener of choice… I tried both ways and I honestly prefer the plain version more. This makes an amazing topping for vanilla ice cream too! 

Have a wonderful weekend, all!

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Monday

Happy Monday, everyone!

We had a wonderful weekend full of family, fun, and healthy food. Not too much in the way of exercise -it rained a lot and we were so busy that sprints through Costco will have to suffice for movement. I tried sopresata (sp?) for the first time this weekend, and it was amazing. We enjoyed some great Alexander Valley cabernet on Saturday night with dinner.

Checking in with food: I’m pleased to report that upping my protein significantly has made a gigantic difference in my eating. I’ve been really intentional about getting close to 100 grams per day, as opposed to 55-60 (which I’d been getting previously.) My new favorite combination is chicken breast topped with mango salsa… delicious.150 calories and 22g protein.

Kicked off the day with 4.3 miles in 30 minutes on the elliptical. I tried 5 miles last week and it really aggravated my arthritic right knee, so 4ish miles on a lower resistance will have to do for now.

I’m grateful to be able to move and sweat, even if it’s not as much as I’d like.

Today’s menu…

Post-workout breakfast: green smoothie (4c spinach, 1c almond milk, 1 frozen banana, a few ice cubes) + supplements (glucosamine, fish oil, vitamin D, fiber gummies… I’m old) + coffee Morning snack: 6oz chicken breast with 60g mango salsa (200 calories, 33g protein) Lunch: Chicken and quinoa topped with marinara sauce (340 calories, 34g protein) Afternoon snack: Celebrating a co-worker’s birthday with a small slice of gf cake (estimating around 200-250 calories.) Dinner: Arugula salad with lemon dressing, a little crumbled feta cheese, and grapefruit, plus a cocktail. Date night!

What are you doing to make July amazing?

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Identifying the problem

Thank you so much for your comments yesterday. It’s good to know I’m not alone out there, and I really appreciated everyone’s suggestions. I’m doing weight training, I measure/weigh everything all the time (even the milk for my coffee – 3 tbsp!), and my exercise is generally good. (5 miles/34 minutes this morning was a great way to start the day!) In addition to “real” workouts, I’m walking 3-4 miles a day pretty consistently.

I spent a while yesterday looking over my food log. (One of the advantages of tracking your food pretty assiduously is that you have a good record when things go off kilter!) Surprisingly, one pattern quickly appeared. The problem isn’t pinot; my wine consumption has been normal to low. It’s not chips; I had a few on two occasions.

The problem appears to be… fruit.

On days when my fruit consumption was way up, I had a much more difficult time with the rest of my eating.

I feel ridiculous even typing that. Fruit is supposed to be healthy, right? It’s not supposed to make you binge-y. It’s supposed to be healthy. But my body doesn’t do well with more than one serving a day. Perhaps I’m more insulin-sensitive than I thought, even after all the weight loss…

I love red cherries and grapes and would strongly prefer to not give them up. But I don’t want to feel panicked before weighing in. I don’t want to feel hungry all the time. When I eat fruit… it feels like I have a bottomless stomach. The fruit doesn’t replace any sides to a meal. It gets tacked on as an addition. Once or twice, this wouldn’t matter. But after a few weeks of 10 servings a day (not a typo), it gets to be a bit much. So, I will cut fruit for a while and replace my beloved grapes with carrots and asparagus. We’ll see if that helps.

My birthday is next week. This is the first time I’ll be in the 120s on my birthday since I was turned ten years old. That blows my mind.

Today’s weigh-in: 127.4 (same as yesterday, which suggests that the 129.4 may have been inaccurate.) Breakfast was three eggs, scrambled, with salsa. Yum!

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Following a plan?

Yesterday’s scale reading made it obvious that something needs to change. But what’s worse is how I’ve been feeling out of control and rather buffeted about by maintenance. Instead of me controlling my maintenance plan, I’ve been letting it control me. I get so nervous before weighing in. If I have a good weigh-in, I go a little crazy. If I have a bad weigh-in, it bothers me all day and I can end up eating more out of feeling bad.

That’s no way to live.

I’m pretty new at this whole “maintain half your size” schtick, all things considered. At this time last year, I was about thirty pounds heavier than I am now. And two years ago, I was sitting not-so-pretty at 260 pounds and 9 months pregnant. (I was either 241 or 243 pre-pregnancy, not that the 2-lb difference actually matters.)

So I need some direction in all of this. I need consistency. Weight maintenance can be so difficult and the first year is (apparently) the worst. People who regain most/all of their lost weight tend to gain it back very soon after stopping weight loss. In that, I’m pretty lucky, because I’ve been maintaining I recently found Barbara Berkeley’s refusetoregain.com and am considering adopting that plan for a maintenance strategy. It feels pretty logical. I like her focus on avoiding sugars and eating real foods with the primary goal of maintaining weight loss. She is definitely onto something where insulin is concerned…. I am still sensitive to sugars and at the end of the day, I just can’t eat like someone who’s never been obese. (Nor do I want to!) But what this means is that I can pack away 5-10 cups of frozen grapes at a sitting. So…even fruit is problematic.

If I can’t figure this out myself, maybe someone else’s plan would be more effective. It’s worth a shot.

If you’ve tried lower-carb eating or paleo, I’d love to hear your thoughts!

and today’s weigh-in….. 127.4.

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