I was alone for dinner last night and needed to use up some of the vegetables we had bought during the weekend. A short jog where my throat and lungs burned of cold convinced me to cooking with what was available at home. I’ve always approached assembling dinner by thinking of my protein, my carbs, and my ‘healthy’ vegetables(more often than not, the green ones…). I think this is a result of my mother’s influence. Whatever the case, I think it is an efficient way of making sure you’re properly balancing your diet. However, sometimes I find it constrictive. I fall into the boring habit of developing my meals around the meat, fish, or vegetarian alternative as the center piece. Often, it’s simply very convenient. Sear, sautee, bake, roast your protein; bake, boil, mash, steam the rest… Simple, quick, and if done well; tasty. ( I really need to take a class on using punctuation… I’m an ok writer but my use of punctuation is cringe worthy.) What also happens when you cook this way is that you’re guaranteeing yourself at the very least two distinct flavors. A salad, stew, sautee, and so on, will have distinct elements within it, but they will combine with the other ones to create a new one. My gluttonous self loves variety so when I make these types of dishes, I usually prepare something else to go with it, and that can take up too much of my time.
This is when leftovers are good to have. I decided to make a quinoa salad because of its high content of quality amino acids, i.e the building blocks that make up proteins.
**I’ve described the benefits of quinoa before but will quickly go over them again, as they are a fantastically healthy food to eat. Quinoa is one of the rare plant foods that contain all of the essential amino acids, and is thus a complete protein. It is high in magnesium, dietary fiber and iron, is simple to make, relatively cheap and easily digestible. **
I had some blue potatoes, cherry tomatoes, onions, chives, green beans in the fridge and decided to build my quinoa with the aforementioned ingredients.
I boiled the quinoa, while I cut the potatoes and green beans into smaller pieces so that I could steam them quickly, and I went about mixing my halved cherry tomatoes, finely chopped onions, and chives with red wine vinegar, olive oil and seasoning. When both the quinoa, and the potatoes and green beans were ready, I let them cool down, and mixed them with the tomato mix, adding more olive oil, vinegar and seasoning to taste.
To make my dinner more exciting, I made pita chips with stale pita bread I had, by cutting it into slices, mixing it in olive oil, paprika, garlic, chives and thyme. I baked it in my toaster oven for around 10 minutes at 400°.
I made a plate with some leftovers from the other night: braised squash and cabbage, brown rice, the quinoa salad, humus and the pita chips. Not bad for a simple meal after a long day. I got my protein, lots of fiber, and a host of other important minerals and vitamins without too much work involved. The meal was light and I easily digestible. It contained a good mix of simple and complex carbohydrates and thus left me feeling energetic and alert for the rest of the night.