Chicken and Spinach Quinoa

I finally got to try another of my “new find” chicken recipes last night.

It had an ingredient in it that I was unfamiliar with, but anxious to try…quinoa.

What the heck is quinoa? 

I wiki’ed it and I’m still not 100% sure how to describe it except crazy good for you, high in protein, an excellent source of amino acids and lysine and just plain yummy.  

I also discovered that not every grocery store carries it.  The smaller chains in our community didn’t have it.  I was finally able to find it at Wal-Mart, but you have to look close.  There was only ONE option as opposed to the 40 varieties of rice sitting next to it.

This recipe is a must try.  I love when a recipe takes the simplest of ingredients and makes them explode with flavor in my mouth!  I can’t wait to have the left overs tomorrow.

Alright… the numbers… one serving of this, which is an abundant amount (one-fourth of the recipe) is only 323 calories.  Pair it with a vegetable or salad and you’ve got a great meal.  I made sautéed green beans to go with mine. (To. Die. For.)

Here’s what you’ll need:

1/2 onion, diced

2 medium carrots, diced

1 cup quinoa

2 cups chicken broth

1 teaspoon ground pepper

1 teaspoon thyme, fresh or dried

2 cups fresh baby spinach

2 large chicken breasts cooked and shredded or 1 (12.5 oz.) can chicken breast meat

Spray a large skillet with non-stick cooking spray.  Saute onions, carrots and quinoa over medium heat until onions are translucent and quinoa is slightly toasted.  Add the chicken broth, pepper and thyme and bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed. (About 10 minutes.)

Remove from heat and fold in the spinach.  Continue to stir until the spinach wilts.  Add the chicken and serve.

Like I said, I really enjoyed this meal.  It was light, flavorful and a great texture.  I did make a few changes to the original recipe.  I sautéed the carrots WITH the onion and quinoa.  The original recipe didn’t add the carrots until the broth was added, but I feel like sauteing the carrots adds such a depth of flavor that I felt this dish would need since the ingredients were so simple, with not a lot of seasoning.  I also added about twice as much chicken and spinach as the original recipe called for.  As a stand alone dish this would need more “oomph” to it in order to keep me full.  Adding more chicken and spinach gives it more body without much more fat.  The calorie count is, of course, higher with more chicken, but you’re less inclined to snack later because you’re still full.

I suppose I should share my secret to the sautéed green beans.  I first discovered these when I lived in Utah.  There was a great little restaurant that I loved to go to on a corner that I can still envision.  For the life of me I can’t remember the name of it, but as a regular side they had sautéed green beans.  Their version was NOT healthy, lots of olive oil and butter, but, oh, so decadent.

Here’s my healthy version.

1 lb. fresh green beans trimmed

1/2 onion, diced (just cut up the whole onion from above and you have enough for both!!!)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp. olive oil

salt to taste

large pot boiling water

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.  Fill a large bowl with ice water.  Blanche the green beans in the boiling water for 2 to 3 minutes or until BRIGHT green.  Immediately remove from the boiling water and submerge into the ice bath.  Let cool for a few minutes and drain.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Saute the onions and garlic until onions are just translucent.  Stir constantly so that you don’t burn the garlic.  Add the green beans and saute about 10 minutes until the skins start to slighty wilt.  The beans will still be tender crisp.  Salt while still hot.  Serve with ANYTHING!!!

These are a family favorite amongst my folks and my siblings.  They’re a usual suspect at any given holiday meal.

And the numbers for the green beans…one fourth of the recipe is only… are you ready….a whopping 72 calories!!!!  Go ahead, eat half a pound!  They’re GOOD for you!

So there you have it… a new take on an old side dish and a brand new ingredient to try.  I’ve enjoyed these new discoveries.  This weight loss thing is starting to turn into an eating adventure.  Who knows what crazy thing I might try next!!!

(I’m thinking about faux mashed potatoes.  Yep, that’s cauliflower folks.  NOT something I eat, but I’m willing to try it.)

Peace, love and Inca food!!!

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5 thoughts on “Chicken and Spinach Quinoa

    • Okay…It’s taken some serious brain storming, but if memory serves me right because it’s been about 9 years since I’ve been there…I “think” it’s the Wasatch Broiler and Grill in Murray. I’m faintly remembering that they had their own brewery and had AMAZING wheat beer.

      • Alright…that’s not it either. I just googled that restaurant and the green beans aren’t on the menu. I’m sorry I’m not helpful.

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