If you had a weekend anything like mine, it was filled with three days of BBQ and a few beers. Therefore, I was in much need of a meatless Monday to set me back on track. Meatless meals can pack a great nutrition punch even without having a main protein. Many shy away from a meatless meal for fear that they will not feel full or will miss out on essential nutrients. However, it can be quite the opposite. You can find protein packed foods without having to load your meal with meat. High quality protein sources can be found in nuts (almonds, pistachios, peanuts, etc.) dairy (milk, cheese, and yogurt), grains (quinoa), eggs, and beans (black, lentils, pinto, etc.).
Protein is a macronutrient (the other two macronutrients are fat and carbohydrate). These three groups are what contribute calories to our diets. Protein is known for making us feel full and building muscle, but did you know that protein sources like nuts, seeds, eggs, and beans contain excellent sources of B vitamins, iron, vitamin E, and zinc? These are all essential nutrients we need to maintain a healthy body.
Not only can meatless meals offer a great nutritious punch, they can also be easy on the checkbook. Meat proteins can often carry a high price tag so making the simple substitute of a meatless meal once a week may save you a few bucks and while offering some great nutrition!
Spinach and Cherry Tomato with Quinoa
- 3 TBSP Olive Oil (or canola oil) divided (1 TBSP, 2 TBSP)
- ½ medium yellow onion, diced
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes halved
- 4 cups raw spinach or kale (could also do a blend)
- 1 cup quinoa
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 tsp basil
- 1 tsp parsley
- ½ tsp oregano
- 1 tsp minced garlic (could also do 1.5 tsp garlic powder)
- Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium cooking pot, measure two cups of water and mix in 1 cup of quiona. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to low, and simmer about 15 minutes until water is absorbed.
Heat a saute pan over medium heat and add 1 TBSP of olive oil. Add diced yellow onion to the oil, sauté until the onions appear translucent. Then add cherry tomatoes, raw spinach and spices. Stir frequently. Cook down until spinach has shrunk to ½ its original size (about 5 minutes). Add additional 2 TBSP of olive oil and heat over medium heat for about 1 minute. Add mixture to quiona. Mix thoroughly. Divide between four bowls and top with parmesan cheese.
Nutrition information: Calories: 352, Fat: 16 grams, Sodium: 172 mg, Carbohydrate: 40 grams, Dietary Fiber: 6 grams, Protein: 14 grams