roasted asparagus & red pepper quinoa salad

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And if you aren’t coming from Self, be sure to check out the other Epic Picnic Dishes!

Roasted Asparagus & Red Pepper Quinoa Salad | A Nutritionist Eats

I’m the person who always brings a salad to get-togethers. Whether they’re picnics or backyard grilling parties, you can always count on me to bring a salad. Annoying? Maybe, but amidst the dips and desserts, salads always seem like the perfect addition to any table.

Roasted Asparagus & Red Pepper Quinoa Salad | A Nutritionist Eats

A few weeks ago, I made no less than eight batches of quinoa salads. Ok, kind of an exaggeration, but after the second day of bringing bowls of quinoa salad to work, people started asking what was going on.

I asked for feedback between a black bean & quinoa salad and this one and instead of getting any opinions, all I got was requests for the recipes, $5 from someone who had forgotten their lunch that day and a major boost to my quinoa salad ego. Naturally, I’m thinking about setting up a little quinoa salad shop at work.

All this is to say that I’ll probably share the black bean version sometime in the near future!

Roasted Asparagus & Red Pepper Quinoa Salad | A Nutritionist Eats

But we’re talking about the roasted asparagus & red pepper quinoa salad today. I love this salad! It’s vegan (but you don’t have to tell), it’s gluten-free (but no one has to know) and it’s got 12 grams of protein and 10 grams of fiber per serving, thanks to the beans + quinoa! (You can share this fact.)

It’s healthy, but so delicious and flavorful. It’s colorful and light; but the hefty servings are unquestionably satisfying. Serve it on top of some greens if you like or top with some grilled chicken or tempeh for an extra boost of protein.

Roasted Asparagus & Red Pepper Quinoa Salad | A Nutritionist Eats

Lunch. Is. Served.

nutrition facts: 409 calories, 20 grams of fat, 46 grams carbohydrates, 10 grams fiber, 4 grams sugar, 12 grams protein

Roasted Asparagus & Red Pepper Quinoa Salad

by Emily Dingmann

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Keywords: roast entree salad side gluten-free high fiber high protein vegan vegetarian beans quinoa

Ingredients (6 servings)

  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil plus 1 Tbsp
  • 1 Tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1 shallot
  • salt & pepper
  • 1 cup chopped roasted red pepper
  • 2-15 oz cans garbanzo beans
  • 1 cup sliced green onion
  • 1 cup chopped parsley

Instructions

Roast asparagus: preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Remove tough bottoms of asparagus and cut into 1 inch pieces. (You should have about 2 cups.)

Drizzle with 1 Tbsp of olive oil and cook for about 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Prepare quinoa: Rinse quinoa in fine mesh strainer.

Add quinoa and 2 cups water to small pan.

Stir, season with salt and bring to a boil.

Lower heat, cover and cook for about 15 minutes.

Prepare vinaigrette: while quinoa is cooking, whisk together lemon juice, olive oil, dijon, mustard, shallot and salt & pepper.

Remove quinoa from heat and let sit for 5 minutes.

Fluff with a fork and toss with vinaigrette.

Drain and rinse garbanzo beans.

When quinoa is cool, toss with remaining ingredients. Chill for at least 3 hours or overnight.

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5 trader joe’s meals (5 ingredients or less!)

5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats

Deep question of the day: where do you guys grocery shop?

5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats

I tend to shop based on proximity, but the store has to have the natural and organic selection of foods I’m looking for or it just won’t work. In my current neighborhood (West Hollywood!) there are quite a few options within walking distance. I tend to visit most of them (Whole Foods, Gelson’s and Bristol Farms) on a pretty regular basis to see what new foods are out there, but Trader Joe’s is, without a doubt, a weekly stop for me. I can find most of the things I need – and for a pretty reasonable price – but I’ve got to admit that I love the frozen and convenience foods that Trader Joe’s offers. (If you’re ever wondering how something is, just ask. I’ve probably tried it!)

Recently, my friend Lynn and her husband came up with this super-clever buzzfeed video featuring Trader Joe’s mashups:

I loved the video and the premise –  it’s absolutely what inspired this post!

I started brainstorming some of my favorite trader joe’s combinations that fit the following criteria:

  1. under five ingredients (all but one are made with three ingredients)
  2. fairly healthy (all of them come in under or around 500 calories)
  3. include a vegetable (because every meal should!)
  4. delicious (again, because every meal should be!)

Here are the 5 Trader Joe’s meals that I came up with:

Classic Southern Dinner:

5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats

Let’s start with an easy, classic meal: bbq chicken breast, mac & cheese and collard greens. Prepare the mac & cheese and bbq chicken as directed and lightly steam or saute the collard greens. *I really like their “reduced-guilt” mac & cheese, but have yet to try the gluten-free variety!

Palak Paneer Eggs:

5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats

Why have I not combined Indian food with eggs before? Ah-mazing. Top cooked palak paneer with a fried or poached egg and serve with hot naan. This will definitely become a regular in our meal rotation – perfect for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Tortilla Pizza:

5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats
Tortilla pizzas are one of my favorite meals and considering that I’ve eaten them on  regular basis for years, it was a no-brainer. When topped with sauce, arugula, cheese and turkey meatballs, this is a particularly filling pizza. Simply bake the tortilla until crisp, top with sauce, cheese, arugula and warmed meatballs and bake until cheese has melted. (Brown rice and sprouted tortillas are my favorite to use.)

Chimichurri Rice & Sausage:

5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats

Chimichurri rice is a somewhat new item and I’m so glad I finally put it in my cart – it’s delicious (so is the kimchee rice!).  When it’s combined with chicken sausage and a vegetable, you’ve got a balanced dinner that comes together in minutes. Slice and saute the sausage and rice as directed while you roast the broccoli in the oven.

Pasta with Mushrooms & Parmesan:

5 Trader Joe's Meals (5 ingredients or less!) | A Nutritionist Eats

This vegetarian meal is delicious and simple. And absolutely OUTSTANDING if you add a drizzle of truffle oil or sprinkling of truffle salt. Simply prepare the pasta and mushrooms as directed and top with a sprinkling of cheese. Use your favorite pasta variety.

Got any favorite quick meals to share? 

P.S. I’m really sorry if you don’t have access to Trader Joe’s! Come visit and I’ll take you on a tour. :)

whole-grain oat muffins

(We just returned from Thailand and I can’t wait to tell you more about it – it was absolutely amazing!)

Whole-Grain Oat Muffins | A Nutritionist Eats

Ok, I’m usually an anti-muffin person. Why? Because most of the time they run a fine line. They’re either essentially a cupcake or they’re so healthy that they don’t resemble anything close to an actual muffin. So if I’m going to eat a cupcake, I’m going to eat a cupcake – with lots of frosting. And if I’m going to eat a healthy breakfast, I’m going to…you get the point.

But these muffins. Oh my. I don’t do a ton of baking but when the LA Times featured Clementine’s whole grain muffin with plump dried cherries, I knew it was a muffin I needed to try. Clementine is a bakery/cafe a few blocks from my office and I’m there a few times a month. Rarely do I get any of their baked goods though (even though their blondie is amazing), I usually stick with their deli salads and cold-brew coffee. (Other copycat Clementine recipes: lentil, beet & goat cheese salad and fall chicken salad)

Whole-Grain Oat Muffins | A Nutritionist Eats

So here I had this recipe for a muffin that I figured had to be good, but I had never tried it. Research time! I picked up the muffin one afternoon and actually thought I would save it for breakfast the next morning. Um, nice idea in theory, but totally not realistic. After I finished my lunch, I dug into the muffin (a small portion!).

It was so good and wholesome!

Whole-Grain Oat Muffins | A Nutritionist Eats

These muffins are dense, and pretty short but I promise you that they taste more like the ‘cupcake muffins’ than the ‘healthy muffins.’ That’s all to say, they are delicious! I (again, lacking any sort of patience) dug into them right out of the oven was honestly a little surprised by how good they tasted. Richie (and my coworkers!) agreed.

As you can see, they are packed full of oats, almond and flax meal and chia seeds. I love that the streusel topping gives it the ‘cupcake muffin’ feel without the typical white flour and sugar requirements of a ‘cupcake muffin.’ There are a few things that I think are worth discussing: 1) I decided to make the serving size two muffins. I felt it was a more realistic serving size. 2) These are calorie-dense. They are full of good-for-you ingredients that aren’t low in calories. Most of the time, I focus on ingredients rather than calories and this is a prime example.

Whole-Grain Oat Muffins | A Nutritionist Eats

Nutritionally, these muffins are pretty impressive. They are 100% whole-grain, gluten-free and have an impressive 10 grams of protein and 9 grams of fiber per serving. Yes, there is real sugar in these muffins (remember I wanted them to taste like a cupcake muffin?) and normally I’m the type of person who is anti-ANTI-sugar, but for comparisons sake, the 17 grams of sugar are similar to what you would find in a strawberry greek yogurt.

nutrition facts (for two muffins): 405 calories, 25 grams of fat, 10 grams protein, 39 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams fiber

Whole-Grain Oat Muffins

by

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Keywords: bake bread breakfast high fiber high protein vegetarian

 

Ingredients (24 muffins (12 servings))

    For the Streusel Topping

    • 1/4 cup brown sugar
    • 1/4 cup soft butter
    • 3/4 cup old-fashioned oats

    For the Muffins

    • 2 1/2 cups old-fashioned oats
    • 2 1/2 cups low-fat buttermilk
    • 1/3 cup coconut oil (liquid)
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
    • 1 cup almond meal
    • 1 cup flax meal
    • 1/2 cup sliced almonds
    • 1/4 cup chia seeds
    • 1/2 cup brown sugar
    • 1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1 tsp baking soda
    • 1 tsp salt

    Instructions

    For the Streusel Topping

    In a small bowl, stir together sugar and butter until smooth.

    Add oats and mix until combined.

    Spread onto a rimmed baking sheet and place in freezer until hardened, about 10 minutes.

    For the Muffins

    Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.

    In a medium bowl, combine oats and buttermilk and set aside.

    Beat together the oil, eggs and vanilla in a stand mixer with paddle or large bowl with a hand mixer.

    Whisk together the dry ingredients: almond meal, flax meal, sliced almonds, chia seeds, sugar, baking powder and soda.

    Add oat and buttermilk mixture to egg mixture and with the mixer running, slowly add in dry ingredients, 1 cup at a time.

    Spoon the batter into lined muffin tins, filling them about 2/3 of the way and sprinkling with streusel topping.

    Bake the muffins for 12 minutes, than rotate pan. Bake another 12- 14 minutes until golden brown.

    Cool slightly before removing them from pan.

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    5 plant-based (vegan) recipes

    With Earth Day right around the corner, I’m making a conscious effort to think about my impact on this amazing earth of ours. I grew up in a family who recycled religiously, reused sour cream containers (and sugar bags for lunch bags – which was SO embarrassing!) and even composted. So at a young age, it was instilled in me that leaving as little of footprint as possible was of the utmost importance.

    These days, I make the best effort I can to reuse, reduce and recycle. (And I’m proud that I’ve almost kicked my plastic water bottle habit!) But there is always room for improvement and that’s what is important to look at. In the coming months, my goal is to buy more local food – preferably straight from the source through a CSA membership or more frequent visits to the farmer’s market.

    So why the plant-based recipes? It seems that every spring, I’m drawn to more plant-based foods and less meat. The term ‘plant-based eating’ has been growing in popularity but the phrase is a bit confusing – and I think that’s the idea. The short explanation is that it’s a vegan diet (while some may consume a limited amount of animal products like eggs or dairy) and it seems to me that it’s a vegan diet without the vegan junk food and without the (sometimes polarizing) vegan label. It’s real, whole, unprocessed food – full of plants – and most of the time it’s beautiful. (Learn more about plant-based diets here.)

    But it’s not just about me. (Wait, what?!) A diet with more plants and less meat helps to reduce our ecological footprint (animal products require a lot of land, water and resources). As Mr. Pollan so wisely tells us, “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” And also? It’s delicious. Here are 5 plant-based (ok, vegan!) recipes that are so tasty and gorgeous that even the most stubborn of carnivores won’t miss the meat.

     

    5 Plant-Based (Vegan) Recipes

    5 Plant-Based (Vegan) Recipes | A Nutritionist Eats

    1. This Vegan Green Chili Mac and Cheese has been on my list of recipes to make since…the first time I laid eyes on it. And while we typically think of mac and cheese falling into the junk food category, this cheese, made with cashews, is anything but. (image & recipe via Minimalist Baker)

    5 Plant-Based (Vegan) Recipes | A Nutritionist Eats

    2. I know. I’m craving tofu now too. This Crispy Baked Salt & Pepper Tofu is much easier than it seems – simply toss and bake – and enjoy. (image & recipe via Heartbeet Kitchen)

    5 Plant-Based (Vegan) Recipes | A Nutritionist Eats

    3. Herby, Peanutty, Noodly Salad is just that. This colorful salad is filled with fresh veggies and nutritious buckwheat noodles for a meal that screams spring to me. This post also gives some great insight on not giving yourself a vegan label and I pretty much love it.  (image & recipe via Eating for England)

    5 Plant-Based (Vegan) Recipes | A Nutritionist Eats

    4.  These Not-So-Sloppy Tempeh Joes made such a satisfying lunch, I’ve got to make them again soon. Don’t be put-off by the steps and ingredients, it’s worth it! In fact, I’d recommend doubling the recipe. (image & recipe via Chickypea)

    5 Plant-Based (Vegan) Recipes | A Nutritionist Eats

    5. No matter the label, almost all of us love dessert and I think that Banana Split Ice Cream Pie is the perfect way to end things. (Both a meal and this post.) I mean, bananas are roasted and then turned into banana ice cream which is laid into an almond flour crust and topped with coconut whipped cream and chocolate sauce. Come on! (image & recipe via The First Mess)

    What is your favorite plant-based recipe or meal?