Like many others, my family and I just got back from spring break. It was our last ski trip of the season (we are HUGE skiers in this family), and as we spent time hanging out in our condo after a day of hitting the slopes, sharing a meal with family and friends, it got me thinking about one of the big changes we made as a family to improve our health. While we love taking vacations to relax, rejuvenate and have fun together, we no longer take a vacation from preparing nutritious meals when we are away from home. That doesn’t mean that we never eat out or enjoy the local flavors of the area we are visiting. It just means that we balance our indulgences with some home-cooked meals.
Yes, it takes some extra planning and effort but in terms of feeling good and staying energized, it can’t be beat. And who wants to feel exhausted, sluggish and irritable from a lack of healthy food while on vacation? Not me! To make it easy I always book accommodations with a kitchen or kitchenette and scope out the nearest Whole Foods or health food store ahead of time. You may think this sounds a bit crazy, but I also throw a few basic staples into my suitcase before we leave. Inevitably, this includes a bag of quinoa and a jar of organic tomato sauce. And with these two ingredients I am close to having a meal I can prepare in under 20 minutes!
So that brings me to the recipe I want to share this week. This is one of my absolute favorite, super kid-friendly, super easy recipes that I tell people about all of the time. And I realized over spring break that I make it every time we travel. That’s because it only takes a few ingredients and can be made in a matter of minutes on a stove-top. My son not only LOVES this recipe but it gets him eating green vegetables too. And while I WISH I could take credit for this recipe – I can’t. It is from one of my favorite food blogs, Girl Makes Food, and I encourage you to check her out for lots more simple and delicious recipes.
As for the health benefits of quinoa, there are many as it is considered to be one of the world’s healthiest foods! Quinoa is not only high in protein, it is a complete protein, setting it apart from most other plant-based foods that are not complete proteins. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, rich in antioxidants and high in fiber while also containing iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc and riboflavin (vitamin B2). A diet rich in high fiber foods like quinoa may help lower cholesterol, reduce blood pressure, prevent diabetes, regulate blood sugar and help you lose weight by keeping you feeling fuller for longer.
I’ll wrap up by saying that “yes”, this really does taste like pizza. So much so that the kids don’t even notice the spinach. But if you are just starting to get your kids to eat green vegetables, you may want to start small and add a bit less spinach than I do. Enjoy!
- 1½ cups of quinoa (if you make the quinoa ahead, this is about 4½ cups of cooked quinoa)
- 1 25 ounce jar of your favorite tomato sauce
- 2 cups of chopped fresh spinach
- ¾ cup of shredded mozzarella cheese (plus extra to sprinkle on top, if desired).
- Prepare quinoa according to package instructions (make sure to rinse the quinoa).
- To add flavor, consider cooking the quinoa in vegetable broth instead of water.
- Add the tomato sauce and spinach to the quinoa.
- Heat over medium heat until warm and the spinach is wilted.
- Add the shredded mozzarella cheese and heat for another 1-2 minutes until cheese is melted and well combined.
- Serve up and top with extra shredded cheese, if desired.
- It is that easy - enjoy!