Nutritious meals for busy moms

With shaved parmesan, parsley and a lemon vinaigrette

The Nutrition Behind the Dish
Quinoa: carbohydrate, protein, fat, fiber, folate, manganese & magnesium
Asparagus: fiber, vitamins K, A, C, E, folate & iron (has a diuretic and cleansing effect on body)
Parmesan cheese: protein, fat, calcium, selenium
Lemon Juice: fructose, vitamin C, folate & potassium
Olive Oil: monounsaturated, polyunsaturated and saturated fat (in that order), vitamins E & K
Parsley: vitamins K, C & A, calcium, iron & potassium
Black Pepper: fiber, manganese, iron, vitamin K


Pilaf :

  • 2 cups dry/uncooked quinoa
  • 16 cups water (for cooking quinoa)
  • 2 bunches (~1.5 lbs) fresh California asparagus
  • 2 oz. Parmesan Reggiano, shaved into thin strips
  • 2 trays of ice cubes
  • 5 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice, (~1 lemon)
  • ½ cup Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp kosher salt
  1. Bring water to boil, add quinoa and boil uncovered on medium-high heat until there is no white "dot" of starch evident in the center; ~11-14 minutes. Test a few grains; it will have a slight crunch. Drain in fine mesh colander for 5 minutes. Transfer quinoa to baking sheets; cool to room temperature.

  2. While quinoa is cooking, zest half of lemon into medium bowl, then juice the lemon into same bowl – about 2 Tbsp, then add olive oil, salt and pepper. Whisk with a fork until emulsified. Set aside.

  3. Bring a second large stock pot of water to boil. Prepare asparagus by snapping the woody ends off of the stalks; 2-3 inches from the bottom of stalk; discard ends. Cut the asparagus stalks into 1 inch pieces.

  4. Set a large bowl of water aside, add ice cubes.

  5. Add asparagus to boiling water, boil for one minute (blanching), then drain in colander and run under cold water. Immerse asparagus in bowl of ice water for 5 minutes, then drain. This will stop the cooking process and ensure the asparagus is crisp and tender.

  6. Finely chop parsley and shave (use a vegetable peeler) parmesan cheese into ½ inch pieces.

  7. Combine cooled quinoa into large bowl, toss with vinaigrette and parsley, then toss in asparagus and garnish with shaved parmesan cheese. Taste to balance flavors; add salt or pepper if needed.
Recipe makes 8 servings; eat as a satisfying lunch with a piece of fruit or as a side dish for dinner with lean protein (chicken, fish, buffalo, shrimp) or grilled tofu or marinated Portobello mushrooms.

Quinoa, a whole grain, can be found at most major supermarkets.

Nutrients/serving (~1.5 cups): 280 calories, 13 grams fat, 32 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 11 grams protein, Vit. A: 23%, Vit. C: 23%, Calcium: 13%, Iron: 17%

With seasonal vegetables, sautéed tofu and toasted nuts

The Nutrition Behind the Dish
Quinoa: carbohydrates, protein, fiber, folate, manganese & magnesium
Tofu: protein, fat, fiber, calcium, iron, manganese
Broccoli: fiber, vitamins C, K, A, folate & calcium
Carrot: fiber, vitamin A (beta-carotenes) and B6
Leek/Onion: vitamins K, A, C & fiber
Garlic: vitamins C, B6, manganese & calcium
Basil: vitamins K, A & C
Pine nuts: fat, fiber, protein, manganese and copper

Ingredients: Salad

  • 1 cup dry/uncooked quinoa
  • 1¾ cup vegetable stock or water
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil (or less if limiting calories)
  • 1 leek or small onion (red/yellow), diced
  • 1 medium carrot, scrubbed and diced (don't peel)
  • 2-3 cups seasonal vegetables, chopped into bite size pieces: e.g. broccoli, asparagus, summer squash, etc.)
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced fine
  • 8 oz. high-protein firm tofu, cut into ½ inch cubes (or another protein: chicken, shrimp or whole beans)
Optional (but almost necessary) garnish:
  • 1/3 cup freshly chopped herbs: such as basil, parsley, cilantro or whatever you have on hand
  • ¼ cup toasted nuts or seeds (pine nuts, walnuts, almonds, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, etc.)
  • Salt & pepper to taste
  1. Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat. Add ~1 Tbsp olive oil, cubed tofu and season with salt and black pepper. Brown tofu, turning every few minutes until crunchy, then turn off heat and cover.

  2. While tofu is cooking, heat a separate deep skillet or medium sauce pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 Tbsp olive oil, diced leek or onion, garlic and carrots. Sauté for 3 minutes on medium heat

  3. Then add 1 cup dry quinoa, stir into vegetables and let toast for 1 minute. Add 1 ¾ cup stock or water, bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 10-12 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

  4. While quinoa is cooking, chop seasonal vegetables into bite-size pieces. Place in steamer basket – either over cooking quinoa (at start of cooking) or in a separate pot with about 3-4 minutes left on cooking time for quinoa. That way everything will be warm and ready at the same time.

  5. Fluff quinoa with a large fork, serve out ~1 cup quinoa onto plate, top with steamed vegetables, browned tofu and optional garnishes. My favorite is toasted pine nuts and fresh basil or parsley.
This warm pilaf is a wonderful nutritious dinner, but can also be quickly reheated for a hearty lunch. Recipe makes 4 satisfying portions. Quinoa, a whole grain, can be found at most major supermarkets.

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