OK, who here struggles to get a healthy dinner on the table every night?
I know I do. I'll admit: making a from-scratch dinner every night isn't part of my reality. And I bet it's not part of yours either.
So what does that mean? Make a healthy meal some nights, and then get a take-and-bake pizza when you can't?
Today, I want to show you how a little advance planning and weekend prep can help you take care of at least 3 healthy meals during the busy week.
Cook Once, Enjoy it in 3 Meals
I love making a big batch of something on the weekend, and then repurposing it into different meals throughout the week — I think of it as a “Rinse-and-Repeat” method.
Today, I'll share my prep-ahead technique using quinoa.
If you're unfamiliar with quinoa, it's a grain-like seed that can be used in “bowls,” salads, soups, and other dishes.
5 Reasons to Try Quinoa
I often use quinoa as a lighter and fluffier alternative to rice. Here are 5 reasons to add quinoa to your regular routine:
1. Excellent source of plant-based protein — Adequate protein helps regulate blood sugar, boost metabolism, and build/retain muscle.
2. High in riboflavin (B2) and magnesium — B2 helps enhance energy levels and cell function. Magnesium helps regulate blood flow and protect against high blood pressure. It also supports healthy bones, nerve function, muscle control, and energy production.
3. Good source of minerals — Quinoa contains iron (for muscle function), lysine (tissue repair), and manganese (healthy skin, healthy bones, blood sugar control, and protection against free radical damage).
4. Anti-inflammatory benefits — Quinoa contains inflammation-fighting nutrients that can improve inflammatory conditions including Type 2 diabetes and obesity.
5. Good source of fiber — Quinoa contains nearly twice as much fiber as rice and other grains. Here's a mind-blowing fact: 97% of Americans are deficient in fiber. Yes, 97%! That's crazy, since dietary fiber has been protectively associated in population studies with the risk of diabetes, metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and various cancers as well high cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugars (Source: Nutritionfacts.org).
BONUS — It only takes 15-20 minutes to cook!
Ready to Try Quinoa?
Quinoa can be found in the rice aisle, and can often be found in the bulk section as well. I like to use the multicolored variety just to keep things interesting for the palate and plate. The colored varieties also tend to be higher in antioxidants.
So here's the “Rinse-and-Repeat” part: make a double-batch of quinoa on Sunday so you have the foundation for several meals throughout the week.
Here are some ideas:
- Use as a side for stir-fries.
- Toss a cup with greens to make a more satisfying and nutrient-dense salad.
- Use as the base for a “bowl” with beans, salsa, sautéed greens, and sliced avocado.
- Make a breakfast porridge — heat leftover quinoa in a small pot with almond milk, maple syrup and cinnamon. Top with toasted coconut, berries, and a sprinkle of nuts.
So, to put it into the context of the week, it might look like this:
- Sunday: Make quinoa and use some of it for a “bowl” or stir-fry.
- Also on Sunday: Make a soup using the cooked quinoa.
- Monday dinner: Enjoy leftover soup with a side of tossed greens.
- Tuesday breakfast: Warm up some quinoa and almond milk for an oatmeal-style breakfast.
- Wednesday lunch or dinner: Toss the leftover quinoa into a quick salad. Garnish with fresh or dried fruit, and a sprinkle of nuts.
Download the Free Quinoa Power Pack
Now it's your turn!
If you need some recipes, download my free Quinoa Power Pack. It includes these recipes:
- How to Make Basic Quinoa
- Winter Greens Salad with Citrus, Avocado and Quinoa
- Southwestern Quinoa + Bean Soup