Campfire Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry with Quinoa

stir fry

vvvvvv

Campfires are an essential element to all great summers, and this year, I hit the ground running. In mid-June, the season kicked off with a trip to Acadia National Park. While my sweetheart prefers sleeping under the stars, I tend to gravitate towards luxury hotels. One night of camping followed by an evening in charming Bar Harbor was the ultimate win-win.

Aside from the beautiful mountain views, the best part of camping, is of course, the food. S’mores are wonderful, but a girl cannot survive on chocolate stuffed grahams alone, especially after hours of hiking. Therefore, 99% of my vacation preparation was spent brainstorming the perfect campfire meal.

The trusty cast iron skillet was a mandatory passenger on our trip, so a one-pot meal, like stir fry, quickly proved to be our winner. I opted for quinoa instead of the usual brown rice, because it is one of the quickest cooking whole grains, often requiring only 12-15 minutes of cook time. The chicken was a welcome, hearty choice after a day on the trails, but if you’re looking to keep this plant based, you can also sub tofu or shelled edamame.

Stir Fry Collage

Campfire Chicken and Vegetable Stir Fry with Quinoa

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
  • 1 pound chopped mixed vegetables (we set aside about a 1/2 cup of the veggies for breakfast the next morning)
  • 6-12 oz grilled chicken
  • 2-4 tablespoons teriyaki sauce

Method:

  1. Get a good fire going!
  2. Add quinoa and 1 cup water to camping pot and cover.
  3. While the quinoa is cooking,  warm oil in a 10-inch cast iron skillet over the fire, then add the veggies, stirring occasionally.
  4. Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces.
  5. Once the quinoa water starts bubbling, and the onions start to become translucent, add the chicken to the skillet. The quinoa needs to cook until all of the water is absorbed, and the grain sprouts a curly “tail”.
  6. When the quinoa looks like it’s almost ready, add the teriyaki sauce to the skillet, then stir well to combine.
  7. Once the quinoa is cooked, add the quinoa to the skillet, and stir to incorporate it into the teriyaki mixture.
  8. Divide the stir fry onto two plates, for serving. If there is any leftover after serving, cover the pan in foil so that it stays warm if anyone wants seconds. Best enjoyed in front of a crackling fire.

Nutrition per Serving: 570 calories, 21g fat (2.5g saturated fat), 46g carbohydrates (7g fiber, 10g sugar*), 48g protein, 124mg cholesterol, 310mg sodium, 37% Vitamin A, 234% Vitamin C, 7% Calcium, 20% Iron

*estimated added sugars: 4.5g

Acadia National Park

^^ Beautiful Acadia

– Kelly

Mediterranean Veggie Burgers with Sweet Potato, Red Lentils, and Quinoa

Mediterranean Veggie Burgers with Sweet Potato, Red Lentils, and Quinoa, served on Whole Grain bun with Avocado and Spinach

This recipe is a close adaptation of Martha Rose Shulman’s recipe for the New York Times. I actually had the pleasure of meeting her last week (#starstruck), because she’s moderating a panel at an upcoming conference that my company is hosting. Our lunch meeting was catered by SweetGreen, so basically it was an all-around perfect day.

In my version of the recipe, I decided to lighten things up a little bit and bake the patties, rather than coating in breadcrumbs and pan frying them. Shulman recommends serving the patties with raita, chutney, or a garlic mint yogurt sauce, but I went classic veggie burger style, and served them up on toasted whole wheat buns with avocado slices and fresh spinach.

My only previous attempt at veggie burgers was an awesome black bean burger recipe (with avocado mango salsa, might I add), so this was a totally different experience. But a delicious one, at that. The feta and chives really give these veggie patties a flavorful kick, and the lentils and quinoa provide that ever-important protein.

Mediterranean Veggie Burgers

Mediterranean Veggie Burgers

My boyfriend was actually licking the bowl at this point. I’m telling you, these veggie burgers are GOOD!

Mediterranean Veggie Burgers

Mediterranean Veggie Burgers with Sweet Potatoes, Red Lentils, and Quinoa

Serves 8

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup quinoa
  • 2/3 cup red lentils
  • 2 1/3 cups water
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, baked (I just poked holes and microwaved them, about 4 minutes on each side)
  • 3 cups tightly packed, chopped fresh spinach, plus more for garnish
  • 3 oz crumbled feta (about ¾ cup)
  • ¼ cup finely chopped chives
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 8 whole-wheat hamburger buns, toasted (I like this brand)
  • 2 avocados, sliced

Method

  1. Combine water, quinoa, and lentils in a small pot and bring to a boil. Then cover and reduce to a simmer, until the outside germ of the quinoa separates into a curly tail, the lentils are tender, and the water has been absorbed (about 15-20 minutes).
  2. While the lentils and quinoa are cooking, skin the potatoes and place them in a large mixing bowl. Then add the spinach, feta, chives, mint, and lemon juice to the sweet potatoes.
  3. Once the lentil and quinoa mixture is cooked, let cool, then add it to the sweet potato mixture. Mash all ingredients together with a fork until mixed well.
  4. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop ½ cup of the vegetable mixture, then roll and flatten into a patty. Continue with the rest of the mixture. Recipe makes 8 patties.
  5. Let patties refrigerate for at least an hour- the longer the better. (They can also be made up to two days ahead of time. In fact, they actually turn out better this way, as they have more time to set.)
  6. Bake at 350 degrees F for 25 minutes (no need to flip).
  7. Serve on a toasted whole grain bun with fresh spinach and sliced avocado.

Mediterranean Veggie Burgers

Nutrition per serving (1 patty on a 100% whole wheat bun with 1/6 avocado): 300 calories, 6.5 g fat (3g saturated fat), 46g carbohydrates (8.5g fiber, 8.5g sugar), 12g protein, 460mg sodium, 500mg potassium, 228% Vitamin A, 33% Vitamin C, 20% Calcium, 28% iron

 

Mediterranean Veggie Burgers

– Kelly

Worried about arsenic in rice? Substitute one of these healthy grains!

In light of recent arsenic scares, the Consumers Union recommends no more than 1/4 cup rice (dry) two times per week for adults, and 1.25 times per week for children. (This recommendation applies both to brown rice and white rice.) Do you rely on rice as a dietary staple? If so, this is the perfect time to branch out and try other grains. Out of all of the grains available, I find that farro, barley, and quinoa are the most “rice-like” and work best as rice substitutes.

Ancient Grains

Farro: Farro is an ancient strain of wheat (meaning it’s not gluten-free, for any allergy folks out there) and the grains are a tad larger than rice. Farro has a chewy texture and nutty flavor, similar to brown rice, but turned up a few notches. Because of this unique flavor, farro works well as a stand alone side (fish served on a bed of farro, chicken with a side of farro, etc). Also, farro’s texture lends itself well to grain salads. It stays chewy when served cold, unlike rice, which becomes dry and stale. At the grocery store, look for whole farro (rather than pearled farro) to be sure you’re getting a whole grain.

Barley: Barley (wheat free, but not gluten free) is a bit smaller than rice. It has a neutral flavor, so it works great in mixed dishes (such as stir frys). It is also great in soup (think beef with barley!) and works well with beans. Like rice, it is best served warm. Look for whole barley or hulled barley at the grocery store. While pearled barley is more nutrient dense than a fully refined grain, it is not technically a whole grain because part of the bran has been removed.

Quinoa: Quinoa is like the chambray shirt of ancient grains… it goes with everything! Even though quinoa is actually not very “rice-like” compared to farro and barley, this tiny, gluten free pseudograin can be substituted for rice in many recipes. Warm or cold, sweet or savory, quinoa can be whatever you want it be!

When experimenting with a new ingredient, it is often helpful to start with a recipe. Below are some recipe ideas to get you started:

What is your favorite grain to substitute for rice?

– Kelly

5 High Calorie, Nutritious Foods for Healthy Weight Gain

While many Americans are struggling with obesity and overeating, there is still a significant portion of the population that is looking to put on weight. Sounds easy, right? Load up on junk food, and you’ll hit your calorie goal in no time. But surely there has to be a healthier way.

Many people were shocked to learn that Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps had to consume roughly 10,000 calories a day in order to keep up with his strenuous training schedule. His meals consist of mostly high fat, energy dense foods. See his breakfast below, on display at the American Museum of Natural History through August.

Michael Phelps's Breakfast

Michael Phelps's Breakfast

While this doesn’t appear to be the healthiest diet, there is no doubt that eating 10,000 calories of fibrous fruits and vegetables would not only require a lot of eating (those are low calorie foods) but also likely cause intestinal turmoil (too much fiber… way too much fiber).

That being said, there has to be some middle ground. Here are some of my top picks for healthy foods that are energy dense AND nutrient dense.

  1. Avocado: healthy fats add calories, and heart healthy nutrients
  2. Quinoa: so much nutrition packed into this power grain
  3. Nuts & Nut Butters: a perfect balance of protein, carbohydrates, and healthy fats
  4. Dried Fruit: more nutrition concentrated into a smaller package
  5. Smoothies: an easy way load lots of healthy foods into a portable beverage

So what what kind of breakfast would I recommend for someone looking to add more healthy calories?

avo-egg-toast31-650x433

Perhaps 2 slices of hearty whole grain toast topped with a generous serving of turkey and avocado, topped with a fried egg. (Image via a splash of vanilla)

quinoa

Another filling breakfast would be a big bowl of quinoa cooked in milk, topped with honey, and a large helping of raisins and almonds. (image via Pinterest, original source unknown)

smoothie

A hearty smoothie made with fruits, yogurt, and nut butter would also be an energy dense accompaniment to any athletes breakfast. (image via 100 days of real food)

And if you were burning as many calories as Michael Phelps, I might recommend that you eat all of these things together 😉 What foods do you gravitate towards when your body needs energy?

– Kelly