February is upon us. The groundhogs all agree that we are in for an early spring. This is something to be grateful for. And that is the focus for the February page of my 12 Healthy Habits Calendar. A good way to bid farewell to the February Blahs is to focus each day on a few things that went well in your day. And then reflect on what these tell you about your world.
One thing I am grateful for each day is being able to whip up a tasty and healthy dinner with a minimum of fuss or cleanup. I am always on the lookout for quick one pan, one pot or tray bake style dinners. Dinners like the Sausage & Apple Tray Bake from January’s Dishing it Up post, for example. They are a cinch to assemble, generally quick to cook and super fast to clean up!
Of the three dinners here, the first requires a large tray and the other two need pots with tight-fitting lids. For the Lemon Turkey Quinoa Skillet, I like to use my wide but deep Le Creuset 3.6L Sauté Pan, as the broader base and domed lid works well when adding a lot of leafy greens (in fact, I use this pan almost daily, it is so versatile). Tight-fitting lids are important as these last two recipes feature quinoa. I love quinoa for quick dinners as it is high in fibre like a whole grain but cooks in only fifteen minutes or so.
Fall in love with leftovers
Another thing I am grateful for is leftovers. I usually make twice as much as I need of these dinners so that I can serve the leftovers for lunch the next day. Since I generally only eat “brunch” and dinner, that means I only need to cook once per day. Yay! Because, even though I enjoy cooking, having to cook each day, several times a day and every day quickly had me feeling like I was starring alongside Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.
Trying new and quick meals like these adds welcome variety without a lot of work. This frees me up to do other things I am grateful for, like getting outside in the fresh air or escaping with a good book. I hope you enjoy my A Flash in One Pan Dinners and feel free to share the recipes with your family and friends!
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A Flash in One Pan Dinners
One Pan Chicken, Grapes & Veggies (you will need a large tray to make two servings of this so if you want extra for leftovers use two trays; don’t crowd the tray or things will steam rather than roast; if you like crispy skin, you’ll need to sear the drumsticks first, but then it’s a two-pan dinner)
Chickpea Tikka Masala with Quinoa (this vegan dish is fragrant with spices; I like to substitute some of the broth for coconut milk to make it creamier, as suggested in the notes, and serve it with some Indian pickle, like this locally-made Hot Eggplant Pickle from Edna’s Pickles)
Lemon Turkey Quinoa Skillet (this comes together even faster if you use pre-washed baby spinach; Mediterranean-inspired with lemon and black olives, I highly recommend topping it with feta; squeeze more lemon on before serving any leftovers)
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A few featured foods …
Quinoa (KEEN-wah), not a grain but a seed, is gluten-free. And it is one of the few plant foods that is a complete source of protein, containing all nine essential amino acids in adequate amounts. And it provides eight grams of protein and five grams of fibre per cooked cup. It’s also a good source of important minerals such as magnesium, iron, and zinc.
Quinoa comes in white, red, black or “rainbow” (a blend of all three). All are nutritionally similar and cooked the same way. White is the least bitter while red and black are chewier. You may wish to rinse your quinoa before cooking to reduce a natural coating, saponin, that may make it taste a little soapy or bitter. You know your quinoa is cooked when the seed has popped and the little spiral in it (the germ) curls around the seed (see photo).
One cup of grapes supplies more than 25% of the recommended daily intake for vitamin K (important for blood clotting and bone health) and vitamin C, a powerful antioxidant. In fact, a mind-boggling 1,600+ antioxidant plant compounds have been identified in grapes (largely concentrated in the skin and seeds). These include resveratrol and quercetin (which is currently being studied in Canada for its potential COVID-fighting effect). Red grapes are superior to white in this respect as the anthocyanins that give them their colour are also antioxidants.
Antioxidants reduce inflammation and may protect against cancer, heart disease and diabetes. So the more you can get in your diet the merrier. And although grapes are higher in sugar than some fruits, they don’t appear to raise blood sugar.
Adding grapes to savoury cooked dishes, salads and salsas is a great way to amp up flavour! They make a nice after-dinner treat too. Add a small amount of dark chocolate and/or walnuts on the side for even more antioxidant power.
Cooking your own food is the single most impactful step you can take to improve your health and energy!
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