Today marks the beginning of another one of my husband's restrictive diets. I know what you are thinking. Again? This one really isn't so crazy, but it does pose a dinnertime challenge since he is basically eating only protein and veggies--no cheese, few carbs (only light complex carbs), minimal fruit. While this is OK with me, it is not OK with my kids. Because guess what their most frequently-eaten foods are? Yep--cheese, carbs, and fruit. Sigh. I consider it my job to ensure everyone around here gets healthy meals that they enjoy, and my husband is no exception. I am proud of him for changing his ways and committing to improve his health. If that means challenging my kid-friendly-regular-food-only dinner plan the next three months, then so be it. Pretty sure my kids will survive. So, the kids and I will eat as we please during the day, and then accommodate his diet at night, adding a couple kid friendly touches as needed to improve acceptance by my ridiculously strong-willed and opinionated children. The last few days were spent reorganizing kitchen cabinets (various protein powders now have way too much real estate in the pantry), adding lots of small individual glass containers to our stash for easy lunch packing, roasting/grilling a variety of meats (chicken, fish, steak) to freeze individually for ease of packing, and making Costco runs for large amounts of egg whites, nuts, and salad. Pretty sure we are ready. Since he was off work today, I made us a delicious lunch to kick off the diet. While it contains chicken, it wasn't necessary for me, and I picked out most of mine and gave to him. Next time I'm adding cucumbers. The sauce and crunch of the veggies/nuts is so so so so good. For my kids, I separated out the ingredients before I dressed them and served them alongside a piece of cheese and some pineapple. My oldest discovered she actually likes quinoa (wonders never cease), and my youngest did exactly as predicted--proclaimed everything 'disgusting' sans the cheese and pineapple, which she devoured enthusiastically and then rolled around on the floor under the table causing trouble while we ate (typical). This was a winner regardless.
Thai Quinoa Salad with Chicken...Or Not.
-adapted from melstkitchencafe.com
- 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed well
- 2 cups cooked chicken (or add some cucumbers and/or a can of beans if you don't want it. Anything goes)
- 1/2 cup chopped carrots
- 1/2 cup shelled edamame (I bought mine already shelled in frozen form and then steamed the bag. Did you know you can make hummus with the leftover edamame? Try it.)
- 1/2 cup chopped red pepper
- 4 green onions, chopped
- 1/2 cup chopped roasted peanuts
- 1/2 cup freshly chopped cilantro
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons canned coconut milk
- 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons creamy peanut butter
- 2 garlic cloves, finely minced
- 1 lime juiced, about 2 tablespoons
- Pinch of ground ginger
Prepare quinoa according to package directions.While quinoa is cooking, combine all of the sauce ingredients together and whisk well. When the quinoa finishes cooking, scoop it into a large bowl. Stir in the sauce and mix well. Stir in the chicken, carrots, edamame, red pepper, green onions, peanuts and cilantro. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm, room temperature or chilled (my preference).
*Note: I doubled the sauce (given to you un-doubled above). While I only used half when I originally tossed the salad, I found I liked to drizzle each serving with a bit extra, and it certainly needed more after it sat in the fridge awhile and soaked up the sauce.