Ally




Resolutions and goals aren't solely reserved  for New Year's. I'm a firm believer that you can set them for any time of the year. One of the goals we've in embraced in our household for summer is to get healthy and I'm not talking about sucking down ViSalus shakes and getting up to change the TV channel. By "healthy", I'm referring to nutritious-waistline friendly meals, more exercise and drinking more water. We also enrolled the kidlets in this great program for the summer that I heard from my friend Sheri, who's a nurse. It's called Project HYPE  (Healthy Youth for Physical Excellence) and it's a free day camp (ages 10-15) run by the Mission Oaks Recreation and Park District. It's only the third day in but Kidlet #2 seems to love it and Kidlet #1 slowly seems to be coming around (I think he was hoping for a summer of sleeping in and playing video games all day...teenagers!). The program focuses on teaching the kids proper nutrition and physical fitness in a positive environment. According to Kidlet #2- karate, yoga, and kickball are just a few of the exercise activities on the agenda for this summer. Several speakers, ranging from professional trainers to chefs will be coming to speak as well. Additionally, one of the great things about this program is that it requires that the family be involved. They have bi-weekly meetings for the parents and guardians that are mandatory. According to HYPE's literature, "[i]n 2008, the Center of Disease control published statistics indicating that 1 out of every 3 children are either overweight or obese. Out of 58 counties, Sacramento ranks 3rd in California in the prevalence of overweight children ages 6-11. Overweight and obese children are at a higher risk for developing chronic diseases such as type II diabetes, heart disease and cancer." Sacramento ranks 3rd!! Can you believe that? That is not a statistic we should be proud of.

So a healthy meal...last night I took stock of the fridge and decided to make a quinoa casserole. Although it does have cheese in it, on the whole this meatless meal is nutritionally sound. You have your vegetables and your supergrain- quinoa. Which is high in protein and includes all nine essential amino acids. I tweaked the original recipe to utilize what I had in my home and my personal tastes. I also wanted it to be lactose-free so I subbed in soy milk and Daiya Cheese for the dairy items.


Cheesy Quinoa Casserole (adapted from Eat Live Run)

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed
3 cups chicken broth (or veg broth if you want to go vegetarian)
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 green onions, chopped
2 tsp minced garlic
1 bunch of chard, rinsed and chopped into bite-size pieces (or you can use spinach)
1 tbsp canola oil
1 cup soy milk
2 cups grated cheddar cheese
2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/2 cup grated mozzarella cheese
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp dry mustard
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

2. Add canola oil to a large pot over medium-high heat. When it starts to shimmer, add bell pepper, green onions and chard. Saute for about 4-5 minutes.

3. Add the garlic. Cook for about 30 seconds more.

4. Add your quinoa and your broth. Stir well. Then add your dry mustard, salt and pepper.

5. Bring to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer, cover and let the mixture cook for 20 minutes until the quinoa has completely absorbed the liquid and cooked (the quinoa will take on a translucent look).

6. Add the grated cheddar and soy milk. Stir well. Then transfer the mixture to a greased 9x13 glass casserole dish.

7. In a small bowl, combine the panko and the mozzarella. Sprinkle that on top of the casserole.

8. Bake for 30 minutes. The top with get a golden, crunchy look.

9. Remove and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Serve hot.

Note: This also makes a great meal to take to lunch the next day. It reheats well.
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