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Comfort food without the guilt :: Quinoa, chickpea, spinach and salmon bowls

Healthy Quinoa Bowls. Image Jessica Gordon Ryan

Healthy Quinoa Bowls. Image Jessica Gordon Ryan

I recently discovered something. The rice bowl. I had heard mention of them here and there, but until I had tried one myself I didn't know what they were really about - basically, they're a combination of protein and vegetables and rice that are served up in a bowl. It seems that these bowls are all the rage lately and I now know why. These bowls can be vegetarian or heavy on the meat. We are seeing them break away from the traditional white rice offerings to include, brown, black, red and even sushi rices. Quinoa is rapidly growing in popularity.

Rice bowls are incredibly easy to make. Simply combine some rice with your favorite veggies, proteins and seasonings and you have a wholesome, tasty meal that could be considered comfort food without the guilt.

I happen to be a huge fan of quinoa and for those watching their carbs or gluten, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) makes a great rice or pasta substitute, or addition to any brown rice base. Quinoa isn't a grain at all. In fact, it's a seed and therefore plant based. It is a good source of iron, magnesium, vitamin E, potassium, and fiber. The protein-packed grain contains every amino acid and is rich in lysine which is needed to promote healthy tissue growth.

Quinoa has a texture similar to couscous and makes a great rice substitute. It's got a slightly nuttier flavor than either the rice or the couscous and is readily found in your grocery store in the rice aisle. You'll find boxes of plain quinoa as well as seasoned varieties and blends. You can use any variety you prefer. For my bowl I used a combination of quinoa and brown rice. If you're skeptical, I might suggest one of Uncle Ben's blends. They're quite good!

It's rare that I cook when I am home without the children. Usually I am happy to have a night off and away from the stove. (I'm perfectly happy with a glass of wine and some popcorn!) The other night I needed something more satisfying than a bowl of popcorn. I wanted something nourishing, comforting and healthy. I had, in my head, concocted a rice bowl with salmon, spinach chickpeas and quinoa.  I love the combination of chickpeas and spinach and we often have them together for dinner with salmon. The combination with the quinoa was perfect!

Healthy Quinoa Bowls. Image Jessica Gordon Ryan

Healthy Quinoa Bowls. Image Jessica Gordon Ryan

Ingredients:

Makes 2 bowls (Double recipe if needed)

4 - 5 generous handfuls of baby spinach, washed, dried set aside
1/2 lb salmon filet
1 can of chickpeas
1 small package or 2 1 cup servings of quinoa or quinoa rice blend
Olive oil
Cumin
Garlic Powder
Sea Salt
Pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 400F
Wash, dry and set aside baby spinach.
Drain and rinse chickpeas. Place on a rimmed cookie sheet and pour about 1 tbs of olive oil over the chickpeas. 
Sprinkle a generous amount of garlic, cumin, over the chickpeas - roughly 1/4 tsp each. (Some will remain in the pan.) 
Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon gently mix the chickpeas, seasonings and olive oil together so that all are well covered. 
Place the cookie sheet in the oven for about 20 minutes - until golden brown. 
Prepare quinoa per directions.
When the quinoa is ready remove from heat and set aside. 
When the chickpeas are ready, remove from the oven and add them to the quinoa mixture and still well.
Using the same cookie sheet, place the piece of salmon face down and carefully rub it into the seasoning and oil mixture that remains from the chickpeas. Turn it over so that the skin side is now down and bake for about 15 minutes. After 10 minutes add the spinach to the salmon.
When the salmon and spinach are done, remove from oven and set aside. 
In a large mixing bowl add the spinach, salmon (with skin removed) and 2 cups of the chickpea quinoa mixture. (There will likely be some leftover in the pot)
Divide the mixture evenly into 2 bowls. 
Add more seasoning if needed.
Serve promptly.
For those who don't like salmon, chicken or shrimp make a great substitute.
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Healthy Quinoa Bowls. Image Jessica Gordon Ryan

Healthy Quinoa Bowls. Image Jessica Gordon Ryan

Healthy Quinoa Bowls. Image Jessica Gordon Ryan

Healthy Quinoa Bowls. Image Jessica Gordon Ryan

Quinoa bowls - healthy comfort food!

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