During the month of February I basically revamped my diet, which has been a long overdue project I’ve been avoiding. I’ve been carrying an extra 20 lbs around for the past 4 years and I finally decided I’d had enough and it was time to get my eating habits under control. I have been unhappy with my weight for a long time and so, instead of complaining about it like usual, I tackled it and really committed to healthy eating. Sigh. It hasn’t been easy especially when results have been slow, which are due to a number of factors that I am ironing out and won’t bore you with here. But I’ve lost about 6 pounds, which is better than nothing, and I feel healthier, which is key. I think my hair is shinier and my skin looks better. So, needless to say I’m going to stick with it. I might not be able to keep up the no dairy, no carb, no sugar, no alcohol thing for much longer but I feel like I can keep those things to a minimum now. After all we really shouldn’t be “on a diet” so to speak. We should be making a “lifestyle change”. Any health expert or doctor will tell you that.
There have been times where staying motivated has been really rough. There will always be times like that, at least for me. I love food. It’s almost an addiction. So, I am under no illusions that I’ll never have another craving for loaded nachos ever again or eat pizza at midnight. I, inevitably, will fall prey to those temptations. And that’s ok, but what I have realized is that that can’t be my normal. I can’t do that all the time. I recently read the book WTF Am I Supposed to Eat?: A dieter’s manifesto by C.J. English and, let me tell you, it’s by far the best “diet book” I’ve ever read. Her book has been monumental in motivating me to eat healthy. Whenever I crave something really bad, like a cheesesteak, for instance, I can almost hear what I picture C.J.’s voice to sound like saying, “remember, you like being skinny, more than you like eating this crap”. Ant it’s the truth! If you’re struggling with sticking to a “diet plan” or “lifestyle change”, I highly recommend reading her book. She advocates eating plants as much as possible, and (yay!) drinking wine. She won’t beat you over the head with scientific jargon or yell at you to kill yourself at the gym. In fact, she kind of (gasp!) discourages crazy exercise programs. Read it. It will help.
All this diet talk and book promotion to say I’ve had to come up with quite a few healthy recipes in the last month or so and these quinoa, kale and chicken bowls are one such recipe. After reading C.J.’s book I’ve been cooking with way less meat than usual. There are loads of reasons to eat less meat including our health, animal cruelty, and our environment. If you’re curious about these issues and want to learn more details, read her book. I know, I should be her PR person, but seriously, I can’t recommend it enough! These bowls do happen to have meat in them, but you could certainly make them Vegetarian by leaving out the chicken sausage and topping them with an egg. That would be delicious. My reasons for using the chicken sausage are, one, it does add a delicious flavor component, and two, I have a husband who I am trying to slowly wean off of eating meat, so I used some in this dish. If you do use chicken sausage, buy a good quality one like Aidells (organic and humanely raised).
Quinoa, kale and chicken bowls
1 cup of dried, uncooked quinoa
3 tablespoons of olive oil
1 package of chicken sausage, like Aidells roasted garlic and Gruyere cheese chicken sausage
1 large onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 cups of kale leaves, stems removed
1 can of low sodium diced tomatoes
1 large onion, chopped
2 tablespoons of chopped parsley
salt & pepper to taste
1. Cook the quinoa according to package directions. Usually by boiling 1 1/4 cups of water, adding the quinoa and letting it simmer for 12 minutes then fluffing with a fork after it’s absorbed the water. Set the cooked quinoa to the side
2. While the quinoa is cooking, heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken sausage and sear on all sides. Remove and set to the side.
3. Add the onions to the same pan that the chicken sausage cooked in and saute for 5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and sautee for another minute.
4. Next add the kale and season with salt and pepper. Let it cook until the kale starts to wilt. Pour in the can of tomatoes (juice and all) and turn down the heat to a simmer.
5. Slice the chicken sausage and add the slices to the pan along with the quinoa. Stir everything together and taste to see if it needs more salt and pepper.
6. Turn off the heat and sprinkle on two tablespoons of chopped, fresh parsley. Serve in bowls and enjoy.