My birthday came and went the last weekend of February with an abundance of good food. The whole weekend was an eating frenzy, first with dinner at Sunda, then Farmerie 58, and finally Hugo’s Frog Bar, not to mention the cookie cake my mom made. It’s no wonder I spent the entire last week afraid to get on the scale, and I just know that damn bridesmaid dress is no closer to zipping than it was a month ago.
I’m not going to get all whiny about this (I know you don’t want to read all that, even though it would be awfully cathartic for me…), but I am going to tell you how I finally took action today with a super healthy dinner that will last me at least three meals. It was roast chicken, quinoa and Swiss chard with onions and mushrooms. And despite being incredible healthy (whole grains, low-fat, high-fiber, protein, etc.) it was incredibly delicious and filling.
The roast chicken was the easiest part, something I actually made earlier in the day and then reheated in the microwave with the rest of the meal. I bought a split chicken from the grocery store (still on the bone to retain moisture but cooks faster than a whole chicken) and seasoned it liberally with salt and pepper, then rubbed in a bit of lemon juice and olive oil. The chicken was roasted in a 350F oven skin-side up for 40 minutes (until it reached an internal temperature of 170F). I let the chicken cool to room temperature, then covered and refrigerated it. When it was time for dinner I removed the skin and sliced the chicken meat, then reheated it in the microwave. the chicken remained extremely moist and flavorful without overpowering the other dishes.
Next is the quinoa, a whole grain I’ve been reading a lot about but haven’t used much. It’s considered a “health-building grain” that is high in protein, and is light and fluffy once cooked with a bit of a nutty taste. I prepared it with very few ingredients but did take a few minutes to toast the grains in order to bring out more of the nutty flavor.
Finally, the showpiece of the meal: Swiss chard with onions and mushrooms. This was the highlight, an easy dish that’s a little time-consuming but oh, so worth it.
I bought one bunch of Swiss chard that happened to be a mixture of the red and green varieties. Swiss chard is a mild and slightly rough leafy green, and the stems benefit from a long cooking time. The leaves, once diced, can be added at the end and then folded in as they wilt, similar to spinach.
Swiss chard is also one of the most nutritious vegetables you can eat: high in fiber and many essential vitamins and minerals, including vitamins A and C.
So, how did I feel after my healthy, nutritious dinner? Surprisingly good, and very full. And don’t tell anyone, but I did sneak a very small piece of chocolate for dessert. A girl’s gotta have some sense of adventure… right?
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 cup quinoa, rinsed well under cold water and drained
2 cups chicken broth
Heat the olive oil in a pot over medium heat. Stir in the quinoa and cook, stirring often, until the grains just begin to turn light brown. Add a pinch of salt and the chicken broth. Increase the heat to high and bring the broth just to a boil, then decrease the heat to low and cover the pot.
Simmer covered for 15 minutes. Remove the pot from the heat and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and serve.
Swiss Chard with Onions & Mushrooms
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 bunch Swiss chard, stems and leaves separated (slice the stems 1/4-inch thick; cut the leaves into large pieces)
1/2 pound white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Heat the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring every minute, until just beginning to caramelize, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and Swiss chard stems and cook for an additional 5 minutes, then stir in the mushrooms.
Cook until the Swiss chard stems are soft but still have a bit of a bite left to them, about 10 minutes. Add the leaves in two batches, allowing them to wilt for a minute before being folded into the mixture. Cook for 2 minutes longer then season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Serve with quinoa and sliced roast chicken.