Bright fresh flavors bring hearty and healthy quinoa to life in this easy to make weeknight favorite. 

Bright fresh flavors bring hearty and healthy quinoa to life in this easy to make weeknight favorite. 

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I'm not going to lie, I've been pretty lazy in the kitchen lately. I'm just so wrapped up in this beautiful almost 10 month old girl that I can't quite get motivated to stop playing with her and make some elaborate dinner. Especially as we get into these lovely spring and summer months, I'd much rather go play outside with her than sit in a kitchen, albeit a gorgeous kitchen. 

Enter, the prep ahead protein method.  

Cooking the meat of the meal is usually the most time consuming part. That's why, I now take an entire package of chicken breasts, a whole chicken, a huge pork loin/butt/whatever, and cook up all of it at the beginning of the week. 

I keep it simple. Marinate boneless chicken breasts in a favorite oil based salad dressing (Italian dressing or basil parmesan work great!), rub pork with my favorite Gordon Ramsay Rub, or braise an bone-in chicken for meat that will just fall of the bone and be perfect in all sorts of dishes. Some weeks it's in the slow cooker, some weeks it's slow roasted in the oven, but more often than not, it's a quick 30 minute bake at 400 degrees. 30 minutes and I've got meat ready to use for the entire week. 

Stay tuned for upcoming week-long meal plans that group together all of my favorite recipes for using up this prepped ahead protein. 

 20 minutes to a delicious and healthy meal that the whole family will love. 

20 minutes to a delicious and healthy meal that the whole family will love. 

Quinoa tastes like dirt...

Now stay with me for a second... 

You know I'm right. You make quinoa straight up with just the quinoa and water and it's like you're eating a literal mud pie, or at least what I'd imagine that would taste like. You have got to doctor that stuff up. The good news is, it's not hard to mask that dirt flavor and really make quinoa a much brighter fresher part of your meal. 

For starters, I always cook my quinoa in chicken broth instead of water. A simple substitution that makes a big impact on flavor. Next, you pick your add-ins. Lemon or lime juice are great to brighten up the flavor. Chopped greens and vegetables help liven things up and make it seem heartier. A splash of red wine vinegar... the possibilities are endless. 

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 Avocado is the perfect creamy topping for this quinoa packed full of fresh flavors. 

Avocado is the perfect creamy topping for this quinoa packed full of fresh flavors. 

The Recipe

Ingredients

1 heaping cup quinoa - rinsed and drained

1 1/4 c. chicken broth

1/4 organge juice

1/2 T. lemon juice

1/2 T. lime juice

2 T. olive oil

1 small yellow onion - chopped

2 large handfuls of baby spinach - chopped

2 cooked chicken breasts - diced

splash of red wine vinegar

avocado for topping

Directions

In a medium-sized pot, bring quinoa, chicken broth, orange, lemon and lime juice to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for 20 minutes or until quinoa is cooked through. 

In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add spinach and cook an additional minute stirring frequently. Add chicken and red wine vinegar. Cook 2 more minutes or until chicken is heated back through. Turn off heat. Stir in cooked quinoa and serve topped with avocado.

Prep Time: 5 minutes 

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Serves: 2-4

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