Some weeks I’m good about meal planning. Others, not so much. During those weeks when I haven’t planned out what we’re going to have for dinner each night, I inevitably find myself staring into the refrigerator, trying to come up with a wholesome, balanced meal with whatever food we have left. This was me last night. I’m sure others out there can relate! It can be tempting to order out in situations like this, and when we lived in NYC, we often did (more than I’d like to admit!), but now that we’re living in the suburbs and adhering to a tighter budget, I’m trying to cook at home the majority of the time. Fortunately, it’s usually not very difficult to piece a meal together since I keep lots of veggies and whole grains on hand at all times. Sometimes it just takes a little creativity! And it’s always worth it.
For last night’s dinner, I was in the mood for Mexican food and we had all the necessary fixings for veggie fajitas, so I decided to make veggie fajita bowls. Instead of wrapping the veggies in tortillas, I used quinoa as a base for a bowl, and topped the quinoa with the veggies and some chopped romaine. It was quick and easy and satisfied my craving for Mexican food, minus the usual sodium and bloat that comes along with it. I was going to add black beans but completely forgot, and truthfully didn’t even notice until I saw the unopened can on the counter later. If you do want to add beans though, they’d be a nice addition to this dish. And although I didn’t have any, I highly recommend cilantro (if you like it). I absolutely love cilantro and I think it can take the flavor to the next level.
- 1 cup dry quinoa
- 1 tbsp olive oil + a small amount for coating the saute pan
- 4 cloves garlic, chopped
- 2 medium onions, sliced into strips
- 3 bell peppers (I used tricolor but any bell peppers work), sliced into strips
- 2 cups broccoli florets
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1/2 tsp oregano
- 1/8 tsp cayenne
- 1 cup sliced crimini mushrooms
- 1 Lime, halved
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Chopped romaine
- Black olives, salsa, and guacamole (optional)
- Cook quinoa according to package directions.
- Lightly coat a large pan with olive oil and add the garlic and onions. Cook on medium heat for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Add the bell peppers.
- Mix broccoli and the tablespoon of olive oil in a bowl until evenly coated and then add the broccoli to the pan.
- Add all the spices and stir. Sauté veggies until nearly cooked through, and then add the mushrooms and cook for a few more minutes until tender. Squeeze a little fresh lime juice over the veggie mixture and add salt and pepper to taste.
- Add veggie mixture to the cooked quinoa and then top with chopped romaine and whatever other fixings you like (guacamole, black olives, salsa, etc.)
What do you make when you’re low on ingredients and haven’t planned anything in advance?