Saturday, December 10, 2011

Steak, Zucchini Cakes, and Lemony Thyme Quinoa

I wanted to make a special dinner with my hunny last night. Of course I knew he would choose steak, mostly because we never have it. We started with a mescalin salad with sliced pears and Gorgonzola cheese.  Steaming zucchini is an easy way to prepare it and it's ready in no time, but I wanted to spice it up a little. So I baked up a batch of zucchini and summer squash cakes instead. I must admit they were my favorite part of the meal and I barely touched my steak. They were bursting with garlicky flavor and were crispy, without being greasy. This quinoa dish was light and would be a perfect side to go with most meals.  Keep your meats lean (think fish, skinless poultry, lean pork or red meat) and you have a healthy meal in no time!

Zucchini and Summer Squash Cakes
Makes 8

1 medium zucchini, grated
1 medium summer squash, grated
1 Tbsp chopped garlic
2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated
1 Tbsp dried basil
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup breadcrumbs
Pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 375.  Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Squeeze the excess moisture from the squash and combine all ingredients together in a large bowl. Make a patty with 1/2 cup of the batter and place on the lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 375 for 30 minutes or until the edges and top start to brown. 

Nutrition Facts: 1 Patty
38 calories, 3 g protein, 5 g carbohydrates, 1 g fat, 1 g fiber, 57 mg sodium

Quinoa you say?
This "ancient grain" is, in fact, not a grain at is a seed. In fact, it is considered a complete protein because it contains all of the essential Amino Acids and has the highest protein content of all of the grains. Eating quinoa may help protect your heart because of its high concentration of Manganese.  This mineral helps relax blood vessels and lower blood pressure. It has a light, fluffy yet crunchy texture and has a fairly nutty flavor.  It is commonly used as a side dish and goes well with many different flavors.  Go Mediterranean with olive oil and garlic, or Mexican with cumin and black's all good!  You can find quinoa in boxes in the natural section of the grocery store, but it is less expensive in the bulk section, at a co-op or large grocery store.  Plus you help the environment by not buying products with all that packaging! 

Lemony Thyme Quinoa
Serves 6

1 cup of quinoa
2 cups of water
1 Tbsp olive oil
Juice from 1/2 lemon
2 Tbsp fresh thyme
Pepper, to taste

Place quinoa and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.  

Nutrition Facts: 1/2 cup serving
125 calories, 18 g carbohydrates, 4 g protein, 5 g fat, 2 g fiber

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