Robin’s Rescue: 7 low-carb, meat-free, easy meals

Robin Miller, Special for the Republic12:38 p.m. MST October 29, 2014

Quinoa pilaf with olives, pine nuts and feta: Cook 1 cup of quinoa according to the package instructions. While still warm, add 1 cup diced fresh tomato, 1/2cup pitted and sliced kalamata (Greek) olives, 1/4 cup lightly toasted pine nuts, 1/4cup chopped fresh parsley, 1/4 cup chopped scallions, 1 teaspoon dried oregano and 1 teaspoon dried thyme. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1teaspoon Dijon mustard. Add the mixture to the quinoa mixture and toss to combine. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Spoon the quinoa mixture into bowls and top with crumbled feta cheese.

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Lentils and couscous with garlic-wilted spinach and Parmesan: Cook 2cups of lentils according to the package instructions. Heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add 2-3 cloves minced garlic and cook 2 minutes. Add 5 ounces of baby spinach leaves and cook for 1 minute, until the spinach wilts. Transfer the lentils to a large bowl and add the spinach, 11/2cups cooked whole-wheat couscous, 1/4cup grated Parmesan cheese and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil. Toss to combine, adding a little more olive oil if necessary to keep mixture moist. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture into bowls and top with grated or shaved Parmesan cheese.

Chipotle chile-spiked black beans and rice with cotija cheese: Cook 1 cup of brown rice according to the package instructions. While still warm, stir in one 15-ounce can black beans (rinsed and drained), one 14-ounce can fire-roasted diced tomatoes (undrained), 2 tablespoons minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro, 1 teaspoon chili powder and 1 teaspoon ground cumin. Toss to combine. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Spoon the mixture into bowls and top with shredded cotija cheese (or Cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese).

ROBIN’S RESCUE: Garlic substitutions

Broccoli and Swiss frittata with Yukon gold potatoes:Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large, high-sided, oven-proof skillet over medium heat. Add 2cups diced Yukon gold potatoes and cook for 5-7 minutes, until the potatoes are fork-tender and golden brown, stirring frequently. Meanwhile, whisk together 4 large eggs, 1/2 cup milk, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper. Add the egg mixture to the potatoes along with 2 cups steamed or blanched broccoli florets (blanch or microwave for 1 minute). Mix well and spread out the vegetables, creating an even layer. Cook until the egg mixture is almost cooked through to the top, without stirring. Top the egg mixture with 1/2 cup shredded Swiss or Gruyere cheese. Place the pan under the broiler and cook for 1-2 minutes, until the egg is cooked through to the top and the cheese is bubbly. Cool 5 minutes before slicing. This dish also works well with kale or bell peppers instead of broccoli, and mushrooms instead of potatoes.

Loaded vegetarian tostada: Place 2 corn tortillas on a large baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 3-5 minutes, until golden brown and crisp. Top each tortilla with 1/3 cup vegetarian refried beans, 1/4cup kidney or pink beans and 1/4 cup shredded Cheddar cheese. Return the tortillas to the oven and bake for 3-5 minutes, until the cheese melts. When ready to serve, top each tortilla with shredded lettuce, prepared salsa, sliced avocado, sour cream, sliced black olives and sliced pickled jalapeños. If desired, drizzle ranch dressing over everything just before serving — that’s the way my kids like it.

Egg fried rice:Scramble 2 large eggs in a small skillet over medium heat. Set aside. In a large skillet, combine 2 cups cooked brown rice, 1 cup diced carrots, 1/2cup frozen corn, 1/2 cup frozen peas, 2-3 tablespoons soy sauce, 1 tablespoon black-bean sauce, 1 tablespoon butter, 1/2teaspoon onion powder and 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder. Set the pan over medium heat and cook until heated through, stirring constantly (cook slightly longer for more tender carrots). Add the scrambled eggs and cook 1 minute to heat through. Spoon the mixture into bowls and top with a sprinkling of toasted sesame seeds. For added protein, add 1/2 cup shelled, steamed edamame to the rice.

Flatbread pizzas: Flatbread is thin, rectangular bread often sold by the deli or bakery in the grocery store (choose Flatout if it’s available). Because they’re thin, they’re often much lower in calories and carbs (about 100 calories and 15 grams of carbs). Use flatbread as a base for pizza and you can customize (meaning you can enjoy the veggies your daughter won’t). Place 2 flatbreads (preferably whole wheat) on a baking sheet and top with pasta or pizza sauce, vegetables (bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, olives, onions), shredded mozzarella cheese, dried oregano and grated Parmesan cheese. Bake at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the cheese is bubbly.

Nutrition expert Robin Miller of Scottsdale tackles your food and dining dilemmas. Her cookbooks include “Robin Takes 5 for Busy Families” and “Quick Fix Meals,” a book named after her five-year run on Food Network.

Ask Robin Miller

E-mail your questions to robinsrescue@azcentral.com and she’ll dish up delicious answers every Wednesday.

(Source: http://www.azcentral.com)

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