Inspired Recipe: Quinoa Lasagna

I love getting a new canvas. It’s so fresh and clean, not a speck on it. You wonder what will come of it. What will you paint? What colors will you use? How many revisions will it take until it’s just the way you want it? How long will you spend on it? I feel the same way when I find a new recipe. Something about starting from scratch, touching something that has been untouched by you until now. It’s even more exhilarating when you improvise a little to make it your own. That first bite is a mixture of agony and excitement.

And then…it’s delicious! And other people enjoy it, too!

This is what happened when I made the quinoa lasagna inspired by MJ and the Hungryman at my aunt’s last week. When I lived with my aunt a long, long time ago, I was always amazed and a little perplexed by all of the healthy food she ate. Now that I’m on my healthy journey, it’s fun to share these recipes with her – as she is part of a very small group of people I know who truly appreciate the whacky, healthy recipes I attempt.

I didn’t get a whole lot of pictures because we were busy visiting and eating. Actually, I only got one picture.

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The original recipe called for this:

  • 3 cups diced sweet potatoes
  • 2 cups chopped cauliflower
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cup tomato sauce or prepared pasta sauce
  • 1 (15 oz) part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbs minced fresh basil
  • 1 Tbs dried oregano
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

This is what we did:

  • 3 diced Russet potatoes – because that’s what we had
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli – again, what we had
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 1/2 cup tomato sauce or prepared pasta sauce
  • 2 cups of cottage cheese
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 Tbs minced fresh basil
  • 1 Tbs dried oregano
  • A few slices of pepper jack cheese – it’s what we had, and I put pepper jack on everything so this is no surprise

Next time, I would like to make my own pasta sauce. I can’t even comprehend making my own cheese yet, so if that ever comes, it will be much later in life.

Have you ever improvised a recipe you found? How did it turn out? Success, or total failure? The next time you find a recipe that you haven’t tried due to lack of ingredients, see if you can sub in what you have. You can Google substitutions for just about everything and if you are trying to make your favorite recipe a little more healthy, you can consult The Gracious Pantry. Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Google + and Twitter for more healthy inspiration!

My Healthy Life: A Journey

Well, I’m exactly one week away from two things I have been looking forward to – my birthday, and my goal date for my weight loss. They happen to fall on the same day, and that is no coincidence. I was hoping to reach 130 by my 31st birthday and kept assuring myself the whole time that I could most definitely do it. And I probably could have…if I locked myself in my room with a mini fridge filled with only the healthiest and best food, and my only activity to do during the day was to exercise.

But, let’s face it. Real life happens…and sometimes your best intentions fall short. I will say that I am proud that I have not only lost all the weight gained during my pregnancy, I am between five – ten pounds lighter than I was when I got pregnant. Sure, I still have 15 lbs to go before I reach my goal weight, but I have had the willpower to turn down fast food and soda, when both are so easy…and sometimes so good.

I have put myself on a workout regimen, and sometimes I actually stick to it. But sometimes I don’t, because I’m freaking tired after chasing around my daughter, and sometimes I count mopping my floor (so what if my mop is actually a Swiffer) and doing laundry as my workout for the day.

18ac2a84412a11e3b44322000a1f92df_8My morning walk with my daughter. My favorite workout routine

So, I’m going to make a proclamation for myself, and if you would like to join in, I would love your company:

  • No more following websites that have the word “Skinny” in them. I don’t want to be skinny. I just want to wear my old jeans. Not the jeans I was wearing before I got pregnant. The jeans I wore when I was at my most comfortable weight. Sure, my hips have expanded. Babies will do that to ya. And I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. But damn did it feel good to put on a pair of jeans I have not been able to wear in over a year.
  • While on that note, no more pinning “Skinny” recipes on Pinterest. If you haven’t heard this before, most of the skinny ingredients are worse than the real thing. Look at the ingredients and decide if you really want all of that in your body. If you do, go for it. If not, put it down. It ain’t worth it in the long run.
  • Follow bloggers and recipe developers who use real ingredients for all of their food. They don’t do a diet version, because they don’t need to. You don’t need a diet version of granola – it’s granola! A good site I just found today is A Sweet Spoonful. Her recipes have real ingredients in them, and most of them aren’t crazy. Check out these pumpkin spice muffins (you know how I feel about pumpkins). She also has a book called Whole Grain Mornings – I think the title says it all – that will be available on Dec 31. You can pre-order it now through Amazon, and it will be perfect for your New Years Resolution, if you’re about that.
  • Remain active. Even if I can’t get a workout or yoga session in, I remain active. I sit at my computer to write blog posts, and do some work. But I take a break after every project I work on to go walking with my daughter, to play with her, or to clean my house. It keeps her entertained and happy, and I stay active. We hardly ever sit down to watch TV until after dinner. Because that’s my family time, and that’s how we like to relax.

I’m still going to work on my goal, but I’m not going to hate myself if I don’t get in that 15 minute yoga session, and then 15 minutes of bodyweight workout, and then 15 minutes of yoga at night. Because sometimes I’m just tired. And I have other stuff going on. But I will (attempt to) drink all of my water, and I will cook real food for my family. Because not only do I want to look good in my jeans, I want to feel good, too.

2b58fe7e3ff311e38f8522000a1fb838_8Homemade apple butter on wheat toast with banana. Breakfast is served.

Here is my promise to you, and this is one I can stick to. I will continue to share sites with you that I feel good about sharing. I will continue to show you new recipes that incorporate real, healthy food. I won’t ever share anything that has the word Skinny in it. Unless I have checked the ingredients and they are all real. That’s my only exception.

So, to start things off. Here are some of my favorite sites that embrace whole foods and healthy living:

The Gracious PantryIf you have read my blog just once in your life, you probably know how deep my love for this site runs. Tiffany not only shares a whole bunch of clean eating (the elimination of processed foods in your diet) recipes, she also advises on healthy food substitution, like the sugar substitution chart, and she loves pumpkin, too. My kind of girl.

Healthy Aperture – Healthy food photo sharing site. A good way to find recipes that you will love and continue to use, and you can also find new healthy bloggers to follow. If you find yourself liking a bunch of recipes from one poster, maybe you should check out their site and see what else they have. There’s also a blog with healthy tips and recipes.

Attune Foods Blog – This is a new one that I found today, through Sweet Spoonful. It’s a healthy recipe sharing site, and you can also join the FitClean community, which focuses on incorporating both fitness and clean eating in your daily life.

Are you ready to take this pledge with me? To include healthy and real ingredients in our food and to remain active – no matter what the activity is? I would love to get this healthy party going. I will be sharing more and more healthy recipes, workouts and yoga routines that I feel are worth sharing, and introducing more real food bloggers. If you would like to join me on this journey, I would love to have you. Connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest and share your journey with me by using the hashtag #myhealthylife or tag me in the post.