One of my favorite things about moving to Denver is my new commute from Dallas. When I used to fly to New York City on Thursday nights, I would have a 3.5 hour flight that would usually land around 11pm or midnight… meaning I would probably start falling asleep for the last hour of the flight, and then I’d get home and immediately crawl into bed. But now that I’m living in Denver, it’s a much shorter flight, and I’m headed west across a time zone, so I’m getting some extra time back. Tonight I got home at 8pm, and it amazes me to think that I now have this whole free night where I can meet up with friends, do errands, or just relax at home and do whatever I wanted. And landing at 8pm also means that I can potentially eat a home-cooked meal instead of being stuck eating restaurant food for another meal! Yippee :)
Tonight, I had a craving for pineapple fried rice, so I decided to make a healthy version with some ingredients I had in my pantry/fridge. I chose to use red quinoa instead of rice (mostly just because I have a ton of it and I want to use some up), but you could always sub out the quinoa in this recipe for rice if that’s your preference.
Healthy Pineapple Fried “Rice” (Quinoa)
Makes one giant serving of about 4 cups
1/3 cup dry red quinoa
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/2 onion, chopped
1 carrot, diced
1 zucchini, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
Olive oil in spray bottle (I like my Misto)
1 tsp sesame oil
1/2 cup shelled edamame (can substitute pre-cooked meat if you prefer)
1 tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
Put quinoa, coriander, and ginger into a small saucepan over medium flame, and toast for one minute. Add 2/3 cup water and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to low, allowing the quinoa to cook for 15 minutes. Once 15 minutes is up, turn the burner off but keep the pot sealed tight – in five minutes, the quinoa should be nice and fluffy.
While that’s working, chop your veggies: 1/2 onion (chopped) and one carrot, zucchini, and stalk celery, all diced. Lightly spray a nonstick pan with olive oil, then add minced garlic and the veggies, starting with the ones you want to cook the longest (onion, carrot), then the middle-of-the-packers (zucchini), and eventually tossing in those that you want to stay firm but just heat up (celery). Add the shelled edamame (or other protein substitute). When the pan starts to dry up, add soy sauce to deglaze and keep the veggies from burning.
Once the quinoa is done, push all the veggies to one side of the pan using a spatula, then add 1 tsp sesame oil to the pan. Allow to heat, then add the quinoa to the oil. By waiting to use the sesame oil until the end, you retain more of the flavor of the oil so you can use less than if you started cooking with that from the beginning. (Instead, the moisture from the veggies and then the tablespoon of soy sauce help your food to cook without too much extra fat being needed.) After one minute, mix the veggies from the side of the pan into the quinoa. Finally, add 1/3 cup diced pineapple (I buy it frozen from Trader Joe’s, primarily for use in smoothies) and allow to heat through.
This recipe is much healthier than traditional pineapple fried rice. Because it’s loaded with veggies, it makes one huge restaurant-sized portion for under 600 calories, and has a ton of fiber (11g, or 44% of your RDV). You’ll definitely be satisfied after this meal! While it does have 16g fat, it’s very low in saturated fat (less than 2 grams) and has no cholesterol. Best of all, it only takes about 25 minutes start to finish… that’s faster than delivery :)