Cook’s Corner: Whole grain quiche starts the year off right

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How are your New Year resolutions coming along? I decided to make a few for this year and I hope you did too. It’s only the middle of January, so we should all still be going strong, right?

You may recall one of my goals last year was to provide friends and acquaintances with a home-cooked meal in their time of need. Within just a few days of making that resolution, I had the opportunity to take someone a meal. Amazingly, that happened nine more times over the next 11 months of 2014. It was a blessing.

Among the resolutions I’ve made for this year is another food-related one: adding more whole grains to my diet and the meals I plan for my family. It seems many of my goals seem to revolve around food, which I guess is no surprise.

Why the interest in whole grains, you may be wondering? Whole grains have been highlighted in the food world recently because of their many health benefits. To be considered a whole grain, the grain must include the bran, germ and endosperm. In other words, the entire grain seed.

Acting as a kind of internal broom, whole grains help move food along the digestive tract, from beginning to, ahem, end. They also contain a host of B vitamins, antioxidants, fiber, protein and trace minerals we never seem to get enough of like iron, selenium, zinc, copper and magnesium.

Current scientific evidence points to whole grains playing an important role in lowering the risk of some chronic diseases, such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and cancer; and also contributing to weight management and gastrointestinal health. However, according to Web MD statistics, only 10 percent of Americans consume the recommended minimum of three servings a day. We all need to eat more whole grains.

Now, I’ve eaten my fair share of oats and brown rice over the last few years, and while I enjoy those, it’s time to explore some other whole grains. And what would those be? Including the aforementioned oats and brown rice, there’s amaranth, barley, buckwheat, corn, millet, quinoa, rye, teff, triticale and several varieties of wheat such as spelt, farro and bulgur. Whew! There’s a lot of exploring to do this year.

And you, dear reader, will get to enjoy these as well. I’m going to feature a recipe each month that includes a whole grain from the list above. Just think, by New Year’s Eve 2015 (will we get snow again?), you will have tried 12 new recipes and gotten healthier. You are welcome.

This week’s whole grain recipe is a delicious way to start the year, and is a yummy breakfast, lunch or dinner entrée. The quinoa crust is a breeze to put together and makes the quiche a satisfying, filling dish. Plus, it clocks in at less than 300 calories per serving. Now, that’s a resolution worth keeping.

Spinach and Feta Quiche with Quinoa Crust

Yields 4 servings

Crust:

2 cups cooked quinoa, chilled

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 large egg, beaten

Cooking spray

Filling:

1 teaspoon canola oil

1/2 onion, thinly sliced

1 (5-ounce) bag baby spinach

1/2 cup milk (cow, goat, rice, soy or coconut)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

4 large eggs

2 large egg whites

1.5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

For the crust, preheat oven to 375°. Combine quinoa, pepper and egg in a bowl, stirring well. Press mixture into bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Bake at 375° for 20 minutes; cool.

For the filling, heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil and onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add spinach; sauté 3 minutes. Remove from heat; cool. Combine milk and next five ingredients in a bowl; stir with a whisk.

Arrange spinach mixture in crust; pour egg mixture over spinach. Sprinkle with feta. Bake at 375° for 35 minutes. Let stand 5 minutes; cut into four wedges.

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