Friday, March 16, 2012

Steak & Quinoa with Black Beans

I discovered a new, delicious meal by accident earlier this week as I tried to use up some leftovers from last weekend. We had some friends over for dinner Saturday night and Ben had grilled a couple pounds of skirt steak that he had bought on sale (side note: Ben grilled it perfectly medium, and it was tender and delicious).

This dish is loosely based on this recipe for quinoa and black beans at, but with several modifications--for my taste, and also to utilize the leftover steak. It makes a lot of food--Ben and I ate it for dinner, then I brought some over to mom and the rest to work with me the next day, so about 4-5 servings (depending on the serving size).

I have mentioned quinoa on this blog before, but I don't think I've really ever explained what it is (for those who don't already know). Quinoa is a grain (well, not technically, but it looks/acts like a grain, I guess) native to South America and known for having great nutritional value (high protein, fiber, and vitamins/minerals). Depending on the type of quinoa you get and how you prepare it, it can have a slightly nutty flavor and a fluffy, slightly crunchy texture. Here are a couple of articles that review some of the nutritional information on quinoa, as well as some of the health benefits: World's Healthiest Foods article and Body Ecology article.
Quinoa can also often take the place of rice in many recipes; here is an article from that compares nutritional values of quinoa and rice (spoiler: quinoa wins). It used to be that you could only get quinoa at expensive health-food stores, but it's becoming more and more popular/mainstream, so you can find it at most grocery store chains now.

Anyway, I wasn't sure how this recipe adventure going to turn out, so I didn't think to take any pictures until I reheated it the next day (equally good as leftovers!) for lunch at work. I'll have to come back and update this post someday when I make this again (and oh, I will make this again!) to include more pictures.

Steak & Quinoa with Black Beans

1 teaspoon olive oil
3 green onions, chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and diced
¾ cup uncooked quinoa
1 ½ cups + ¼ cup unsalted beef broth
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt and pepper to taste
1 (15 ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
½ to 1 cup cherry tomatoes, chopped
1 lb grilled skirt (or flank) steak, thinly sliced
(optional: fresh cilantro--I didn't use any, because I'm not a much of a fan.)

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the onion and garlic, and saute until lightly browned. Mix quinoa into the saucepan and cover with 1 ½ c. of broth. Season with cumin, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes. 

Stir sliced steak, tomatoes, and remaining broth into the saucepan, and continue to simmer about 5 minutes until heated through. Mix in the black beans (and fresh cilantro, if desired). 

For my serving, I tried to measure out about 4 oz of the steak, then scooped out some of the quinoa/black bean/tomato mixture and eyeballed about 1/2 cup in my dish. Add about 4 oz of steamed zucchini (thank you Ziploc ZipnSteam!) and it's a complete meal!

Forgive the dishes/crappy picture--this was at my desk at work.
Nutritional Information:
Makes 4 servings. 1 serving =

490 Calories

Fat: 16.55g     Sodium: 529mg    Carb: 42g    Fiber: 11.84g    Protein: 42.85

Friday, March 9, 2012

Buffaloaf: Better than mom's meatloaf!

Apparently, I suck at blogging. While on my run today, it occurred to me that I haven't posted anything in a few weeks. Oops.

Not that I haven't wanted to post. I simply haven't been cooking much lately because we've been so busy--and when I did cook, I was either making something fast and terribly boring (plain chicken breast and broccoli) or something I'd already posted here before (What can I say? I'm a creature of habit.).

We went to Des Moines last weekend for my cousin Katie's wedding, so we had to eat out a lot that weekend. Even though the hotel's breakfast tried to sabotage me by being 100% carbohydrates (toast, muffins, pastries, cereal, juice), I had packed some protein bars, drank extra water, and tried to get all my veggies and protein in during our lunches and dinner. According to the scale on Monday morning, I hadn't gained a pound--even with the hors d'oeuvres, glass of chardonnay, and the red velvet cupcake I had (in addition to the meal) at the reception or the extra sodium from restaurant food. Victory!

Also, I wore my new, blue dress (that I got from H&M during my trip to Chicago), and I looked smoking hot. I know, because all my Facebook friends told me so when I posted the picture there. :) Ben didn't look to shabby, either.

Anyway, after a week of not having time to make much for dinner (I survived on subway salads or chicken breasts with broccoli or green beans most nights), I decided I wanted something a little more hearty tonight. Enter the buffaloaf.

This meatloaf, made with ground bison, is a leaner, lower-sodium, and lower-carb version of what I grew up with, but is still flavorful and comforting (lower-carb because of the elimination of ketchup and most bread or oatmeal that is traditionally added). I made a slightly different version--with way more veggies in it, because I was sick of veggies and wanted to "hide" them--when I was on the MRC diet. In case you are also sick of eating vegetables, here's a hint: if you use 16 oz of veggies instead of the 5 oz I use here, then each serving of your buffaloaf will also include a full serving of vegetables.


1 lb ground bison
2 eggs
1-2 tbsp worcestershire sauce (to taste)
1 pouch Tomato-Basil Soup supplement (you could probably substitute tomato paste instead, but that would also change nutritional information)
2 green onions, chopped
1/2 bell pepper (I used red, because it was on sale), finely chopped
1 cup chopped mushrooms (I used baby bellas)
1 tsp diced garlic
1 slice Sara Lee Delightful bread, torn into small pieces
Approx 2-3 tbsp water
salt and pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Note: if you are going to have baked potatoes, you should clean and prep your potatoes and put them in the oven before starting the buffaloaf--that way they'll all get done at the same time.

Break eggs into a large bowl. Add tomato-basil supplement and whisk. Add water, 1 tbsp at a time until it is a smooth but slightly thick consistency. Add worcestershire sauce, diced garlic, and a pinch each of salt and pepper. Whisk until blended.

Add chopped vegetables and stir. Mix raw bison in with bare hands, making sure to incorporate the mixture fully into the meat. Add the torn pieces of bread and continue to mix with hands until incorporated.

Put the meat mixture into a foil-lined, glass baking dish (thank you, mom, for teaching me this trick to easy clean-up so many years ago!) and bake at 375 degrees for about 35 minutes. Turn oven up to 400 degrees and bake an additional 5-10 minutes, or until done.  Let rest on stovetop a couple of minutes before slicing.  Makes 4 servings.

I ate mine with 3 oz of sauteed zucchini and a very small baked potato (usually I just do 1/2 of a large potato, but we happened to have a small one) with I Can't Believe It's Not Butter spray and about 1.5 tbsp of light sour cream on it. Warm, comforting, and delicious, but also low in fat, sodium, and carbs!

Nutritional Information
Buffaloaf--1 serving

Calories: 278
Fat: 13.61g      Sodium: 350mg     Carb: 6.82g       Fiber: 1.45g        Protein: 32.3