Here we are y’all… a month past Austin Marathon and I’m still avoiding writing about it. I’ll get there, but there are so many other things going one and the fact that it doesn’t really count as a race because I basically strolled through the second half makes it feel pretty unnecessary to even recap. Besides, I’m SO BEHIND on recipes right now it seems the recap will have to be squeezed in amidst far more interesting and yummy topics.
And, since I’ve currently got a backlog of recipes half written and ready to post, this is the perfect time to delay them further to write about what I’m making a this very moment in my kitchen. Obviously, that makes perfect sense!
Boston Marathon is just a month away, so logically The Hubs is facing an achilles injury with less than four weeks before he has to line up in Hopkinton. No bueno! Luckily, we’ve got a little time and a lot of awesome resources so we aren’t concerned. Who needs long road runs when you’ve got access to an AlterG and 3 hour aqua jogs (in a 25 meter pool none the less… The Hubs has deemed it the “actual insanity workout”)? Dedication and hard work trump perfect circumstances every time, mostly because perfect circumstances don’t exist.
What does this have to do with food? Major changes in training intensity this close to a race coupled with an injury mean we need to keep a careful eye on his weight and nutrition- even more than usual. Every calorie has to count big time in terms of nutrient density. Which means bye bye to refined carbs and the sugary treats that he loves to sneak! I have to make sure he is satisfied and nourished enough that he doesn’t have the desire to snag a candy treat when I’m not around.
It also means making dinners that can be packed up as lunches for the next day because I’ve got my hands full at night ensuring I pack the right combination of snacks to keep him full… but not too full.
Last week, I brought a tray of my made-over mac and cheese to my friend Laura’s house for a lunch playdate, and she served me a quinoa side dish very similar to the one I feature here that I promptly mixed in with my serving of mac- and it was delicious. I quickly realized that the concept of her quinoa side dish would be a versatile one that I could draw on for years to come. As I made my menu plan for the coming week, the memory of that little quinoa side kept shouting at me in my brain “Top me with ground beef and serve me over salad!”
If you’re a distance runner or endurance athlete, you’re probably pretty familiar with skillet style meals- brown some meat, dump in beans and tomatoes, and serve over rice. While easy, I’m not a huge fan because skillet meals lack texture or color interest- they are meals of necessity and not enjoyment. This beef and quinoa taco bowl is just as easy, but far more flavorful and offers levels of interest for your eyes and your palate.
I make my own taco seasoning, and you should too. Mine is spicier and smokier than the one my friend Laura makes and serves mixed straight into the quinoa , but that’s the beauty of making your own spice mixes- you can make them perfectly to your liking. I served the beef and quinoa over mixed baby herb greens, but you can just as easily use it to stuff an tomato, a pepper, or an avocado… or wrap it up in a spelt tortilla. Top it according to your nutritional needs and taste preferences- plain kefir (instead of sour cream), queso fresco, or diced avocado.
Homemade Taco Seasoning
- 2 tbs chipotle chili powder
- 1 tsp smoked sweet paprika
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp ground cumin
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp organic sugar
- 1 tsp Chihuahua de Mexico wood smoked salt
- 1/2 tsp smoked tomato powder
Directions: Mix all spices in bowl to combine. Store in an airtight container.
Beef and Quinoa Taco Bowl
- 1 cup quinoa
- 2 cups water or veggie broth
- 2 cloves garlic
- 2 tbs+ of homemade taco seasoning
- 1 lime
- 1 cup frozen corn kernels, thawed
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, diced
- 1/4 cup packed cilantro leaves, finely chopped
- 1/4 a small red onion, finely diced
- 1 lb grassfed, lean ground beef
- grapeseed oil
- serving options: plain kefir, queso fresco, mixed baby greens, avocado
Directions: Rinse quinoa well and drain thoroughly. Bring veggie broth or water to a boil in a small saucepan. Add quinoa and I smashed garlic clove to the broth. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes until most of liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat, uncover and fluff with a fork.
Thinly slice remaining garlic clove. Saute sliced garlic in a dollop of grapeseed oil for 2 minutes until fragrant but not browned. Over medium/medium-high heat, add ground beef and break up into large pieces. Add taco seasoning (add seasoning to taste, I like to start with 2 tbs) and cook through, breaking up into small pieces as you cook. If desired, season with additional salt while browning meat.
Line a colander with paper towels and pour in ground beef to drain off/ absorb any unnecessary fat.
In a large bowl, toss together quinoa, corn, onion, tomatoes, and cilantro. Squeeze lime juice into quinoa mixture and toss to mix thoroughly.
Serve quinoa on a bed of greens, topped with beef and additional toppings of your choice.