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Vitamin A & Spinach Quinoa Bites @ Spiced Curiosity

Monday, March 18, 2013

vitamin a & quinoa spinach cakes – dairy-free, gluten-free

    makes seven 2 1/2 in. patties
  • 1 1/2 cups spinach leaves – save stems another dish!
  • 1 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion – 1/2 large onion
  • 1 Tbsp. minced garlic – about 3 medium cloves
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh, minced oregano leaves
  • 1/3 cup nutritional yeast – certified gluten-free
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil – or other high heat oil
    Tasty on the side:
  • 1 very ripe avocado
  • 1 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • Salt

And on to Vitamin A!

This is one of my favorite vitamins to try to incorporate into more meals, for it calls for simple roots and vegetables that pair well with almost any dish.

World’s Healthiest Foods provides a wealth of information on this vitamin. For instance, there are many nutrients, all which fall under the group called “Vitamin A”. Here I’ll be sharing recipes for one sect, carotenoids, which are found in plant foods. These babies provide antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and immune-enhancing activity.

Beautiful “green leafy…or brightly orange- or red-colored” vegetables carry heavy doses of Vitamin A: spinach (in season spring-autumn); collard greens (autumn); sweet potato, kale, turnip greens, winter squash (autumn-winter); mustard greens (winter-spring); and carrots (accessible year-round). Take your pick and dive in!

So here’s one of my favorite new recipes, to kick off the Vitamin A batch.

Quinoa Spinach Cakes! @ Spiced Curiosity

Quinoa Spinach Cakes! @ Spiced Curiosity

What I love most about these patties is the texture – mmm! The crispy outside provides a nice bite, and then you bite down on the grains of quinoa. The inside is slightly creamy and melts quickly on the tongue. I’ve never had a burger, but I did – that’s how I wish it would taste. A fresh slice of avocado on top adds a cool wedge of creamy fat (and a kick of Vitamin K and fiber). The actual taste is a nice blend of garlic, spinach, and oregano. Good stuff.

Quinoa Spinach Cakes! @ Spiced Curiosity

In addition to a powerful punch of flavor, they’re sure to fill you up fast, as quinoa has a healthy dose of protein.

I recommend enjoying each patty with a bite of simple appetizer: scored avocado with rich balsamic vinegar. The vinegar soaks into the flesh and imparts a light tartness, all while you enjoy the creamy, fatty avocado. A little heavy, but a nice pairing for the patties. I remember my mom joyfully serving this simple appetizer before a meal; she had barely poured in the liquid when we had devoured each half. She had the good balsamic from Italy, where the vinegar is thick and complex in flavor. I crave that stuff, but even now the dish is still satisfying in flavor and simplicity.

A nice side may even include more spinach: steamed, with fresh lemon juice, garlic, and cracked pepper.

Quinoa Spinach Cakes! @ Spiced Curiosity

Quinoa Spinach Cakes! @ Spiced Curiosity

This recipe is lovingly adapted from a New York Times article. I used spinach, fresh oregano, red onion, more garlic, and subbed out the dairy ingredients to suit my personal taste. Happy to share this dish on Meatless Mondays, Waste Not Want Not Wednesday, Allergy-Free Wednesday, and Traditional Tuesday too.

Quinoa Spinach Burgers
1. Thoroughly rinse of the spinach leaves under cold water, and let them sit aside wet.

2. Warm up 1 Tbsp of olive oil in large skillet; add the onion and garlic, sautéing over medium-high heat for two minutes. Add in the ginger, then salt and pepper to taste. Stir occasionally for five minutes.

3. In a large bowl, quickly combine the onion mix with the spinach to gently wilt the leaves. Then stir in the cooked quinoa, oregano, nutritional yeast and egg. (The mix should be pretty moist.)

4. Let’s cook the patties! (If you’re opposed to the light frying, try baking them instead.) Heat up the coconut oil in large skillet over high heat. Take a small handful of mix and set it in the oil. Flatten slightly with a spatula, and cook until evenly browned (4-5 min on both sides). Serve fresh with a sliver of avocado and oregano leaf.

Fresh Avocado with Balsamic Vinegar
1. Neatly half and remove the pit from the avocado. With a fork, score the flesh length-wise. (A riper avocado will make this step easier.)

2. Pour in the balsamic, and lightly sprinkle with salt.

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