spinach quinoa and cheese (no mac here, folks)

who else out there gets the daily 2pm wave of the “i want a nap” feeling? and what brings that on more than a heavy lunch, right? well, have no fear – this quinoa dish hits the spot AND won’t put you in a carb coma.

SPINACH QUINOA AND CHEESE
1 cup quinoa
2 (or more) cups spinach
1 – 1 1/2 cups sharp cheddar, shredded
1/3 – 1/2 cup raw sunflower seeds (depending on how much crunch you want)
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
big drizzle of olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

bring a pot of water to boil. don’t forget to salt it. cook the quinoa 15 – 18 minutes. strain out the water through a fine mesh sieve and rinse with cool water – set aside.

in a big skillet heat up the olive oil and roast the sunflower seeds. add the garlic and cook until super fragrant. throw in the spinach and saute for a few minutes until wilted. next add the quinoa and cook until it’s heated up again. once the mixture is nice and hot, turn off the heat and sprinkle the cheese over the top – stir in until it’s all melted in.

dish up and season with salt and pepper as you like it. warm cheesiness and so so good!

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spiced almonds

when i’m at work i am all about the snacking. my packed lunches have always consisted of a substantial (but still light) item with 2-3 graze-able things. these spiced almonds are perfect for that. i bet they’d make a good party snack too. i love the combo of the maple syrup and curry. not to mention, they’ll make your kitchen smell like fall.

SPICED ALMONDS
2 cups raw almonds (or a combination of your favorite nuts)
1-2 T maple syrup (i go with 2 personally)
1/2 t curry powder
1/4 t cayenne pepper (i also like spicy, so dial this down if you’re not into that)
1/2 t dried rosemary
1/4 t kosher salt

preheat oven to 325 and prep a cookie sheet with baking spray.

put the almonds in a bowl, add the maple syrup and all the spices. using a spatula, stir it all up, making sure all the almonds are coated evenly. give it a few extra stirs so the spices distribute evenly.

spread almonds in a single layer on the cookie sheet. bake 15-20 minutes, stirring halfway through. let cool and store in an airtight container.