This week's food facts are going to share simple, wholesome delicious things to make at home when you fancy a naughty treat or simply to pack a protein punch.
Let's start Mexican. These tasty bites can be made however you feel. The options are endless for fillings and it allows you to be as creative as you like.
They date back to the 16th Century and traditionally are made using corn tortillas.
They can be made in minutes and work well as a super speedy lunch or supper and are perfect as a sharing dish. You can make ahead and reheat and even freeze for when you're short of time. They can also make a great breakfast.
Below I'll share a veggie and meat option to you to get your teeth in to. They're ultimately a comfort food - but if you choose your fillings wisely they can actually be a good all-round meal.
In short - a quesadilla is anything that fills, flattens and then cooks a tortilla.
They are great served loaded with guacamole, salsa, sour cream or even a little side salad.
Quick Eats: Veggie Quesadilla
When I say veggie, literally the options are endless. Think onion, pepper, mushrooms, tomatoes, olives, avocado, beans, herbs, sweet potatoes, aubergine, courgette. As I say - the options are infinite.
In short you need veggies, cheese and some tortillas. Beans help add a good protein addition (but so does the cheese).
This is a very simple version from the BBC - with minimal ingredients - but if you have any left over roasted veggies, you could add those with some siracha sauce and cheese and leave out the chipotle. You could even use a fajhita style flavour mix.
I encourage you to experiment and let us know if you find a great combination that you think is worth sharing!
Quick Eats: Meaty Quesadilla
As I mentioned above - the options are endless. Here there are a couple of options for whether you're looking to do chicken or beef. Quesadillas also work really well with leftover slow roasted lamb or pulled pork.
And although authentically Mexican, they certainly don't have to be Mexican in their flavouring. You could do a hoi-sin duck, a egg, beans and bacon, even a bolognaise.
Quinoa - often pronounced wrongly - think keen-wah - is a fabulous diet addition. And can be used in an infinite number of recipes from soups and stews, casseroles and gratins to salads (until the cows come home) and even sweet bakes.
It is a great ingredient to help add in extra protein to your diet. Quinoa is considered as an ancient grain, which loosely means as a grain it is largely unchanged over the last few hundred years. They also tend to be more nutritious than refined grains like white flour etc.
Despite being a 'grain' it is gluten free, and actually a seed from the same family as beets, spinach and chard.
It is an important plant source of all nine essential amino acids too.
In the UK it is certainly one of the notable food/ingredient trends of the 21st Century and popular among the health conscious being dubbed a 'superfood'.
Super healthy and with a loaded nutrient profile I have one recommendation...get more of it in your diet!
What does quinoa taste like?
Quinoa even plain can be ok. It is milk and slightly nutty. As its similar to other grains like rice or couscous - it cooks almost the same in about 20 minutes.
And because of its mild flavour, it can be made either sweet or savoury making it very versatile in its nature.
What are the benefits of eating quinoa?
There are many benefits found by incorporating quinoa in to your diet.
Quinoa is a great source of protein
Firstly - it is a great source of plant-based protein - so veggies and vegans - make sure you load up on it! It's a complete protein as it contains all nine essential amino acids. It's one of the most protein rich foods we can eat.
Quinoa is fibre rich
Compared to most other grains it almost has double the amount of fibre compared to other grains.
Fibre is key for our diets as it is great for gut health and also can help prevent heart disease by reducing high blood pressure and diabetes.
Quinoa contains iron
Iron is key for helping to keep our red blood cells healthy and also helps our body to make haemoglobin - helping transport oxygen from our blood cells around our body.
Quinoa has a low glycaemic index
Glycaemic index is a measure of how quickly foods will raise your blood sugar levels after consumption.
Foods which are high on the glycaemic index can stimulate hunger and contribute to obesity.
Is quinoa safe for everyone to eat?
As I mentioned, it's gluten free - but also one of the least allergenic grains - making it an even better choice to add to your diet. It's suitable to add to both gluten free and coeliac diets.
How can I add more quinoa in to my diet?
A few simple ideas of ways in which you can incorporate more quinoa in to your diet:
Substitute rice for quinoa, or use a mix of both quinoa and rice.
Stuff vegetables with a quinoa mix before roasting
Use as a salad base and load with other yummy goodies
Make more than you need so you can use it throughout the week
Use it to bulk out and make soups more nutritional
Use in breakfast as a substitute for porridge
Substitute for other grains with lower nutrient value
Use it to make things like veggie burgers
Food Hacks: How to cook the perfect quinoa
A little like rice or couscous, quinoa if cooked badly ends up being a rather sloppy, watery and just somewhat un-useful when it comes to using them for a salad base or something where you need them to take up a little more liquid / flavour. However of course if you're adding to a soup - waters and sloppy quinoa is just the ticket.
A little tip from me; if you want to add in a little extra savoury flavour, you can always use a stock cube in the cooking water when cooking the quinoa. I'd suggest either vegetable or chicken.
If you've never ventured down the quinoa avenue before - give it a go - it's a great meal addition with some super health benefits and to top it off its incredibly easy to cook.
Quick Eats: Veggie quinoa and black bean burger
Super health charged and utterly delicious - these veggie burgers will even be a hit with the meat eaters amongst you (I hope!)...
You can serve them however you please;
with a bun, without a bun, with a side salad, with no side salad, with some melted cheese, with no melted cheese - the options are endless and the choice is yours.
This is a relatively lean number of ingredients that you need for this recipe and it is cheap to make too. It's originally an American recipe, so I have made the conversions for you here below. Follow the method as per the recipe found here.
425g black beans
32g yellow pepper (diced)
2 tablespoons diced onion
1 large clove garlic, crushed
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Frank's RedHot®)
3 tablespoons olive oil
And on to quiche. Now who doesn't love a quiche. Creamy, soft, deliciously rich, cheesy, and incredibly mourish.
If you want to remove the extra calories - you can always try and make a crustless quiche - with a pastry bottom and removing the sides (or indeed even the pastry all together!)
Quiches, even though they can be quite calorie heavy, they have a lot of benefits with their ingredients and you can always add in better choices to the ingredients - e.g. packing them with veggies rather than huge amounts of cheese and bacon for instance.
Eggs bring great value to the quiche party. They are a high-quality source of protein which makes them a good addition to a well-balanced diet. They also offer a good level of
satisfaction and energy for a small number of calories helping to curb hunger. They also promote healthy muscles, skin and hair.
When making a quiche, you can always buy shop bought pastry but it is super simple if you want to make your own - it also tastes a million times better!
Here is an easy pastry recipe - you can always experiment with other, more nutritious types of flour too like adding in a small amount of buckwheat or quinoa or sorghum etc.
When making pastry, or buying shop-bought to make a quiche - you always want to use shortcrust pastry. The trick to making good pastry is to ensure you let it rest in the fridge long enough so that it doesn't shrink when cooking and always make sure the butter is cold.
Quick Eats: Crustless Gluten-Free Quiche
A crustless quiche as I mentioned is a great way to get rid of the carbs and make a nutritious and filling lunch or quick supper. It's super easy and great comfort food - without the pastry it also becomes gluten-free too.
Feel free to play with the vegetable combination to suit your taste.
If you want to add a pastry bottom to this - make the recipe above, and blind bake the pastry case before adding the quiche filling. To find out how to blind bake a pastry case - use this method from BBC Good Food.