Friday, August 1, 2014

Moroccan Chicken with Chickpeas on Quinoa

The past six weeks has been an amazing and memorable experience. I had some time to spare between when my tourist visa was expired in Australia and when my permanent visa was granted to go back. I decided to spend it in my hometown of London, Canada with my family and friends. 

During this time, my mom was prepping for knee replacement surgery and had been struggling with health related issues for awhile. I decided to stay with them and work out a new food plan to get them on the right track. They weren't too eager for this at first, but after some time they realised that they needed a change and agreed to try my plan out. 

Mom and Dad enjoying a walk in the park prior to knee surgery.
My goal was to lower their fat, sugar, cholesterol, sodium, artificial sweeteners and processed foods and always keep portions small.  I switched them onto healthy breakfasts that included rolled oats, yogurt, fruit and smoothies. Lunch and dinners included tons of vegetables and we took out white rice, white pasta and white bread. We added in things like quinoa, chia seeds, good proteins and drank lots of water. We also ensured that the meats portions we were eating were small and included chicken, turkey and lean red meats instead of higher fat meats like ribs and lamb. 

I taught my dad how to make all these dishes so he could continue the healthy lifestyle after I moved back to Australia. He was an awesome sport and was always eager to learn how to make new dishes and was super positive when trying new things out. I left them with a binder of healthy recipes, most of which we have made together already. 

After 6 weeks, the results of this change in diet have been incredible. My mom has lost 20lbs and my dad has lost over 10lbs. My mom has also lowered her insulin intake for diabetes by about 30% and it is decreasing each day. Their blood pressure is lower and overall they are feeling and looking amazing. I'm SO incredibly proud of what they have done in these 6 weeks. It was ridiculously hard for them to change 20-30 yrs of habits overnight and that is exactly what they did. 

One of our favourite new dishes is called Moroccan Chicken with Chickpeas and Quinoa. I adapted it from a great blog called Half Baked Harvest. You can see her recipe here. (her pics are way better than mine) Last week I made it with my dad and I have included some photos from our night of cooking. You can make this dish vegetarian by taking out the chicken and adding more veggies. Enjoy!

  • 2 chicken breasts, chopped into small pieces (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or coconut oil
  • 2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 onion, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced or grated
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 3 carrots, chopped
  • 1 cup cauliflower, chopped
  • 3 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 chipotle chile in adobo, minced (found in mexican section of most stores)
  • 2 cups chicken broth (or veggie broth)
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (rinsed and drained if using canned)
  • 1 lemon, zest + juice
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, plus more for serving
  • 1/4 cup natural yogurt, for serving if desired
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa

  1. In a small bowl toss together the paprika, cumin, cinnamon, coriander, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.
  2. Heat a large high sided skillet over medium-high heat. Add some olive oil to coat the bottom of the skillet and once hot add the chicken and half of the seasoning mixture to the skillet. Brown the chicken all over until cooked through, about 6 minutes. Remove the chicken from the skillet and set aside.
  3. To the same skillet add a little more olive oil to pan and swirl to coat. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, red pepper, cauliflower and carrots to the skillet, sauté 4-6 minutes. Add the remaining spice mixture and sauté another 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the chicken back to the skillet. Stir in the tomato paste, chipotle chile, chicken broth, and chickpeas. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat, and simmer 5-10 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat. Stir in the cilantro and lemon zest + juice. Taste and season with salt if needed.
  4. To serve, divide the quinoa among bowls or plates.  Add the chicken/chickpea mixture on top. Top with a spoon of yogurt and some cilantro. Enjoy!

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