This post was created in partnership with ALDI. All opinions are our own.
Let’s take a new approach to the new year, shall we? Instead of saying NO to things, what about saying Y-E-S? Alex and I have discovered a secret that’s made healthy eating incredibly simple: saying yes instead of no. Instead of fearing and avoiding foods, we’ve learned to say YES to eating lots of vegetables and trying new recipes. Over time, we found saying yes makes it 100% more fun to cook and eat healthfully than avoiding foods. We’ve even started to crave foods like quinoa and sweet potatoes and a lemony massaged kale salad.
But it hasn’t always been this way. Me of the past (let’s call her Past Me) was very fearful of certain foods. For a while it was carbs, and Past Me would remove the bread of sandwiches and stay 100 feet away from pasta at all times. Then it was calories. Past Me went through an embarrassing phase of using spray butter on everything “because it had zero calories”, saving my calories for night-time pizza and chocolate binges. The more Past Me feared things, the more they came back to haunt me: usually in the evening when I’d raid my cupboards for anything off limits. It’s wasn’t the best time for Past Me.
I’d like to say there was a magical moment where Past Me saw the light of the “non-diet diet.” But it was a gradual change. Somewhere along the line, with Alex’s very patient guidance, I realized that eating homemade whole foods, lots of vegetables and splurges in moderation was WAY healthier than my habit of saying NO. Here we are years later, and I can happily report that it’s possible. It’s 100% possible to live into the YES and make a sustainable practice of healthy eating. Sustainable doesn’t mean it’s perfect: I still love chocolate and popcorn and sometimes engage in late-night snacking. But Alex and I cook healthy meals together on the regular. And it’s FUN.
This quinoa fried rice is a perfect way to say YES in 2018–especially since it’s got the appearance of your favorite takeout. But instead, it’s a healthy take on fried rice featuring quinoa to pack in the plant-based protein. And along with the normal cast of vegetable characters, it’s got a new spin: baby greens! We throw handfuls of greens into just about anything, from soups and curries, to sandwiches and pizzas. So why not throw a few huge handfuls of greens into quinoa fried rice? We used a mix of baby spinach, kale, and chard that we purchased at ALDI, and it’s a perfect way to infuse more nutrients without even realizing it.
A few tips for adding greens to recipes:
- Boxes of washed baby greens make reaching for greens super simple. You can also use standard size greens on the stem, just make sure to wash them, then chop them into bite-sized pieces.
- When adding fresh greens, it seems impossible that they’ll fit into the pan. However, cooking them down for a few seconds shrinks them down to a fraction of their mass when fresh. Baby greens are more tender and thus take less time to cook down than standard-sized greens (again, chop those standard greens into smaller pieces).
- Since the flavor of baby greens is mild when wilted, they typically take on the flavor of the dish instead of adding a flavor of their own. In addition to this quinoa fried rice, we add handfuls of greens to almost everything: they melt into soup in just a minute or two, or try them in pasta–mac & cheese can be nutrient-infused in no time.
Last year we partnered with ALDI to feature our shared passions: healthy eating and fresh foods! We’re excited to announce that we’re partnering again this year to feature more of their products in healthy recipes. It’s been incredible to watch as ALDI offers more fresh and organic produce in their stores, all while keeping prices affordable. The quality of the food for the price is outstanding, which we found with our shopping trip to create this recipe! The mixed baby greens and organic quinoa in this recipe are from ALDI’s SimplyNature line. Make sure to check out ALDI as you say YES this year and put in the work towards creating a sustainable habit of healthy eating!
Side note: on the trip for these groceries, we picked up a few Lot wines from ALDI! If you remember from our trip to Washington wine country, the Lot series is a special run of wines made specifically for ALDI. We can’t wait to try them out. Our doctor friend told us one glass of wine per day is helpful for heart health, so we’re taking his word for it!
Looking for more fried rice?
If you like this quinoa fried rice, you may enjoy these other fried rice recipes:
Did you make this recipe?
If you make this veggie packed quinoa fried rice, we’d love to hear how it turned out. Leave a comment below or share a picture on Instagram and mention @acouplecooks.
This recipe is…
Vegetarian, gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free. For vegan and plant-based, omit the egg and load up on other filling protein (like edamame as mentioned below).
Veggie Packed Quinoa Fried Rice
- 1½ cups uncooked SimplyNature Organic Quinoa (5 cups cooked)
- 4 green onions
- 1 yellow onion
- 2 to 3 carrots (about 1 cup diced)
- 4 large garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 2 tablespoons SimplyNature Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 SimplyNature Organic Cage Free Brown Eggs*
- 5 ounces (about 5 cups) SimplyNature Mixed Greens: Baby Green Kale, Baby Spinach and Baby Chard
- 4 tablespoons Fusia Soy Sauce or liquid aminos
- Fusia Sriracha, for serving
- Season’s Choice Edamame, for serving
- Cook the quinoa: Using a strainer, rinse the quinoa under cold water, then drain it completely. Place the quinoa in a saucepan with 3 cups water. Bring it to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Stir once, then simmer where the water is just bubbling for about 17 to 20 minutes, until the water has been completely absorbed (check by pulling back the quinoa with a fork to see if water remains). Remove from the heat, cover the pot and allow the quinoa to steam for 5 minutes, then fluff the quinoa with a fork. Cool the quinoa by spreading it into a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze for 5 to 10 minutes. (If making in advance, refrigerate the quinoa until serving)
- Slice the green onions; reserve the dark green portions for a garnish. Dice the onion. Peel and dice the carrots. Peel and mince the garlic and ginger.
- In a very large skillet, heat the oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and white and light green portions of the green onions and sauté until translucent, about 3 minutes, then add the carrots and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 2 minutes.
- Add the quinoa and salt and stir to combine. Make a well in the quinoa, exposing the pan, and crack the eggs into the pan. Scramble the eggs and cook for several minutes until they are soft, then stir them into the quinoa (resist the urge to stir them into the quinoa until they are cooked). Add the baby greens and continue to stir until they are fully wilted, about 1 to 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, stir in the soy sauce and green onion tops and mix. Taste and add additional salt as desired (we added an additional ¼ teaspoon as our soy sauce was low sodium).
- If desired, drizzle with sriracha and/or additional soy sauce. Serving suggestion: serve with boiled and salted edamame in the pods for a filling meal.