Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Citrus Chicken Quinoa Bowls with Avocado

When the weather is cold and dreary, it can be pretty tough to stay focused on healthy meals.  It seems like we're naturally geared to want thick, rich stews, roasts, baked pastas, and all the mashed potatoes we can handle.

The good news is citrus season comes smack in the middle of winter, making the search for light and enticing meals much, much easier.  Nothing can brighten up the look of a plate as quickly as juicy segments of orange or grapefruit and the taste is always enough to bring warm, sunny thoughts to mind.

These quinoa bowls make those oranges the star of the show.  With a supporting cast of creamy avocado, nutty quinoa, and earthy cilantro, there's nothing not to love.  I made these for lunch and the protein content really kept me going strong all afternoon, even through a pretty intense workout.  If this is what eating healthy in winter can be, I'm all in.

Bright, sunny orange segments are the perfect accent to nutty quinoa, creamy avocado, and earthy cilantro in these healthy, protein-packed citrus chicken quinoa bowls.

Citrus Chicken Quinoa Bowls with Avocado
adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

1/2 c. dry quinoa
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped into 1-in. pieces
2 cloves roasted garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 large oranges, peeled and segmented (supremes)
1 ripe avocado, cubed
2 green onions, chopped (for garnish) 

For the dressing:
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
1/3 c. chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
1 TBSP fresh orange juice
1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1 TBSP honey
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

1.  In a dry skillet over medium-low heat, toast quinoa until fragrant and very lightly browned, 7-8 minutes.  Cook according to package directions, then transfer to a large bowl and let cool slightly.

2.  Meanwhile,warm olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.  In a small bowl, toss chicken pieces with paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper.  Add chicken to pan and cook until done, 7-8 minutes.

3.  Make dressing by shaking all ingredients together in a tightly-lidded jar or whisking together in a small bowl.

4.  Add chicken, oranges, and avocado to the quinoa.  Stir gently to combine.  Add desired amount of dressing to salad and stir.  (I used about 3/4 of it and added the rest to leftovers for lunch the following day.)  Leftovers keep well up to 3 days.    

Yield: 3 servings


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