Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Cheesy Quinoa & Asparagus Bake #recipesfromtheheart

Today I'm joining a group of bloggers to help raise awareness of heart disease.  The group was organized by Kim of Cravings of a Lunatic and Jen of Juanita's Cocina, both of whom have parents personally touched by the disease.  Jen's stepfather suffered a heart attack and Kim lost her mother to the disease when she was only 15.  In memory of Kim's mother, she and Jen asked that we share our own personal stories as well as a heart healthy recipe.

Unfortunately, I can relate all too well so, I'm going to tell you a little about my father, Marty.  Born and raised in Germany and chased out by the Nazis, his family fled to Israel when he was a teenager.  They settled on beautiful Mount Carmel in the port city of Haifa.  Later, he fell in love with a pretty Russian refugee girl named Lea and decided to try to build a future and raise a family (that would be me.  Hi.) in the US.  Despite the war-torn upbringing, my father was a cheerful, charming, gregarious man who could chat up the devil himself.  He told long, hysterically funny stories and, if he could do something for you, he would.  He loved to entertain and make people happy and he loved food.  Specifically, he loved the rich, heavy European foods he grew up with and no doctor could dissuade him from enjoying it.  The resulting health problems were inevitable.

For the last 15 or so years of his life he took an increasing number of medications every morning.  Meds to combat high blood pressure, high cholesterol, high blood sugar.  He suffered a series of minor heart attacks and the doctor warned that a big one was coming.  But he couldn't change his ways.  He passed away of a massive coronary the day before I began my senior year of college.

Heart disease, of course, isn't solely governed by food but I do think it's an important component in controlling or at least, delaying, the onset.  And I decided long ago that I wanted to get my medications from the produce aisle and not the pharmacy.  My father believed that healthy food couldn't taste good but I've learned that it can and my love of cooking has helped me create many delicious, heart healthy recipes.  I inherited my father's sense of humor, his thick hair and large eyes.  I don't know if I also inherited his tendency towards heart disease but I plan to do my best to keep that at bay for many years to come and...so far, so good!

Ingredients
2 Tablespoons light butter
3 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1 Cup low fat milk
1 Cup low fat cheese, shredded (I used a Weight Watchers blend)
1/2 Cup quinoa
3/4 Cup water
4 Spears asparagus, washed and thinly sliced
2 Tablespoons seasoned panko breadcrumbs
1 Teaspoon olive oil
Salt & pepper to taste

Rinse the quinoa and add to a pot along with the water.  Bring to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low.  Cook for 12 minutes, turn off the heat and allow to sit, covered, for an additional 5 minutes.

While the quinoa is cooking, melt the light butter in a large skillet and whisk in the flour.  On medium low heat, whisk in the milk until the mixture has thickened and no lumps remain.  Stir in the cheese and add the asparagus.  Stir in the cooked quinoa and season to taste.

In a small bowl, add the breadcrumbs and olive oil and stir to combine.  Pour the quinoa mixture into two individual oven-proof bowls (or one larger one) and top each with half the breadcrumb mixture.  Bake in a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until the breadcrumbs are golden brown.  Makes 2 servings.

Note:  Two of the leading contributors to heart disease are high blood pressure and stress.  But having a little furry companion has been shown in lots of studies to lower both.  Having a dog also forces you to take them out for walks and the exercise helps to lower blood pressure and stress as well.  I adore my little furry girl but she does sometimes make photography a  little...um...tricky? :)





Please check out the other heart healthy offerings from our group:
Veggie Nachos by Dine & Dish
Sautéed Rataouille with Quinoa by Whipped

31 comments:

  1. This is a great post Anita. I am making the rounds of all the #recipesfromtheheart today as I remember my own grandmother and uncle. Thom and I know we need to change our ways and it's been so tough but you're right - he can't keep indulging in the rich Austrian foods he was raised on (despite his skinny waist) and I can't keep pretending like I don't need to exercise. Big hugs to you today.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thank you so much for sharing your story Anita-your father sounds like he was an amazing man. <3

    ReplyDelete
  3. It is terrible when we lose a family member or loved one too early. I can tell you miss your dad very much and wish he was still here today. After all he went through having to flee from his country it is sad that heart failure would take him away.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I am so sorry about your father. But I thank you for sharing your story. He sounds like a fabulous personality...just like you! <3

    Thank you for bringing such an amazing recipe today! Healthy eating can be yummy!

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a great story Anita. Your father sounds like a great man.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I am sorry about your father. Sounds like he was a great person and what a great story. Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  7. Anita that is a truly amazing story about your dad. To survive all that he did in life was so impressive. I always think about the folks who lived through all that horrible time, and how it must impact their lives. I cannot even imagine that kind of world but I know it existed, and still does in some ways. It's a scary thing.

    I am so sorry you lost your dad to heart issues. My mom would go in fits and starts, much like I do, with eating right and exercising. I know I don't want to walk the same path so diet changes, while hard, are the only way to go.

    I love the photo of your father, he was a handsome man. I'm sure he's super proud of you and all you've become. Big hug from me to you today. I'm sure writing this was not easy and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for participating today. It means the world to me. xx

    ReplyDelete
  8. A very touching story. My dad also suffered from heart disease..couple of heart attacks, angioplasty, a bypass and a pacemaker. But he changed his ways...quit smoking and more conscious of his diet...in the end it was cancer that took his life 3 weeks ago.

    Thank you for sharing your story and a great recipe...healthy food can taste great!

    ReplyDelete
  9. Oh, Anita, I am so sorry...you lost your dear father way too soon. It sounds like he was a marvelous man! And thanks for sharing a delicious quinoa dish...I have a nice stash in my pantry just waiting for this recipe :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. What a wonderful story... and a beautiful dish! I'm so sorry for your loss, Anita. I agree that the world would be MUCH healthier if we got our medication from the produce aisles! <3

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thank you so much for sharing part of your story with us. I love the picture - I think Marty must have been a cool, hip, and debonair man.....at least that's what the photo shows. He looks like Desi Arnaz to me, only more brave for obvious reasons. And as for the recipe, I have a box of quinoa in the pantry right now. I have wanted to try it for a very long time but I honestly never saw a recipe that looked tasty to me, until now. I am going to try this!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Anita: Thanks for sharing the story of your father. He sounds like a remarkable man, and I have a feeling he adored his little girl. Thanks too for sharing your healthy recipes and inspiring us.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sorry to hear about your dad, he sounded like a great man! This recipe sounds delicious, and looks amazing - exactly what healthy good for you food should be!

    ReplyDelete
  14. I'm very sorry to hear about your father, he sounded like a wonderful man. My thoughts are with you.

    ReplyDelete
  15. What a beautiful post Anita. I can see that you also inherited his love for food and I am so proud of you for finding a way to enjoy that love in a healthy way. There are so many ways to prepare and enjoy healthy food that also tastes spectacular!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wonderfully written.

    Great recipe too. I will be trying this one very soon.

    ReplyDelete
  17. A lovely recipe for a great cause. I loved hearing about your father, and I'm so sorry that you lost him too soon. Thank you for sharing, sweet friend. I hope today and this week brings many blessings and more good food!

    ReplyDelete
  18. I didn't even realize this was yours and I pinned it a couple of days again as it looked so very good. Thanks so much for sharing.

    I am so sorry to hear about the loss of your father.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks so much for sharing your family story, Anita. And I'm so sorry you lost your father so young. It sounds like he completely embraced life, and that included food. There's heart disease in my family too, along with other things I really would rather not fight. So I've dramatically changed my own diet over the last couple of years. And this dish is right up my alley. I do a similar one with quinoa and Swiss chard, but am loving the asparagus just showing up now. Gorgeous photo too!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Your father sounds like a strong and amazing man, Anita. I am sure you miss him every day. I love that you are able to cook healthy and delicious foods in memory of your dad and to help keep yourself as healthy as possible.

    And any dish with the word "cheesy" in the name is A-OK in my book! :)

    ReplyDelete
  21. I'm so sorry for your loss, Anita. I can completely empathize since both of my parents have passed away. *hugs*

    I totally love this recipe! I love both quinoa and asparagus and everyone knows my love affair with cheese. This is going on next weeks menu for sure.

    ReplyDelete
  22. This was a wonderful post and such a great way to celebrate and remember your father. And the recipe sounds wonderful too! I've chosen your recipe as my host favorite for this week's Foodie Friends Friday 'Recipes that Caught our Attention', so please look out for it on Monday on The Daily Dish Magazine! www.dailydishmagazine.com

    I'm sorry for the loss of your father and thank you for sharing this story with us.

    ReplyDelete
  23. Thank you so much for sharing your story and this heart healthy recipe. I'm a big fan of quinoa and have finally convinced my family they should eat it. We are learning so much now about how to choose the right foods for a healthier lifestyle and hope that we can help our families make the right choices.

    Thanks again for sharing,
    Joanne/Winelady Cooks

    ReplyDelete
  24. So sorry to hear about your father. I'm afraid my dad would be the same way if it happens to him. As much as he loves fruit, he will never give up the bad stuff. And I will forever love that photobombed picture.

    ReplyDelete
  25. Do you think I would be able to prepare this dish the day before so that I could just pop it into the oven the next day?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Yolanda,

      Yes, you certainly should be able to do that.

      Delete
    2. Awesome, thank you! & although I don't know to personally, I am proud of you in the choice you have made for your health. Thank you for sharing your story & a glimpse into the loving man your father was - reminded me of my late grandfather. They barely come how they used to!)

      Delete
  26. Cheese, butter and milk are not only sources of cancer, but create heart disease. I don't get it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you noticed, I've used minimal amounts of low fat dairy in this recipe. If your assertion is that all dairy causes these diseases (a claim you cannot substantiate) then I disagree. Quite the opposite. People who substitute soy products for those items are just as much at risk based on the numerous studies linking soy to female cancers. I'm quite surprised at this comment based on what I wrote in this post and I would be pleased to continue this discussion with you if you come out from behind the 'anonymous' cover.

      Delete
  27. Dear Anita,
    Loved to hear the story about your Father! Even though he is gone his spirit is
    certainly with you. You are wonderful to share this healthy version of this casserole!
    Marii

    ReplyDelete

We love to hear from you!