Nutrition and Fitness with Randa

White Bean Quinoa Burgers

Quinoa, a great alternative to rice

Okay, so maybe I am on a quinoa kick right now, but it is such a versatile, easy, healthy food! So if you haven't tried it, I encourage you to do so!

A friend of mine, Allyson Buice, is a great cook and concocted these amazing white bean quinoa burgers. According to her mother, they taste just like turkey burgers - but without the meat!

Serve with a whole wheat bun or inside a whole wheat pita, or for a bread-free meal, wrap in crunchy lettuce pieces or atop a bed of lettuce with a drizzle of balsamic vinaigrette.


  • 1 can (15 oz.) white cannellini beans
  • 1/4 cup dry quinoa rinsed and cooked according to package
  • 1/3-1/2 cup cooked spinach/other veggies (I used leftover sauteed spinach with garlic and lemon juice, but you could use sauteed onions/shallots, whatever you like/have)
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh herbs (such as basil, chives and parsley)
  • 1/4 cup chopped, toasted walnuts (very fine or in food processor)
  • 1/4 cup shredded parmesan/romano blend
  • 1 slice multigrain bread, pulsed into bread crumbs - or panko (omit bread for GF recipe or use GF bread)
  • 1 egg white (or whole egg) beaten
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste

Mash the beans with a wooden spoon leaving some partial beans in tact but mostly all mashed. Add the rest of the ingredients except the egg and combine well (I used my hands to get everything mixed well). Add the egg and mix just until completely combined (don't overmix). Add salt and pepper to taste.

Form into 4 equal- size patties (or smaller if you want sliders or smaller burgers). Chill in the fridge for thirty minutes or longer so they are hold together more easily while cooking (this is great if you want to prep in the morning and prepare for dinner in the evening).

When you are ready to eat, generously coat a non stick skillet with olive oil spray or lightly coat with a tablespoon of oil and heat for a minute or so, then place the patties in the pan. Cook over medium/high heat for 4-6 minutes on each side. Placing a cover on the pan will keep the burgers moist.

You can make changes to ingredients based on what you have on hand and sub different beans and flavors to your taste.

Thanks, Allyson!

Nutrients per serving (4 servings): 287 Calories, 13g Total Fat, 2g Saturated Fat, 30g Carbs, 8.6g Fiber, 1g Sugars, 15g Protein (does not include bun, lettuce, or condiments)

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Breakfast Doesn’t Have to be Pancakes

Arabic Breakfast

Growing up and traveling in the Middle East, I have learned that breakfast does not have to consist of pancakes, eggs and cereal. Some of my favorite Arabic breakfast choices are fresh cucumbers and  tomatoes, paired with olives and haloumi cheese or labneh, and warm arabic bread.

I love this tantalizing description of classic favorites for breakfast in the Arab world:

"Fragrant stacks of freshly baked flat bread assail the nostrils when the napkin is lifted. Surrounding the loaves are small bowls of salty, white goat cheese, glistening black and green olives, and labnah, a thick cream cheese made by draining yogurt through cheesecloth, and then drizzled with olive oil.

A breakfast in Lebanon is likely to consist of arous labnah, rolled sandwiches of flat Arab bread filled with labnah, along with whatever the eater chooses of olives, tomato and mint. Or pieces can be torn off the bread and dipped in za'tar, a mixture of thyme, salt, sumac and sesame seeds. If there is a bakery nearby, manoushah can be delivered, hot and oily, with za'tar, already baked on top of the bread. At the same time, from the baker y, it is a temptation to buy laham bi 'ajin, a sort of pizza made with minced meat, tomatoes, and onions sprinkled with spices, parsley, and pine nuts."

We had guests for dinner last night, and when I opened the fridge this morning, the leftover grilled chicken and red quinoa salad sounded much more inviting than a bowl of oatmeal! Who says you can't eat chicken for breakfast? (Check out my blog post titled: Chicken for Breakfast?) Think outside the box when it comes to breakfast - if steak sounds good to you, eat a steak!

Black Bean, Roasted Corn & Avocado Salad with Quinoa (recipe from Trader Joes)

Red Quinoa salad for breakfast

  • 1 Cup Quinoa (or red Quinoa) , cooked with broth
  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1-15. oz. can black beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1 avocados, cutinto 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1 pint grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
  • 3/4 cup Cilantro Salad Dressing (or use a Balsamic Vinaigrette)
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • Zest of 1 lime
  • sea salt and pepper

Cook quinoa according to package directions. While quinoa is cooking, combine beans, corn, avocado, tomatoes and onion. Top with salad dressing and toss gently. Add salt, pepper and lime zest to taste. Add 1/2 of cilantro and toss gently.

When quinoa is cooked, toss with olive oil. Set aside to cool. When ready to serve, combine quinoa with corn and bean mixture and garnish with remaining cilantro.

If you don't eat chicken, top with sauteed tofu (watch my video post on how to make tasty tofu), or top a bed of greens with this wonderfully health quinoa salad.

Do you have a "breakfast outside the box" idea? Leave a comment!

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Quinoa, the Forgotten Superfood

Before we begin, let's get this great pseudo-grain's pronunciation down! Quinoa is pronounced kinwa. Say that 5 times and you will never stumble over how to say it again!

Commonly considered a grain, quinoa is actually a relative of leafy green vegetables like spinach and Swiss chard. It is a recently rediscovered ancient "grain" once considered "the gold of the Incas" and of great nutritional importance.

Today, quinoa has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest.

We use quinoa often in meals, and so does my friend, Mari, who contributed the great recipe below. (Thanks, Mari!) Red quinoa lends a beautiful color to any dish, if you want some variety.

If YOU have a favorite quinoa recipe, or concoct one as a result of this post, please leave a comment below so that others can benefit from your recipe!

Herbed Quinoa
(adapted from Giada De Laurentiis' recipe)

Quinoa (regular or red quinoa):
2 3/4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1-2 teaspoons lemon zest
kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the quinoa: in a medium saucepan, add the chicken stock, lemon juice and quinoa. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. reduce the heat to a simmer, cover the pan and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, about 12 to 15 minutes.

For the dressing: In a small bowl, mix together the olive oil, lemon juice, basil, parsley and lemon zest. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour the dressing over the quinoa until all the ingredients are coated. Transfer the quinoa to bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Great with chicken, fish or veggies. (I like the leftovers with cut up chicken, slivered almonds and dried cranberries!)

Or, for breakfast, quinoa can serve as a high-protein breakfast food, mixed with honey, almonds and berries.

I hope you enjoy this under-utilized, high protein food as much as I do! (And don't forget to post your quinoa recipe for all of us to enjoy.)

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