Dinner on the Fly + Mexican-Style Veggie Bowl {Recipe}

After a winter of crazy fluctuating temperatures and less than stellar training, I ran my first half-marathon on Sunday! Pretty frigid temperatures (especially at 6 AM!), but so fun and rewarding! I mean, how often do we–as adults–get cheered on by random strangers? It’s good for the soul.

No matter what the temps are in your neck o’ the woods, spring is that little promise that warmer temps are (at some point) on their way. And I don’t know about you, but I am hankering to clean and air out my entire house, including my kitchen. So, no surprise that I love this month’s Recipe ReDux theme, which was even more fitting since I was slow to hit the supermarket after we returned from the race in Raleigh.

Spring Clean the Kitchen: Cook with at least 3 ingredients that are actually in your refrigerator or pantry right now. Try not to go to the store to buy anything new. Give tips on how to make a healthy dish out of whatever you have on-hand.

Here’s a look at what we had in the fridge yesterday:

A little bit of spinach, some zucchini and summer squash, open bags of cabbage slaw and mini bell peppers, an avocado, cheddar cheese and soon-to-be-wilted cilantro.

I had my veggies, a little dairy and some healthy fat… I just needed some protein. Knowing I always keep canned beans, quinoa and pouched salmon and tuna in my pantry, I grabbed some black beans and quinoa to turn these ingredients into a Mexican-style veggie-quinoa bowl on-the-fly.

While the quinoa was cooking, I sauteed the mini bell peppers, zucchini and squash in a little olive oil with cumin and chili powder. Because there were so many dishes already in my drying rack, I only wanted to use two pots (one pot for quinoa and one pan for veggies). (Yes, we do call this “lazy cooking.”) So, I put the peppers-squash mixture in a bowl, threw the spinach in the pan until it wilted and then tossed the beans in the hot pan to warm them up. I shredded the cheddar, sliced the avocado and chopped the cilantro. All in the 15 minutes it took for the quinoa to cook!

While I’m definitely a recipe-girl, there is reward in throwing together a meal that is satisfying, tasty and nourishing with what you have in the kitchen (or garden!). My only dietitian advice: Try to incorporate a few different veggies (for antioxidants, potassium and dietary fiber), a whole grain (for dietary fiber and B vitamins) and a little heart-healthy fat and protein. And, have fun. It’s really that simple.

Mexican-Style Veggie Bowl


  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 tsp. olive oil, divided
  • 2 cups mini bell peppers, thinly sliced
  • 1 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 summer squash, thinly sliced
  • 1/4 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1-2 cups baby spinach or torn spinach leaves
  • 1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 avocado, diced
  • Reduced-fat cheddar cheese, shredded (optional)
  • Cilantro, chopped (optional)
  • Hot sauce, like Cholula (optional)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste


  1. Cook quinoa according to directions. While quinoa is cooking, heat 1/2 tsp. olive oil over medium heat. Add mini bell peppers, zucchini, squash, chili powder and cumin; cook 5-8 minutes, or until soft. Remove from pan. Add remaining olive oil and spinach to pan; cook 2-3 minutes, or until spinach is wilted. Remove from pan. Add black beans to pan; heat until warm.
  2. Divide quinoa evenly among four bowls. Top with mixed veggies, spinach, black beans and avocado. Garnish with cheese, cilantro and hot sauce, as desired. Makes 4 servings.

PLEASE SHARE: Pizzas, stir-fry, salads… What is your go-to dish for using up ingredients in your kitchen?

And, don’t forget to check out recipes from my fellow Recipe ReDux’ers below. You’re sure to find something else mouthwatering and nourishing!

1 Comment
  1. HUGE congrats on your half marathon!! The bowl looks yummy too. (: