Monday, September 1, 2014

Grilled Ratatouille Quinoa #WholeGrainsMonth

September is Whole Grains Month, so join me, and several of my blogger friends, by celebrating the taste and versatility of whole grains and make the switch! Vote for this recipe and be entered for a chance to win $500!

You know that I started my journey down this crazy road of food blogging because I lost weight and wanted to eat healthier. I know when I post things like BLT Hot Dogs, and BLT Crostini with Basil Mayonnaise, it doesn't seem like my focus is quite there. But my motto is all things in moderation. If you deny yourself something you will eventually snap and want to gorge yourself on it. I used to be that way with ice cream. Oh the date nights I had. Just me, the sofa, the TV, and a quart or ice cream. So romantic!

Back in those days I wouldn't have known a whole grain if I tripped over it, and I can imagine trying to get my kids to eat them! I was all about white bread, instant rice, and regular pastas. I had it in my head that the healthier alternatives would be tasteless or weird. I remembered my Mom trying to get my Dad and I to eat cracked wheat bread, and thinking that it was like trying to eat a sandwich made with cardboard! But that was years, and I mean a LOT of years, ago. Now the whole grain options are wonderful and you don’t have to give up things like taste or texture. I actually prefer whole wheat pasta in many dishes because it adds a kind of nutty flavor that we all really enjoy.

Although, I do have to be honest with you, the switch wasn't really easy at first. I was game, but the rest of the gang? Ya, not so on board. They still had those same hang up. Whole grain would be bland, or weird tasting. I actually started the switch with them on the sly. I snuck in whole grain pasta. That is probably the easiest do it if you need to be sneaky like me.

I loved sitting back and watching the entire family eating around the table and going on and on about how awesome dinner was. I just smiled and let them go. At the end of the meal I asked if everyone was sure that they enjoyed the dinner. A resounding YES was what I was met with. I then informed them that they had just tried their first whole grain recipe switch. Dead silence for a minute, then a chorus of “really?”. I think that pretty much summed it up that I knew what I was doing, and wasn’t out to poison everybody.

Now the family loves the whole grain substitutions that I make. One of our favorites is quinoa. I have started using it more and more. A few favorite quinoa recipes are Mexican Quinoa, Creamy Cilantro Lime Salad with Quinoa, Avocado, Tomato, and Black Beans, and my Unstuffed Cabbage Skillet. But this Grilled Ratatouille Quinoa is, hands down, the new family favorite!

There are a few differences between refined and whole grain that might take some getting used to for a few people. Whole grains are a bit chewier than refined and, like I mentioned before, they have a nuttier flavor. For some people, like me, that is a welcome change. For others, it might take a bit of getting used to. But I can guarantee that if you stick it out and give it a few weeks, you will really begin to prefer them to refined grains, and even begin to find refined grains a bit bland and boring.

If you need an extra incentive to give the switch some time, here are a few fun facts.
  • · 81% of Americans say they are trying to eat more whole grains
  • · Corn has almost twice the antioxidant activity of apples, while wheat and oats almost equal broccoli and spinach in health-protective antioxidant activity.
  • · Refining wheat removes half, or more, of a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients – including 78% of its finer.
  • · Eating and average of 2.5 servings of whole grain foods each day can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease by almost 25%.
  • · Japanese soba noodles, Russian kasha, and crepes from Brittany in France all have one thing in common: they are all made with buckwheat.
  • · Brown rice is not the only whole grain rice. Whole grain rice can also be black, purple, red, or any of a variety of exotic hues,
  • · Whole white wheat flour is made from an albino strain of wheat, and has all of the nutrition of traditional whole wheat flour – but with lighter color and a milder flavor.
  • · Switching from refined grains to whole grains helps acne to “improve dramatically,” according to Australian researchers.
  • · Three servings a day of whole grains cuts blood pressure, reducing stroke risk by 15-20% according to a 2010 study from Scotland
  • · Sprouting grains increase many of the grains’ key nutrients, including B vitamins, Vitamin C, folate, and fiber.
And if you are anything like me, you might feel a bit intimidated when it comes to how to cook whole grains. The first time I cooked quinoa I was really nervous because it was a so foreign to me. But my fear was completely unfounded. Cooking most grains is very similar to cooking rice. You put the dry grain in a pan with water or broth, bring it to a boil, then simmer until the liquid is absorbed. When it comes to whole grain pasta, it s generally just cooked in a larger amount of water.

See, simple Simon! So give it a shot, make that switch with me. Healthy really does taste good!!

For the opportunity to win $500 plus a variety of whole grain goodies, head on over to the Whole Grains Counsel page and give this recipe a vote. I will love you forever *cheesy grin*

Grilled Ratatouille Quinoa with Balsamic Vinaigrette

Bobbi's Kozy Kitchen
Published 09/01/2014
Grilled Ratatouille Quinoa


  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into thick slices
  • 1 orange bell pepper, halved, stemmed, and seeded
  • 1 small eggplant, cut lengthwise into thick slices
  • 1 small to medium red onion, halved
  • 4 tomatoes, cut into thick slices
  • 3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice (about one generous squeeze from a fresh lemon)
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/4 cup ( a generous handful) roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, reserve a tablespoon or so for garnish


  1. Heat a grill pan to medium-high heat. Lightly oil the hot grill and place the vegetables on the grill. You may have to work in batches. Brush the veggies with oil and salt and pepper them. Cook on each side until browned and tender. Transfer to a cutting board to cool.
  2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the olive oil, balsamic vinegar, honey, lemon juice, and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Rough chop the veggies and add them to your cooked quinoa along with the balsamic vinaigrette Season with salt and pepper and the parsley and toss.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 00 hrs. 15 mins.
Cook time: 00 hrs. 25 mins.
Total time: 40 mins.
Tags: zucchini, bell pepper, eggplant, red onion, tomato, quinoa, lemon, honey, balsamic vinegar, salad, healthy, vegetarian

Check out this press release for more info on whole grains!

I received a small selection of whole grain products to sample but was not compensated for this post. All opinions are my own.


  1. I would love an extra big scoop of this salad, wow, what great ingredients!!

  2. I LOVE quinoa and JUST did a ratatouille stir-fry. This looks DIVINE!! YUM!! #Pinning

  3. Looks so delicious!

  4. Great recipe, healthy and easy to follow. Good job (Y)

    1. Thanks so much Eman! I wanted to make it healthy and simple )