Broiled Salmon with Vegetable Quinoa

By Kate Riley January 21, 2015

One of the things I’m so much better at this year is healthy eating. A year ago my habits were really bad, I got lazy grabbing anything that was quick and easy, I ate a lot of processed and fried foods filled with excess fat and sugar, but last year that all changed. I’ve been on a “clean” diet for six months and it’s given me more energy and has helped me lose weight.

I can’t stand feeling hungry or going on any kind of liquid or deprivation diet, I have to EAT! I’m also no good at sticking to list specific diets like Paleo, but looking at what I do eat I’d say it’s closest to the Mediterranean diet, mostly plant based foods and lean protein (poultry and fish), less dairy, sugar, red meat, very few starchy carbs, and the occasional glass of wine.

I learned a tip from working with a personal trainer last year, one that I use constantly since I lift weights four times a week. To maintain muscle and “sculpt” your body, aim for 25-30 grams of protein and 25-30 grams of plant based carbs with each meal, try to keep fat and sugar under 5 grams. So now I no longer count calories, I count grams instead which is so much easier for me.

We love salmon in our home, I try to make it about three times a month, it’s a fish with omega-3 fat (healthy for heart, brain, and skin). Quinoa is gluten free for those who are intolerant, it’s filling like rice because it has fiber and bonus points for protein too. I cook it in low sodium broth for more flavor. Here is one of my go to recipes I love to make on this clean eating journey, and you can prepare it in 25 minutes.

broiled salmon with vegetable quinoa

Ingredients for 4 servings:

1 large zucchini squash

1 large yellow squash

1 diced carrot (or 5-6 diced baby carrots)

1 tsp minced garlic

1 ½ cups quinoa

3 cups vegetable or low sodium chicken broth

four 5-6 oz salmon fillets

dash of lemon pepper

cooking spray

Preparation: Dice vegetables and toss squash into non-stick saucepan with minced garlic (use cooking spray if necessary). Sauté squash for 2-3 minutes on medium heat. Add broth, quinoa, and diced carrot to saucepan, cover and cook quinoa as directed, (bring to a boil then simmer about 15 minutes.)

veges and quinoa

add diced carrot

Place salmon fillets on cooking sheet (sprayed with cooking spray) and sprinkle with lemon pepper. Broil in middle of oven on low broil for 12-14 minutes until browned on top and cooked through on the inside.

sprinkle with lemon pepper

    It’s healthy, tasty, and filling and meets my protein + plant based carb meal goal!

broiled salmon with quinoa


I’m going to share more tasty healthy recipes this year and I’d love to know your favorites too. Got a great dinner recipe that you love that combines lean protein and veges? Link to it, I need more!


  1. That looks so delicious! I always forget about Salmon when I am running in to the grocery for a quick grab. My family loves Salmon and often order in restaurants. I always pick up chicken, pork, or sushi. I must remember to put Salmon on my list. Thanks for the great recipe!

  2. Best ever salmon prep. Rub lightly with olive oil. Use fresh lemon peel from an organic lemon, a lttle salt and a little sugar sprinkled on the top of the salmon. Put on a cedar plank soaked for 30 minutes. Cook on the grill. We get 3/4 lb salmon. It takes about 25-27 minutes at 400 degrees on a gas grill.

  3. I’ve made a lot of changes in order to lose 40 pounds in the last year and a half, and it’s mostly like you – making sure I feel full through better food choices, plus kettle bell workouts. The “diet” really helps me build muscle and keep from snacking. All I do is quinoa now and I feel terrible if I have regular pasta or rice! (Trader Joes does a great quinoa and brown rice pasta, you can hardly tell the difference.) For a side, we like roasting broccoli with olive oil, garlic and parmesan in the oven, then squeezing lemon over it when it’s done (same with asparagus when it’s in season). Two of my go-to recipes are from the Table for Two blog – chicken with 40 cloves of garlic and honey soy chicken. I usually make extra sauce to go over the quinoa! :)

    • Thanks for the recommendations Trude, I’ll look them up! I thought quinoa tasted like cardboard at first because I was cooking it in water, the broth helps, and like you I feel a pang of guilt when eating rice or pasta, so I make it irregular and indulge in small portions, but I’m an “everything in moderation” gal and try to make clean eating my lifestyle but I’m not perfect! Hello, I need a bit of chocolate or a gelato now and then!
      PS – Bravo for supporting I Picture Hope, love that (and your amazing photography!)

  4. Looks so good! I am about to start my own clean eating diet and will definitely try this recipe. How much weight have you lost since eating clean?

    • Karen I’ve lost 15 pounds and I’m 5’2″ so that’s 2 pant sizes on me… my goal is to lose another 8-10 in the next few months, but I’m building up muscle so I’m not watching the scale religiously, more watching my waistline (goodbye muffin top) and how clothes fit.

  5. Love this idea Kate! I’m always looking for fast and healthy meals. One of mine is 1 Bag of Frozen chicken breasts and 1 large jar of salsa verde in crockpot on low all day…use for tacos or on salad. Take remainder of broth and chicken from crockpot and add black beans and corn and you have tortilla soup the next day!

  6. Probably because my introduction to quinoa was in the form of a salad, I’ve always thought of it in that way. But yours is the second hot quinoa recipe I’ve found and I really like the idea of mixing things up, grain wise, by adding quinoa into the rotation for a side dish. Thanks for sharing!

  7. I am going to make this tonight. Excited to see and try your recipes. I have a container of Quinoa just waiting to be used. My husband has been trying to lose some weight that appeared over the last few months, and he is cutting out pasta. I’ll see if I can convert him to Quinoa. Thanks!

  8. One of my favorites is a fish stew. Saute some onion, carrot, fennel and escarole in a spray of olive oil about 5 minutes or until tender (I chop them finely), then add a can of plum tomatoes with juice, crushed garlic, a few sprigs of thyme, 2 bottles of clam juice, and a little wine. Let this cook until all the veges are soft. Add salt and pepper to taste. Then add a drained can of white kidney beans and a pound of peeled and deveined shrimp and/or any other seafood you love and cook until the shrimp are done (another few minutes). You can adjust the seasoning to add anything else you like, but you get a great stew and a flavor that improves over time.

  9. Thanks Kate, this is so inspiring and encouraging as this year is the start of my healthy eating. I am like you; I can’t do the diet thing it seems to make me eat worse food, because I am hungry. I look forward to seeing more of your healthy recipes. I love, love, quinoa so I will definitely try this one.

  10. I started a low carb diet just before Christmas(of all times to start a diet!). In the past I would count and restrict calories as a diet but felt so hungry(which make me grumpy). Counting grams and carbs felt like my last hope. I almost gave up last week but I think it’s starting to work. I’m losing a few pounds and I don’t feel bloated.

  11. A couple of questions. I started “clean eating” – I use that term loosly because I’m more of a moderation girl also and I wasn’t 100% clean nor 100% organic – a year ago. I don’t have the luxury of a Trader Joes or Whole Foods within 2 hours of me. :-(. But we did well with the clean eating meal plans for the first 9 months or so of last year and then about the time school started up in the fall I got so tired of all the food prep we sort of fell out of it. We’ve picked up some good habits and I still RARELY buy bread and even when we do want bread I make it, but I’ve fallen back into buying some things I had steered away from. And our vegetable intake is not up to par anymore. So for those questions I had – HOW do you get your family on board? My kids would love the fish or salmon but I think that’s about all they will touch on this. They are so picky and that was part of my struggle and giving up that I didn’t have the energy to try to get them to eat vegetables anymore so I started buying mac and cheese and rice again so that they would eat something. You see recipes that say add in diced broccoli to “hide” the veggie so your kids will eat it. nope. That doesn’t work at my house. Especially my daughter, she inspects her food very closely and if she even detects one little spec of seasoning got on her food she doesn’t want to eat it. She’ll see that tiny little diced finely green stuff. Maybe I’m forcing it too much and I should let the kids eat “dirty”. So were your kids on board with quinoa and veggies or did they have to adjust? The second question – how do you know how many grams are in a portion of protein or vegetable? Especially with the vegetable since there’s not always labels when buying fresh. Do you eyeball a portion size to get about that many grams or do you have a method?

    • I know your pain Rhonda! My kids eat most vegetables but don’t eat a lot of others… someone told me years ago to just keep introducing it on their plates, even if it takes a dozen times for them to taste it, that seems to help, that’s how I got them to eat sushi and squash and things like that… but believe me they’d rather eat mac and cheese all day if it was up to them :)
      I also use a food scale (to answer your second question) and a quick look on the internet, for example there are 5 grams of protein per oz of salmon, and 30 grams of carbs in 3/4 cup of cooked quinoa, I pay less attention with vegetables :)

  12. Whrn my H gets home from the hospital, this will be on our new healthy menu. Not particularly for weight loss but just for good nutrition! (hospital food IS weirdly fattening, though.)

  13. Yum! This is just the kind of dinner we would eat at our house too. I congratulate you on the clean eating and exercising. That is one thing I’m trying to get better at again, I did the same thing last year with getting lazy with eating and put on some weight and have been doing better again since the holidays. Always looking for things like this to keep up the motivation. Thank you!

  14. My family tried BuzzFeed’s clean eating challenge for two weeks ( It wasn’t sustainable for us, but we got some good things out of it, and it got us moving in the right direction. Two recipes we liked were the Shaved Asparagus Salad and Roasted Fennel with Chicken.

    A big change for me has been figuring out how to eat steel cut oats in the mornings. They’re such a great breakfast, but oh my word, they take forever. Solution! Bring 4 cups of water and dash of salt to a boil, then add 1 cup of steel cut oats. Boil hard for one minute (be careful, they overflow easily). Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit all day (or overnight). Transfer to the refrigerator, then warm up a serving whenever you need it. FANTASTIC with berries and a small pat of butter, yum!

    A big wall that I hit was how to eat well when I needed something fast. I feel confident at dinnertime when I have 30-60 minutes to get a meal on the table. But what do you do when you don’t have that much time? What do you do for lunches at home, for example, or snacks? That’s where I am still struggling. Thoughts?

    • Cindy that trick for steel cut oats sounds great, I’ll have to try it – you’re right we get so busy that grabbing something healthy and fast is tricky. I try to keep cooked chicken, hummus, carrot sticks, pretzels, popcorn, grapes, etc. in the fridge and pantry for all of us when we need a snack – I’ve gotten used to grabbing a Quest bar in between meals when I’m on the go, that helps too, and I know I’m getting the right proportion of protein and carbs for that meal supplement, but that took time forming that habit, at first they tasted icky to me but now I’m accustomed to them. :)

  15. I thought of a suggestion. Years ago I switched to using mostly olive oil for my fat in cooking and also on bread, potatoes etc. My spouse has always been thin but has a family history of heart disease. I have always struggled with my weight clinically overweight by the definition, but not obese. Portion control was my biggest issue. However both my husband’s and my lipid panels are great. BTW I am now 60, so I consider this a big boon. In fact both our LDL’s (bad cholesterol) are lower than the range given by the lab. This is a great thing according to my Dr. He actually asked what I was doing. This has happened several times. The absolute other component that is key is exercise. I am a retired nurse and found it a struggle to exercise with those 12 hr shifts so I never had a routine. With retirement I have made it my goal to always make time for it. It is the best thing you can do for yourself and others. It is the best pschotropic drug ever and it allows you to have that favorite treat. Kate, I would keep doing what you are doing with your kids with food and not make an issue over it. I will try almost anything and I never met a fruit I didn’t like and most vegetables I like too. I attribute this to being exposed to the food and not forced to eat it. P.S. I tried quinoa and did not like it. Wish I did, but then I like so many other things.

  16. Thank you for this wonderful recipe! I made it for my family tonight and it’s a keeper. It was my first time to make quinoa. Thank you for the push. My son gave me the “100 Days of Real Food” cookbook for Christmas and this was our first week of eating real food for every meal. My 16 year old son has been making smoothies for us. Thank you so much for this easy, yummy recipe!

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