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I Heart Sheep

20 Mar

I dedicate this post to my friend Mel… she eats more Shepherd’s Pie than anyone I have ever (and will ever) met in life… EVER!

The reason why is not important, what is important is that I am amused by this fact – which I am 🙂

I’ve never had Shepherd’s Pie before so this is a whole new experience for me. I looked at the ingredients in the recipe and it sounded like a manly dinner made prissy by tossing it into a casserole dish.

I’m sold.

This is an artist's rendition of me dressed as Little Bo Peep 😉 Get it? She lost her sheep.... shepherd's pie... a person who tends to sheep?

No sheep were harmed in the making of this recipe, but plenty of dishes were dirtied because of my disorganization and lack of preparation. This meal will become a weekend make ahead meal from now on (if it tastes good).

Shepherd’s Pie (recipe adapted from The Engine 2 Diet)

6 small Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered

1/2 cup non-dairy milk (unsweetened)

16 oz green beans or peas, fresh or frozen

2 small onions, diced

1 pkg (10 oz) mushrooms, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced whoops – I knew I forgot something

1 Tbsp Bragg Liquid Aminos

2 Tbsp tomato paste

2 cups beef flavored tvp crumbles (recipe follows)

  • Preheat oven to 400*F.
  • Steam potatoes until soft, approximately 15 minutes. Drain and mash along with milk and pepper.
  • Steam green beans or peas for 7 minutes or until bright green and firm.
  • Saute onions until translucent. Add the mushrooms and garlic. Cook until mushrooms begin to release their juices.Add Bragg Liquid Aminos, tomato paste, and pepper.
  • Add onions to beef crumbles and combine thoroughly. Spread along the bottom of a casserole dish.
  • Top beef crumbles with green beans. Spread potatoes over top.
  • Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake until potatoes begin to brown.

Sounds good, doesn’t it?

Well Wheatgrass and Sassafras isn’t supposed to be about my cooking triumphs it is  supposed to be chronicling my vegan journey but I haven’t posted any of the hiccups I’ve experience along the way – what kind of chronicle is that?

In the spirit of honesty I must tell you that some things I make sound really gross, look really gross, or taste really gross.

Mostly, even the gross sounding or looking meals I’ve made have been really tasty.

I bring you… Beef Flavored TVP Crumbles.

They sound gross and look gross.

Do you even know what TVP is? It is textured vegetable protein… YUCK! It is a meat analogue made from reduced-fat soy flour… EEWWWW! It is a good source of protein and essential amino acids… YAY!

This is what it looks like once liquid has been added.

Why would anyone voluntarily eat this? I have no clue, I guess some people just love Shepherd’s Pie.

The fact of the matter is that although TVP looks and sounds nasty it actually tastes pretty good. I’ve used it to make bacon bits that are seriously addictive and taco meat for tacos of course and nachos and taco salad.

My favorite part of my vegan journey is trying to recreate omnivore foods without the use of animal product. It’s simply amazing how many recipes there are for everyday “omni” foods like chicken, yogurt, scrambled eggs, ice cream, etc.

Sometimes I really hate what I’ve made (i.e. grilled cheese) but more often than no I am completely surprised over how delicious a recipe can be (i.e. vegan crab cakes).

So if you are scared to try this recipe because you are unfamiliar with TVP just try it… chances are there is TVP (aka TSP – textured soy protein) in that veggie burger you are chowing down on right now.

Beef Flavored TVP Crumbles (adapted from The Happy Herbivore)

2 cups water

2 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

1 tsp + 2 Tbsp Vegan Worcestershire Sauce, divided

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/4 tsp black pepper

salt to taste

2 cups TVP

2 Tbsp + 2 tsp steak sauce

  • Combine water, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce, and spices; bring  to a boil.  Once boiling combine with TVP. Once reconstituted stir in 2 Tbsp Worcestershire and steak sauce.
  • Use with Shepherd’s pie recipe above.

I was writing this post while the Shepherd’s Pie was cooking. I couldn’t wait for it to be done so I could gobble it up.

This was the expected outcome

Photo Courtesy of Engine 2 Diet

This was the actual outcome

Oh well, I guess I wasn’t meant to like Shepherd’s Pie or maybe I jinked myself by letting you know I’ve had some kitchen disasters. Either way, I would  guess that the recipe is just fine (or it wouldn’t have been published and served to E2 Immersion participants) so my experience shouldn’t discourage you. In fact, try it and let me know how it comes out.

~ Happy & Healthy Eating

Note: If you don’t want to make your own beef crumbles you can by them in the grocery store or substitute lentils.

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Chinese Takeout

15 Mar

Who doesn’t like Chinese food? I practically lived on it while I was in college. My favorite meals were always the ones that were saucy and had lots of mushrooms.

Unfortunately (or fortunately) I don’t get as much joy from Chinese takeout as I once did. Since I started eating healthy foods consistently I have found that the greasiness of Chinese food does not make my belly happy.

Interesting fact: By eating a whole food, plant-based diet I was able to cure my tummy troubles. For at least a year I would have a belly ache after eating (every meal) and lived on Tums and Pepto. I was popping antacids so often that I couldn’t leave home without them; I kept some in my car, in my desk at work, and had to take them on long trips. I never anticipated that my diet was causing all of this discomfort, in fact, I was doing research online about Celiac Disease, Crohn’s Disease, and Irritable Bowel Syndrome in a desperate attempt to understand what was going on. Within about a month of changing my diet I realized that I wasn’t taking Tums or Pepto EVER! Since then I rarely have a belly ache, and every time I do I can tie it to an unhealthy meal that I ate (especially dairy). And now, instead of popping something pastel and chalky I have a ginger chew which is delicious and is just the thing I need to settle my stomach.

such cute packaging, don't you think?

But I digress; let’s get back to the Chinese food.

Although I don’t much care for Chinese takeout any longer, I do love all of the flavors of Chinese cuisine – and what’s great, is that you can whip up your own takeout in just minutes and make a very flavorful meal.  This meal came together in under 30 minutes, less time than it takes for you to read a takeout menu, fight over who is going to call it in, and wait for delivery.

 

Tonight I made Broccoli & Red Pepper Stir Fry which had a wonderful sauce and could easily be customized by swapping in your favorite veggies. I also made Miso Soup for the first time… it was the best soup I have ever made! This meal was enough to feed two so make sure to double the recipe if you are cooking for a family or want leftovers.

Shitake Miso Soup (adapted from Everyday Happy Herbivore)

1 cup shitake mushrooms, sliced (about one handful, stems removed)

3 green onions, whites and light green part sliced

2 cups water

1 Tbsp miso

1 tsp kelp

  1.  Sauté mushrooms in water in a medium pot.
  2. Once softened stir in miso adding a small amount of water if necessary to prevent clumps.
  3. Add green onions and water. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to low.
  4. Add kelp and simmer until soup is warm. Turn off heat and let sit for 5 minutes, allowing the flavors to enhance.
  5. Note: Feel free to add addition miso, soy sauce, or other veggies/flavorings along with the kelp to make your own customized soup.

I suppose now would be a good time to clue you in on what kelp is.

Kelp is a variety of seaweed and is often used in Asian cuisine. According to Thrive Foods by Brendan Brazier, “sea vegetables are among the most nutritionally dense foods, containing about 10 times the calcium of cow’s milk and several times more iron than red meat, sea vegetables are easily digestible, chlorophyll rich, and alkaline forming. Packed with minerals, sea vegetables are the richest source of naturally occurring electrolytes know.”

Kelp comes in a variety of forms (powder, granules, strips) – I have larger strips and toss them in a coffee grinder when I need it ground up. You can find kelp at your neighborhood Asian Food store, health food store, or in the international aisle of many supermarkets. I use kelp (and other sea vegetables) in soups and to make a mock-tuna salad, it adds just the right about of flavor to replicate recipes that use seafood.

Did you know that by throwing in a piece of Kombu (another sea vegetable) when you are cooking beans will add nutrients, improve digestibility, and reduce flatulence?  Surely I couldn’t keep that tip to myself… let’s start making the world a little less stinky 😉

Broccoli & Red Pepper Stir-Fry (adapted from Everyday Happy Herbivore)

2 cups water

2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

2 Tbsp nutritional yeast

2 Tbsp Dijon mustard

½ tsp garlic powder

½ tsp onion powder

½ tsp ground ginger

1 tsp Vegan Worcestershire Sauce

2 heads broccoli, chopped into florets

1 tsp cornstarch

1 red bell pepper, seeded and sliced

  1. In a pickle jar combine water, soy sauce, nutritional yeast, mustard, spices, and Worcestershire sauce and shake vigorously. If you don’t have a pickle jar you could do this in a bowl with a whisk.
  2. Pour half of the sauce into a large skillet and bring to a boil.
  3. Add broccoli and cook over medium heat until most of the sauce cooks down.
  4. Add cornstarch* to remaining broth and shake until combined. Pour over broccoli.
  5. Add peppers and cook over high heat until the broccoli is dark green, the peppers are crisp-tender, and the sauce has reduced down.
  6. Serve veggies and sauce over brown rice.

Don’t worry if you think you have too much sauce, this recipe makes a lot to drown your veggies and rice in J

*Note: If you are concerned about lumps (from the cornstarch) you can pour the sauce through a sieve when adding to the broccoli.

 

I am thinking that the next time I make Chinese Takeout I’ll have a party and I make customized stir-fries for my friends and serve them in Chinese takeout food containers with chopsticks and make homemade fortune cookies. How cute would that be?

 

~Happy & Healthy Eating

Just Like Thanksgiving

12 Mar

Several months ago I purchased Thrive Foods by Brendan Brazier. It is a companion cookbook in the Thrive series.  Unfortunately I haven’t read the book yet because it was hiding in my husband’s bag for the last five months but I have perused the recipes. Originally I didn’t think I would actually make any of the recipes because they didn’t really appeal to me (Young Coconut Soup, Sacha Inchi Milk, Superfood Gomashio) but I have been drooling over photos on Thrive Foods Direct   so I decided it was time to pony up and start cooking.

Last week I made the Roasted Garlic Quinoa. My husband (who doesn’t really care for quinoa) says it is his favorite quinoa dish! It  was very yummy… but, not worth photographing 😉

Roasted Garlic Quinoa (adapted from Thrive Foods)
1 whole head garlic
2 Tbsp melted coconut oil
1 tsp lemon juice
2 cups cooked quinoa
½ tsp sea salt, or to taste
Pinch dried thyme leaves, for garnish

Slice off the top of the head of garlic and place in foil. Roast at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until softened. Allow garlic to cool.
Squeeze the roasted garlic out of the peel and into a small bowl along with coconut oil and lemon juice, mix well. Heat sauce over low heat.
Add the cooked quinoa and salt, stirring to combine. Heat through thoroughly and garnish with thyme before serving.

If you’ve never roasted garlic before YOU MUST! It is so delicious and versatile. You can eat the cloves whole, spread it on bread, blend into salad dressing, create a garlic hummus dip, or even  add it to soup. Roasting the garlic mellows the flavor and creates a creamy richness that is irresistible.

This week I made the Wild Rice with Kabocha Squash and Sage Butter. It was to die for! The combination of hardy wild rice, sweet squash, and savory sage butter reminded me of thanksgiving. In fact, I think I will serve it with home-made cranberry sauce and green bean casserole next time I make it.

While this recipe calls for Kabocha Squash

I used Acorn Squash because that is what I found at the grocery store.

I think you could probably  substitute any firm winter squash and have great success

Rice Pilaf with Acorn Squash and Sage Butter (adapted from Thrive Foods)

1lb acorn squash
1 cup rice pilaf
2 cups water
3 Tbsp melted coconut oil
½ Tbsp chopped fresh sage, packed
1 Tbsp mined onion or shallot
½ tsp salt

  1. Preheat oven to 400ᵒF
  2. Cut squash in half, discard seeds, and place face down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool then cut into chunks.
  3. While squash is roasting prepare rice by combining it with water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer, uncovered for approximately 45 minutes.
  4. In a food processor (or coffee grinder) blend coconut oil, sage, onion, and salt until smooth.
  5. Heat sage butter over low heat then combine with rice.
  6. Fold in squash and serve warm.

Note: I used a whole grain rice pilaf blend that I found in the bulk aisle of Whole Foods, if you cannot find a suitable rice pilaf combine ½ cup wild rice and ½ cup brown rice and cook as directed above.

According to Vegetarian Times winter squash is nutrient-packed full of beta-carotene, vitamin C and potassium. Winter squash is also known to be low in calories, and according to Thrive Food, squash is the most nutrient-dense form of starch-based food, making it ideal for those looking to build muscles.

So there you have it, one meal to  comfort you like Thanksgiving, satisfy even the pickiest eaters, and help build your muscles. What more could you want from a recipe? I suggest you make this one right away.

~ Happy & Healthy Eating

Tastes Like Chicken

29 Jan

Let’s just clear something up… vegan “meat” is weird. What the hell is tempeh? Why would anyone voluntarily eat tofu? And seitan…. I don’t even know how to pronounce that.

Seitan (pronounced say-tan not to be confused with Satan) is affectionately known as Wheat Meat. Whoever thought naming something “wheat meat” would sell products should go work at Whole Foods where they label their Chickpeas as Garbanzo Beans.

I suggest that all of the 18-35 year old vegetarians and vegans get together and rename all of the nasty sounding health food we eat. Nobody wants to eat something called Cheez or Chickn – right away you know you are eating something that isn’t quite the same as the original product. Novices also don’t want to eat Tempeh or Seitan at the very least because they can’t pronounce it.

Let me give you an example – would you rather drink something called Red Bush Tea or Rooibus Tea? They are the same thing but rooibus just sounds delightful whereas red bush sounds… less delightful.

But I digress, let’s get back to the world of fake meats. Frankly I have not enjoyed very many tofu, tempeh, or seitan meals and I’m not interested in eating the faux meat crumbles or faux chicken that you can get at the supermarket because they are processed foods and if you looked at the amount of sodium in those items you’d probably have a heart attack.

220 mg sodium per serving and over 20 ingredients

330 mg sodium per serving and over 30 ingredients

Now I’m not saying don’t eat these products  (I enjoy a smart dog every now and again) I’m told that they are good transitional foods for people who struggle giving up meat cold turkey. What I’m saying is be mindful of what you are eating, just because it’s vegetarian or vegan doesn’t mean it’s healthy.

Likewise, everything you get at a vegetarian or vegan restaurant may not be healthy. Last week, while out to eat, the waitress recommended we order Chipotle Seitan… it was AWESOME! It tasted like the bright red, BBQ pork that you get at a Chinese restaurant. I have no idea how it’s made but based on the texture and flavor I would guess that was fried and had a fair amount of sweetener in the sauce. Certainly not something you should dine on regularly.

I’ve tried pre-packages seitan before and thought it was awful. So awful in fact I had no intention of ever trying it again. The only way I can describe it is like eating a sponge… only worse. For some reason, the restuarant seitan didn’t taste spongy at all. I wondered if it was because their seitan was homemade. I had to find out for myself so I decided to pony up and make some from scratch.

Overall the experience was good – it was easy to make and tasted pretty good, but I won’t lie to you, I felt like I was a mad scientist working the elasticky dough that was supposed to turn into a meat-like product.

Bottom line, if you are going to try making seitan from scratch you might want to give this recipe a try – it was quick, easy, flavorful, and I licked my plate clean.

Chicken-Style Seitan (adapted from Happy Herbivore Cookbook)

1/2 cup vital wheat gluten

1-1/2 tsp No-Chicken Broth Powder*

1/2 cup warm water

2 cups No-Chicken Broth*

1/4 cup nutritional yeast

1-1/2 tsp Poultry Seasoning Mix *

1 tsp granulate onion powder

salt and pepper, to taste

*see below for recipe

  • In a mixing bowl, combine vital wheat gluten, no-chicken broth powder, and water, stirring until a dough forms.
  • Turn dough out onto a clean surface and knead for 1 minute, then set aside.
  • Combine no-chicken broth with nutritional yeast and seasonings in a pot, stirring to incorporate.
  • Return to dough and cut into strips, breasts, or any other shape, being mindful that it will more than double in size during cooking.
  • Bring broth to a boil and add dough.
  • Bring to a boil again, then reduce heat to low and simmer with the lid slightly ajar for 50-60 minutes, stirring every 10-15 minutes. Save any excess liquid left in the pot.
  • Preheat oven to 350F and grease a cookie sheet.
  • Once dough is finished cooking on the stove, bake for 20-30 minutes (flip halfway), until a golden skin has formed.
  • To make a gravy, add up to 1 cup of non-dairy milk to the leftover cooking liquid then heat over medium heat, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Note: you can find vital wheat gluten residing in the flour section of the grocery store.

No-Chicken Broth Powder (adapted from Happy Herbivore Cookbook)

2/3 cup nutritional yeast

1 Tbsp onion powder

1/2 Tbsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp thyme

1/2 tsp sage

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp turmeric

1/4 tsp parsley

  • Combine all ingredients together and grind into a fine powder.

* To make no-chicken broth for the seitan recipe above mix together 2 Tbsp of the no-chicken broth powder with 2 cups of warm water.

Note: I keep a coffee grinder on hand just for grinding spices and flax seeds.

Poultry Seasoning Mix (adapted from Happy Herbivore Cookbook)

1 Tbsp dried rosemary

1 Tbsp dried thyme

1 Tbsp sage

1 Tbsp dried oregano

1 Tbsp dried parsley

  • Combine all ingredients together and grind into a fine powder.

 

And there you have it, a meal that looks good enough to be served at a Bob Evans Restaurant.

Chicken-Style Seitan w/ Gravy served with Maple Roasted Carrots, Caulipots, and Steamed Green Beans.

~ Happy & Healthy Eating

You Say Garbanzo Bean I Say Chickpea

25 Jan

… well, you probably say chickpea too. I wonder why the marketing geniuses that can legumes haven’t caught on.

Have you ever noticed that every time you go to Whole Foods to buy a can of beans they are out of whatever it is that you are looking for? Literally EVERY TIME. Two weeks ago I needed black-eyed peas, they were out of stock. Last week I needed black beans and they were out of stock. This week I need chickpeas and I bet they will be out of stock. What gives Whole Foods? Get it together! And while you are at it please stock frozen asparagus – I just can’t believe that they were out of stock too! For the love of Isa Chandra Moskowitz!

Goodness! That is not the rant that I intended to make. I was prepared to have an in-depth conversation with myself about why one item would be called both a bean and a pea and then go on to ponder what they heck a garbanzo is anyhow. Fortunately (for you) I don’t have time for all of that, so let’s move on.

I don’t care much for chickpeas so when I found a recipe for Chickpea Piccata I thought to myself, how can I make a vegetarian piccata without chickpeas? I decided to replace the chickpeas with cauliflower.

I don’t have much experience cooking without a recipe so this was an interesting endeavor. My plan was to slice the cauliflower, dredge it in panko, and bake it – I thought that would replicate a pan-fried chicken cutlet. Then I would just combine the cauliflower with my favorite piccata sauce.

Cauliflower Steak

As it turns out my plan went to hell in a hand basket when I forgot to slice the cauliflower and instead broke apart the florets. For some reason I remembered to dredge it in panko which was a huge disaster and required me to rinse off the breadcrumbs and regroup. The bottom line is –  although the recipe did not go as intended, it was tasty enough to share with you.

Cauliflower Piccata

1 head of cauliflower, cut into bite sized pieces

1/3 cup lemon juice

½ cup vegetable stock

¼ cup capers

1 Tbsp cornstarch

Parsley

Salt & Pepper to taste

Steam cauliflower. Heat lemon juice and stock in a skillet.

Mix cornstarch with a little bit of the sauce until dissolved. Add to the skillet and stir to combine.

Add cauliflower, capers, salt and pepper to taste.

Heat until sauce thickens.  Top with parsley and serve hot.

Now isn’t that the easiest recipe you’ve ever seen? If you are not partial to the tang of lemon start off with ¼ cup and see how you like it. You can easily adjust the seasoning based on your preferences or any kitchen mishaps that may happen.

A blog entry with chickpea in the title wouldn’t be complete without at least one chickpea recipe. This is far and away my favorite way to eat the humble chickpea… teriyaki style.

The recipe comes from The Happy Herbivore cookbook and makes a great dinner, snack, or even breakfast.

Hawaiian Teriyaki Chickpeas (adapted from The Happy Herbivore)

15oz can chickpeas, drained and rinsed

¼ cup teriyaki sauce

2 cups cooked brown rice

½ can diced pineapple, drained

1 mango, diced

½ red onion, minced

Handful cilantro, chopped

½ lime, juiced

Salt to taste

Combine chickpeas and teriyaki sauce and allow to marinate for 5 minutes. Place chickpeas in a skillet and cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until most of the liquid has absorbed (~ 10 minutes)

Combine pineapple, mango, red onion, lime juice, and salt to create a salsa.

Serve chickpeas over rice then top with salsa.

That’s all there is to it.

Chickpeas are one of the easiest things you can cook. You can top them with a sauce, bake them in the oven with some seasoning, mash them into a dip, or even puree them and make yummy brownies.

What is your favorite way to eat a chickpea? Be sure to share the recipe because I plan on stock piling cans of chickpeas the next time I am at the grocery store just so I can be well prepared for future culinary endeavors when I’m sure Whole Foods will be out of stock of the key ingredient.

~ Happy & Healthy Eating

Quin-What?

16 Jan

By now I trust that you’ve made the Quinoa & Black Bean Chili.

You haven’t?! Well what are you waiting for?

There can only be three possible reasons for not making this recipe yet:

A. You don’t know what quinoa is let alone how to pronounce it or locate it in the grocery store.

B. You’ve had quinoa before and didn’t like it.

C. You haven’t gone grocery shopping for the week.

If you have selected C then I forgive you. If you’ve selected A or B let’s clear the air so we can start talking about more quinoa recipes.

So What The Heck Is Quinoa

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is a pseudo-grain. What’s a pseudo-grain? I have no idea, you’ll have to google that on your own. If you find out the answer please share with your friends, you’ll look very smart… my gift to you. Anyhow, quinoa gets a lot of hype because it is a complete protein and touted as a super food. For your purposes you should treat quinoa like any grain you have in your pantry, with one exception – you only need to cook it for 15-20 minutes (not 45-60 minutes like brown rice).  Frankly, it’s delicious and great for weeknight meals.

But I’ve Tried Quinoa Before And I Don’t Like It

My rule is that you should try something at least three times before writing it off completely. Perhaps you cooked quinoa in water without any salt, pepper, vegetables, or other seasonings. Well no wonder you didn’t like it, that sounds awful. Perhaps your girlfriend/boyfriend cooked it for you, chances are they were trying the recipe for the first time and needed some practice.  Clearly, I have no idea why you don’t like it, but I think you should give it another chance.

Now that we’ve gotten all of that out of the way let’s talk about how you can use up any leftover quinoa you may have after trying the chili.

This is by far one of my top ten favorite recipes. It is so amazing that I often bring leftovers to a friend of mine who has no interest in giving up meat. She loves it!

Quinoa Stuffed Peppers (adapted from Vegetarian Times)

1/2 onion, diced

1 rib celery, diced

1/2 Tbsp cumin

1 garlic clove, minced

5 oz frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry

15 oz canned diced tomato, drained (reserve liquid)

15 oz canned black beans, rinsed & drained

1/4+ 1/8  cup quinoa

1 cup water

1 large carrot, grated

2 large red bell peppers, halved with ribs and seeds removed

Preheat oven 350F. Pour reserved tomato liquid into the bottom of a baking dish.

Saute onion and celery in water until soft.

Add cumin and garlic, saute 30 seconds.

Add spinach and drained tomatoes. Cook until most of the liquid has evaporated, approx. 5 minutes.

Stir in beans, quinoa, carrots, and water.

Cover pot, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer. Simmer 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

Fill each pepper with quinoa mixture and place in baking dish. Cover with foil and bake 1 hour.

Mmmm! I wish I made a double batch, I could really go for a stuffed pepper right now.

Quinoa and black beans were a match made in savory heaven, but I bet you are wondering if quinoa is good for breakfast. Yup!

Quinoa Berry Breakfast (adapted from Oh She Glows recipe)

1/2 cup quinoa

1 cup water

1 bag of frozen mixed berries, defrosted (approx. 3 cups)

2 Tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp balsamic vinegar

1 Tbsp lemon juice

pinch kosher salt

1/2 cup silvered almonds

1/4 cup shredded coconut (unsweetened)

2 Tbsp chia seeds

1 Tbsp cocoa nibs

Cook quinoa in water in a small saucepan for 15-20 minutes.

Whisk together maple syrup, balsamic vinegar, lemon juice, and salt. Set aside.

Place quinoa in a bowl and fluff with a fork. Add in berries then top with dressing and mix.

Add almonds, coconut, chia seeds, and cocoa nibs. Combine thoroughly.

Serve as is or chilled.

This is a great post workout meal and will keep your belly satisfied until lunch time. As if that wasn’t enough of a reason to give it a try I’d like to encourage you to customize this recipe to meet your own tastes or nutritional needs.

Well I hope that you will feel confident to go out into the world and start cooking with quinoa.

~ Happy & Healthy Eating

*If you already love quinoa like I do please share your favorite recipes, I am always looking for new ways to utilize this protein powerhouse.

One Pot Wonders

12 Jan

In case you were wondering, I happen to be a very messy cook. A meal is only complete after I have tainted every surface of the counter with vegetable scraps, dirtied every dish I own, and boiled over whatever I was boiling on the stove… and that is putting it lightly. The only exception to this is when I make a one pot meal. The mess is minimal, the meal is quick and easy, and as always, everything is delicious.

Let’s start with the first meal of the day and we’ll easy our way through lunch, dinner and dessert.

If I could only cook in one pot for the rest of my life, this would be the one. Feel free to get me one for my birthday coming at you on January 27th.

BREAKFAST

I’m sure many of you don’t think you have time for breakfast or maybe you rely on a granola bar or bowl of cereal to start your morning right. Those options don’t cut it for me, I am hungry in the morning, especially after working out, so hungry in fact that I could eat a seven course meal  and still be ready for a snack at 10am. Whoever said you should eat like a king at breakfast, a queen at lunch, and pauper at dinner was clearly inspired by me (except for the pauper sized dinner).

Since I stopped eating eggs I have relied on grains to fill me up in the morning. I am not a fan of oatmeal so things get interesting in my kitchen.

Earlier this week I came home from my workout, tossed this breakfast together, and got ready for work while it cooked.

Breakfast Rice Pudding

1 cup brown rice, cooked

3/4 cup almond milk

1 handful raisins

1 Tbsp maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp cinnamon

In a medium saucepan combine all ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Simmer 20 minutes and enjoy.

Unfortunately the morning is far too hectic for me to remember to take a picture of what I am eating so please enjoy this picture of my sweet Olive instead.

LUNCH

I am fortunate to live only ten minutes away from work, which means I get to come home and hang out with Olive every day for lunch. Typically I will eat leftovers of whatever I had for dinner the night before but sometimes I open the fridge and find that there are no leftovers! What’s a girl to do? The answer is simple, make a bowl (no pot is necessary). Poke around your fridge and find some grain, a protein, some vegetables and toss it all together in a bowl. My favorite bowl to make is a burrito bowl – I always have the ingredients on hand.

Burrito Bowl

1 cup brown rice, cooked

1/2 can black beans, rinsed

1/4 cup salsa

1/4 avocado, diced

1 handful of cilantro, torn

Toss all ingredients in a bowl or layer, whichever you prefer and nosh away.

Unfortunately, I didn’t take a picture of the burrito bowl so please enjoy a photo of my cat Cleo.

DINNER

If you have been following this blog you will recall that one of my tips to eat healthy and avoid slaving away in the kitchen is to make a meal that can last a few days. My favorite meal to make that will take me through several days is chili. What I love about chili is that is so versatile, you can be as creative or lazy as you want. Chili is a great go to meal when you don’t have much in the fridge because it relies mostly on pantry items but it is also great when you want to clean out your fridge because you can dump all of your vegetables in the chili before they spoil. SCORE!

I came across this recipe on the Closet Cooking blog when I was looking for new ways to use quinoa. It is one of my favorites.

Quinoa & Black Bean Chili (adapted from Closet Cooking)

1/2  cup quinoa

1 cup water

1/2 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 jalapeno pepper, chopped (remove the ribs and seeds to reduce spiciness)

1/2 Tbsp chili powder

1/2 Tbsp cumin

14.5 oz crushed tomatoes

1/2 red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, chopped

1/2 Tbsp chipotle in adobo sauce, chopped

1 tsp dried oregano

1 cup corn

salt & pepper to taste

1 handful cilantro, chopped

Simmer the quinoa in water for 20 minutes or until all of the water is absorbed.

Remove quinoa from the pot, set aside, and give the pan a quick wipe.

Saute onions until tender.

Add garlic, chili powder, and cumin to the pot and saute for one minute or until fragrant. If you are sauteing in water you will need to add a splash at this stage so that the spices do not burn.

Add tomatoes, beans, peppers, chipotle, oregano, salt and pepper. Simmer for 20 minutes.

Add quinoa and corn. Simmer for 5 minutes.

Serve with cilantro and non-dairy sour cream if desired.

Would you look at that, I remembered to take a photo of the quinoa chili. Well, actually, I just now ran to the fridge and spooned the chili into a bowl and took a picture.

Recipe Tips

  • Chipotle in adobo is sold in a can. If you have leftovers through them in a plastic bag and toss in the freezer for use in future meals.
  • Try sauteing the onions in water. If you are uncomfortable doing this you’ll want to saute in 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • If you are willing to use more than one pot you can cook the quinoa at the same time that you saute the vegetables. If you are unwilling to use more than one pot but you don’t care to spend any more time in the kitchen then you have to prepare the quinoa in advance.

DESSERT

Dessert! Can you believe I would even utter such a dirty word? But she’s healthy and vegan, what gives.

Get it together people!!!! I have a crazy sweet tooth that will not be denied.

Lots of people’s diets fail because they are too rigid and don’t allow for simple pleasures such as chocolate. Well that’s not going to work for me, I am going to have my cake and eat it too, in moderation.

So what type of dessert can someone make that uses one pot? Hot Chocolate.

This recipe comes from one of my favorite vegans Alicia Silverstone. By now you have probably read her book The Kind Diet and have check out her website The Kind Life, but if you haven’t, go to the library and pick it up, make yourself some hot chocolate, and have a relaxing and cozy night at home.

Hot Chocolate (adapted from The Kind Life)

1 cup almond milk

1 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1 Tbsp grain-sweetened, non-dairy chocolate chips

1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp maple syrup

Whisk together all ingredients in a small saucepan.

Heat gently until chocolate chips are melted, whisking occasionally.

As it turns out, I forgot to take a picture of the hot chocolate too. Good thing I have one more pet 🙂 This is a picture of Lola when she was just a wee lass.

Now go out there and dirty one pot and demand that your significant other cleans it (and give you a food massage).

BONUS MATERIAL

Because I like you here is some free advice regarding purchasing pre-packaged food.

  • When buying canned foods or broths be sure to purchase no-sodium or low-sodium items. There is no need to consume all of that extra sodium and your food will taste better when you can control the salt content.
  • When buying pre-packaged foods be sure to read the label and buy items that have the fewest ingredients.
  • In addition to looking for packages with the fewest ingredients be sure to choose items that do not have added sugar. Don’t be fooled by all of the fancy names they have for sugar (ex. high fructose corn syrup, evaporated cane juice, etc.) it’s all sugar and you should try to avoid foods with added sugar, especially if sugar has no business being there (like in salsa).
  • Reasearch brands that use whole foods, low sodium, no preservatives, and avoid sugar before hitting up the grocery store – that will make your shopping experience go much more smoothly.

Happy & Healthy Eating