Posts tagged ‘quinoa’

Simple, Healthy, Delicious

If you haven’t noticed, I am rather passionate about those three words in the title. Food should be simple, healthy, and delicious. Simply put. I often feel like a broken record, but there are times where even I forget that. When life gets busy, take-out seems easier. Healthy seems to fall by the wayside. Delicious seems like a luxury.

I have been doing lots of reading and research for school about talking with and educating patients about nutrition and developing healthy lifestyle habits. It is remarkable how ineffective we as a medical community have been at focusing on prevention of chronic disease! As I read more about the “standard American diet,” often pithily labeled the “SAD” diet, I think that the lack of nutrition in the average diet can’t all be related to lack of access or knowledge. I often think that healthy eating, generally, feels the opposite of the things above. Prepping fruits and vegetables does not feel simple. It is time-consuming and takes planning and thought. Kale also isn’t always the most appetizing, even for the biggest veggie enthusiast. So… how do we find a way to unify these words again?

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Take some short cuts every once in a while! I recently discovered the pre-cut items at Trader Joe’s and have instantly fallen in love. (I know, I catch on slowly.) Broccoli slaw, spinach, kale… you name it! Cut, washed and ready to go, there isn’t an easier way to get greens on your dinner plate! While the bag of kale will be marked up compared to a bunch of it, the time savings is often worth it. So that takes care of the simple, now what about the healthy? Trader Joe’s (and Costco!) also have a great line of flavorful chicken sausages that add tons of interest to any simple meal! I really like the Chipotle Mango Chicken sausage, but my favorite is the Spinach and Red Pepper Chicken sausage (from Costco). There is so much flavor packed into each bite of these sausages that a lot of the work in finishing off your delicious meal is done for you! Try out the recipe below- packed with protein, fiber, and flavor, there is no better quick fix to get greens on your weeknight dinner table!

Are you as convinced as I am that food should meet all of those three criteria? Then share with me your tips and tricks for making healthy eating simple and delicious!

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Chicken Sausage, Kale and Quinoa Salad

serves 4-6

1/2 white onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, diced

1 cup quinoa

1 cup low sodium vegetable broth (or chicken)

1 cup water

1 tbsp white wine vinegar

1 package pre-cut kale

5 Roasted Red Pepper and Spinach Chicken sausage links

Parmesan cheese, to serve

In a medium saucepan, saute garlic and onion in the olive oil for 3-4 minutes or until soft. Add the sun-dried tomatoes and stir for 1 minute. Add the quinoa, then stir for about 3 minutes or until the quinoa is well toasted. Add the water, broth, and vinegar. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer until the quinoa is cooked and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Meanwhile, steam the kale until just before it is soft. (I microwaved it with a bit of water for 3 minutes). Also cook the chicken sausage links in a frying or grill pan until crispy on the outside and heated through. Slice the chicken sausage links into bite-sized rounds. Stir together the quinoa, cooked kale and chicken sausage until well-combined. Serve with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Enjoy!

June 19, 2013 at 7:42 pm 3 comments

Happy Thanksgiving

There is so much in my life to be thankful for that it is overwhelming at times. Family, friends, boyfriend, health, roommate, home, school, mentors, opportunities. My life is beyond blessed, and I should remember to thank God on a daily basis instead of waiting for this season to roll around. This year, I am most thankful for a “big” family Thanksgiving again! Ever since my extended family relocated to Florida, Thanksgiving at my house has been a quiet affair. Not this year! My sister and I are both bringing home our boyfriends, and my best friend is bringing her husband and baby. We will have a table of 9 again! We will be eating on Saturday to accommodate schedules and travel, but it’s not the date that makes this day special. It’s the spirit of gratitude… and the food!

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There have been numerous Thansgiving recipes and round-ups floating around the blog-world this past week. So many are drool-worthy, but most of you probably already have your menus planned. My family has a few traditional favorites that we always make, but we usually incorporate or swap out one or two new dishes each year! This recipe was inspired by some flavors that grace some of my Mom’s traditional Thanksgiving dishes. The lemon and thyme have a Thanksgiving earthiness that welcomes it at any holiday table, but the lightness of this dish makes it a great lunch option for the days leading up to or following Thanksgiving. I know my stomach always needs a rest after the heavy meal! Make this and serve it warm as a gluten-free option for guests, and then have the leftovers as a cold and light post-holiday lunch!

Question: What are you thankful for this year? What is your favorite dish at Thanksgiving? Is your menu set yet, or are you still looking for ideas?

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Lemon Thyme Quinoa with Zucchini and Mushrooms

1 cup quinoa

2 cups vegetable broth (or water)

1/2 red onion, diced

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

1 8-oz. package mushrooms, sliced

1 cup shredded zucchini

1/4 tsp pepper and pinch salt

1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves

2 lemons, juiced

Add quinoa to a dry pot and toast until you hear a faint popping noise. Add vegetable broth, bring to a boil, and then reduce to simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, cook onions and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes. Add sliced mushrooms and stir. Cook until soft, about another 5 minutes. Add in shredded zucchini and turn off the heat. Stir in salt, pepper, and thyme. Add the quinoa and stir well. Juice the 2 lemons over the dish. Turn the heat back on and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the remaining liquid has been absorbed. Serve warm or cold– tastes great either way!

November 19, 2012 at 12:18 pm 1 comment

Stuffed Delicata Squash

Recipes come to you in the strangest and most inappropriate of places… the shower, during exams, during church… However, after a long time of feeling stuck in a rut in the kitchen, I was thankful for some new ideas this weekend! When I first started receiving my Boston Organics box, I would often have no clue what to do with some of the vegetables. Collard greens, kale, delicata squash? I had never seen some of these things! In fact, my lack of random veggie knowledge is what introduced me to the blog world. However, this is my third fall receiving the box, so few veggies take me by surprise anymore. This has led to me repeating recipes (not always a bad thing) and feeling rather un-creative in the kitchen. Lately, I have started playing with new spices and flavor profiles instead of new veggies to keep my meals interesting! And thus, this recipe was born.

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I originally wanted to use peas to mimic an Indian rice dish that a friend of mine makes, but none were to be found in my freezer. I saw, instead, a half of a zucchini leftover from another dish that was just begging to be finished. Summer and fall squash does not make for the most seasonal of combinations, so replace as you wish with peas or some other green veggie! The candied ginger is homemade and adds a great sweetness, and together with the cranberries play off well from the spicy garam masala. The Indian flare takes this out of my comfort zone, from more typical Italian and American herbs to a more exotic (to me) flavor profile. A sprinkle or two of goat cheese would also be welcomed if you aren’t looking to keep this vegan! This recipe invites playfulness, so try it the next time you are looking for some kitchen fun!

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Stuffed Delicata Squash

serves 4

2 medium delicata squash (about 1 lb)

1/2 cup quinoa, cooked

1 cup zucchini, shredded

1 tbsp candied ginger, minced

2 tbsp dried cranberries

1/2 cup chickpeas

1 tbsp garam masala

pinch salt to taste

Cook quinoa according to package instructions. Mix with shredded zucchini, ginger, cranberries, chickpeas and garam masala. Adjust salt to taste. Split delicate squash in half lengthwise. Scrape out the seeds and stringy insides with a spoon. (You can save the seeds to roast like pumpkin seeds, but there is a lot of string to pick through). Fill each squash with several spoonfuls of the quinoa mixture. Add a few tablespoons of water to the bottom of the dish and cover. Bake in a 350F oven, covered, for 20 minutes, then uncover and bake for 10 minutes or until the squash is fork tender. Serve as a main dish with a side salad or as a side for a special meal! (Note: the delicata squash has a “delicate” skin that can be eaten!)

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October 25, 2012 at 7:00 am 5 comments

Lose those Leftovers – Part 3

The only thing better than cooking a great dinner is having leftovers for the next day or week. I frequently suffer from food boredom, though, so have become quite creative in repurposing some of my recipes into new grab-and-go lunch creations. I highlighted some of my leftover makeovers last summer, and figured I’d keep up with this mini-series again this summer! Hopefully there will be more to come!

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This repurposing is simple: it is basically the previous night’s dinner all re-bundled grab-and-go style. All I did was take a few spoonfuls of the leftover curried quinoa with greens, a spoonful of caramelized sweet potatoes, some chopped cucumber, and a stripe of Greek yogurt and mango butter. I rolled this all up inside of a wrap and then rolled that in foil. This lunch was surprisingly filling, thanks to the protein from the quinoa and the Greek yogurt, and helped me conquer a busy Saturday afternoon on the wards!

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June 26, 2012 at 12:00 pm 2 comments

These are a Few of My Favorite Things

Raindrops and roses and whiskers on kittens – those might be cute and poetic, but don’t quite top my favorites list. I have been finding pleasure in the little things lately, like enjoying hot oatmeal instead of overnight oats on my one day a week off. Or taking walk breaks during my runs because my legs are fatigued from standing all day and I am enjoying the time in the sun as much as I am the exercise. Or counting my bike ride to the hospital as my exercise for the day if I am too tired or too busy to squeeze in a run, thankful that at least there is some movement in my day. I am also loving these suggestions about fitness for the lazy busy girl!

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I am still enjoying cooking, though I am doing less of that these days, too. With lunchtime conferences feeding me at the hospital 4 days a week, I have less need to prepare food that will make good leftovers. I miss my quality kitchen time, but am grateful for the amount of time (and money) the free lunches have saved me! Still, not all meals are provided and I love a good excuse to cook up some healthier, veggie-laden dinners when I can! This recipe combines some of my favorite things: sweet potatoes, quinoa, leafy green veggies, and Indian-inspired flavors. I found the recipe for Caramelized Sweet Potatoes with Quinoa and Greens on the Boston Organics website when I was lacking inspiration for my bunch of Swiss chard. I am glad this didn’t sit on my “to make” list for very long – it is too good to miss out on! I’d recommend trying this now, both because it is so delicious and because it will soon be too hot for oven caramelized sweet potatoes. The only change I made to the recipe is using 1/4 tsp dried ginger instead of fresh, and omitting the lemon juice and pat of butter. I loved the curried quinoa, and the sweet potatoes really add the great sweet note to complement the curry spice. Don’t miss out on the condiments with this one either – I had a spoonful of plain Greek yogurt, a bit of chopped cucumber, and a dollop of Trader Joe’s mango butter that added dimension and depth with each bite.

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Running, resting, cooking and vegetables, these are a few of my favorite things!

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Question: What are you loving lately?

June 18, 2012 at 6:29 pm 1 comment

Lunch in a Jar – My Own Spin on Layered Salads

Lunch to go. A necessity I had almost forgotten about during my self-induced sequestration for a few months to study for the boards. Now that I am out of the house most of the day for 6 days a week, easy grab and go lunches are essential. I made this layered salad recipe at the beginning of last week, and then just grabbed a jar each morning and threw it in my backpack as I was pouring my coffee.  The recipe is loosely inspired by Angela‘s layered Whole Foods salad re-creation, and I am sure I will make many more variations on the theme. My basic framework for a layered lunch in a jar is a grain base (my favorite is quinoa, but pasta or rice would be good), a big veggie layer with some sort of flavorful dressing, and a protein on top (like tofu or edamame).
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Luckily for me, there are plenty of lectures that seem to happen throughout the hospital each week that bribe attendees with free food, so my lunch-in-a-jar often became dinner at the bus stop after a 12+ hour day on my feet. Hot or cold, lunch or dinner, sitting or standing, this jar will keep you going for your busy weekdays!

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Edamame, Broccoli Slaw and Quinoa Layered Salad

makes 6 lunches

for quinoa:

1 cup quinoa

1 cup water

1 cup vegetable broth

1 tbsp lemon juice

for vegetables:

12 oz package broccoli slaw

1 head broccoli, broken into florets

3 large carrots, chopped

12 oz edamame

for dressing (adapted from here):

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 cup water

1 1/2 tbsp lemon juice

1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce

1 1/2 tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 garlic clove, minced

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

In a small sauce pot, cook quinoa in broth, water, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until all liquid is absorbed. Allow to cool. Meanwhile, prep and steam the veggies. Steam the carrots and broccoli florets for 3-5 minutes. Add the broccoli slaw and steam for one more minute. Remove from steamer. Steam the edamame separately. In a separate bowl, mix all dressing ingredients together. Pour over the broccoli slaw mixture and shake well. When ingredients are at room temperature, approximately, begin to separate into jars. Layer 1/2 cup quinoa, 1 cup vegetables, and 1/4 cup steamed edamame. Divide remaining dressing liquid between the 6 jars. When ready to eat, shake and eat straight from the jar or pour into a bowl to serve.

June 11, 2012 at 7:54 pm 5 comments

Cooking with Grandma

I come from a long lineage of good cooks. My great-grandmother was a farmer’s wife and was famous for her Jell-o salad molds. My grandma put on seemingly effortless holiday dinners year after year. My mom is adventurous and instilled me with a creative passion in the kitchen. I am thankful for the lessons I have learned and recipes that have been handed down to me from each of these women! During my week in Florida, I got to spend a little bit of time with Grandma in the kitchen. She keeps up with my blog and says she has picked up a few ideas along the way!

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I was honored to get to create a meal with her! As is our usual style, we looked in the fridge and pantry to see what was on hand and had to be used up. We found some zucchini, peppers, onion, sun-dried tomatoes, cannelloni beans, spinach and mushrooms. We sautéed some cubed chicken, added the veggies, and then added a few splashes of sherry cooking wine and Balsamic vinegar. We served this over quinoa, my Grandma’s new favorite grain, and added a bit of shredded Parmesan on top. The light and refreshing flavor of the veggies really shone through in this dish, enhanced by the vinegar. Plus, there was a lot of staying power thanks to all of the protein!

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I also got to enjoy my family’s famous jambalaya! As you can see, I put my normal eating preferences on hold to allow for some family traditions, and this meal made it worth it! My uncle created this dish years ago during the days of family camping vacations in Cape May, NJ. We would have 3 adjacent campsites and cook huge family meals on outdoor camp stoves each night. This was great because it is one pot, hearty, and tasty! While I still do not know the exact family recipe, I did find out some secrets! As with any good stew, the base starts with onion, garlic, celery and peppers. After that softens, canned diced tomatoes and cubed chicken are added. Next, spicy andouille sausage enters the mix. This adds a huge amount of flavor and a nice punch of spice! After this has simmered for a while, the shrimp enters the pot. The secret ingredient: spicy V8 juice. This is the real trick to getting a nice, spicy tomato base! Added with the canned tomatoes, the extra spice really punches up the flavor as it simmers with all of the other ingredients. If you are anything like me or Uncle Dave, you will still have to add a bit of hot sauce to the mix to get it to your preferred spice level, but our family lets us do that in our own dish rather than the communal pot!

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Question: Who has taught you the most about cooking?

March 20, 2012 at 9:09 pm 3 comments

Vegan Entertaining

The biggest roadblock for me over the past few weeks as a vegan has been community. I feel awkward accepting dinner invitations, hesitant to ask for restrictions on what my friends can cook but also unable to eat what I am served without question. Dining out can be difficult, depending on the menu. Hosting should feel like the easiest option, but I get nervous about my friends reactions to my “weird vegan food.” However, sharing meals with friends is an important part of my life, and I needed to face my fears of communal vegan eating head on this weekend.

I met up with friends for lunch and was terrified of not being able to order anything at the tiny diner we ducked out of the snow into. I scanned the menu, seeing fancy omelettes, pancakes, homemade muffins… and I panicked. But then I saw the life-saving asterisk: for vegans/vegetarians, all eggs can be replaced with tofu or tempeh. At no extra charge, this was a miracle! I got to enjoy  tempeh with home fries and veggies, which was a really filling and satisfying lunch! As my friend said, “only in JP,” commenting on the characteristic residents of this notoriously hippie Boston neighborhood. Not all restaurants are so vegan friendly, but I was happy to have a small hurdle to conquer my fear!

My evening was spent catching up with a few friends from school over dinner, so I got to conquer my fear of serving friends “weird vegan food” as well. It was also an easy hurdle, since four of them were independently doing their own vegan challenge, and one was a former vegan. We laughed about experiences with friends, family, and servers; commiserated over the questioning of preparation methods and scanning of ingredients lists; and swapped recipes and new foods to try. It was such a great night, and the food was a hit!

thai fried quinoa

Original photo from Mama Pea's Thai Fried Quinoa

kale chips

Original photo of Sesame Kale Chips from Whole Living

To avoid the, “Um, what did you say that is?” reaction, I wanted to find a recipe recreation that would be familiar to people’s taste buds. I chose Mama Pea’s Thai Fried Quinoa, since it harkens Thai pineapple fried rice and can be customized with various toppings. It was a huge hit and definitely a recipe I will make again! On the side, I made Sesame Kale Chips. Kale is a veggie-lovers green, but I have never met someone who could turn down a crispy kale chip. Even my Dad loves kale this way, despite his usual turned up nose when it appears in soups and stews! I omitted the lemon juice, used a little less oil, and added a dash of ginger. I will definitely be playing with different seasonings for my kale chips from now on, since these were so flavorful and not just overly salty! The green stuff went faster than the main dish, which I think speaks volumes!

pb hippiecakes

Original picture of Victoria's Peanut Butter Cup Hippiecakes

Vegan desserts on their own can be tricky, but another wrench was thrown in – my friends were also not eating any added sugar! Good thing I had these muffins on hand! A friend and I baked on Friday night, and certainly got our peanut butter and chocolate fix with these. I put out the rest of the muffins for dessert, and my friends were so excited to be able to enjoy a sweet treat at the end of the meal! You can’t go wrong with peanut butter and chocolate, and the natural sweetness comes from the dates. They are even healthy enough to fill the role of an on-the-go breakfast, making these another make again recipe!

What I learned from my Saturday: don’t let fear hold you back! It might take a little more creativity, planning and thought, but you can enjoy communal meals and laughter with friends, no matter what your current food lifestyle choices are!

Question: Have you ever been afraid of friends reactions to food you serve?

January 21, 2012 at 10:56 pm 5 comments

WIAW Protein Packed Edition

Time for another What I Ate Wednesday! Finding a healthy balance keeps getting harder as school keeps picking up. We have three exams before Thanksgiving (one is tomorrow!) and I have several other deadlines approaching for clinical shadowing, student groups, and volunteer commitments. Just taking one day at a time though, and trying to eat well for energy for my long days! Monday was not a good energy day. I was hungry almost all day despite eating normal meals, found myself reaching for coffee more often than usual, and was sluggish for much of the day. After putting together this post and comparing the two days, I realized why! Protein! Monday’s meals were significantly lacking in protein, and therefore I got hungry pretty quickly between meals. I sure made up for that on Tuesday!

Breakfast: 7:30am

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My friend sent me a Facebook message describing a delicious breakfast porridge made with leftover quinoa. She simply let it soak in milk, added sliced apples and cinnamon, and enjoyed a wonderful fall breakfast. I chose to add pumpkin to mine instead, and the results were fantastic! I used 1/2 cup quinoa leftover from cooking, soaked in 1/4 cup coconut milk and 1/4 cup pumpkin with a dash of cinnamon overnight (or 2 nights in my case). In the morning, I re-heated it and served it with cinnamon and raisins for a great, filling breakfast. This kept me full through a long exam review session and a morning meeting or two!

Lunch and snacks: 12pm

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I snacked on the clementine during my first meeting, and then finally got a real lunch break. I enjoyed leftover cranberry quinoa, with this portion being pretty heavy on the delicata squash! Didn’t plan too well to have quinoa two meals in a row, but again I was full and happy from this lunch! I enjoyed the apple for dessert, and saved my clementine for a mid-afternoon pick me up between scheduled clinical classes.

Dinner: 5pm

black bean soup

I forgot to take a picture, but luckily other food bloggers are more diligent than I! Photo cred to http://www.the-new-healthy.com/2010/09/peanut-butter-jelly-time.html

Panera is often my study spot of choice because of their free WiFi and bottomless cups of coffee. (Lesser known fact: I worked at Panera through my senior year and for the summer before medical school, and will always have a special spot in my heart for this place!) I have bought enough cups of coffee this year to get a free bowl of soup with my rewards card, so dinner was on Panera tonight! I love the black bean soup and enjoyed it with a piece of baguette for dipping. Told you my day was protein packed!

Dessert: 8pm

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I must admit that I wasn’t hungry for dessert, but was craving something when I finally made it home from my long day. I made this in a similar way to my sugar-free apple crisp. I used up some leftover canned peaches sprinkled with cinnamon for the base, and then mixed some oats, flour, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and walnuts with the sweet peach juice. I let it all bake and enjoyed a single serve peach crisp in just a half hour! Followed by a handful or three of honey roasted peanuts and a lot more studying, I think I sure made up for my previous day’s protein deficit!

Question: What was the “theme” of your meals today?

October 26, 2011 at 8:00 am 5 comments

Cranberry Quinoa

“Aren’t seasons amazing?! Nature just knows what flavors work together.” Said so eloquently by a friend and running buddy, and that thought has really stuck with me! What goes really well with tomatoes? Cucumbers, basil, lemon, so its a good thing those all go together! What goes well with roasted squash? Dark, leafy greens and cranberries! I recently posted what I received in my Boston Organics box, and have already fallen off from my original plan. First problem: I realized the kale was in fact swiss chard, which is a little too rough for my liking to be used raw. Instead, I decided to use the swiss chard in a recreation of my side dish from the half marathon. I roasted some delicata squash rings, as per Ms. Smart’s comment, cooked some quinoa, and boiled some cranberries. Fresh cranberries are actually really bitter and unpleasant, and therefore are most often loaded up with sugar to make a sauce. To try and take some of the unpleasant bitterness without too much sugar, I boiled the cranberries in green tea and honey. This gave them just enough sweetness and softness to complement the flavors of the squash and greens really well. This meal is full of fall warmth, nutrients, and goodness. Let the seasons speak to you through your produce that week and see what you come up with, or give this fun combo a try!

Question: Do you try to eat by the seasons? What is your current favorite vegetable?

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Cranberry Quinoa

serves 4-6

1 cup dry quinoa (can increase this to stretch how many people this can feed!)

1/2 small onion

1 cup fresh cranberries

1 bag green tea

1/8 cup honey

2 cups water

2 small delicata squash

1 bunch swiss chard

thyme, salt and pepper to taste

Slice the delicata squash into rings and pull out the seeds. Arrange on a cookie sheet coated with cooking spray, and season lightly with thyme and salt. Roast at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes; flip, season the other side, and roast for another 10 minutes. Meanwhile, place cranberries, honey, and green tea bag in 2 cups cold water in a small pot. Slowly bring to a boil, and then turn heat off and allow cranberries to soak as squash roasts. Cook quinoa according to package instructions. In a large saute pan, heat the minced onion in a bit of the cooking liquid from the cranberries (or olive oil). Remove the stems from the washed greens and tear into small pieces into the pan. When the greens have wilted, add the cooked quinoa and drained cranberries. Add the squash rings from the oven and mix together. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and serve warm.

October 24, 2011 at 7:00 am 3 comments

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