Monday, May 30, 2011

What to do with Quinoa

Just about everyone has heard about quinoa--the super-healthy, protein-packed, all-star food. But does anyone know how to cook it so that it tastes good? Here are my tips, plus a little more info on exactly what quinoa is and why there's all this hype about it.

First, What is Quinoa? (and how do you pronounce it?)
-It's pronounced 'keenwah'
-It's not a true ceral grain, but rather a member of the chenopodium family. I have no idea what that means, but I know that quinoa is a seed rather that a grain.
-While it's fairly new to North America, quinoa has been popular in South America since at least 3,000 B.C.
-Quinoa is much, much higher in protein than other seeds and grains, and it contains all 8 essential amino acids (the molecules that make up proteins), making it a 'complete protein'.
-It's also high in phosphorous, calcium, iron, vitamin E, and several of the B vitamins.
Next, How do you prepare it?
-The seeds are naturally coated with saponin, a resin-like substance that tastes extremely bitter. The saponin must be removed in order for the quinoa to be edible, so when you buy quinoa from the store, chances are that it's been removed. However, I find that quinoa can still taste bitter if you don't rinse it before cooking, so I strongly suggest rinsing it before anything!
-Cooking is simple--place a ratio of 1 part rinsed quinoa to 2 parts liquid in a pot, bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes until tender.

Here are some delicious recipes that I love with quinoa!

Zucchini-Quinoa Salad
1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
2 teaspoon olive oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 zucchini, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 yellow summer squash (or another zucchini), chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
2 teaspoons dijon mustard
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts (or almonds or walnuts)

1. In a medium pot, mix the quinoa and water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, in a large pan, heat 1 teaspoon of the olive oil over medium heat.
3. Add the onion and cook for 3-4 minutes, until just barely tender, then add zucchini, squash, and thyme. Cook for 7-8 minutes, until the squash is tender. Remove from heat and set aside.
4. In a small bowl, mix together the remaining olive oil, mustard, lemon juice, basil, and some salt and pepper.
5. Combine the cooked quinoa, the vegetables, and the dressing in a large bowl, then garnish with nuts.

Banana Breakfast Quinoa
(serves 2)

1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup skim milk or non-dairy milk
1/2 a banana, mashed
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
garnishes: chopped almonds, berries, maple syrup

1. Combine all ingredients except garnishes in a medium pot.
2. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce to low heat, cover, and cook for 15-20 minutes.
3. Serve with garnishes.

Go enjoy some quinoa!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Oodles of Noodles

Second post of the night! I have so many recipes to catch up on, so I'll try not to forget any of the delicious things I've made lately (like I almost did with this one...) But don't worry! I saved you from the possibility of missing out on this fun, yummy recipe.

I have always loved Asian flavors and I love these fun Aisan noodles that are packed with whole grains, protein, and veggies! Perfect for a filling lunch or dinner. Who doesn't love oodles and oodles of noodles?

Asian Noodles with Tofu and Chard

8 oz whole grain spaghetti (I used brown rice pasta, which is gluten free)
1 14 oz package extra firm tofu
2 tablespoons soy sauce, plus more for tofu
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
1 teaspoon agave nectar or honey
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
red pepper flakes, to taste
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 bunch rainbow swiss chard, thinly sliced
1 medium red onion, thinly sliced
salt and pepper

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees F, line a baking sheet with a silicon baking mat.
2. Cube the tofu and spread out on the baking sheet. Drizzle with soy sauce, then season with pepper.
3. Roast for 20-25 minutes, until the tofu is golden brown and crispy.
4. Meanwhile, cook the spaghetti according to the package directions in a large pot.
5. In the same pot, heat the sesame oil over medium heat and saute the red onion for 5-7 minutes, until tender.
6. Add in the chard and cook for another 3-4 minutes, until the chard is wilted.
7. Add in the soy sauce, vinegar, agave, sesame seeds, and red pepper flakes. Stir in the roasted tofu.
8. Serve topped with extra sesame seeds.

Man, I want some of this right now...I know what's for dinner tomorrow! ;)

Easy Veggie Chili

I've had this recipe (and many variations of it) in my repetoire for several years now, but I'm just now getting around to actually writing down what I do when I make this super easy and delicious veggie chili. This makes a big batch of chili so it's perfect for having leftovers for another meal or bringing for lunches. You can mix it up by adding different veggies, beans, herbs, spices, etc., as I have been known to do.

Easy Veggie Chili

2 cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
1 28 oz can hominy, drained and rinsed
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
1 cup frozen corn kernels
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, to taste--these are super spicy! 
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup vegetable broth
garnishes: greek yogurt and chopped red onion

1. Combine all ingredients in a large pot, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, and cook for anywhere between 20 minutes and 2 hours--the longer the better!
2. Taste and adjust seasonings.


2 eggs
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup applesauce
1/2 cup frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup brown rice flour (or whole wheat)
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees F, spray a 9-inch square baking pan with cooking spray.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the wet ingredients (eggs through corn).
3. In another large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients (flour through salt).
4. Mix the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients, stirring just until combined.
5. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake for 22-24 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother's Day Eats

Happy (belated) Mother's Day!

I made all these yummy things on Mother's Day, but AP exams have a tendency to keep me from doing fun things, like posting recipes on the blog!

For my amazing mom, I made strawberry shortcakes for breakfast and open-faced spinach and poached egg sandwiches for lunch--just her style.

Strawberry Shortcakes:

3/4 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons brown sugar or sucanat
1 tablespoon cold butter
1 tablespoon canola oil
3/4 cup milk
2 egg whites
2 lbs. strawberries, sliced
zest and juice of 1/2 an orange
1 cup greek yogurt
3/4 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
2. In a food processor, pulse oats until coarsely ground, then add the rest of the dry ingredients (flours through brown sugar).
3. Add the butter and oil to the food processor and pulse until crumbly.
4. Add the milk and one egg white to the food processor, pulse just until combined.
5. Scoop the batter into 8 mounds on the prepared baking sheet, then brush with the remaining egg white and sprinkle with just a touch of sugar (optional).
6. Bake the shortbread for 16 minutes, until golden brown and firm to the touch. Meanwhile, combine strawberries and orange zest and juice in a medium bowl, and yogurt, ricotta, and vanilla in another bowl.
7. Cut the shortbreads in half lengthwise, then layer with yogurt mixture and strawberries.

Open-Faced Spinach and Poached Egg Sandwiches with hollandaise (serves two):

4 slices whole grain bread, toasted
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
2 packed cup raw spinach
2 tablespoons fresh dill
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 eggs
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
salt and pepper

1. Fill a pot with water-about 3 inches deep, bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer.
2. Heat a skillet over medium heat, add olive oil and spinach, then cook for 3-4 minutes, until spinach is wilted. 
3. Add the spinach to a food processor with some salt and pepper, the dill, and ricotta cheese. Blend until smooth and spinach is very finely chopped up in the ricotta.
4. Add a splash of vinegar and a pinch of salt into the simmering water, then slowly add the two eggs, trying to keep in tact as much as possible. Turn off the heat, cover, and let the eggs sit for 4 minutes for runny yolks, longer for firmer yolks.
5. In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Then stir in the egg yolk, milk, lemon juice, mustard, and some salt and pepper. Sitr over low heat until thickened and smooth.
6. Spread 1/4 of the ricotta mixture on each slice of bread, then top with a poached egg and a little hollandaise sauce. Season with salt and pepper, then dig in!

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Mango Muffins

Today, as a farewell breakfast to our family friends who stayed with us for just a few days, I made these delicious, moist mango muffins. I was thinking along the lines of banana bread except with mango puree instead of mashed bananas. Also, I had some mango puree from Trader Joe's in the freezer, so I didn't even end up having to clean out the food processor--no wonder it was a great morning!

Mango Muffins:

1 1/2 cups flour (I used spelt, but I'm sure any other flour would work well, too)
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1 cup puffed brown rice cereal
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup pureed mango, thawed if using frozen puree
3/4 cup milk (dairy or non-dairy)
1/4 cup sucanat or brown sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg or egg substitute (see Healthy Tips page)
1 cup finely chopped fresh mango
1/2 cup finely chopped almonds
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line 18 muffin cups (a tray and a half) with paper liners, then SPRAY THE LINERS (I didn't do this, and my muffins stuck to the liners!).
2. In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients (flour through nutmeg).
3. In another bowl, combine the wet ingredients (applesauce through egg).
4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mix just until combined.
5. Stir in the chopped mango to the batter.
6. Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin cups, then sprinkle with the almonds
7. bake for 18-20 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the muffin comes out clean.

Now I'm figuring out what to make for Mother's Day tomorrow! Something involving strawberries and ricotta...

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cinco de Mayo Salmon Tacos

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

I'm a French speaker, but I love any excuse to make some yummy Mexican food, so why not celebrate with tacos? These ones are so delicious and so colorful! They did take a bit of time to prepare, but that may just be because I get easily distracted in the kitchen and the next thing I know I've been cooking for hours...But either way, these tacos are well worth it!

Normally, I just set out a bunch of toppings like salsa, guacamole, shredded lettuce, all the usual; but today was special--it's a holiday! Here's what my taco spread included:
-spice-rubbed salmon
-black bean and mango salsa
-avocado-lime sauce
-shredded red cabbage
-chopped tomatoes
-whole wheat and corn tortillas
-sweet and spicy chipotle sweet potatoes (as a side dish)

Spice-Rubbed Salmon:

2 lbs. salmon fillets (about 3 inches wide)
2 tablespoons finely ground coffee
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.
2. Combine all the spices in a small bowl.
3. Sprinkle the mixture over the salmon and rub until it covers all the fillets.
4. Place the salmon on a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes, until the fish is cooked all the way through and flakes easily with a fork.
5. To serve in tacos, flake or cut the cooked salmon into chunks and serve with other taco condiments.

Black Bean-Mango Salsa

1 large mango, peeled and finely diced
1/2 a medium red onion (I used 1/4 of a JUMBO red onion--it should be about 1/2 cup or so), finely diced
1 roma tomato, finely diced
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
zest and juice of 1 lime
salt, to taste

1. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl.
2. Cover and chill until ready to serve. This can be made a day in advance.

Avocado-Lime Sauce:
This is a bit like guacamole, but a little thinner and tangier.

flesh of 2 ripe avocados
1/4 cup cilantro
juice of 2 limes
2 tablespoons water
salt, to taste
cilantro to garnish

1. Combine all ingredients in a blender, blend until smooth and combined.
2. Top with chopped cilantro.

Sweet and Spicy Chipotle Sweet Potatoes:

4 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 teaspoon finely chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
1/2 cup vegetable broth
2 tablespoons agave nectar
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Place potatoes in a glass dish in several layers.
2. Mix the rest of the ingredients and pour over the potatoes.
3. Cover the dish with plastic wrap, leaving a corner uncovered.
4. Microwave the dish for 8-12 minutes, until the sweet potatoes are tender and the sauce is thickened.

This was such a fun, coloful way to enjoy Cinco de Mayo. I hope everyone else had some delicious food, too!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Banana Breakfast Bread

I've been trying for a while to find a great healthy banana bread recipe, and I think I've found one! I made this bread in a round cake pan in the hopes that it would cook faster, but you could probably cook it in a loaf pan for a bit longer.

Banana Bread with Almonds:

1/2 cup ground almonds
2 tablespoons flaxseed meal
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup oats
2 tablespoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup mashed banana (2-3 medium bananas)
1/4 cup sucanat
1/2 cup milk
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
1/4 cup chopped almonds
Topping (optional): greek yogurt or light cream cheese mixed with honey

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a 9-inch round cake pan or 8-inch square pan with cooking spray.

2. Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl (1/2 cup ground almonds through 1/4 teaspoon salt)

3. In a medium bowl, combine wet ingredients (1 cup mashed banana through 1/2 teaspoon almond extract)

4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, mixing just until combined.

5.Pour the batter into the greased pan. Sprinkle with chopped almonds.

6. Bake for 35-38 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center of the bread comes out clean.