Home… I am HOME

Well, for those of you who aren’t with me on social media, you may not know: we are now in Guam! Yep, thanks to Food Fighters, we are home. (If you didn’t catch the full episode, you can watch the final round HERE.)

We arrived late last night after four days in Tokyo… and Tokyo was amazing. (I’ll have to post that later… there’s too much to cover here.)  We visited a Japanese onsen (which I think will go down as the coolest thing we’ve ever done together as a family to date), ate more ramen than you can imagine, and walked more miles in four days than we’ve done in the last year. The Japanese culture is wonderful… and we had a total blast.

As for Guam, we arrived late last night and  started today at 7am with toes in the sand – and a rainbow!

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Tumon Bay outside the Outrigger Hotel

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Me and my man, Tumon Bay

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From the beach we put plumerias (my favorite flower on earth) in our hair and spent a full day with my dad and family…

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with auntie bobby

Here we are with my dad and my sweet Auntie Bobby.

then ended our evening with a gorgeous island sunset….

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Overlooking Tumon Bay from the top of the Outrigger Hotel, Guam

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View from atop the Outrigger Hotel, Guam

while our kids enjoyed the GoPro and the warm pacific ocean…

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Now that I’m sitting in my bed processing the day, I’m in awe. First of all, I can’t believe we’re home. Seriously? Did I seriously compete on an NBC game show and win the money to allow for this amazing family vacation? And, how can it be that I was raised here? Here? Really? On this little rock of paradise in the middle of the pacific ocean? How can it be that I knew these beaches before the mega hotels and beach bars and millions of tourists? How can it be that these waters raised me? How can it be?

Being back home and watching my kids take joy in the warmth and beauty blesses my heart beyond belief. All I keep whispering to myself is, “Thank you, Father”. What a gift… what a gift.

I can’t wait to share more of my beautiful island home and our family adventures with you – including local food and recipes! Stay tuned – and connect with me on Twitter,  Instagram and Facebook if you can! This is gonna be quite an adventure.

Give the Gift of Music: Guitarfish

So have the Christmas lists started in your house? In my house it always seems that as soon as we start talking about Thanksgiving, Christmas present ideas start getting planted, too. Maybe it’s because the Christmas catalogs have been filling the mail… or maybe it’s because the week before Thanksgiving all the decorations and music around town start making everything feel like Christmas. But, in any event, with Thanksgiving upon, it’s not a bad idea to start the gift planning.

But hey, here’s some encouragement: if this gift giving season starts to stress you out, don’t let it! Don’t approach gift giving ‘have to’… think of it as a ‘get to’. This is the time of year we GET TO remind others of our appreciation and love for them.  So, let be cheerful givers, shall we? Givers that  don’t just give stuff to give stuff, but givers that give in a way that we want to be given to.

With that in mind, over the next weeks before we leave for Guam (yes, we are leaving for Guam on December 9th!! Thank you Food Fighters!), I’m going to be sharing some of my favorite things: books I’ve read and discovered – some food related, some not; things I can’t do without in my kitchen; my favorite ‘girlie’ things; and, my tips for finding designer goods at discount prices. And, yes, I’ll throw some of my favorite, easy, cold-weather recipes in there, too.

Today, however, I want to start with one thing I hope you all consider giving someone you love this Christmas: the gift of music.

Recently a friend of mine gave me four free guitar lessons at Guitarfish in Tigard:

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I can hear you now, “Elisha, guitar lessons?” Oh, you bet! While you may not guess it by looking at me, there’s a secret rockstar dream in my heart – like singer/songwriter kinda dream. I’ve talked about it for years, actually… and several years ago my man even bought me an acoustic guitar for my birthday. I’ve just never found the time to  start learning.

Then, I got the gift – a gift that allowed me to pursue something I’ve always wanted to do. The gift that wasn’t just a thing – but was an opportunity for me to learn something new, have some fun, and feed an inner passion I’ve had my whole life.

I loved it.

Now, let’s be honest, okay? Four weeks wasn’t long enough for a 41-year-old woman to master a new trick – especially a trick that requires fingers to simultaneously move in different directions with precision and purpose. BUT, four weeks was a taste of something really good… a taste that made me long for more, a taste that showed me firsthand what my kids experienced when they starting learning their instruments… a taste that made me realize MUSIC – i.e. lessons at Guitarfish – is one of the things I’ll be giving this Christmas.

What made this gift so great was that it wasn’t just any guitar shop either – it was GUITARFISH, which is probably the most beautiful, welcoming music shop I’ve ever been in. (If Apple were to do a music store, THIS is what it would bel like.) It was bright, clean, well-organized – and my lessons were done in one of their little private sound studios that made me feel I was really doing something special.

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And… my cutie-patootie teacher, Justin, was patient, clear, joyful (in spite of my lagging skills), and super encouraging.

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Anyway, my point is this: the gift of music isn’t just for kids, it’s a gift you should consider for yourself, you spouse, a sibling, even a parent! And, when you give the gift of music, you’re giving more than just ‘more stuff’… you’re giving an experience, an opportunity to be better, an opportunity to learn something new – and an opportunity to be BRILLIANT.

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So, check out Guitarfish for a music lover in your life. They have locations in Tigard, Hillsboro, and Clackamas is coming soon – and they teach kids 5 and up. And look: they offer more than guitar lessons, too! (I’m spying the ukulele lessons and keyboard lessons for a couple on my list :) )

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(Thanks to my sweet friend, Becky, for the gift of the lessons and the opportunity to try something I’ve always wanted to do… and thanks to Justin for being patient with me ;) )

BTW: Mention this blog post and Guitarfish will give you $20 OFF 1 month of lessons if you sign up by December 31st. 

YOU CAN DO IT: Crunchy Salmon Quinoa Patties

So, my girl gets back today. I’ve missed her so much this week! In just T-2 hours I’ll be hugging her, taking her for cold drink somewhere, and then bringing her home to RELAX. I’m sure she’s going to need it… and probably a long, hot shower, too.

As I fuddled around in the kitchen this morning thinking about her, I made up these Salmon Quinoa patties that are, well, gonna blow your mind.     I wanted to do something with either tuna or salmon – particularly because I wanted something protein packed to eat after my morning workout… and tuna patties + bodybuilding always went hand in hand when I was growing up. Thankfully, my craving for protein was satisfied with one lone can of wild salmon in my pantry… and, now, you’re going to see how easy these DELICIOUS, protein and nutrient packed patties are to make and enjoy in your kitchen, too.

The patty mix is very simple:

  • 2 cups of precooked quinoa
  • 1 can of wild salmon (tuna would work, too)
  • 1 cup of spinach sauté (see below)
  • 3 eggs + 1 TBSP olive oil, beaten together
  • 1 cup of processed oats (whole oats put in a food processor for 15 seconds)
  • Panko brand bread crumbs

Mix together the quinoa, salmon, spinach saute, and egg mixture.

DSC02081 Once mixture is mixed, add in 1 cup of processed oats, and stir to incorporate.

DSC02085 Once patty mixture is put together, it’s time to make the patties – and here’s where the Panko comes in. (Panko is a japanese style breadcrumb that is extremely crispy… it’s the same stuff used for tempura (and why Japanese tempura is unlike anything else). It isn’t gluten-free, though. So, if you are gluten-free, just replace the Panko with your favorite gluten-free breadcrumbs… I’m sure it will work just as spectacularly.)

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Take a handful of patty mixture, and make a patty. Hold the patty over a plate of Panko, coat each side of the patty with the breadcrumbs, and gently press the breadcrumbs into the formed patty. Finished patties should look like this – about 3/4″ thick and 3″ wide:

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As you make your patties, place them into a hot pan coated in olive oil. (Use the same pan you sautéed the spinach in… and no need to wash it out first, either.)

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Cook the patties with burner on a little hotter than medium heat. (Think of how you cook pancakes: you want enough heat to sizzle, but it should be low enough so the patties can cook on each side for about 3-4 minutes without burning.)

Cook patties for 3-4 minutes on each side (or until golden brown like my photo)… and look:

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Beatiful, huh?

“Now, Elisha, how do we eat these patties,” you ask. Well, DON’T stick them between a bun – you do NOT need a bun – and please do not slather them with a bunch of mayonnaise or dressing. Instead, you can either eat them plain and whole like a grab and go snack - you know, a REAL protein bar. They’re super yummy just like they are…

Or, if you have time to sit and eat, present yourself with more of a meal and eat them like I did this morning:

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I tossed a big handful of arugula in a sesame, soy, wasabi dressing (see below), laid it on a plate, then topped the dressed arugula with one of the patties, some fresh, thinly sliced tomato, and a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. (I also poured the remaining dressing from the bottom of the bowl over the tomatoes once I plated it all.) IT WAS DIVINE.

Maybe you’ll give these a try this weekend… or, think of them next time you have leftover grilled salmon (or any fish, for that matter) in your fridge. They’re perfect for instead nourishment – and, like I learned today, an awesome way to reward yourself after a good workout.

Now off I go to get ready for my sweet Kenna-girl to return.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

  • Spinach Sauté: Heat a pan and add a little olive oil to coat the bottom. Saute 1/4 cup of diced onion, 1 clove of garlic (diced and mashed with the back of a fork), and three really large handfuls of raw spinach. Add 1 tsp of cumin, 1 tsp of paprika, 1 TBSP of black pepper, and 1 TBSP of sea salt. (NOTES: Spinach really breaks down when heated, so you’ll use a lot more spinach than you think. (The goal: 1 cup of finished saute for mixture – so add more spinach to pan if needed.) Also, yes, the saute will be really salty standing alone – but remember: it’s getting mixed into other ingredients and that saltiness will be tempered perfectly.)
  • Sesame, Soy, Wasabi Dressing: Add 1 TBSP soy sauce, 1 TBSP rice vingegar, 1 tbs sesame oil, and 1/4 tsp of wasabi into a small dish. Whisk together until wasabi is incorporated. This will be enough to dress 2 handfuls of arugula for plating, and leave enough for a small drizzle over the top of the tomatoes and patty.

And There She Goes Again

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Outdoor school is here once again… only this time, for my Kenna girl.

She’s quiet, yet incredibly strong. She’s organized, flexible, and filled with kindness. She’s the one I’ve always described as Snow White – the one that wakes up filled with so much brightness and joy that, if she opened her windows and began to sing in the morning, the birds and squirrels and deer would swarm just to be near her pure sweetness.

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She’s my tender one… my baby girl. And, right now as I write this, she’s on a bus and headed away from me for three nights with hundreds of other 6th graders.

We worked together last night to pack her bags. We went item by item down the list – if it was recommended, it was packed safely into the duffle.

Extra shoes? Check.

At least three pairs of pants? Check.

Towel and toiletries? Check.

Sleeping bag, pillow, flashlight? Check, check, check.

So when we woke up this morning to get her out the door, while I was sad she was leaving, I was confident I was sending her out as prepared as possible for the week ahead.

I stayed with her at school til it was time for her group to go. While I spoke excitement for her with my words and face, I think she could sense my heart was aching while I watched her inch to the edge of the nest. She giggled with friends and owned her space, but never overlooked I was still there. She’d turn every few minutes, to smile at me – her secret language of “Mom, I love you… don’t worry - I’ll be okay.”  While I took dozens of photos, she indulged me. When I hugged and kissed her for the umpteenth time, she hugged and kissed me right back; and, after she sat down on the bus and I knocked on her window to wave and take just one more photo, she smiled big and blew me a kiss.

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That’s my girl. Precious. Kind. Confident. L.O.V.E.

This is the business of parenthood, no? I must raise… and release. Raise… and release. Raise… and release.  I must take the moments we have together and intentionally help my little ones ‘pack their bags’ with all the things I’ve been instructed, things like Truth, Wisdom, courtesy, kindness, humility, empathy. And then, at various times – ready, or not – I must step back, let them take the bags I helped them pack, and watch them fly with their own wings - wings, I can only pray, are unburdened and lifted by His grace.

I will miss her this week, but I know she’s written on the palm of His hand and He won’t overlook her for one second. I’m struggling with the distance we’ll have between us, but I trust He goes before her and will be her rear guard.

Guamanian Steak & BBQ Potato Quinoa Salad

Nana in the smoke of her outdoor wood stove

Nana in the smoke of her outdoor wood stove

Nothing takes me back to the islands and the days in my nana’s kitchen then the smell of BBQ. The blend of smoke, fire, and food is pure comfort to me. (Now, if every BBQ was only accompanied by rain falling on a tin roof and roosters in the yard, I’d be in heaven.)

With that said, I BBQ steak every chance I get. I don’t do BBQ steak the way most people do, though. No BBQ sauce or fancy rubs. No, for me, I keep it simple – I keep it Guam-style, ‘nana-style’: lemon juice, soy sauce, garlic, and black pepper. It’s deliciously aromatic – and the taste of the finished product… um, divine.

What I love most about this simple steak marinade is that steak leftovers are so versatile. You can use the leftover steak in eggs in the morning, you can warm it in a tortilla with some beans and cheese and make steak quesadillas, or you can use it this - the most amazing grilled steak salad you’ll EVER eat: The beauty of this salad is not only that it uses thin strips of Guamanian-style steak, it also uses roasted potatoes and veggies you roast up on the same grill. It’s all done outside – it all takes on a nice smokey flavor – and, it’s the perfect dish for these last days of summer. So, go grab your favorite cut of beef, gather up some red potatoes and veggies, and MAKE THIS.  Once you do I have a feeling it will become a favorite you BBQ year-round.

NOTE: Before I give you the recipes for each item, here’s rundown on how timing this out should work: the potatoes will take longest, so get those on the grill first. About 15 minutes into roasting the potatoes, throw the steaks on the grill. Potatoes and steaks will come off at about the same time; and, while your steaks are resting, roast up your veggies.

First step: Turn your grill on to preheat and prepare the ‘potato pillows’ for grilling: Turn your grill on to medium high to start preheating. Close cover. Chop your red potatoes into small, even squares and place them into a large bowl. Add the parsley, garlic, salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Pour olive oil over the mixture and stir to coat all potatoes evenly. DSC01897

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Tear off a tin foil square and fill the center with potatoes. (NOTE: Keep the potatoes in a single layer on the tin foil as best as possible for ideal roasting.) Fold the foil around the potatoes into a little pouch – being sure to seal all the sides and keep steam inside. DSC01903

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Once all potato pouches are filled, lay them on hot grill. Turn burners down to medium, cover lid, and grill on direct medium heat (approx 450 degrees) for 25-30 minutes. And look what you’ll get:

Step 2: Marinate and grill the steak. Simply take your choice of steak cut (chicken works, too), and lay it single layer in a dish like this: DSC01883

Sprinkle each side of the meat with garlic powder and black pepper, then pour equal parts of lemon juice and soy sauce over the cuts. Allow meat to marinate for at least 15 minutes prior to grilling. DSC01885

Move your potato pillows to one side of the grill and grill your steaks on the other side; all burners should remain on medium. Grill the steaks on medium direct heat for 6-8 minutes per side (flipping ONCE) for medium doneness. Once you pull the steaks off the grill, cover with tin foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing. Guamanian Style Marinated Steaks

Step 3: Get your veggies on the grill. Drizzle some olive oil, sea salt, and black pepper over your washed, dried, and trimmed veggies (I used asparagus for this particular recipe, but I also love using sweet bell peppers, too). DSC01914

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Step 4: Assemble the Salad {4 servings… which means you’ll have a lot of steak and potatoes left over for breakfast – or more salad!)

  • 2 cups of precooked Andean Naturals True Bolivian Quinoa
  • 2 cups of roasted potatoes
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped steak (sliced into thin strips for easy eating)
  • 1 oversized handful of fresh arugula

Place all ingredients in a bowl. Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil and 1/4 cup lemon juice (about 1 large lemon) – then stir to incorporate everything evenly. Taste – and add sea salt and black pepper to taste. You can also add crushed red pepper (or fresh jalapeño) for heat. Beautiful, isn’t it?

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(Want to learn more about quinoa? Check out my brand partner, Andean Naturals – importers of the best quinoa in the world :) )

Happy back to school days, everyone. By the way, here’s a pic of my babies this morning. I told them to hold the signs… they said they would, but they still had to do it their way. LOL back to school

Submitting to the Plan

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“Father, create in me a clean heart… and renew a right spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10

I sat beside my 13 year old today as she got braces. We’ve been talking about this day for months – and, now, no more waiting: the process to straight teeth has begun.

We had a long talk with the orthodontist before today where we learned the transformation of her smile will happen without her even knowing it. He explained the wires and bands he’d apply would push and pull things into place – that it wouldn’t always be comfortable, but that she could be sure work was always in progress. He said what is crooked will be made straight; and what’s out of line will be brought into order. Slowly… slowly… slowly. He said he wouldn’t have to force anything to ‘right’ itself, but with the ever-so-slight pressure he’d apply over time, she’d eventually end up with ‘perfection’.

So at 7:35 this morning, my daughter walked into the office – willingly… a little giddy even. She sat in the chair – willingly. She opened her mouth – willingly. She gave in to the discomfort, dry lips, and multiple hands in her mouth – willingly. They didn’t have to hold her down, or bribe her, or scream at her, or pull rank. They simply said, if you want straight teeth, here’s what we have to do. And, since she wants straight teeth, she showed up and said ‘let’s do it’… willingly.

I was so impressed by her and her maturity. But, even more important, as I sat the foot of her chair with my mommy hand on the calf of her long, lean leg, I was impressed by a very simple truth I often strive to forget: sometimes I just have to submit to the plan.

HIS plan, not my plan. HIS way, not my way.

I know, I know. “Submission” is a dirty, loaded word these days. “Submission” brings up pictures of doormat women, and weak people, and images of everything most of us dread of being. But watching my daughter submit to the plan this morning wasn’t weakness – it was beautiful STRENGTH. She had a heart that understood the greater plan and she willingly said, “I’m in.” No one would call her a doormat because she submitted to the leading of the orthodontist; she wasn’t coerced or pushed around or belittled because she’s taking the opportunity to ‘perfect’ her teeth. To the contrary: by willingly submitting to the plan she can now sit back and allow the ever-slight-pressure to do it’s work for her good.

Just like my girl’s path to straight teeth began by her willingly sitting in the orthodontist’s chair, my path to ‘better’ – God’s ‘better’ – starts with my willingness to place myself before Him and His word. Yes, there will be troubles. Yet, in spite of the tests and trials He may use to make me uncomfortable and mold me through the process, if my heart is right and humbled before Him, I can know with certainty it will all work for good.

When we walked out of the office this morning, my girl had a Starbucks gift card in one hand and a pint of Ben & Jerry’s in the other – two gifts to ‘celebrate’ the day. And me?  I walked out praying for courageous willingness to submit to the ‘treatment plan’ my Father’s laid out for me.  I admit it’s so hard sometimes… it’s hard to let go of me and MY way and submit to His spirit and HIS way - especially when things around me aren’t changing as fast as I want them to. But just as the orthodontist promised my girl his work will make a difference over time, my Father promises that, just as the heavens are higher than the earth, HIS ways are higher than my ways, HIS thoughts higher than my thoughts… and, His plan will make me more joyful, more loving, more forgiving, more patient, more kind, more powerful, more EVERYTHING than I could ever be without Him.

 

A Warm and Savory White Bean & Carrot Quinoa Salad

Where has the summer gone? Do you feel that, too? Just yesterday I saw this quote by John Burroughs: “I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see.” Yep – I couldn’t put it any better than that.

Not only have I been feeling the days are too short, I’ve been feeling my days are way too filled with the ‘tedious things’. The laundry. The organizing. The grocery shopping. The laundry. The cooking. The cleaning. The laundry. (Do you do that much laundry, too?) On more than one occasion I’ve looked at the floor waiting to be swept and the dishes needing washing, and, for a split second, it’s crossed my mind to run out the door with The Kitchen House and hide in the shade of a tree instead of doing my chores. Ha! Maybe after the kids go back to school that will be my ‘free day’: shade, a good book, no chores for mommy.

Anyway, because of all the business of these last days before school starts, there’s been no real ‘plan’ for our days… which is why we ended up eating this last night:

I was staring at my pantry, my overabundance of carrots, and a nice selection of my staples: white beans, lemons, spinach, and arugula. As I started to cook, it didn’t even occur to me I was throwing together a recipe I’d be sharing with you – hence, my lack of ‘how to’ photos in this post. But you know what? It was so yummy… so fast… and so perfect for a quick meal on a summer night – I have to share it.

Here’s what I used:

1 medium onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic, diced and smashed with the back of a fork
1 1/2 cups of carrots, peeled and grated (I chopped mine with my mini food processor)
1/4 cup fresh diced parsley
1 tsp oregano
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp sea salt
2 cans of white beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup of water
2 handfuls raw baby spinach
1 cup cooked Andean Naturals quinoa
1 handful of arugula
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon

In a large fry pan, sauté your onions and garlic in a little olive oil on medium high. Once onions are translucent, add in your shredded carrots, parsley, dried seasonings; stir and continue to sauté for another couple minutes. Add in your white beans and water; stir again, and allow beans to warm through for a couple minutes. Add in baby spinach, stir to incorporate, cover, and turn off heat while spinach wilts.

Place your quinoa in a large bowl. Add in one cup of your hot bean/carrot sauté, a handful of fresh arugula, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Stir to incorporate. Serve the salad and, before eating, freshly zest lemon zest over the top for garnish.

Now, here’s the truth: After I pulled out the cup of sauté for this salad – my salad, I actually mixed the remainder together with some noodles for my man and kids. So, if you have family that wants pasta – serve them pasta! But, if you want quinoa like me, do it up; and, if you have leftover saute, just mix it with more quinoa and save it for lunch tomorrow.

Before I go, please know I intend to spend more time here once our house is back on a school / work schedule. Thank you for sticking it out with me, encouraging me, and being here! I appreciate you… I hope you know that.

(Want to learn more about quinoa? Check out my brand partner, Andean Naturals. They’re raising the power of goodness and sharing quinoa with the world.)

Spicy Black Bean & Lime Quinoa Salad

I went to a BBQ this past weekend and, of course, was asked to bring a ‘quinoa salad of some sort’.

Now, when you ask me to bring a quinoa salad, I get really excited. Why? Well, because I love quinoa, of course. But, more importantly I get excited because it’s a chance to introduce people to how flavorful, fragrant, and wonderful a quinoa dish can be. I get excited to show everyone that quinoa is a true crowd pleaser… I get excited to have people say, “Wow, can I get the recipe?” (And for my ladies that asked for the recipe, this post is dedicated to you ;) )

Hence, I brought this – THE salad my family and I can’t seem to get enough of right now:

Ingredients:

For salad:

  • 2 cups precooked quinoa
  • 2 cans organic black beans, drained and rinsed (always buy canned beans with nothing but beans, water, and salt on the ingredient label)
  • 2 large sweet bell peppers, diced
  • 2 cups of baby arugula
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, washed and rough chopped
  • 1/2 cup diced red onion
  • 1 medium jalapeño, diced (remove HALF the seeds for less spice)

For dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice
  • 2-3 small garlic cloves, diced and smashed with the back of a fork
  • zest of 1 lime
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp cumin
  1. Put your quinoa and beans into a large bowl.
  2. Add your argula, chopped cilantro, diced bell peppers, red onion, and diced jalapeño.
  3. In a separate bowl, whisk together your dressing ingredients and pour dressing evenly over the top of the salad.
  4. Stir to evenly coat all ingredients, taste for flavor, and (if necessary), add more salt and pepper to taste.

Here’s what it’ll look like:

 


And then look at the bowl of beauty you end up with:

(NOTE: this recipe makes about 4-5 full bowl servings. But, here’s the good news: it gets better as it sits! So, even if you don’t have a BBQ or a big crowd to serve, make the full batch and save the rest for the next day or two. You won’t regret it.)

Happy Monday, everyone – I’m so glad you’re here with me. (If you’re on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram, connect with me there, too!)

 

YOU CAN DO IT: Gluten-Free Quinoa Honey Carrot Cake Bars

The other afternoon my 11-year old bakerella made some amazing carrot cake muffins. They were “traditional” carrot cake – the kind that’s moist, sweet, and covered in a rich and creamy cream cheese frosting. But, as with most delicious cakes, all the sugars meant they were definitely a ‘treat’ and not something we’d be eating on a daily basis.

But see, I want to eat carrot cake every day – it’s just the processed flours and sugars that keep me from it. So, with that in mind, I challenged myself to come up with a carrot cake that would still taste like carrot cake, but have NO refined sugars or flours. The result?

This:

Quinoa Honey Carrot Cake Bars with A Honey Yogurt 'Frosting'

Quinoa Honey Carrot Cake Bars with A Honey Yogurt ‘Frosting’

I made a couple batches before I had real success. While the first couple weren’t ‘cakey’ enough, when this batch came out I knew it was spot on. And, what did my expert bakerella say?

   

She said, “YUM.”

Before I tell you all that you need and how to do it, let me fill you in on a couple things:

1) You’ll need ground almonds. This means just take some almonds and grind them in a grinder (or food processor) until you have this:

2) You’ll also need ground oats, which means just take your gluten-free oats and grind them in the same grinder (or food processor) until you have this:

(I rarely have specialty flours on hand, but always have nuts and oats on hand. So, this is a great do it yourself – and you only need to grind what you’ll need for the recipe.)

With that said, here’s the recipe:

Ingredients for cake:
1 1/2 cups ground almonds
1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
1 1/4 cup grated carrots
1 cup ground gluten-free oats
1/2 cup raw organic honey
1/4 cup coconut oil
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
3 eggs
1/2 cup greek yogurt

To make ‘frosting’:
1/2 cup greek yogurt + 1 TBSP of raw honey whisked together until smooth.

FOR CAKE:

Place your ground almonds, ground oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt to a bowl, and mix by hand with a fork until incorporated.

Add precooked quinoa, carrots, honey, melted coconut oil, cinnamon, and vanilla to the mixture, and mix again. It will look like this when it’s all mixed:

Next, in a separate bowl, whisk three eggs until loose. Add greek yogurt, and whisk again until mixture is creamy.

Add cream mixture to dry mixture and still well until incoporated.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, then spread mixture into an even sheet. Do not push into corners of the pan, though.

Bake at 375 for about 18 minutes, or until golden brown and cake springs back in center when you touch it.

Allow to cool on pan, then slide the parchment and cake out of the pan and onto a cooling rack. Slice into small squares for easy storage and snacking.

They’re sweet (but not over-sweet), moist, and have a wonderful texture. Eat the bars plain, or for a little extra sweetness add a little schmear of honey yogurt ‘frosting’, or with a drizzle of maple syrup or warmed honey. (They are a perfect compliment to a cup of coffee or tea.) No matter how you eat them, I know you’ll be saying ‘yum’ just like us.

Let me know if you make them… I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Peachy Quinoa Pancakes

I love farmer’s markets… but I really love u-pick farms. I love the hunt, the abundance, the quiet of the open space. I’m happy to wander… to move from bush to bush, or tree to tree, selecting the best of the bounty.

We usually start with strawberries in mid-late June - and, let me tell you: you’ve never really had a strawberry until you’ve had an Oregon Hood strawberry straight out of the field.

Then, in July we move to the berry varieties: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries… and, once I get picking, you almost have to pull me off the fields before I stop.

But come the last days of July into August, we move to peaches. When we went just a couple of days ago, the peaches were dripping off the trees. We picked, and picked, and picked – and, while we picked, we discussed all the great things we could turn the peaches into: peach smoothies, peach tarts, peach scones.

DSC01353

 

For me, though, I was excited to get home with my peaches and make these:

Peachy Quinoa Pancakes

Peachy Quinoa Pancakes

YOU’LL NEED:

  • 2 cups precooked quinoa
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 heaping cup of finely diced peaches (or other fresh fruit)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 TBSP organic raw honey
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp baking powder

NOTE: Here are a few other of my favorite variations for these fruity quinoa cakes:

bananas and cinnamon
strawberries and walnuts
blueberries and lemon zest

STEPS:

Crack your eggs into a large mixing bowl, then whisk until smooth.

 

Slice up your peaches and remove as much skin as possible. Finely dice/mash the fruit.

 

Add your quinoa and finely diced peaches to the whisked eggs, then add your flour, baking powder, and vanilla – and stir to incorporate completely.

 

Heat a fry pan and lightly butter the bottom. With pan a little higher than medium heat, use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to make patties in pan. After 3 – 3 1/2 minutes, carefully flip patties.

 

Isn’t that easy? And – DELICIOUS.

Now, seriously - don’t skimp! Use REAL organic maple syrup for these… or, maybe a drizzle of some warm honey.

 

These will become a new favorite around your house… I’m willing to bet on it.