YOU CAN DO IT: Homemade Salted Quinoa & Fruit Energy Bars

DSC04671 If you’ve been with me awhile then you know “SmartyBars”.

I started making SmartyBars in my kitchen back in 2009 when Seb was in the 2 year old constant snacking phase. I struggled to find prepared snack items that weren’t fortified (meaning they were so stripped of nutrition in processing they had to re-add the vitamins back in), or amped up on processed sugars, or filled with chemicals.

The other issue I struggled with was, while I had no problems getting him (or the rest of my family) prepared with good snacks while we were on the go, I was constantly running on empty. My lack of attention for my own well being meant I fell into a pattern of either a) not eating, b) eating everyone’s leftovers and lasts (half a piece of cold toast, the last bite of banana, the cold crumbled scrambled eggs), or c) lots of fast food.

I had simply allowed motherhood to run me ragged… and, because I had stopped seeing how I nourished myself as a big deal, I was tired, achy, cranky and developing a palate that craved salt and sugar constantly.

SmartyBars were the concoction that got me back on track. I pulled together the best whole ingredients I could find and figured out a way to stick them all together in ONE snack. I wanted something that would be nutritious, would fend off hunger, digest well and keep my mind sharp. SmartyBars ingredients were prized for all of those things.

Fruit.

Quinoa.

Oats.

Walnuts.

That’s it. Only four ingredients went into my SmartyBars and, because they were so clean and pure, I got myself (and my cravings) back on track.

I had a manufacturer for SmartyBars for a couple of years and sold them through my website and several local stores. Then, in 2013, I manufactured my very last batch and shut the company down. (Thankfully, however, the Lord used SmartyBars as the springboard for NBC Food Fighters, this Rebel Grain blog and to launch me as the Quinoa Queen! So, no regrets 🙂 ) Today, however, I’m going to show you how to make your own SmartyBars… and, let me tell you, if you’re looking to get back on track and retrain your cravings: THIS IS IT.

While my original recipe was just four ingredients, the version I’m making today is a little more tasty with a few additional ingredients:

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You’ll need:

  • 1.5 cups of precooked Royal Quinoa (or you can use 1.5 cups of Royal Quinoa flakes)
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free whole oats (regular oats are fine, too, if you’re not gluten free)
  • 1 cup of whole, raw almonds
  • 1 cup of unsulfured dried apricots (NOTE: sulfur is the preservative that gives typical dried apricots the bright orange look; unsulfured apricots are dark brown (like mine in the photo), but they taste WAY better without the preservative. Find them in bulk bins at some grocery stores.)
  • 2/3 cup of dried, pitted cherries
  • 1/2 cup of sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup of raw honey
  • 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil

I like to rehydrate the fruit just a little bit so it’s easier for the food processor to work with. To do this, simply add the dry fruit and about 2 TBSPs of water into a shallow, lidded pan.

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Turn the pan on high and, when the water sizzles, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Allow the fruit to steam for about a minute or so.

Next, using a slotted spoon (so that you don’t add any additional water to the mix) add your fruit into the bowl of a food processor….

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and process until smooth, like this:

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Scrape the fruit puree away from the sides of the bowl, and then add in the rest of your ingredients:

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Process all the ingredients together for about 30 seconds to a minute… and then, you should have a mixture that looks like this:

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NOTE: It may be necessary to scrape the fruit puree out of the processing bowl and then work the ingredients in two batches. It all depends on the strength of your processor and the stickiness of the mixture.  You’ll know if it’s necessary because the processor will be moving too slow to break down the ingredients.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and press the mixture to about 1/2 inch thick. Then sprinkle the top with a little flaked coconut and some coarse finishing salt (optional):

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Now, place the prepared tray into your oven at 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes. (This isn’t really ‘baking’ the bars, it’s simply allowing some of the moisture to evaporate.)

Remove the tray, cut the bars into your preferred sizes and then, with a spatula, carefully place all the bars on a drying rack:

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Allow the bars to ‘air dry’ for as long as possible; then, store in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for grab and go snacking.
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This recipe makes about 24-28 bars (depending on how large you cut them and how much you eat BEFORE you press them onto the pan 😉 )… and, start to finish, you’re looking at a time investment of about 30 minutes.

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The best part? If you make these yourself you’re saving a ton of $$$$ by not buying the prepackaged options. And, honestly, I think these taste a thousand times better than anything you can buy off a shelf.

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Give them a try… and play with the recipe, too! Here are some other ideas:

  • If you like more texture, don’t process all the ingredients together. Make the fruit puree as I described, then add it to a bowl with your honey, coconut oil and dry ingredients. You can use your hands to squeeze it all together and then, when it’s all fully incorporated, press it onto the pan and follow the rest of the directions.
  • You can use any dried fruit or nuts you prefer! Just follow the general guidelines for fruit/nut/grain ratios and you’ll be fine.
  • Substitute the precooked quinoa for quinoa flakes. If you do this, you remove a lot of the water content from this recipe and the bars will have a longer shelf life. (It’s the precooked quinoa in this recipe that requires they be refrigerated.)

I hope you’re inspired to make these… and, if you do, I’d love to know what you think!

Thanks for reading 🙂 I love having you here. ENJOY!

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Portland’s AM Northwest: Roasted Spiced Pumpkin Quinoa Parfait

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If you love pumpkin spice, then you’re in heaven these days. Everything is coming up pumpkin spice: lattes… cereal… chips… yogurt… creamers… Twinkie… Peeps.

Most of these ‘pumpkin spice’ foods, however, are very little (if any) pumpkin or actual real spice. (Always read the labels – especially on ‘healthy’ foods!) And, for me, I love pumpkin and spices way too much settle for nothing but flavor. I want the good stuff – the REAL stuff… and I know you do, too!

That’s why today, on AM Northwest (KATU, Channel 2 here in Portland), I showed Dave how to cut and clean a pie pumpkin, how to spice it before roasting, and then how to turn the delicious spiced pumpkin into this:

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Seriously, peeps, THIS IS AMAZING. Wonderful texture, just the right amount of sweet, and a perfect tangy touch from the greek yogurt. Most importantly, though, while you’re getting your pumpkin spice fix, you’re also getting a fix of some amazing nutrients and goodness. (Just look at how nutritious pumpkin is!)

So, roast up some spiced pumpkins, cook up some quinoa, and store both in your fridge  this week. That way, no matter how busy your day gets, you’ll have exactly what you need on hand to satisfy your cravings and keep you powered for your calling.

Here’s the segment:

Here’s the detail:

2 pie pumpkins, stems cut off, sliced in half, and all strings/seeds scraped out

Spiced rub: 2 TBSP butter, 2 TBSP honey, 1 TBSP ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg, 1/2 tsp vanilla

  1. Melt the butter in the microwave for 10 seconds and, using a fork or small whisk, mix until all the spices are fully incorporated.
  2. Evenly divide the butter/honey mixture into the two halves of the pumpkin and, using a spoon, spread the mixture all over the meat of the pumpkin.
  3. Place the pumpkin halves skin side up on a sheet pan and roast in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes (or until you can puncture through the skin with a fork).
  4. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and allow to cool before scraping all pumpkin meat from the inside of the skin. DONE.

Finally, as I say in the segment, KEEP YOUR SEEDS! Clean them and roast them… JUST LIKE THIS.

Let me know if you try this! Thanks for reading 🙂

Royal Quinoa Pasta: The Perfect Friend For Your Leftovers

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Whew, big week in my heart. Lots going on… lots of hope, creativity, and EATING.

Yes, we are always eating in our house, which means I’m always cooking and loving on my babies and my man through my food. What happens a lot, though, is we end up with lots of odds-and-ends in our leftovers.

Whenever I take stock of our leftovers I pretend I’m playing “Chopped”. (If only they’d put me on the show already… you hear that Food Network? PUT ME ON CHOPPED!) I look at the foundational ingredients, think up some unique way to add another flavor layer or texture and then – boom! – a brand new meal.

Today I want to share how I used leftover salmon and sautéed broccoli to make a delicious, bright quinoa salad. The twist? Instead of using quinoa grains like I typically do… I used this:

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The Green Quinoa Royal Quinoa fusilli pasta has become a favorite of mine. I’ve been using it in place of regular pasta in COLD pasta salads (they are very tender noodles, so hot applications tend to make them disintegrate)… and, not only do I appreciate the nuttier flavor of quinoa pasta, I really appreciate how it doesn’t leave me feeling ‘stuffed’ (like regular pasta often does).

Now, before I share the recipe with you, here are SPECIFIC TIPS for using Royal Quinoa pasta:
  1. Bring the water to boil, add 1 TBSP of olive oil, and 1 tbs of salt before adding the noodles.
  2. Cook the noodles for about 5 minutes – you want them al dente.
  3. They are very, very tender – just like egg noodles. So, don’t overcook them or let them sit in the hot water after cooking.
  4. Immediately drain and rinse noodles under cold water to stop them from cooking any further.
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Once my noodles were cooked, I put them in a big bowl with my leftover salmon and leftover sautéed broccoli….

 

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Then I chopped up some sweet cherry tomatoes and a little red onion…

 

I used my favorite tool in the kitchen - my Microplane Zester - to add the zest of one lemon...

I used my favorite tool in the kitchen – my Microplane Zester – to add the zest of one lemon – and YES, YOU MUST ZEST!!…

Then I squeezed the juice from the zested lemon, drizzled some olive oil, sprinkled some black pepper and sea salt, threw in a big handful of baby spinach and some chopped fresh parsley and – BOOM – this:

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I bet your mouth is drooling, isn’t it. Y.U. M. Seriously. On days like this I have no problem being the “Queen of Leftovers and Lasts“… especially when I see the delicious beauty that can come from a little playfulness.

So, if you’re looking for a new way to mix up your leftovers, think of these Green Quinoa Royal Quinoa fusilli noodles… and let the creativity flow!

Have a great, relaxing, NOURISHING weekend everybody… and come back on Monday for some BIG NEWS on a BIG GIVEAWAY.

(This post was sponsored by Green Quinoa – but, you know me and my love for quinoa… and you can trust this recipe and opinions are all my own. 🙂 )

BTW: once you have your delicious salad to sit down and enjoy, I hope you'll join me on the 31 day challenge I started yesterday - just click here or here to keep up with the daily posts.

BTW: once you have your delicious salad to sit down and enjoy, I hope you’ll join me on the 31 day challenge I started yesterday – just click here or here to keep up with the daily posts.

How to Make A Tasty Quinoa Smoothie… and ANOTHER GIVEAWAY!

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Now that the kids are back in school, our schedules have returned, and we’ve paused the home remodeling projects, normalcy has returned to my days.

My day starts between 5:58-6:15 when our kitty, Daisy, starts meowing at my bedroom door for her breakfast. (Literally, EVERY SINGLE MORNING; she’s my alarm clock.)

I feed Daisy, put the coffee on, wake up kiddos, and get to making lunches.  If I’m making a hot breakfast, I get that started… and, then, by 7am, kids are bellying up to the counter ready for their sustenance.

By 7:15 I’ve prepared three lunches (sometimes four if my man needs one), fed five mouths, cleaned the kitchen, found lost clothing items, typically put a load of laundry in, mediated a minimum of three disagreements, and stolen a few moments to get dressed and pull myself together.

I’ve promised myself that this will be the year I get back to the gym on a regular basis. The summer really took a toll on me with the move and the remodel…. and getting everyone back on a schedule means it’s time I get myself back together. Mentally. Spiritually. Physically.

One of the things I’ve been re-incorporating into my day is a morning smoothie. My whole life I’ve been a smoothie girl – actually a “protein shake” girl… wayyyyy before Jamba Juice ever made smoothies a thing. When my dad had his gym in Oakland, he opened the first juice bar of its kind, offering simple protein shakes made with protein powder, apple juice, a banana, and ice. Then, when we moved to Guam and I ran the front desk of his gym there, I became the “Smoothie Queen” of the gym and made protein shakes for the bodybuilders all through my high school years. So, when I talk smoothies, know this: I take my smoothies seriously.

The way I make smoothies these days, however, is a little different. Instead of apple juice (which is too much concentrated sugar), I use water or coconut milk; and, no matter what fruit I use, I always add in small handful of baby spinach and 1 heaping tablespoon of something else I’ve come to appreciate, raw coconut oil. Finally, while I still love regular protein powder, I’ve also come to enjoy using something you might have never imagined would be good in a smoothie: quinoa flakes.

Yes, QUINOA FLAKES.

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Quinoa flakes are typically used in baking, or for instant breakfast cereal or thickening soups. (I used quinoa flakes when I developed my SmartyBars, too.) Personally, I’m not a huge fan of the texture of flakes when they’re cooked alone (they get too mushy for my tastes), but I love the nutty flavor they add to my shakes. (And, you know me: I simply love quinoa in everything.)

Here’s the recipe I’m drinking these days for my mid-morning snack:

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(makes 16 ounce serving)
1/2 cup of frozen fruit (I prefer frozen berries or frozen pineapple)
1/2 banana (add sweetness and thickens)
1/2 cup of coconut milk
1/2 cup (more or less) of water
1 small handful of spinach
1/3 cup of Green Quinoa Organic Royal Quinoa Flakes
1 TBSP of raw coconut oil (you can also add 1/4 cup of avocado – YUM!)
1/4 cup of ice

Layer your ingredients into your blender

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Add 1/3 cup coconut milk

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This recipe has protein, fiber, iron, and lots and lots of other good nutrients that help me feel satiated, bright, and energized… all the things I need to feel as I kick start my days.

GIVEAWAY:

Tell me your favorite smoothie recipe in the comments below and I’ll choose ONE random winner to receive a box of the Organic Royal Quinoa Flakes I use in my smoothies!

Ready… set… POST AWAY!

(This post is sponsored by Green Quinoa and giveaway prize is provided by Green Quinoa… but recipe and comments are my own 🙂 Comments for this giveaway will close at 6pm PST on Sunday, September 27th, and one winner will be announced on my Facebook page on Monday at 9am PST.)

YOU CAN DO IT: Chocolate & Coconut Black Quinoa Pudding

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Today my last little bird flew from the nest and into 3rd grade… which means a new school year has officially started for our family. Early mornings, carpool afternoons, sports, homework, and, hopefully, breathing room for my brain so that I can finally feel the freedom to get stuff done.

As I sit here in my quiet house, there are little piles of life all over the place – and I’m excited. Today begins the work of getting back to life. Bills to pay. House finishing to do. Pictures still waiting to be hung, and laundry waiting to be washed. Planning for the months to come. I feel the urge to nest – to hunker down, cozy up our half-finished house, and begin the process of welcoming Fall to settle in with us.

Another thing I’m looking forward to is getting back into a routine of cooking. I have to be honest: in the summertime, it’s grazing season. A quick salad. Slices of deli meat and cheese with some crackers. A steak on the BBQ with some roasted veggies. Meals happens… and don’t happen… and yet we all seem to make it through the hot, leisurely months satisfied.

With school back in order, however, food and life require more planning. I mean, with three kids and my man, I’m set to make over 640 lunches alone in the next 9 months. 640 lunches! Add in breakfasts and dinners, and I’m looking at potentially 1400 meals this year. (Ok – I’m tired.)

Flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to mealtime isn’t an option.

I also have to be really conscious of feeding myself well, too. While I’ll still grab and go on most days, I have to be prepared to have the right grab-and-go food available: a quinoa salad, some hardboiled eggs and a piece of fruit, greek yogurt with some quinola and fruit, or THIS:

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This is my chocolate and coconut quinoa “pudding”. When I was little, we used to eat a rice version of this pudding called “Champulado” – a Guamanian treat. Traditionally, champulado is made with white rice, sweetened condensed milk, refined sugar, and chocolate syrup. This version, however, is not only healthified with quinoa and free of refined sugars – the texture and taste is a thousand times better than what I grew up loving.

I’ve made this many times before and always used the regular white quinoa I can find in bulk. Green Quinoa, however, sent me a bunch of their black Royal quinoa and I WILL NEVER USE WHITE QUINOA FOR THIS DISH AGAIN.

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GQ’s black quinoa didn’t really ‘open’ when cooking – it softened. The texture of the quinoa in the finished pudding reminded me of what happens to chia seeds when they’re soaked in coconut milk – not mushy, and just enough of a crunch when you chew. (When I’ve made this with white quinoa the seeds always open normally… so, it’s interesting to me the black quinoa responded differently with the coconut milk/water mixture.)

Seriously: this is SO GOOD. So good hot and right out of the pot… and so good as a grab and go snack out of the fridge.

Here’s what you need:

1 box of GQ Royal Black Quinoa
1 14 ounce of coconut milk (Trader Joe’s brand is my favorite)
1 cup of water
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup unsweetened cacao powder
1/4 cup raw honey

(Optional Add-Ins)
1-2 bananas
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger

DIRECTIONS:

Place quinoa, coconut milk, water, and cacao in a high sided pot, then whisk the mixture until cacao powder is broken down. Add in the coconut and honey.

Bring pot to a rapid boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cover. Allow pudding to gently simmer for 25-30 minutes. (Every 10 minutes or so be sure to stir the pot and scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent the pudding from sticking to the bottom while cooking.)

Turn off heat. DONE.

Now, you can eat the pudding right away as a warm porridge for breakfast (the way we always ate champulado). I love topping mine with fresh fresh sliced banana and grated ginger…

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Or, you can gently mix the sliced bananas and ginger directly into the pot, stir, and then portion the pudding out into individual storage containers, like this:

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I do both… and then, when I need a grab and go meal, I have one ready to go. (I’m eating one of my pre-portioned puddings out of the fridge as I write this 🙂 )

I’d love to know some of your tips for getting off on the right foot with food now that kids are back in school. Do you have any tips or recipes you want to share? One thing I know for sure: it takes a village… and WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER.

Thanks for reading – and thanks to Green Quinoa for sponsoring this post! Find them on Facebook and Instagram.

YOU CAN DO IT: Bone Broth Chicken Quinoa Soup

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This is a sponsored post paid for by Green Quinoa, but you know how I LOVE quinoa – and the recipe, thoughts, and opinions are all my own. Connect with Green Quinoa on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter!

I’m a big believer that a mom has two best friends in the kitchen: quinoa and a rotisserie chicken. If you have one, or the other, you’re minutes away from a powerhouse meal. Now, if you have BOTH on hand, you’re really set up for greatness.

Today I want to do two things:
1) Introduce you to 100% Bolivian quinoa brand – Green Quinoa. All their products are made from 100% organic Bolivian quinoa (aka “Royal Quinoa”) – and BOLIVIAN ROYAL QUINOA is the best quinoa in the world. It’s the largest, fluffiest, nuttiest tasting, and most nutritious variety… PLUS, since Green Quinoa traces their quinoa batches from farm to shelf, you can be confident it’s clean (meaning you don’t have to rinse it) and free of pesticides and contaminants.

2) Show you how to get another meal out of a rotisserie chicken you may think has nothing left to offer. When I buy a rotisserie chicken, I typically debone the breasts and thighs and use that for dinner #1.  What you may not know, however, is that with just a little more effort and a few additional ingredients, you can turn that almost fully deboned chicken into bone broth chicken quinoa soup… and, if you’re not familiar with bone broth, know this: it’s amazingly healthy.

INGREDIENTS:
leftover rotisserie chicken
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar
3 medium carrots
3 stalks of celery
1 medium onion
1/4 cup of finely diced parsley
3 garlic cloves
1 box of GQ brand mixed grain Royal Quinoa
1 TBSP sea salt
1 TBSP black pepper
1/4 cup soy sauce

PROCESS:
Add 10 cups of water to a stock pot with the apple cider vinegar. Then, remove as much skin as you can from the chicken and place the entire chicken into the pot of water. (NOTE: be sure you add in all the gelatinous goodness that settles in the bottom of the rotisserie chicken tray and collects around the chicken skin you’re discarding. It’s full of flavor and nutrients that were cooked out of the chicken on the first cook – so, use it!)

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Bring the bones to a rapid boil, then turn down heat, cover, and simmer for about an hour on medium heat. (While the bones simmer, this is where you can get another load of laundry in, help with homework, and prep your soup ingredients. 🙂 )

While the soup is boiling, prep the carrots, celery, onion, garlic, and parsley (the parsley didn’t make it into my picture):

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…dicing them all up like this:

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Once your bones are boiled down, they should literally fall apart as you go to remove them from the water. So, using a slotted spoon, remove the bones from the pot and onto a plate.

DSC04471 What will be left in the pot is this golden goodness – your bone broth:

DSC04469 Using a pair of tongs, or a fork, or even your fingers, remove all the chicken you can from the bones. You’ll be shocked at how much meat was still left! Look at mine – when making the soup for this post I was able to get close to two full cups of beautiful chicken off my bones:

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At this point you can toss the bones in the trash, put all your veggies and the chicken back into the pot…and, this is where the quinoa comes in:

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One box of GQ mixed grain quinoa is about 2 cups of dry. I wanted a thick soup, so I added the whole box of dry grain into the pot. (If you want your soup less thick, add less dry quinoa.)

Add your sea salt, black pepper, and soy sauce. Bring the soup to a rapid boil reduce heat to a low simmer and cook for about 15-18 minutes – just long enough for the quinoa to cook.

When the soup is done, this is what you’ll have:

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Isn’t it amazing how leftover bones you’d probably be tempted to throw away have the potential to become this stunningly beautiful, flavorful, and healthy bone broth chicken quinoa soup?

My man goes nuts for this soup, as do my kids. They always tell me it’s just like something from the Whole Foods soup bar – but even better… and, it’s true.

With Fall upon us, I hope you’ll remember this simple recipe and give it a try… and then come back and tell me about it!

YOU CAN DO IT: Tangy Roasted Beet & Quinoa Spring Salad

We’ve owned the house for about a week now, but nothing major has started just yet. We had every intention of taking possession, starting demo and getting to work… but, there’s something different about this place. There’s something deep and solid and weighty that’s drawn us in and asked us to just – listen.

Several of our friends have even said to us, “Don’t rush – you gotta live in it first to really know what to do.” While that goes totally against how we usually tackle things, we see the wisdom in it for this home and this season of our life. Stillness. Quietness. Patience. LISTEN.

So, listening is what we’ve done for the last seven days.

We lit fires in the early morning coolness and listened to the crackle of wood that came from trees in the yard. We’ve sat on the hardwood floors in the mid-day sun and drank iced tea while listening to the house adjust its bones and welcome the warmth of the afternoon. We’ve listened to the kids squeal and laugh as they had water-balloon fights on the deck. We’ve looked down into the yard and listened to the birds, the squirrels, the frogs, the ducks. We’ve walked the rooms over and over listening to the beautiful quiet the empty house holds…and, in the quiet, we’ve listened to God’s kind, sweet voice saying, “You’re welcome” to the thanksgiving prayers our hearts constantly utter.

Listening has been good – really good… and, now as we begin the work, we feel we’re doing it in connection with all this house holds.

With all that said, staring today (and for the next few posts) I want to share some of the things I learned “in the dark”. (When I say “in the dark”, by the way, I’m referring to the pit of uncertainty (i.e. darkness) stressful situations often thrust us into. The four weeks leading up to the closing of our house I was “in darkness”: scattered, unsure, and depending wholeheartedly for my Father to work everything out as I woke each day and simply did the next right thing. The paperwork requests, the documents to sign, questions, the stress of three families behind us waiting for US to close. I was not myself, to say the least. But, as Jesus said, “What you hear in the dark, proclaim in the light.” So – here I am: out of the dark, back in the light, and excited about some really cool things the dark taught me.)

The first lesson I learned in the dark:

Beets are really good things.

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I’ll be 42 in just a couple of months and, with all seriousness, I have never in my life eaten a beet. EVER. (I’m pretty sure I was traumatized after having a salad bar beet forced upon me as a child and I’ve never allowed them to touch my lips again.)

As we were going through the last four weeks, however, my homemaking duties were falling short – waaayyyy short. Not a day went by where the kids weren’t saying, “Mom, we’re out of…”… and, we honestly ate burritos probably four out of the seven nights a week for four weeks in a row. I grabbed take out more than I’ve ever grabbed take out in all our years of marriage – and, just like I had to grab take out for the family dinners, in the middle of the day I was so short on food I found myself gravitating to the Whole Foods salad bar for my personal sustenance. (I know, I know – quinoa saves the day! So, you know if I didn’t even have quinoa on hand – I was in a bad state of affairs.)

Enter, the beet salad.

There was something about the particular day I choose the beets: it was sunny outside, I had just finished a workout, the salad title said, “tangy beet salad”… and yes, I was dying for a little ‘tang’ to give me a pick-me-up. While the color and the title caught my eye, I did have to ‘amp it up’ a little. So, with the beet salad I added a couple other salads off the bar: a tricolor quinoa salad and some arugula and greens from another.

I LOVED IT.

Beets. Who would have known? They were amazing! So amazing, as a matter of fact, I went in and bought an entire bunch of them just so I could recreate my own version at home… and that’s where this salad comes from.

You ready? This recipe will make two meal servings of the salad…

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First, here’s what you need:

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1.5 cups quinoa (any quinoa will do, but I did like how the tricolor helped the presentation of this recipe)
2 medium beets, rough chopped into chunks and roasted with salt and olive oil for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees
1 large handful of baby arugula
1 large handful of baby spinach
1/4 cup of thinly sliced red onions
1 TBSP of fresh diced jalapeño (or, more or less depending on your preference)

Then, for the dressing:

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1/3 cup olive oil
1/8 cup of rice wine vinegar
1/8 cup of balsamic vinegar
1 tsp of honey
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper

First, make the dressing by putting all the ingredients in a jar with a lid, and SHAKE VIGOROUSLY for about 20 seconds. Done.

Then, assemble the salad:

First, put the beets, onions, and jalapeños in your bowl, then pour the dressing over the ingredients to soak them:

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Next, add the spinach and the arugula, and toss everything together until evenly coated by the dressing:

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Finally, add in your quinoa:

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(NOTE: when dressing with a vinegar based dressing, I ALWAYS add quinoa last and never dress the quinoa directly… you don’t want the quinoa to be overtaken by the vinegar.)

Toss everything together until evenly coated… and serve: DSC04000 Isn’t this a gorgeous salad?

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The funny part is that, had I not been ‘in the dark’ and forced out of my box to eat something new, I don’t know if I ever would have discovered my love for beets… or this amazing salad.

Conclusion? Thanks to the darkness I learned beets are really good things.

What ‘good’ has come from a darkness you’ve worked through? I’d love to hear…

(FINAL NOTE (and maybe TMI): Beets CAN turn your pee red. Just saying. So, when you eat way too much of this salad like I did, don’t call your doctor and tell her you think you’re dying because your pee is red and you have no other symptoms of anything. She’ll just ask you if you’ve eaten anything out of the ordinary and, when you tell her ‘beets’, she’ll tell you have “beeturia” and then you’ll both have a good laugh and you’ll hang up and feel like a four-year old. Oh, then you’ll read this article and you’ll learn you have low stomach acid… and you’ll start eating more yogurt, drinking lemon water, and eating a tablespoon of pure coconut oil every day. 🙂 )

Up next: The second lesson I learned in the dark: Coffee is not my friend.

Thanks for being here…

YOU CAN DO IT: Thai-Inspired Carrot Quinoa Soup

Did you see this headline a few days ago: Harvard University has determined A Daily Bowl of Quinoa Could Save Your Life. See! Just ONE bowl… so, imagine what a quinoa habit does for your health 🙂

Today I want to share a recipe for a soup I made a couple of nights ago: a thai-inspired carrot quinoa soup. Traditional carrot soups are usually creamy – and we’re not a creamy soup kinda family. We like bulk. We like texture. We want to eat a bowl of soup and feel like we’ve eaten… not be left with feelings of ‘what else is comin’.” THIS soup did just that – satisfy.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

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8-10 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ rounds
1 medium onion, diced
3 large garlic cloves, diced and smashed
1 large stalk of lemongrass, quartered and pounded (or three pre-cut stalks)*
2 TBSP fresh parsley, finely diced
1 quart of chicken broth
1 cup of water
3/4 dry quinoa (OR, 3 cups precooked quinoa)
1 TBSP fish sauce
1 TBSP fresh squeeze lime juice
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
the zest of 1 lime
salt & pepper to taste

(*Find lemongrass in the herb section of your grocery store. It’s very tough; use the back of a heavy knife and hit the stalk several times to release the oils that will flavor your soup.)

DIRECTIONS:

In a soup pot, add a little olive oil to coat the bottom. When the pan is hot, add in your diced onions, garlic, lemongrass, and parsley, and sauté on medium high for a couple of minutes.

When onions are translucent and your mixture is fragrant, add in your carrots and ginger. Stir everything together and continue to sauté for another couple of minutes.

Add in the chicken stock, water, DRY quinoa, fish sauce, and lime juice. Bring to a boil; then, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes.

When quinoa is cooked and carrots are soft, remove lemongrass stalks; add in the lime zest, and salt and pepper to taste.
This is what you get:
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It was DELICIOUS.

Now, notice I did something I’ve never told you to do before: use DRY quinoa. When you’re making a brothy soup like this one that has adequate liquid, you CAN add dry quinoa right into the pot. The key is remembering that quinoa sucks up water and expands to almost 4x its original size. So, just keep that in mind when you choose to go the DRY route… otherwise, you’ll end up with an overly thick bowl of porridge-style soup versus a brothy one. (If this turns out too thick for your liking, just add an additional 1/2 cup of water or broth towards the end. Not a big deal.)

Before I go, if you haven’t picked up my quinoa e-book, The Quinoa Habit, don’t forget it’s available here.

And hey, if you’re in the Portland area, join me on Monday, March 30th at the Bridgeport Whole Foods for The Quinoa Habit class! You can sign up HERE… I’d love to meet you and encourage you into a healthier food lifestyle with quinoa as a foundation. Here’s the flyer:

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Thanks for being here with me!

YOU CAN DO IT: Quinoa Banana Pancakes

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Nothing to get me back to the blog like an AM Northwest morning!

Today I spent some time with Dave and we made one of my favorite quinoa recipes: quinoa banana pancakes.  (Man, I love him. He is so bright and happy – and always a joy to stand beside and cook with.) Last summer I told you about these and how to make them with fresh peaches… but, since we’ve yet to hit the summertime bounty, banana is what seems to be making an appearance most often in my kitchen these days.

These little patties  have no added sugar, can be made gluten free (just use gluten free flour), and taste great fresh out of the pan with a little maple syrup, or cold as a little mid-day snack.

I have a whole batch sitting in my fridge right now and, when the hunger strikes, I nibble on a couple with a big bottle of water and keep running through my day.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 cups precooked quinoa
2 eggs
1 heaping cup of smashed bananas (or other fresh fruit)
1/4 cup flour
1 TBSP organic raw honey (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder

TO MAKE: Whisk your eggs together and pour the eggs into a bowl with the precooked quinoa. Add your smashed banana, vanilla extract, flour, and baking powder. Stir together until evenly incorporated… and then fry in a butter coated pan on medium heat about 3 minutes on each side. Patties should be golden brown when done!

ENJOY!

BY THE WAY – WANT TO COOK WITH ME?

If you’re in the Portland area, I’ll be hosting a “Quinoa: Breakfast to Dinner” class at Whole Foods Bridgeport on March 30. Connect with me on FB, Twitter, or on Instagram for more details to follow this week. SPACE WILL BE LIMITED!

Thanks for being here with me…

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.