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.

Coconut Mung (“Mungo”) Beans and Quinoa That Would Make My Nana Proud

What I’m about to share with you goes deep.

It’s not just any recipe – it’s a recipe that has me 8 years old with smoke in my eyes and my nana’s voice in my ears. It’s a dish I remember coming home to after school; I’d get off the bus and my old lady would yell from across the yard and over the chickens, “Come on for mungo beans.” It would be close to 90 degrees out and I’d be dying for a cold shower to rinse off the sticky island sweat. But man, when mungo beans were on the table, her smoky outdoor kitchen was the only place I wanted to be.

I’d sit down and she’d hand me a military-issued spoon and metal bowl filled with mungo beans simmered with coconut milk from the yard and ham from the neighbors pig down the street. I’d wash it down with ice cold rain water from one of her rusty can cups – and, as I ate, she wouldn’t say a word. No questions about school. No small talk about homework or friends or chores. She’d just sit and watch me eat while she used a paper plate to fan away the heavy heat and the flies… and that’s how she loved me.

Dried Mung ("Mungo") Beans

Dried Mung (“Mungo”) Beans

Mung beans – aka”mungo” beans. Small and simple, yet full of flavor – just like my sweet nana.

I used to have to buy them at oriental food stores (they originated in India, but are big in Chinese and Asian cuisine), but now can find them in the bulk section at my local grocery – which thrills me. They are GORGEOUS little things – my favorite green – with a very mild flavor.

Now, my nana’s original recipe used something I don’t have: fresh out-of-the-coconut coconut milk. Thankfully, however, there are good canned versions that get me pretty close to the original taste.

On the other hand, I use something my nana never did: quinoa. The quinoa gives another layer of flavor and better texture… and look how beautiful it sits in your bowl:

Coconut Mung Beans and Quinoa topped with Bacon

Coconut Mung Beans and Quinoa topped with Bacon

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • EVOO to coat the bottom of the pan (Extra Virgin Olive Oil)
  • 2 cups whole dried mung beans
  • 6 cups broth
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, diced and smashed
  • 1 can of coconut milk
  • 2 TBSP soy sauce
  • Black pepper to taste
  • For garnish: pre-cooked bacon
  1. Heat a soup pot and add enough EVOO to coat the bottom.
  2. With pan on medium high (a 7 out of 10), add onions and garlic and sauté for about a minute or two – just until the onions are translucent.
  3. Add dry mung and broth. Bring to a rapid boil for a few minutes, then turn down heat to medium, cover the pot, and allow to simmer gently for approximately 45 minutes. NOTE: You want the beans tender, but intact.
  4. Once beans are tender, add the coconut milk, soy sauce, and black pepper; and, gently incorporate the ingredients into the beans.
  5. DONE!
  6. Ladle beans into bowls and top with crispy bacon bits… and some chili paste if you like some heat!
  7. NOTE ON BACON: No, you can NOT use bacon bits out of a jar – and, as a matter of fact, you shouldn’t even own bacon bits in a jar! To cook bacon I always do it in the oven – and you can do it while the beans are simmering for this dish. Just preheat the oven to 425, and then cook bacon on a cookie sheet for approximately 12-15 minutes, or until perfectly crisp. No mess, no turning, no babysitting: just perfect bacon to make your bacon bits.

Now, you’ll notice I didn’t have any ham in the recipe like my nana did. (You can definitely simmer a hambone in the beans and you will be thrilled with the flavor. I, however, don’t typically do it that way – mainly because I rarely have a ham bone hanging around.) But, while I don’t cook the ham in the soup, I do top the bowl with the bacon bits – an alternative that adds great presentation and crispy bacon texture.

DSC05939 Beautiful, isn’t it?

Rebel on,

 

What I’m Eating Right Now: Sweet Quinoa

It’s the middle of the day – I need a pick me up… a ‘treat’, if you will.

So, this is what I’m eating:

Quinoa Fruit Parfait: A Real Treat for Your Tastebuds!

Quinoa Fruit Parfait: A Real Treat for Your Tastebuds! 

Yum.

Yum.

I put 1/2 cup greek yogurt in my bowl then added:

  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 a banana, diced
  • 1/2 cup of diced mango
  • a bunch of pomegranate seeds

I drizzled some coconut milk over the whole thing, mixed it up, then ‘presented’ it to myself in a beautiful serving dish.

The best part? It all took me about three minutes to put together.

And you?

I hope whatever it is it will have you feeling as satisfied and light as this little number makes me feel!

Rebel on,
Elisha

Fried Peach ‘n Coconut Quinoa

Look what I just cooked up: Fried Peach n’ Coconut Quinoa served over greek yogurt:

I was in between sales calls and emails when the scent of the local peaches on my counter caught my attention. Perfectly ripe, gorgeous in color.

This is usually the time of day I find myself ready for a little snack. So, why not play with the peaches, right?

I went digging around and this is what I came up with: peaches, coconut milk, toasted unsweetened coconut flakes from a cake I made a bit ago, a lime… and, chili pepper flakes that are just too pretty in color to leave out.

I can just hear you now: Wait, Elisha… did you say “fried”?

Yes, FRIED. I took all these goodies and I fried them up in some coconut oil. I know that it seems unconventional – but think peach cobbler without the sugars, or peach pie without the effort. This is a dish you’ll discover (as I did) is perfectly sweet and warm for a cool fall morning, but, most importantly, it is also clean and pure. Just what mama likes.

Here’s what you’ll need for 2-3 servings if you decide to try this at home:

  • Coconut Oil
  • 1 fresh peach, diced
  • 3/4 cup  of cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup light coconut milk
  • 1/2 a fresh lime
  • kosher salt
  • black pepper
  • red chili pepper flakes
  • unsweetened flaked coconut
  1. Place about 1 tsp of coconut oil in a hot frying pan and throw in your diced peaches. Allow the peaches to sit for just a minute on one side, then take a spatula and move them around a bit so they don’t stick.
  2. Add an additional 1 tsp of coconut oil and 3/4 cup of cooked quinoa. Stir to coat the quinoa and peaches together, then allow to fry for about a minute without stirring.
  3. Pour in 1/4 cup light coconut milk, and season with just a touch of kosher salt and black pepper. Add in your chili pepper flakes to taste, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice. Stir over heat for another minute… and, that’s it!
  4. Remove from heat. Serve 1/2 cup of your peach ‘n coconut quinoa over 1/2 cup of greek yogurt. Top with flaked coconut… and enjoy!

Happy Monday, everyone!

Rebel on, Elisha

Coconut Chicken Corn Soup

When I was growing up, one of my favorite fiesta dishes was always the coconut chicken corn soup. It’s such a sweet memory for me: walking in on the nanas in the outdoor kitchen boiling the chicken off the bones, fanning themselves with paper plates and talking about the neighborhood gossip. When it was ready for the party, they’d bring it out in big pots and all us kids would gather round to fill up our cups. It may have been 95 degrees outside, but there was something about a hot cup of corn soup that made us all feel happy.

Now, on days like today where it’s drizzly, cold and the kids are bouncing off the walls from a full day of “indoor activities”, a big, hot pot of soup seems more than appropriate. So –  here’s my recipe for the most delicious coconut chicken corn soup you’ll ever – EVER – eat. And you know the best part? You can pick up a Costco rotisserie and make this in less than 15 minutes… so it’s the perfect “quick and easy” homemade meal.

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 rotisseri chicken, deboned
  • 1 quart chicken broth
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 cup coconut milk (be sure when you buy coconut milk the ONLY ingredient you see is “coconut milk” – I love the Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 2 cups frozen corn
  • black pepper to taste
  • soy sauce to taste (I usually use about 1/8 of a cup)
  1. Sauté the onion in a large pot with just a little olive oil. When onions are translucent, add in the chicken meat, the broth, the water, and the frozen corn. Bring to boil then turn heat down to medium low.
  2. Allow the pot to simmer for about 10 minutes then add in the coconut milk, the black pepper and the soy. Turn off the heat and cover until ready to serve. (NOTE: If you like it more “soupy” than it turns out, just add some extra water.)
  3. Serve over cooked quinoa – and, if you like it HOT, top it with chili paste.
Enjoy!
P.S. Now, I know the american thing is to serve everything with bread. REBEL FROM THIS TRADITION! I add quinoa into each bowl before I serve because it gives extra substance to the meal and makes bread unnecessary.
P.S.S. Sometimes I’ll make this by boiling down the bones of a rotisserie that we’ve eaten at a previous meal. There is so much meat left on the bones no matter how good we try and clean one off… and it stretches my $5.00 rotisserie purchase into TWO full meals. I share this way with you, however, because it’s something you can do on the fly.)