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: Mama’s Honey Vanilla Quinoa Granola (“Quinola Crunch”)

Honey Vanilla Quniola

Honey Vanilla “Quinola Crunch”

My mom’s dad was addicted to granola when I was little. He was a military man – very rigid and regimented, and when we stayed with them I knew one thing for certain: granola and milk would be my breakfast.

My grandpa would buy dozens of boxes of granola at a time. He bought the exact same brand and exact same flavor, and I could always count at least six boxes at a time being perfectly stocked side by side in the overflowing pantry. (I chuckle as I think of him standing in front of the dozens and dozens of granola options we have available today… how would he have decided?)

But anyway, with all that said, I guess you could say I have a special spot in my heart for granola… and for the sweet memories of childhood it brings to mind.

While I love granola, though, the problem I have with most commercial options (beyond the mere fact they are flat out expensive!) is they are filled with sugars, preservatives, and other junk. If you read the labels, it’s quite shocking, actually: some granola has even more sugar than the ‘taboo’ cereals like Frosted Flakes. Seriously! So, what’s a girl to do?

Make my own!

Today I’m sharing my Quinola Crunch recipe with you for several reasons:

1) It’s yummier than anything you’ll find on the shelf.

2) It’s made with nothing but amazing God-made ingredients (i.e. no refined grains, flours, or sugars).

3)  Making it yourself will save you a boatload of money.

4) It’s one more exceptional way to get a little more quinoa into your day!

5) I love you and I want you to be healthier by cutting out all the excess refined sugars you can.

So, you ready to wow yourself with your quinola-making abilities? Here we go:

Timing: It will take you about 10 minutes to put together, 20 minutes to bake.

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Tools:

  • baking sheet
  • large bowl
  • measuring cups
  • measuring spoons
  • small glass bowl (or glass Pyrex measuring cup)
  • a large airtight container for storage

Ingredients:

DRY mixture:

  • 1 cup dried quinoa
  • 1 cup toasted buckwheat (“kasha”)
  • 1 cup whole oats (if you buy gluten-free oats, this recipe will be 100% gluten-free)
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut ribbons
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

WET mixture:

  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup pure coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  1. Preheat oven to bake at 300 degrees on ‘convection’ setting; or, 325 in a regular ‘bake’ setting.
  2. Mix all dry ingredients into a large bowl. Set aside
  3. In a glass bowl, melt coconut oil for approx 45-60 seconds. Add honey and return to microwave for another 30 seconds. Using a hand whisk, whisk thoroughly; then, add in vanilla and salt and whisk again to fully incorporate all ingredients together.
  4. Pour wet ingredients over dry ingredients and mix until all dry ingredients are coated evenly. Spread mixture out on a cookie sheet so that the mixture is about one inch thick.
  5. Bake for approximately 10 minutes. Remove sheet and carefully stir the mixture so that exposed surfaces are turned under. (Pay special attention to disrupt the sides and corners since those tend to toast faster than the center.)
  6. Return sheets to oven and bake for another 10 minutes. (NOTE: The key to cooking time? You’re waiting for the mixture to turn a beautiful LIGHT golden color. So, if the mixture is already looking golden when you pull it out after the first 10 minutes, you’ll want to return it for less time after stirring; and, if you don’t notice much change in color after the first 1o minutes, you’ll be able to leave it for a little longer in the second round.) 
  7. When baking is complete, remove trays from oven and allow quinola to cool completely right on the tray. Once cooled, use a spatula to carefully release the quinola from the pan. (The more gently you work, the more chunky your quinola will be.)
  8. Store in an airtight container.

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That’s it! It is sooo yummy… and an entire tray is sooo inexpensive to make when you consider how much ‘gourmet’ quinoa snacks and granola are going for these days. (I’ve seen granola similar to this selling for close to $20+ a pound!! And this recipe? It will probably cost you about $5 for the whole tray.)

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I love to just nibble on my quinola, or it’s especially yummy as a sprinkle over greek yogurt:

Quinoala Crunch and Greek Yogurt

Quinola Crunch and Greek Yogurt

A few final tips:

  1. You can find all ingredients in most bulk bins.
  2. Buy organic everything if you can… and look for ‘unsulfured’ dried fruits.
  3. The first time you make it keep a close eye on it so you don’t over toast it! Lightly toasted, lightly toasted, lightly toasted!
  4. The quinola continues to cook AFTER you remove it from the oven… keep that in mind! So, it’s better to pull it out a little under toasted than too toasted.

Happy Monday, everyone! I hope you try it… and then come back and let me know what you think!!

AM Northwest: Fresh Fruit Hand Pies

As a mom, there’s not much I get ‘props’ for. No one jumps for joy when I wash and fold their clothes; no one really notices when I go grocery shopping, or make lunches, or sweep the floor. (I wrote about motherhood being a tough gig not too long ago.) And hey – that’s the life of a mom, so I don’t sweat it. But one of the reasons I love, love, love to cook and to bake is because, without fail, when my kids catch whiffs of what I’m stewing, or baking, or sautéing… it draws them to me.

That’s the thing about cooking: the sweet, delicious smells created by my work call my babies to my side quicker than words ever do. They come in close, lean in, and ask for nibbles. They want to talk about what’s going into the pan; they ask questions like: Mom, did you make this up? Have I eaten it before? Will I like this?

They see ingredients at their finest – fresh, colorful, clean. They see me confidently using my hands to prepare and dice and toss and squeeze. They see me choose, and manipulate, and ‘dance’ my mama’s dance of love. And, when it’s all done, they enjoy the fruits of my labor.

It’s seeing my babies enjoy my ‘work’ and celebrate my ‘dance’ – that’s why I cook.

I especially love the squeals of joy when I make these:

Fresh Fruit Hand Pies with Homemade Flaky Puff Pastry

Fresh Fruit Hand Pies with Homemade Flaky Puff Pastry

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Call these my rebel yell against commercialize pop tarts, breakfast strudels, and sugary cereal. I dreamed them up in my kitchen one day when I had an abundance of mangos and some leftover tart dough… and I can’t believe it took me so long to begin creating these. They are just sweet enough with the fresh fruit and the slight addition of sugar that I wouldn’t hesitate to serve one for breakfast with a couple eggs – or as an after school treat with a glass of milk. And man, let me tell you: the kids really think they’re getting something spectacular when they eat these.

The crust is super simple, the filling is fresh and easy to prepare, and based on the reaction of my kiddos, all kids are sure to enjoy making and eating.

Here goes:

First, make the dough.

  • 2.5 cups flour
  • 2 regular sticks of salted butter
  • 2 TBSP sugar
  • 12-13 TBSP ice water
  1. Add flour, butter, and sugar to the bowl of a food processor. Turn on for 10 seconds nonstop. Then, pulse and additional 5-8 times. The goal is for butter bits to be about a little larger than pea sized…. so don’t over process!
  2. Drizzle a TBSP of water at a time through the top of the food processor and pulse for 1 second after each water addition.
  3. Pour mixture from food processor bowl into a large mixing bowl and, using your hands, squeeze the dough together until all of the mixture is stuck together. (NOTE: The dough should lean to the dry side. If it is too dry, wet your hands and continue to work dough until it adheres. If it is too sticky, add a tsp of flour at a time until the stickiness is gone.
  4. Form two discs, wrap in plastic, and chill.

While dough chills, prepare your filling. Here are some great options…

Mango/Coconut filling
Dice up some champagne mangos and toss with sweetened shredded coconut.

Apple filling
Peel and dice up granny smith apples. (Apple pieces should be just slightly larger than a corn kernal.) Toss the apples with a little sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice.

Fresh Berries
Toss fresh blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries – anything! – with a little sugar and squeeze of lemon juice.

Assemble the handpies:

  1. Preheat the oven and a baking sheet to 400 degrees.
  2. Roll out your chilled dough on a floured surface until it’s about 1/8 of an inch thick.
  3. Cut out whatever shape you’d like with an oversized cookie cutter, or other found object from your kitchen. (Large coffee cups make great cutters for circular hand pies.)
  4. Fill the center of your shape so that you maintain about a 1/2 inch around the outside of the filling. Dip your finger in the egg wash and coat the edge along the outside of the filling.
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  5. Take a second shape and cover the filled piece. Gently push the edges together being careful not to push the filling out of the sides. Then, dip a fork into the egg wash and ‘seal’ the edges with the fork.
  6. Using a pastry brush, wash the top of the hand pie thoroughly, then score with either a knife or a several fork pricks.
  7. OPTIONAL: You can sprinkle colored pastry sugar over the top before baking. If you are making the apple pies, you can add chopped store-bought caramels and sprinkle a pinch of coarse sea salt over the top for a ‘salted carmel apple’ pie.
  8. Place the assembled pies onto a preheated baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for approximately 18-20 minutes, or until the pies are golden brown.
For "Salted Carmel Apple" Handpie: fill with prepared apples, a few pieces of store-bought carmel (diced), and then, after you apply egg wash to assembled pie, top with a pinch of corse sea salt.

For “Salted Carmel Apple” Handpie: fill with prepared apples, a few pieces of store-bought carmel (diced), and then, after you apply egg wash to assembled pie, top with a pinch of corse sea salt.

These little gems are amazing warm… but just as yummy served cold – especially when thrown into a lunch pail for your little love.

Check out today’s AM Northwest segment from this morning where Dave and I made these up:

http://www.katu.com/amnw/segments/Homemade-Fruit-Pies-204900551.html

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

AM Northwest: Quinoa Super Snacks

Today I shared some quinoa love on Portland’s ABC morning show, “AM Northwest”! I had such a blast… especially because they LOVED the quinoa snacks I made. I mean LOVED THEM.

I made two SuperSnacks in my 6 minutes, both of which give that perfect power punch in the middle of the day: a sweet quinoa snack and a savory quinoa snack.

Here’s what I did:

Sweet Quinoa Super Snack –
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/3 cup greek yogurt
1/2 a banana, diced
1/2 a mango, diced
1/4 cup of coconut milk
sprinkle of unsweetened coconut
a drizzle of honey (if desired)

Savory Quinoa Super Snack –
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 fresh avocado, diced
handful of cherry tomatoes, each one cut in half
a drizzle of olive oil
the fresh squeezed juice from 1/2 a lemon
salt and pepper to taste

If you watch the segment, a couple of the ingredients for each dish don’t even make it in… yet Dave went bananas for both of them! After the cameras went dark he came right back over and totally finished off BOTH bowls I prepared for him. Even more rewarding was that the camera guy came over and let me feed him – and then two people that must have watched from a different part of the building came in, too! Everyone was gathered around my quinoa station for at least 15 minutes after the show ended… eating, talking, sharing food thoughts.

I must say that today was a good day.

Glad you’re here with me,
Elisha

Ladies, Meet Ataulfo


We are coming into the season of this bundle of sweetness: the ataulfo mango. Depending on where you find them they are also called “Manila” and “Champagne” mangos… our family just calls them candy.

They are amazing.

Juicy, vibrant in color, and string-less.

I just picked some up at our local Costco (every time I see them there I wanna do a happy dance!), and every nibble makes me feel like I’m back in the islands. When you find them you want them to be bright orange with yellow undertones and you don’t want them mushy when you give them a little squeeze. (If you buy them a little underripe, just put them in a brown paper bag for a couple of days and they will ripen right up.)

We eat them freshly skinned, over homemade pancakes or waffles, and, of course, over quinoa as either a super porridge breakfast or an “afternoon delight”.

Keep an eye open for them… I promise you’ll fall in love.

Here’s the recipe for the photo above:

  • 1/2 cup of quinoa (pre-cooked and cold out of the fridge)
  • 1/2 cup of whole milk, plain yogurt
  • 1/2 a ataulfo mango, diced
  • a sprinkle of frozen blueberries
  • a sprinkle of unsweetened coconut

Eat up, mama… that’s SUPER FOOD for sure!

Enjoy!