An Herbed Quinoa Fennel Grapefruit Salad to Brighten Your Day

The house is quiet.

Kids are at school learning (thank God!), laundry is turning in the dryer, I hear the hum of a lawnmower out my window, and… I am breathing for the first time in days.

Breathing.

Thinking.

Processing.

Camping on this sweet verse from Isaiah 63:9: In all their distress He too was distressed, and the angel of His presence saved them. In His love and mercy He redeemed them; He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

Isn’t that beautiful?

It reminds today I’m not alone in my distress… this natural distress of discomfort I’m feeling as we slowly move into this new land with kids in new schools, new friends, a new home (soon), and new ways of doing things. (Oh, and the distress of thinking “how in the heck am I going to pack up this house?? Agh!)

But truthfully, I am so, so very excited to see how God grows and matures and teaches each one of us through this adventure. Because, if I know anything to be TRUE, it is this: His GOODNESS is present with us every step of the way.

So, with that in mind, I thought I’d share something good with you today – a yummy, ‘brightening’, ‘uplifting’ mama-meal like this:

DSC07929

Herbed Quinoa Fennel Grapefruit Salad

A mama-brightening salad for sure!

Not only will you feel light and clean and bright after eating it, there is JOY in the journey of making it! The fragrance of the basil and mint on your skin, the feel of grapefruit juice running through your fingers as you section out each little piece, the sight of the warm amber honey drizzling over the bowl of freshness. Talk about a party for your senses! And, hey, – isn’t that what all of us mamas need: joy in our journey?

So – enjoy!!!

Here’s what you need to make enough for you and a friend:

Beautiful and fresh ingredients...

Beautiful and fresh ingredients…

  • 1/2 heaping cup of precooked quinoa
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 3 small grapefruits
  • 6-8 basil leaves, diced
  • 10-12 mint leaves, diced
  • 1 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1 TBSP honey
  • a pinch of salt and black pepper
  1. Slice up your fennel bulb in thin slices like this.
  2. Section out your grapefruit pieces like this.
  3. Add pre-cooked quinoa, diced herbs, a pinch of salt and black pepper; toss lightly.
  4. Drizzle the warm honey over the top and, again, toss lightly.

That’s it!

Final notes:

** The basil and mint will turn brown if left too long in the salad… so this is best enjoyed FRESH. If you are going to eat only half and save the rest for later, add the herbs to your portion only.

** The juice from the grapefruit and the honey are the only ‘dressing’ this salad gets. I section my grapefruit right over the main bowl to capture the juice as I work. If you don’t want too much juice in your salad, you may want to section over a separate bowl so you can control how much juice you ‘dress’ the final product with.

 

 

Um, More Cauliflower Quinoa Soup, Please

We eat a ton of cauliflower in our house.

Raw. Roasted. Sautéed. Stir fried.

I was just telling a girlfriend yesterday that when I roast it and put it on the counter to cool, I often return to find little fingers have nibbled the entire pan away.

Our favorite way hands down, however, is this:

Cauliflower Quinoa Soup

Cauliflower Quinoa Soup

… the most savory bowl of yumminess ever.

The inspiration for this recipe came a couple years ago from The Pioneer Woman. Of course (because I need to be in control, lol) I made some tweaks that work better for the way we eat in our home (nixed the butter and flour, added garlic, upgraded from milk to cream, and added quinoa).

Don’t worry, though – this recipe is SO SIMPLE. Truly.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup EVOO
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, diced and smashed
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 celery sticks, chopped
  • 1 head of cauliflower, broken into small florettes and roughly chopped (trim off the stalks from florets as best you can)
  • 4 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 cup of heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 cups precooked quinoa
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Warm a big soup pot and add the EVOO. Once EVOO is hot and loose in the pan, add onions, garlic, celery, and carrots. Sauté for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly so garlic doesn’t burn.
  2. Add chopped cauliflower to the pan and continue to sauté for another minute or two. Then, cover pot, reduce heat to just under medium, and allow veggies to soften for about five minutes. (Yes, you’ll want to give them an occasional turn with your spoon during that time.)
  3. Uncover the pot and add the chicken stock, heavy cream (optional), fresh parsley, and precooked quinoa. Bring soup to a gentle boil; then, reduce heat to just under medium again, cover and allow to simmer for about 10 minutes. (Also, if you need more soupiness (we like it a little thick in our house), just add more broth until it reaches the consistency you want).
  4. When it’s done simmering, grab a spoon and give it a taste! This is how you’ll determine how much salt you’ll need. Once you’ve tasted it, add in a little salt and pepper to taste.
  5. To serve, ladle into a beautiful bowl and sprinkle on some crushed chili pepper for those that love a little heat. (You can also add a little extra parsley for presentation.)

NOTE: If you are DIARY FREE, you can make this without the addition of the cream. As I sit here and think about it, I wonder if coconut milk as a substitute would add a little something special to this soup!

Enjoy… and, as always, Rebel On.
Elisha

It’s Valentine’s Day: Eat Sexy Quinoa

Okay, since it’s Valentine’s day and “love is in the air” as my 5-year old proclaimed this morning, I must post a sexy quinoa recipe.

Yes, I said “sexy quinoa”. Did you know it could be so?

Well, when you pair it with some foods touted as “aphrodisiacs”, there is nothing ‘blah’ about this favorite superfood of mine. To the contrary: what you get is a sexy, flavorful, spicy, ‘I want some more’ salad you’ll want to make over and over (whether it’s Valentine’s Day or not).

Lookie lookie:

A Sexy Quinoa Salad with Pomegranates, Basil, Ginger, Banans, Honey, and Crushed Chili Peppers

A Sexy Quinoa Salad with Pomegranates, Basil, Ginger, Banans, Honey, and Crushed Chili Peppers

Here are your ingredients… and, if you click on the links, you’ll learn why each ingredient is prized as a ‘sexy’ food:

  • 2 cups of cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds
  • 1 small fresh banana, sliced into quarters and then diced
  • 5 fresh basil leaves, diced
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • a sprinkle of dried chili pepper flakes (how hot can you handle it?)
  • 1 TBS honey and a splash of water
  1. Mix all ingredients into a bowl.
  2. Warm the honey and water in the microwave for about 15 seconds so that it is pourable, and pour it over the salad.
  3. Stir thoroughly so that all ingredients are coated in honey.

It would make a great pre-dinner treat, or a really nice dessert salad to cleanse the palate.

Hey, maybe you just make it because you’re man is on his way home and you need a little pick me up before he walks through the door.

However or whenever you eat it, ENJOY… and love, love, love being with your man.

Happy Love Day, everyone!

Rebel on,
Elisha

Who Couldn’t Use Some Quinoa Love Soup…

There is something about soup that warms your bones – isn’t there? I think that’s why I’ve been on such a soup kick lately – because that’s what we all seem to need these days: warmth.

…and comfort.

…and coziness.

…and rest.

…and simplicity.

…and love.

Life gets so busy and so fast – and then a cold, or a heartache, or our spirit simply says, “Since you won’t choose to slow down, I’ll choose it for you…” and rest is graciously forced upon us.

Well, the other night my sweet Kenna was in her ‘resting’ period. A low grade fever and cough had taken away her basketball practice and her gymnastics class. She was on the couch with a good book and a kitten curled up at her neck… and I filled up her belly with this beautiful “Love Soup”.

Quinoa Love Soup

Why “Quinoa Love Soup”? Because it’s a spin on a traditional italian wedding soup – but without bread crumbs and pasta, and with the addition of quinoa. (I also don’t go through the step of pre-cooking the meatballs or adding egg to the soup. My recipe is quicker and simpler, but doesn’t compromise on flavor.) And, can I just tell you: it’s light, savory, and chalk full of nourishing and healing ingredients. Your bones will love you for it.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 3/4 pound of ground hamburger (NOTE: I buy hamburger with 20% fat because it has better flavor than the lower fat options.)
  • 3/4 pound of seasoned italian sausage
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, diced and smashed with a fork
  • 8 cups of chicken broth
  • 1 head of escarole, washed and chopped into 1″ strips (NOTE: You’ll have to find this at a local grocery store that offers a greater produce variety)
  • 3 large carrots, washed and peeled
  • 4 cups of pre-cooked quinoa
  • fresh grated parmesan (for garnish) (NOTE: The taste of fresh grated parmesan is totally different that parmesan out of a can. Do yourself a favor and ditch the canned parmesan… your taste buds will thank you)
  1. Make meatballs: Blend together the hamburger and the italian sausage and form into small 1″ balls. Place finished meatballs in a single layer on a plate. Set aside.
  2. Heat a large soup pot and add 1/4 cup EVOO to pan. Sauté your onions and garlic until onions are translucent, stirring constantly so that garlic doesn’t burn.
  3. With your stove on high, add broth to the pot and slowly drop uncooked meatballs in. Once broth comes to a rapid boil, reduce heat, cover pot, and cook for 6-8 minutes.
  4. Add in chopped escarole and, with a large spoon, push all greens down into the broth so they begin to wilt. Then, take your carrots and create carrot ribbons by peeling the carrots directly into the soup. Cover and cook another 3-5 minutes on medium high.
  5. Turn off heat. Add in your cooked quinoa.
  6. (NOTE: If you need more “soupiness”, you can add additional water one cup at a time.)
  7. Ladle finished soup into bowls and top with fresh grated parmesan and black pepper.

Warmth for your bones… and your spirit

It’s an easy winner. I promise…

Rebel on,
Elisha

A Real Woman’s “PB&J”

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches… a childhood staple for every one of us, I bet. Grape jelly was always my favorite – a burst of sweet against the rich creamy peanut taste. I can still recall the whiff of peanuty air bursting from inside my Wonder Woman lunchbox…. pure joy and pure comfort in the middle of a school day.

While my kiddos still enjoy traditional PB&J’s, this mama doesn’t do the sandwich thing anymore. Not only am I not a big bread fan (which you know), a traditional PB&J just doesn’t power me up. Furthermore, traditional PB&J’s make me feel 12 when I eat them… and, um, let me be honest: I want to feel like a woman! You know what I mean?

So, what to do? Well, look at this:

A Real Woman's "PB&J"

A Real Woman’s “PB&J”

The flavors of a PB&J… but ooohhh, this little concoction will satisfy a real woman’s discerning taste palate!

DSC03758

DSC03759 Start with 1/2 greek yogurt and a 1/2 cup quinoa… the add a handful of whole grapes, a small handful of spanish peanuts, and a drizzle of honey. Stir it up, present it to yourself in a beautiful bowl… and then close your eyes while you’re whisked back to the sweet innocence and simplicity of elementary school.

Happy Monday, everyone!

Rebel on,
Elisha

 

 

Last Minute Dinner Idea: Kale, Sweet Potato, Black Bean Quinoa Soup

Contrary to popular belief, I’m often totally unprepared for dinner. Take last night, for example. At about 5:30 I was talking to my man on his drive home when he asked the typical question every man asks after a long day at work, “So, what’s for dinner?”

“Not sure yet,” I responded. “I was just figuring that out.”

He laughed. “It’s crazy, isn’t it? It just keeps happening… every single night. We just don’t stop needing to eat!”

Yep – every night. There is no rest for the weary.

BUT – while I am not always totally sure what I’ll be making, I am always very confident that I have the right things on hand to create something healthy, filling, and satisfying. This is where our ‘staples’ come in.

You can probably see from the recipes I post that much of what I cook is made of pretty simple ingredients: quinoa, leafy greens and other vegetables, beans, eggs, fruit, herbs. Some meats, lots of fish (although I haven’t posted many of these yet). You’ll also see a lot of olive oil, coconut milk, greek yogurt, and spices of various sorts.

We like simple.

We like clean.

I like ingredients that can be mixed and matched and it won’t take me two pages of directions to explain the recipe to my girlfriends.

So, here’s one of those types of recipes for you – one that you can throw together and have served in less than 30 minutes: Kale, Sweet Potato, Black Bean, Quinoa Soup. (You should know: I was a inspired by a recipe I had seen on Oh She Glows.)

Kale, Sweet Potato, Black Bean Quinoa Soup: Instant Dinner!

Kale, Sweet Potato, Black Bean Quinoa Soup: Instant Dinner!

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1/4 cup EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced (NOTE: you can also use a small shallot for a lighter flavor)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed and mashed
  • 1 bunch of kale, washed and cut into bite sized pieces (NOTE: when you use kale, you want to trim off the bottom half of the stems and discard them)
  • 3 palm sized sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite sized chunks (I used WHITE sweet potatoes… but you could also use other varieties, I’m sure)
  • 2 cups of broth
  • 3 cups of water
  • 2 cans of organic black beans, drained and rinsed (NOTE: canned beans are gold to a mama. Be sure when you buy them there are no preservatives; the label should simply say “beans, water” (and maybe “salt”)
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 2 1/2 cups pre-cooked quinoa (You know: gotta ALWAYS have the precooked quinoa on hand when you’re cooking with me!)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • To Garnish: fresh avocado, cherry tomatos, cilantro, and jalapeño
  1. Heat a soup pot and add olive oil. When hot, add diced onion and garlic. Stir constantly to prevent burning.
  2. After about a minute or two (when onion is translucent), add in chopped kale. Saute the kale for about two minutes, tossing occassionally so that all leaves have been fully coated in oil.
  3. Add in the diced sweet potato and cumin. Stir entire mixture to coat. Add in the broth and the water; turn heat up to medium high and bring to a rapid boil. Once boiling, turn heat down to medium, cover, and let simmer for about 5 minutes. (This is a great time to prepare your garnishes.)
  4. After 5 minutes, check your potatoes for tenderness with a fork. (If they are still too firm to pierce with a fork, allow to simmer another couple of minutes. NOTE: you want the potatoes soft, but not mushy.) Once tender, add in your black beans, cooked quinoa, a little salt and a little pepper, and stir to mix completely.
  5. DONE!
A Beautifully Simple Soup

A Beautifully Simple Soup

TO SERVE: Ladle out the soup into bowls and then time for the magic to happen: with garnishes. The soup is amazing by itself – but it goes to a whole new level when you top it with fresh chopped cilantro, halved cherry tomatoes, diced fresh avocado, and (if you have it) diced fresh jalapeños.

The Magic is in the Garnishes...

The Magic is in the Garnishes…

Isn’t that easy? The best part is, like I said at the beginning, it’s made with things you can always keep as a ‘staple’ in your home. Because remember: if we can be sure of anything, it is this: we need to eat every night! And, with a recipe like this in hand, there’s never an excuse to ‘not be prepared’ with something that will power up you and your tribe up for greatness.

Let me know if you make it!

I’m thrilled you’re here with me…

Rebel on,
Elisha

 

 

 

 

A Recipe for A Florentine Love Story

I am in love with a good, good man. Truly. And, we are just a few months away from celebrating the birthdays that will officially take us into the season where we’ve been together longer than we’ve been apart.

We met when we were a wee 20 years old on a junior year study abroad program in Florence, Italy.  Yes, Italy. I was the island girl with the tough talk and half shirts; he was the tall, lean football player with a mop of hair and quite demeanor.

Firenze, Italy 1994

Firenze, Italy 1994

We didn’t like each other – but we sure enjoyed each other’s company. When we were together there was no pressure; we could could just talk about life. About weightlifting. About family. About dreams and hopes.

He taught me how to eat sunflower seeds by stashing a handful in my cheek. We’d pass hours on trains seeing who could keep a bottle cap stuck to their forehead the longest. We’d walk to classes together. Sometimes I’d meet him after class and surprise him with a slice of his favorite pizza; once he brought me the most beautiful calla lilly just because he knew I had had a hard day.

Capri, Italy 1994

We traveled together. We ate together. We confided in each other. We walked to and from classes together. We sat in piazzas on warm days doing homework, and drank wine late into the evenings in ancient Florentine pubs. We slept on trains, on beaches, in caves; we went to museums, and bull fights, and the Mediterranean coast – all just as two friends on an adventure.

And then… we fell in love in the midst of it. He went from being my friend… to being the only thing on my mind – and he’s never left.

Why am I telling you this? Because, no joke: there is something about this quinoa mandarine ginger parfait I just made that took me right back to the streets of Firenze.

A Florentine Love Story
Quinoa with greek yogurt, fresh mandarine oranges, crushed almonds, honey, and ginger.

Maybe it was the sweetness of the hint of honey, or the burst of citrus, or the crunch of the almonds with the spice of the ginger. Something about all of these flavors and textures coming together has me 20 again – and overwhelms me with the sweet lightness of falling in love in Italy. I have been pulled out of the grey of the day… and, oh man, I am counting the minutes ’til I see my hot man walk through the door.

You need that too? Well, here’s what you’ll need for this yummy dish:

  • heaping 1/2 cup of cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup greek yogurt
  • 1 mandarine orange, peeled and divided
  • 1 tsp local honey
  • 1/4 tsp fresh grated ginger (I use a microplane zester – and, if you don’t have one, it is a MUST.)
  • 2 TBSP rough chopped almonds (I put 1/4 cup of whole almonds into my mini Cuisinart processor and grated on high for about 15 seconds and saved what I didn’t use for later)
  • 1-2 TBSP coconut milk

Mix it up, present it to yourself in a beautiful bowl, and dream on, girlfriend. Dream of love, dream of warm days ahead, dream of planting a big kiss on your man when he walks through the door…

Rebel on,
Elisha

 

Friday Night Feast: Tortilla-less Burrito Bowl

Okay, so it’s Friday. The nicest part about Friday for me is that it kicks off two days where I don’t have to make lunches. Yippee!! (Anyone else with me on this one?)

The other part I love is that everyone comes home Friday afternoon and their bodies and minds melt into relaxation. No rush to do homework. Technology is a free-for-all. And, tomorrow: all will sleep in.

Friday is also a time for ‘easy dinner’… and, the favorite ‘easy dinner’ around here is burritos. Right now my pinto beans are in the crock pot**. And tonight, we’ll warm the tortillas on our old school cast iron skillet before my man and my little ones fill them with beans, cheese and onions.

Now, for me, I’m not a big fan of the tortilla – or the cheese. So, while my family enjoys burritos their way, I’ll make a tortilla-less burrito by layering all my fixin’s right over a warm serving of quiona.

Yep – quinoa replaces my tortilla.

Tortilla-less Burrito Bowl

Tortilla-less Burrito Bowl

No tortilla - just pure goodness!

No tortilla – just pure goodness!

So, here’s what’s I love to put in my ‘tortilla-less burrito’ bowl:

  • quinoa
  • pinto beans
  • fresh cherry tomatos sliced in thirds
  • chopped cilantro
  • fresh diced jalapeño
  • lime juice

Doesn’t that sound delish??

I can’t wait for dinner.

Rebel on,
-e.
___________

**To make crock pot pinto beans:

  • 2 cups dried pinto beans
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 onion cut in half
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper

Put all ingredients in crock pot and cook on high for 6-8 hours.

NOTE: if you didn’t plan ahead and make your pinto beans in a crock pot, you can always used canned pinto beans. Just warm them on the stove and add a little seasoning to enhance the flavor.

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

Power Up: A Quinoa Tuna Lettuce Wrap

Whew!

Yesterday we celebrated my big girl’s 12th birthday.

Twelve. She is TWELVE. Oh, how this girl has captured my heart! I look at her today and she is a mini-me. Dark skin; dark, curly hair; deep emerald green eyes. I am in awe at God’s hand – how He weaves to create such uniqueness from the inside out.

My little girl is the same today as she was on the day she was born:

  • She’s got her own agenda. (Her due date was January 1st – she arrived on January 15th.)
  • She’s strong. (She fought hard to stay in the warmth of my belly and made me work for over 18 hours before she finally made her appearance.)
  • She’s opinionated. (She cried for three days straight in the hospital, just to be sure we knew she was tired of people messing with her.)
  • She loves her mama. (The only thing that could quiet her in the hospital was laying skin to skin against my chest.)

Anyway, this year she wanted nothing more than a room makeover. She’s been talking about it for months, and for months we’ve been saying, “yeah, right”. What she didn’t know, however, is that for months I’ve been ‘collecting’. I’ve been buying little things here and there as I found them on sale so that we could do what’s she’s been dreaming about in one fell swoop. (I mean, a pre-teen girl has real tastes!)

The result?

Before...

Before…

After...

After…

She is beyond thrilled.

Let me tell you, though: it was work for 8 straight hours! I left to take the kids to school at 7:30am and my man got straight to work. Painting, vacuuming, dusting; she has a pig collection of dozens of tiny little pieces and that alone took 30 minutes to clean and organize. In the midst of the work, however, I made something that was so yummy – so filling – so perfect to power us for our mission, I just have to share it:

A quinoa tuna lettuce wrap:

Quinoa Tuna Lettuce Wrap

Here’s what you do:

For the salad: Using a large bowl, add 1 cup of quinoa, 1 can of tuna, a handful of cherry tomatoes (chopped into quarters), 2 diced green onions, salt and pepper to taste, and a small drizzle of olive oil. Stir it all together and then squeeze the juice of 1 large lemon over the mixture. (NOTE: Lemon is the KEY.)

To make the wrap: use large, washed green or red leaf lettuce. Spoon enough of the tuna salad into the leaf so that you can roll it up. If you like it spicy, top the salad with some crushed chili peppers – and enjoy! (You can also just eat this out of a bowl if you don’t have the lettuce.)

 

Gorgeous salad!

Gorgeous salad!

Light. Tart. Savory. The perfect meal to keep you running through your day.

Thanks for being here with me…

Rebel on,
Elisha