YOU CAN DO IT: Roasted Brussels Sprouts & Walnut Balsamic Salad

DSC04842 (1) I’m a big believer that we women need to feed ourselves well if we expect to have the stamina to do all life calls on us to do. And, the better we feed ourselves, the better those we’ve been entrusted with will be fed and loved.

Today I want to share with you one of my favorite things to prepare and keep on hand: roasted brussels sprouts. Roasted veggies, in general, are divine… and,if you have them on hand, they make a perfect foundational ingredient for numerous less-than-5-minute power meals. I’m always roasting sliced sweet bell peppers, cauliflower, root vegetables. The process is the same for every veggie (although the time in the oven may vary depending on the nature and size of what is being roasted).

Okay – so back to the brussels sprouts.

First, preheat your oven to 400 degrees.

Next,to prepare the brussels sprouts, trim off the stem end, cut them in half, and peel off the outer layer of skin. (Since I peel off the outer layer, I rarely wash them before using them.) Then, place them in a bowl.

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Drizzle about 1/4 cup of good quality olive oil* per pound of brussels sprouts. (*TIP: different varieties of olive oil really do affect the taste of your finished dish. So, keep that in mind when shopping for ingredients.)

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Sprinkle 1 tsp of sea salt per pound of brussels sprouts…

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And about 1 tsp of black pepper per pound.

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Stir to coat all the brussels sprouts evenly and then pour out into a single layer on sheet trays.

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Roast in your preheated oven for 10-14 minutes. (NOTE: I’ve seen recipes that say roast brussels sprouts at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes. For the love – no, no,no! If you roast for that long at that high of heat, you will burn the brussels sprouts and they’ll start to stink of hydrogen sulfide since heat-activated enzymes go to work on the sprouts’ nutritious sulfur compounds. Yuck. (I think overcooking is why many people are completely adverse to brussels sprouts.) It’s very important to roast only long enough to brown and soften.)

They’re done when they look like this:

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Transfer all the roasted brussels sprouts into a large bowl.

Now… on to turning these roasted beauties into a salad!

Using one of the sheet trays you roasted on, pour 1/2 cup of whole walnuts. Using a flat-bottomed glass, crush the walnuts like this:
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…so you end up with pieces like this:

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Put the tray back into the oven and toast the walnut pieces for about three minutes. Take the pan out, give ’em a quick stir, and return them to the oven for another three minutes.

Pour the toasted walnuts into the bowl with the roasted sprouts and then here is where you do something very simple: drizzle some really, really good balsamic over the whole bowl. Now, here’s another tip: just like different olive oils offer a unique flavor, the balsamic you use will also offer a unique flavor.  Really good aged balsamic should be thick – almost like syrup, and it should have a tangy sweet taste, not a vinegar taste. So, for this recipe (or any recipe where the balsamic is used as a stand-alone ingredient (versus blended into a dressing), I’m using the good stuff.

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Stir all the ingredients together and viola! You have a salad: roasted brussels sprouts & walnut balsamic salad.

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Pair a cup of salad with a cup of quinoa… or, add a couple hardboiled eggs and call it good. No matter how you eat this up, I promise: you’ll be satisfied and ready to keep on keepin’ on.

So, tell me: how’s your Advent coming along? You ready for Christmas yet?

Thankful you’re here 🙂

Guamanian Steak & BBQ Potato Quinoa Salad

Nana in the smoke of her outdoor wood stove

Nana in the smoke of her outdoor wood stove

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DSC01918 Grill until slightly charred.

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

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

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

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

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

A Warm and Savory White Bean & Carrot Quinoa Salad

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

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

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

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

Here’s what I used:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Spicy Black Bean & Lime Quinoa Salad

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

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

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

Ingredients:

For salad:

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

For dressing:

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

Here’s what it’ll look like:

 


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

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

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

 

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

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

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

This:

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

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

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

   

She said, “YUM.”

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

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

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

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

With that said, here’s the recipe:

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

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

FOR CAKE:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

YOU CAN DO IT: Spicy Quinoa Chickpea Patties (aka Quinoa Falafel)

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I don’t know where my love of chickpeas comes from – but it runs deep.

I love them rinsed and raw and tossed in a salad…

I love them sautéed in some olive oil, fresh garlic, herbs, and seasonings for a warm power snack…

I love them baked…

I love them in soups…

I love to mash them up and make homemade hummus.

Chickpeas and all their buttery goodness make this mama happy.

Now, I have to admit something to you: while I’ve eaten more than my share of falafel, I never knew chickpeas were the main ingredient. Seriously. But when I discovered that’s what a falafel is – a chickpea patty – what do you think occurred to me? Yep, you guessed it: I must blend my two loves – quinoa and chickpeas – and whip up my own version of falafel.

You ready to try it? I hope so, because they are little cakes of savory protein goodness.

Here’s what you need:

Special tool: food processor

Gather your ingredients (you’ll end up with 10 3″ diameter patties):

  • 1.5 cups precooked quinoa
  • 1 can organic chickpeas (garbanzo beans) – drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • 1/4 cup diced white onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and smashed
  • 2 TBSP gluten-free flour (or any regular flour will do if you’re not gluten free)
  • 2 TBSP fresh lemon juice
  • 1 TBSP  olive oil
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder

Get to work:

In the bowl of your food processor, add everything EXCEPT the quinoa and flour…

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Process until mixture is smooth like a paste…

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Add in your precooked quinoa and the 2 TBSP flour (the flour didn’t make it into this picture, sorry)…

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Then, with the best tool around – your hands – mash together all the ingredients until well incorporated…

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(NOTE: I made these without the flour first and they didn’t hold together at all. So, the flour is KEY to getting these to bind properly into patties.)

Heat a flat fry pan and coat the bottom with a little olive oil…

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Form your patties, and then gently lay them into the hot pan…

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Cook them on medium high heat for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown like this…

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When they’re all done, you can eat them like I did:

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Quinoa falafel on a bed of chopped organic greens tossed in olive oil and lemon juice, served with a handful of cherry tomatoes and topped with a dollop of greek yogurt

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Or, you can just make up a bunch to pop in the fridge and eat them like a finger food when you’re craving a little something.

Just know this: they are super satisfying, have fabulous texture, and are just the thing to keep on hand for your busy mama days.

(SIDE NOTE: These would be fabulous for little eaters! If you’re going to feed them to your little ones that aren’t used to fully seasoned foods yet (5 and under, for example), cut the onion and lemon juice portions in half, and leave out all the dried seasonings except for a dash of the cumin and a little salt. Even a little bland the quinoa and chickpeas together have excellent flavor for training little palates.)

Thanks for being with me… and hey! Please SHARE this post and tell your friends:

MONDAY IS MY FIRST GIVEAWAY DAY!!!

I have a great gathering of goodies featured in my World Market TV segment from earlier this week – and someone has to win!

So, take a moment and “INVITE ME TO YOUR INBOX” on the right so you won’t miss a beat. And, if you have time, connect with me on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram for ALL my news.

Much love to you today – and remember: YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL, YOU ARE STRONG, YOU ARE LOVED.

 

YOU CAN DO IT: Baked Quinoa Egg Pie

It’s been awhile, sweet friend. I’ve missed you. I don’t know what happened… I don’t know where the days have gone from January 29th to today. I was on a roll. I was writing, and cooking, and savoring every connection with you – and, then, I got quiet.

Quiet.

I feel like three weeks ago I made an unconscious decision to slip out of my tough skin – the skin I wear when I command the troops, run the house, strive to build, and do, do, do, and slip back into the softness of motherhood, and marriage, and friendship. I needed to stop striving. I needed to turn inward, and pay attention, and be still. (And with tough skin on, being still and quiet is the last thing I want to do.)

But then a couple of days ago I was standing in my kitchen after a workout, and I needed to eat.  I wanted something powerful, because I was feeling powerful. I wanted something light, because I was feeling ready to take on the world. And in that moment, I felt something else: I felt the urge of quiet lift, and I wanted something to share with you – I wanted something to empower YOU with, too.

And you know what came from that thought? This:

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A baked quinoa egg pie.

I made it, ate it warm, and then snacked on it cold the next two days. I made another variation for my Friday morning bible study group – and it was devoured. Then, I made another one today after I returned from my morning workout – and it has carried me through the day.

Just a little slice or two, a glass of water or some tea, and a piece of fresh fruit. Can you say PERFECT MEAL?

Clean. Pure. Whole. Easy. DELICIOUS.

Here’s what you need:

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For saute:

  • olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 5 baby Portobello mushrooms, roughly chopped in quarter sized pieces
  • 2 large handfuls of spinach
  • 1 cup of cherry tomatoes, halved (this is a great way to use up tomatos that are beginning to wilt)
  • 1 handful of fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp peppr

For egg mixture:

  • 6 eggs
  • 2 cups of precooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled feta

Make sauté:

Heat a large skillet with some olive oil. Add diced shallot and minced garlic; sauté for 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly so you don’t burn the garlic.

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Add in mushrooms and parsley and sauté until mushrooms begin to release their moisture (about two minutes).

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Turn off heat and add in spinach, cherry tomatoes, parsley, salt and pepper, and stir to mix thoroughly. Cover so the steam wilts the greens and tomatoes while you prepare the egg mixture.

Make egg mixture:

Butter a glass pie plate. (Yes, buttered. Don’t use chemical cooking spray – use real butter.)

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Whisk 6 eggs in a large bowl until they are loose.

Add in quinoa, feta, and then the warm sauté. Pour entire mixture into a buttered, glass pie plate.

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Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven, cover with foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.

DONE.

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Now, the possibilities are limitless with this dish. Just like an omelette or quiche, you can add sausage, arugula, other herbs, other greens. You could do it with leftover roasted root vegetables or potatoes. You could use any cheese – from cheddar, to goat cheese, to parmesean. Whatever your heart desires (or whatever is in your fridge) will work. Allow yourself the freedom (and fun!) to get creative.

So there. I’m back. And… I hope you’re inspired. (Because that’s why I’m here, you know? I’m here because I want you to know: YOU CAN DO IT.)

Much love to you.

You Can Do It: Kale Pesto

I love pesto.

Pesto, for me, brings back memories of my junior year in Italy. Of friends and laughs and love and long, lingering dinners where we’d hang our legs over the Arno bridge at sunset and dream of the future.

Pesto is divine.

I don’t often make pesto in the wintertime since basil (the base for traditional italian pesto) isn’t growing like a weed in my garden. So, the other day when a sweet friend told me about making pesto with kale instead of basil, I knew I had to try it… and then: I fell in love.

Here we go:

Special tools:

  • Food processor with the blade attachment
  • microplane (or other fine cheese grater)
Simple ingredients

Simple ingredients

  • 1 bunch of organic kale (remember: kale is one of the ‘dirty dozen‘, so always buy organic)
  • 1 handful organic arugula
  • 1/2 cup parmigiano regianno
  • 1/4 cup of raw walnuts
  • 3 garlic cloves (peeled)
  • olive oil
  • 1 lemon (for zest and juice)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper

Chop off and discard the bottom two inches of your kale bunch, and then rough chop the rest.

Place half of the chopped kale into the food processor and chop until fine, like this:

DSC09057Then add in the remaining kale and chop until no large pieces of kale remain, like this:

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Add in the arugula, walnuts, whole garlic cloves, and parmesan (and yes, it’s okay if there are some larger hunks of the cheese):

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Re-cover and chop and chop for approximately 8-10 seconds.

Next, add in the zest of the lemon (approximately 1 tsp), juice from 1/2 of the lemon, salt, and pepper.

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Re-cover, and then, with processor ‘on’, slowly drizzle in your olive oil until mixture is smooth and ‘pasty’. And, when you’re all done, it should look like this:

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Now, what do you do with it you ask? I say: what don’t you do with it!

Pesto isn’t just for pasta, even though I think that’s what most people think of when they hear ‘pesto’. To the contrary: think of pesto like a condiment – something to add a punch of flavor to just about anything. (It’s like a cousin to Argentinian chimicurri.)

You can toss potatoes in it or vegetables in it, like I did with these leftover brussels sprouts from last night’s dinner:

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You can toss quinoa in it (which I LOVE to do) and use it as a bed for a perfectly fried egg:

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You can use it as a dip for raw veggies, like I did for my cherry tomatoes today:

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You can slather it on a piece of toasted, rustic bread with a little turkey and brie…

You can add it to soup, or meatballs, or use it as a spread for grilled steak or a hamburger…

You can even mix it with a really yummy yogurt to make a perfect yogurt dipping sauce like this:

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(For the yogurt dipping sauce, use 1 part kale pesto and 1 part yogurt and mix until incorporated. The Straus yogurt is hands down my favorite yogurt to use for this type of mixture because the texture is looser than most, and also because Straus uses real sweet cream buttermilk, which gives a delicious tang to the dip.)

The key is this: just make it. Once you taste it, I promise you’ll invent ways to creatively get it into your mouth.

Be forewarned, though… pesto brings on some serious garlic breath; it’s simply the price we have to pay for the amazing flavor pesto brings. But, no worries! Thanks to visual.ly, you’ll see what garlic is great for our health – but also how to kill the impending garlic breath 🙂

Garlic - Amazing Natural Cure for Your Health

by stedas.
Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.

And, there you have it! You can do it kale pesto.

Thanks for being here – and I hope you’re leaving inspired.

You Can Do It: Homemade Fruity Greek Yogurt

One thing that drives me absolutely crazy is flavored yogurt. Why? Because it’s junk masquerading as ‘healthy’ for us.

Yes, I said it: JUNK… because flavored yogurt is filled with sugar and other nonsense we have no need of. (I’m not totally against sugar, but I like to keep it in it’s place.)

Let’s take a mainstream ‘blueberry yogurt’, for example. (By ‘mainstream’ I mean one of those yogurt brands that has 50 different flavors and is often found on special for 5 for $5.) This is what the ingredient label looks like:

Yogurt Ingredient List_Blueberry

Now, when you read a lable, you may not know this, but they are listed by greatest to least. This means the first three ingredients typically make up the bulk of the product; and, in this case, your first three are milk, SUGAR, and blueberries. So, you see what I mean? SUGAR is one of the top 3 ingredients and comes before blueberries, meaning there’s more sugar than blueberries! Yuck… and then you get down to stuff like corn starch, preservatives, flavors, etc. etc.

Now look at the nutritional label:

Yogurt Nutritional_Blueberry

You see that sugar content?? 26g of sugar is the equivalent of 6.5 teaspoons of sugar. 6.5 teaspoons!! And in one INDIVIDUAL serving!! Granted, yogurt and blueberries have their own naturally occurring sugars. However, the fact one of this brand’s top three ingredients IS sugar and the sugar came before the blueberries, I lean towards believing most of it is processed and not natural; and, hence, you will NEVER find it in my kitchen.

(If you have flavored yogurt in your fridge right now, go take a look at the ingredient label and the sugar content. Shocked?)

With all that said, because commercial flavored yogurt is so full of everything I totally REBEL from, I make my own… well, blend my own. Is it as sweet as the commercial stuff? No, not even close – but that’s why I love it! By keeping the hyper-sweetness of commercial brands off my tongue, my palate has been trained to appreciate the subtle, natural sweetness of what I make at home. (And, you know what? If I eat commercially produced flavored yogurt now, the hyper-sweetness is overwhelming.)

Now, don’t be overwhelmed at this idea! It’s very simple… and it’s all about your tools and your ingredients.

Before you begin, you’ll need to find some glass cups with lids, like these:

Ball canning jars and a storage jar and lid

Ball canning jars and a storage jar and lid

(You can buy a flat of Bell canning jars for about 12 bucks.)

Next, assemble your ingredients:

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  • Fage PLAIN greek yogurt (my favorite of all the greek yogurts)
  • Frozen fruit

(Notice I don’t list sugar, beet juice, corn starch, gelatin, or natural flavors… because we don’t need them!!)

Now, porition out about 1/2 cup of frozen fruit into each of the jars, cover/cap the jars, and place them in the fridge to defrost overnight. (I like to do several jars at a time before bed so they’re ready for me the next morning.)

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Once the fruit is defrosted, you’re ready to pulverize it so it will blend nicely into your yogurt. (There are many ways you can do this, but I don’t think I’d do it without an immersion blender. It fits right into each of my cups and clean up is a snap! So, if you don’t have one, I highly recommend spending the $35 to get one; it’s one of the best tools I have in my kitchen.)

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Add in about 3/4 cup of your PLAIN greek yogurt into each cup…

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Stir with a simple spoon…

raspberry/blackberry greek yogurt

raspberry/blackberry greek yogurt

blueberry greek yogurt

blueberry greek yogurt

mango greek yogurt

mango greek yogurt

And that’s it! Your very own homemade fruity yogurt!!

You can make up several jars and store them for the week. I like to pull them out for afternoon snacks and add in some precooked quinoa, or top a cup with some of my quinola crunch.

A few final thoughts that may be stirring up questions in your mind:

1) Which fruits are best? Fruits that mash well, like berries, peaches, mangos, pears, kiwi, pomogranates, bananas. (Apples would require you to cook them first to soften them.)

2) Why frozen fruit? I used frozen for this post because it’s February and not a lot of good fruits are available right now. (In the summertime I’d do all of my yogurt with fresh fruit.) Also, frozen fruit is often fruit picked in it’s prime and flash frozen, so it’s often just as sweet as when it’s in full season.

3) What if I want it sweeter than it is with just the fruit? Use honey. (I’m not an agave fan, but that would be my second suggetion.) I actually use honey quite often… but just a little bit, like a tsp or so. It adds really nice flavor.

4)  What if I don’t want to wait for the fruit to defrost overnight? You can put it into the cups and then put the cups in the microwave for a minute or two. (Just long enough to defrost, though… you don’t want them overwarm.)

5) Why greek yogurt? Because it’s nice and thick, which makes a particularly good base for this recipe. But, most importantly, the protein content is almost double that of regular plain yogurts. (If you choose to use a regular plain yogurt, it may be very watery – more of a drinkable than spoonable.)

If you’re a yogurt fan, I hope you’ll try and do this at home. It’s healthier, it’s cheaper, and, again, cutting out the processed sugars from just one more place is always a good thing… always.

Much love to you today.

 

You Can Do It: Spicy Quinoa Meatballs Simmered in White Wine

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I’ve been wanting to come up with a meatball recipe for some time… and last night I finally did it. No, I didn’t grow up with meatballs; meatballs are not a “Guamanian” sort of thing. They are, however, protein packed powerhouses – and that is why they appeal to me.

(There’s no better snack than one that’s packed with protein and fiber.)

Now, when you think ‘meatballs’, you probably get a visual of the typical: meatballs simmered in a heavy, sweet BBQ sauce, or meatballs served over a carb packed bed of pasta. But, hey, this is the Rebel Grain… and you can bet your bottom dollar that my meatballs are going to be against the grain of what is ‘supposed to be’.

The final result? Spicy Quinoa Meatballs Simmered in Herbed White Wine.

No heavy sugary BBQ sauce. No pasta to weigh you down. Just pure, clean deliciousness to power you up, satisfy your cravings, and keep your healthy habits on track.

NOTE 1: I made these with a large cast iron skillet. If you don’t have a cast iron skillet that can go from the stovetop to the oven, you can use a large fry pan for steps 1-4 and 6; and, for step 5 you’d just transfer everything into a glass baking dish.

NOTE 2: You’ll need about an hour to get these done. Make them when you’re feeling leisurly and inspired and can take your time to taste along the way and appreciate the beauty of what’s happening at your stove. Sip a glass of wine, play some music while you work. The process and delicious smells of every step are part of the fun.

You ready?

Ingredients:

For meatballs (steps 1-4)

  • 1/2 pound spicy italian sausage (if kids will eat these, I’d use regular italian sausage)
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 2 cups precooked quinoa
  • 1 onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, diced and smashed with the back of a fork
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup frozen corn
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Parmigiano Reggiano (yes, it’s the good stuff… and worth it)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped fresh curly parsley
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 Tbsp corse black pepper
  • 2 eggs

For herbed wine simmer sauce (steps 5-6):

  • olive oil to coat pan
  • 2 cups of white wine
  • 3-4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 1″ cubes of parmesean rind
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/4 cup water

To deglaze the pan and make the finishing sauce (step 7):

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • juice from 1 lemon
  • salt and pepper to taste

Here we go:

1) Preheat your oven to bake at 350 degrees.

2) Make the vegetable quinoa saute:

Heat olive oil in a large pan on medium high heat.  When pan is hot, add onions and saute for about three minutes, stirring constantly. Add garlic, grated carrots, peas and carrots. Continue to saute, stirring occasionally, for approximately 3-4 minutes. Add precooked quinoa, salt, pepper, and chopped parsley. Continue to saute, stirring occasionally, for another few minutes. Remove from heat.

3) Make the meatball mix:

Add sausage, ground pork, and saute into a large bowl. Using a large spoon, incorporate the warm saute into the cold meat to temper the mixture. Once the mixture is tempered to a point you can work it with  your hands, use your hands to squeeze the ingredients together so there is no longer any separation of the ingredients.

In a separate bowl, whisk two eggs. Add eggs to meat mixture and, with your hands, squeeze through the ingredients until eggs are well incorporated.

Gather a handful of mixture into your palm and, with both hands, form large balls so they look like this:

meatballs before they're cooked

meatballs before they’re cooked

4) Brown the meatballs on the stove.

Using the same pan you used for the saute, add enough olive oil to create a thin film on the bottom of the pan. Once oil is hot, carefully add the meatballs into the pan with kitchen tongs and brown the meatballs on medium high heat. Carfully turn the meatballs every couple minutes to brown each side of the form. (NOTE: the quinoa makes this a little more crumbly than a typical meatball, so turn them very carefully. If you try to roll them in then pan, they may break apart.) As they brown they should look like this:

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When all sides are brown, carefully remove the meatballs from the pan and onto a plate.

5) Make the wine sauce the meatballs will simmer in.

With the stove still on medium high, place the white wine, the fresh thyme sprigs, 1 tsp of lemon zest*, and the chunks of parmesean rind to the pan, like this:

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The wine will begin to immediately bubble, and you’ll want to use a spatula to deglaze the pan and stir these ingredients together.

*If you don’t yet have a Microplane zester, please go buy one!

6) Put meatballs into the oven to simmer and finish cooking.

While wine sauce is simmering, use your tongs and return the meatballs to the pan. Be careful not to overcrowd them. Turn off heat, remove the pan from the stove, and put pan into the oven where the meatballs will simmer and continue to cook for 35 minutes. (NOTE: After 20 minutes in the oven, add 1/4 cup of water to the pan.)

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7) Make the finishing sauce.

When you remove the meatballs from the oven, they will be GORGEOUS like this:

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Transfer them to a plate with your tongs. Now, see all the goodies left behind in the pan? This is where the magic happens with what’s left behind. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Place the pan back on the stovetop and put your heat on medium high. Add 1/4 cup olive oil, the fresh squeeze juice of 1 lemon, and a little more sea salt and black pepper to taste. Allow the mixture to boil while you whisk with a fork, being sure to unstick any of the goodies that might be stuck to the bottom of the pan. Turn off heat and pour sauce into a small dish.

And… you are done!

As far as how to eat them, there is no wrong way 🙂 You can drizzle a little spoonfull of your sauce over them and eat them plain, or you can make a meal of them the way I just did like this:

Baby arugula drizzled with white wine sauce and served with Spicy Quinoa Meatballs

Baby arugula drizzled with white wine sauce and served with Spicy Quinoa Meatballs

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Let me just tell you: they are AMAZING and so full of flavor! My man couldn’t keep his fingers off them last night… and, as I write this I’m drooling for another serving.

Anyway, YOU CAN DO IT… and I hope you try.

Have a great weekend – and GO SEAHAWKS!