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:
The flavors of a PB&J… but ooohhh, this little concoction will satisfy a real woman’s discerning taste palate!
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.
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.)
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
Heat a soup pot and add olive oil. When hot, add diced onion and garlic. Stir constantly to prevent burning.
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
So, here’s what’s I love to put in my ‘tortilla-less burrito’ bowl:
fresh cherry tomatos sliced in thirds
fresh diced jalapeño
Doesn’t that sound delish??
I can’t wait for dinner.
**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.
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!)
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:
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.)
Light. Tart. Savory. The perfect meal to keep you running through your day.
On Sunday evenings I love being home. Technology goes off, kids play, bags get packed for school, and we ‘catch up’.
Catch up on laughs with friends and family that live far away.
Catch up on reading minutes that need to be put on the reading logs that are due on Monday.
Catch up on laundry, on sports, on down-time in front of the fire.
Catch up on, well, just being.
Being still… being quiet… being safe within our four walls.
What do I like to cook on a leisurely Sunday evening, you wonder?
Chicken No-Noodle Soup: a wonderful homemade chicken broth soup I always serve over a hot, fresh serving of cooked quinoa.
Typically come Sunday, new groceries go in (Sunday is my big grocery day) and, therefore, leftovers need to come out. One of our most typical leftovers is a rotisserie that has been deboned.
I put approximately 6 cups of water in my soup pot and turned the heat to high.
I pulled out the remains of the rotisserie chicken I used a couple nights ago for dinner.
I used my fingers and removed all the fat/skin I could – then I put the bones in the pot and brought everything to a rapid boil. (I also always add whatever has settled in the bottom of the rotisserie tray – the natural ‘bullion’, if you will.)
I turned the heat down to medium and let it boil uncovered for about 25 minutes.
I used a slotted spoon to remove all the bones from the soup, and then picked off any remaining meat before discarding the bones. And, voilà! I had perfect, homemade chicken broth. (I ended up with over two cups of chicken meat from my bones!)
With the bones removed, I threw in: (1) a diced onion; (2) three chopped carrots; (3) two stalks of chopped celery; (4) two garlic cloves diced and crushed; and, (5) a cup of frozen peas.
Once the carrots were soft (about 10 minutes), I drizzled in about 1/4 cup of soy sauce, black pepper to taste, and then – then! – I served up the yummy, savory chicken soup over a piping hot serving of fresh cooked quinoa.
Simple, wasn’t it? Look how beautiful…
And, oh, pure warmth for the tummy.
So, next time you buy a rotisserie, make sure you save the bones and make a simple broth… then, turn it into a ‘superbowl’ chicken no-noodle soup by using quinoa instead of noodles or rice. You’ll LOVE it, I promise. (Oh, and if you like a little ‘kick’, top it off with some chili paste.)
Hope you had a wonderful weekend… hope YOU got some time to ‘catch up’.
Okay, ladies… we arrive home from a long day at work, carpool, and/or sports for the kids and all we want to do is get a quick, nutritious meal on the table for our family. Right? Quick and easy cooking, so mamas relaxation comes faster?
Well, this past Monday I was back on AM Northwest with Dave making an amazing dinner ‘superbowl’ recipe that anyone can do in 5 minutes flat. As I mention in the segment, the hardest part about this recipe is simply being prepared. BUT, if you have the time to stop and grab a rotisserie for dinner, and you have the right things on hand, this is a ‘wower’… I promise. (My 12 year old asks me to pack it in her lunch… that should tell you something.)
Enjoy – and come back and tell me if you make it!
The ingredients and instructions follow the segment.
INGREDIENTS / GROCERY LIST:
Whole rotisserie chicken
Bag of organic spinach
1 bunch of cilantro
1 bunch of green onions
1 fresh jalapeno
1 fresh lemon
1 can of garbanzo beans
Pre-cooked quinoa from the fridge**
Debone the rotisserie using your fingers. Place all deboned meat on a plate. Place half the chicken on a cutting board and roughly chop with a large knife. (You can store the rest of the chicken in a plastic container.)
Drain and rinse 1 can of gabanzo beans.
Rinse and dice two green onions.
Rise and roughly chop one bunch of cilantro.
Rise and dice 1/2 a medium jalapeno.
MIX IT ALL TOGETHER:
Place 2 cups of pre-cooked quinoa in a large bowl.
Add all prepped ingredients and two handfuls of fresh, raw spinach.
Squeeze the juice of 1 lemon over the mixture and drizzle approximately 1/4 cup of olive oil, too.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Mix well until all ingredients are well coated and blended.
Top with diced jalapenos for anyone that can handle the spice.
This ‘Super Bowl” can be eaten warm or cold… and it also stores nice for lunch the next day. (NOTE: If you store it overnight, be sure to squeeze a little extra fresh lemon on it before enjoying it as a leftover.)
When I wake up in the morning, I literally open my eyes to, first and foremost, offer my time for my kids and my man.
I gently rouse everyone from bed with a little back rub, a little neck nuzzle, a little “good morning, Love, it’s a new day.” If they jump up fast enough (which is before I make my rounds through all three rooms), I’ll typically return and give them a little treat by making their bed for them while they dress. I’ll shout out a couple more “hurry now, let’s not be behind this morning…”, and then I’m off to 45 minutes of multi-tasking.
I’m the first one downstairs to bring life to the sleeping home. I put on the coffee, begin making lunches, and wait for my little chicks and my big man to wander down the stairs for their breakfast. We’ll chat as they eat. I’ll stuff sandwich bags, remind them to eat their fruit, refill water glasses… and then at 7:35 – they are off. Out the door they go; my house is quiet.
I breathe deep. I clear the kitchen counters and load the dishwasher with breakfast dishes. I refill my coffee cup and then – then! – I get to make my own breakfast.
I spend my days working from home mostly. It seems ‘luxurious’ to think about… but let me tell you: being self-employed requires more discipline than you think! There’s no one telling you what has to be done; no one keeping you on track. Nope – my time is my own, which is why it’s even more vital that I keep my mind sharp, I stay on task, and I use food to nourish and power me.
My food choices impact how I perform. So, what do I choose as a perfect start to my day?
1/2 cup precooked quinoa.
A handful of fresh, raw spinach.
One fried egg on top. (When the egg is hot it wilts the spinach, so I like to lay the egg right on top of the greens for a few seconds before I cut it all up to eat it.)
A drizzle of soy sauce and a dash of chili pepper paste.
It takes me less than two minutes to make… and it’s satiating, empowering, delicious. I lay it all in a bowl and then, with a fork and knife, I cross-cross cut through it all until it is a big bowl of easy-to-eat goodness.
I eat this almost every morning – and, let me tell you, it gives me energy I need to get off on the right foot.
I hope you’ll try it…
Something to think abouttoday: You say, “I am allowed to do anything”–but not everything is good for you. And even though “I am allowed to do anything,” I must not become a slave to anything. 1 Corinthians 6:12
Last night I made this amazing soup that wow’d the family… so I thought you should have it. I mean, who doesn’t love a savory warm soup on a cold January night?!
And don’t worry: the hardest part of this recipe is literally having the ingredients on hand. This is me, remember: if it doesn’t cook quick and easy, I’m probably not making it. LOL
Here ya go… let me know how it turns out!
approx 1/4 cup EVOO (extra virgin olive oil)
1 small onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, crushed and diced
1.5 cups dried lentils, rinsed and drained
4 cups of chicken broth (or vegetable broth)
1 small bunch of kale, stems trimmed off and diced
1 cup chopped carrots (I used the bite sized carrots and cut them into little circles)
1/2 tsp cumin
1/4 cup soy sauce
black pepper to taste
2 cups pre-cooked quinoa
Warm a soup pot and add the EVOO.
Saute the onion for about a minute then add the garlic. Continue to saute (stirring constantly so the garlic doesn’t burn) until onion is translucent.
Add the dry lentils to the pot.
Add broth, cumin, soy sauce, and black pepper. Bring pot to a boil, then cover and turn down to medium low to simmer until beans are tender. This should take about 10-15 minutes… so start keeping an eye on them after about 10 minutes. (You don’t want it to crazy boil because it will demolish the beans. Just a gentle simmer is what you’re looking for.)
When beans are tender, add the chopped kale and carrots. Push all the veggies down into the beans, recover, and simmer for 5 or so more minutes (until veggies are tender). If you need a little more liquid so that everything submerges, add a little extra water. You want the soup thick, but still soupy.
Remove from heat and serve!
To serve: dish up 1/2 cup quinoa and ladel 1 cup soup over the top for bigger eaters (or 1/4 cup quinoa to 1/2 cup soup for smaller eaters). Top off with some ground chili paste or crushed red chili peppers. Lick your lips… enjoy!