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:
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)
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
Put your quinoa and beans into a large bowl.
Add your argula, chopped cilantro, diced bell peppers, red onion, and diced jalapeño.
In a separate bowl, whisk together your dressing ingredients and pour dressing evenly over the top of the salad.
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!)
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?
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
1/2 cup greek yogurt
To make ‘frosting’:
1/2 cup greek yogurt + 1 TBSP of raw honey whisked together until smooth.
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!
I love farmer’s markets… but I really love u-pick farms. I love the hunt, the abundance, the quiet of the open space. I’m happy to wander… to move from bush to bush, or tree to tree, selecting the best of the bounty.
We usually start with strawberries in mid-late June – and, let me tell you: you’ve never really had a strawberry until you’ve had an Oregon Hood strawberry straight out of the field.
Then, in July we move to the berry varieties: blueberries, blackberries, raspberries… and, once I get picking, you almost have to pull me off the fields before I stop.
But come the last days of July into August, we move to peaches. When we went just a couple of days ago, the peaches were dripping off the trees. We picked, and picked, and picked – and, while we picked, we discussed all the great things we could turn the peaches into: peach smoothies, peach tarts, peach scones.
For me, though, I was excited to get home with my peaches and make these:
2 cups precooked quinoa
1 heaping cup of finely diced peaches (or other fresh fruit)
1/4 cup flour
1 TBSP organic raw honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder
NOTE: Here are a few other of my favorite variations for these fruity quinoa cakes:
bananas and cinnamon
strawberries and walnuts
blueberries and lemon zest
Crack your eggs into a large mixing bowl, then whisk until smooth.
Slice up your peaches and remove as much skin as possible. Finely dice/mash the fruit.
Add your quinoa and finely diced peaches to the whisked eggs, then add your flour, baking powder, and vanilla – and stir to incorporate completely.
Heat a fry pan and lightly butter the bottom. With pan a little higher than medium heat, use a 1/3 cup measuring cup to make patties in pan. After 3 – 3 1/2 minutes, carefully flip patties.
Isn’t that easy? And – DELICIOUS.
Now, seriously – don’t skimp! Use REAL organic maple syrup for these… or, maybe a drizzle of some warm honey.
These will become a new favorite around your house… I’m willing to bet on it.
I’m excited to introduce you to my friend Nick – the man behind Macheesmo and all around cool guy. Nick and I met while filming Food Fighters and, since then, have become pretty good blogging buddies. He has a beautiful site, a beautiful book, and – seriously: he’s one of the kindest, most encouraging people around. Believe me: you want to know him.
With all that said, I’m honored Nick invited me to guest on his site today and share my quinoa love with his readers. Pop over there and give it a read…. and, if you leave a comment on his post you might even win a FREE copy of my ebook, The Quinoa Habit!
Have a great Monday everyone – and, one final thing: “Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.” (Philippians 4:8)
One thing my nana frequently said as I walked into her kitchen to eat was “All I had was ‘x’, but look… I made something real good.” She’d say it as she was pulling the lid off the pot of steaming yumminess, or removing the napkin from the plate of freshly fried beauty. I’d sit at her tiny table, roosters crowing outside and mosquitos on my legs, and she’d serve me ‘all that she had’.
If ‘all she had’ was a coconut milk and some flour, we’d end up with some handmade tortillas that would blow your mind.
Or, if ‘all she had’ was overripe bananas off our tree, we’d get buñelos aga (banana donuts). Most of the time, though, ‘all she had’ was a potato and a small piece of beef (or even beef bones) out of the freezer, or a couple pieces of chicken from the neighbor and some pumpkin tips out of her yard. And, when that was ‘all she had’, we’d end up with kadu.
Kadu is the Chamorro variation of a broth soup and it’s what I was raised on. It would be 85-90 degrees outside; I’d be sticky from the heat, yet I couldn’t wait to get off the school bus and let nana serve me a bowl. Almost every day I ate kadu over rice with a generous helping of finedene and ice cold rain water to wash it down. And, while I don’t have my sweet nana anymore, every time I make kadu I do it with her heart and feel her right her with me.
For nana, kadu was typically beef or chicken, onions, garlic and water since that was usually ‘all she had’. While I often make it just as she did, this has become one of my favorite versions:
When you have leftover BBQ bones, this is a beautiful way to use them. I mean, even when you cut off all the meat you think you can, look how meaty they still are!
So, next time you BBQ and have leftover bones, gather these ingredients and turn those meaty bones into a beautiful summer kadu:
6-8 cups of water
a couple pounds of beef bones
1/2 pound or so of any cut of steak (fat trimmed)
2 large carrots, chopped
3 stalks of celery, chopped
1 bunch of parsley, finely chopped
1 yellow onion, diced
2 TBSP apple cider vinegar (Braggs is the best)
Black pepper and salt to taste
Place all the ingredients in a pot and bring to a rapid boil.
Once it boils, cover, and turn heat down to just above simmer. Allow soup to simmer for 3-4 hours on stove top until the bones are dry and the meat can be pulled apart with a fork.
Remove the bones. Serve over precooked quinoa; and, when you set it before those you love, I hope you’ll say, “All I had was leftover bones, but look – I made something real good.”
Growing up, my mom didn’t cook often. She could cook – and when she did she filled our house with delicious Puerto Rican inspired food – my favorite being her famed tostones with a sprinkle of sea salt. But, since my nana lived with us and my nana lived to cook, over time I think my mom just leaned into nana’s love and was happy to let the responsiblity of cooking regular meals out of her hands.
With that said, my mom was our snack queen. It was my mama that took our armfuls of just harvested avocados and whipped together the guacamole we’d devour by the spoonful; it was my mama that mixed our over-ripe papayas, bananas, and mangos into cold cottage cheese; it was my mama that would take our just-picked calamansi lemons and squeeze warm juice over green pepper boats filled tuna. Yep, it was my mama that welcomed us in from the mid-day, sticky island heat and made in-between meal snacking something of refreshing delight.
So yesterday, as I retreated inside from the 90 degree weather craving something light and refreshing for mid-afternoon sustenance, I spied these two things…
and, as a vision of my mama flashed through my mind, I knew what I had to make: pepper boats filled with lemony quinoa tuna salad.
All you need is 5 minutes and:
1/2 cup of pre-cooked quinoa
a can of tuna (I like the tuna in olive oil because it’s less dry)
1 sweet bell pepper
1/2 a lemon
1 TBS of soy sauce (or liquid amines which taste almost identical)
1 TBS of olive oil
1 tsp of black pepper
Since there’s no mayo or sticky binder in the salad, yes – the filling might be a little loose as you eat. But hey – it’s summertime! Make up a plate, head outside in the shade, and don’t let a little mess get to you. The kids with popsciles dripping down their arms don’t seem to care… 🙂
OK, peeps, today is Cinco de Mayo and, in case you didn’t know, Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico’s independence day. No, the 5th of May is celebrated to commemorate the Mexican army’s unlikely victory over Napoleon’s French forces at the Battle of Puebla.
In any event, even if it is more of an American holiday these days, since Mexican food is probably on the brain today I thought I’d remind you of 4 of my favorite Mexican dishes you can throw together in a snap:
1) Homemade pinto beans.
Right now, do this: pull out your crock pot and add 2 cups of dried pinto beans, 6 cups of water, 1 onion chopped into quarters, 3 peeled and smashed garlic cloves, 1 tsp of cumin, 2 tsp sea salt, 2 tsp of black pepper. Cook for 5 hours on high (or 8 hours on low). These will be the most amazing pintos you’ve ever had.
2) Almost instant chicken fajitas (and you don’t need a fajita flavor packet to make it happen).
(Make a quick run to the store sometime today and grab a rotisserie chicken, some bell peppers, and corn tortillas today and throw these together.)
(Seriously, MAKE THESE SALSAS. They come together in a flash and will make you think you’re sitting in Mexico for dinner tonight.)
4) Use QUINOA for a ‘tortilla-less burrito bowl‘. (While my kids gravitate towards burritos and tacos with tortillas, you know me: quinoa is my foundation for everything.)
And don’t forget to put out a gorgeous array of fresh fixings like cilantro, tomatoes, avocado, onions, lettuce, lime wedges, and fresh diced jalapeño… and shredded cheddar cheese! Everything goes better with FRESH.
Have fun, everyone!
And hey: Let me know what YOUR favorite homemade Mexican dish is!
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…
Process until mixture is smooth like a paste…
Add in your precooked quinoa and the 2 TBSP flour (the flour didn’t make it into this picture, sorry)…
Then, with the best tool around – your hands – mash together all the ingredients until well incorporated…
(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…
Form your patties, and then gently lay them into the hot pan…
Cook them on medium high heat for about 3-4 minutes on each side, or until golden brown like this…
When they’re all done, you can eat them like I did:
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.
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.
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:
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:
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:
2 cups of precooked quinoa
1/2 cup of crumbled feta
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.
Add in mushrooms and parsley and sauté until mushrooms begin to release their moisture (about two minutes).
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.)
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.
Bake at 375 for 18-20 minutes. Remove from oven, cover with foil, and allow to rest for 10 minutes before serving.
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.)
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.
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
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
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:
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:
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:
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.)
7) Make the finishing sauce.
When you remove the meatballs from the oven, they will be GORGEOUS like this:
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:
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.