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 :)

YOU CAN DO IT: Homemade Salted Quinoa & Fruit Energy Bars

DSC04671 If you’ve been with me awhile then you know “SmartyBars”.

I started making SmartyBars in my kitchen back in 2009 when Seb was in the 2 year old constant snacking phase. I struggled to find prepared snack items that weren’t fortified (meaning they were so stripped of nutrition in processing they had to re-add the vitamins back in), or amped up on processed sugars, or filled with chemicals.

The other issue I struggled with was, while I had no problems getting him (or the rest of my family) prepared with good snacks while we were on the go, I was constantly running on empty. My lack of attention for my own well being meant I fell into a pattern of either a) not eating, b) eating everyone’s leftovers and lasts (half a piece of cold toast, the last bite of banana, the cold crumbled scrambled eggs), or c) lots of fast food.

I had simply allowed motherhood to run me ragged… and, because I had stopped seeing how I nourished myself as a big deal, I was tired, achy, cranky and developing a palate that craved salt and sugar constantly.

SmartyBars were the concoction that got me back on track. I pulled together the best whole ingredients I could find and figured out a way to stick them all together in ONE snack. I wanted something that would be nutritious, would fend off hunger, digest well and keep my mind sharp. SmartyBars ingredients were prized for all of those things.

Fruit.

Quinoa.

Oats.

Walnuts.

That’s it. Only four ingredients went into my SmartyBars and, because they were so clean and pure, I got myself (and my cravings) back on track.

I had a manufacturer for SmartyBars for a couple of years and sold them through my website and several local stores. Then, in 2013, I manufactured my very last batch and shut the company down. (Thankfully, however, the Lord used SmartyBars as the springboard for NBC Food Fighters, this Rebel Grain blog and to launch me as the Quinoa Queen! So, no regrets :) ) Today, however, I’m going to show you how to make your own SmartyBars… and, let me tell you, if you’re looking to get back on track and retrain your cravings: THIS IS IT.

While my original recipe was just four ingredients, the version I’m making today is a little more tasty with a few additional ingredients:

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You’ll need:

  • 1.5 cups of precooked Royal Quinoa (or you can use 1.5 cups of Royal Quinoa flakes)
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free whole oats (regular oats are fine, too, if you’re not gluten free)
  • 1 cup of whole, raw almonds
  • 1 cup of unsulfured dried apricots (NOTE: sulfur is the preservative that gives typical dried apricots the bright orange look; unsulfured apricots are dark brown (like mine in the photo), but they taste WAY better without the preservative. Find them in bulk bins at some grocery stores.)
  • 2/3 cup of dried, pitted cherries
  • 1/2 cup of sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1/4 cup of raw honey
  • 1/4 cup of melted coconut oil

I like to rehydrate the fruit just a little bit so it’s easier for the food processor to work with. To do this, simply add the dry fruit and about 2 TBSPs of water into a shallow, lidded pan.

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Turn the pan on high and, when the water sizzles, reduce the heat to low and cover the pan. Allow the fruit to steam for about a minute or so.

Next, using a slotted spoon (so that you don’t add any additional water to the mix) add your fruit into the bowl of a food processor….

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and process until smooth, like this:

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Scrape the fruit puree away from the sides of the bowl, and then add in the rest of your ingredients:

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Process all the ingredients together for about 30 seconds to a minute… and then, you should have a mixture that looks like this:

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NOTE: It may be necessary to scrape the fruit puree out of the processing bowl and then work the ingredients in two batches. It all depends on the strength of your processor and the stickiness of the mixture.  You’ll know if it’s necessary because the processor will be moving too slow to break down the ingredients.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and press the mixture to about 1/2 inch thick. Then sprinkle the top with a little flaked coconut and some coarse finishing salt (optional):

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Now, place the prepared tray into your oven at 200 degrees for 15-20 minutes. (This isn’t really ‘baking’ the bars, it’s simply allowing some of the moisture to evaporate.)

Remove the tray, cut the bars into your preferred sizes and then, with a spatula, carefully place all the bars on a drying rack:

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Allow the bars to ‘air dry’ for as long as possible; then, store in an airtight container and keep them in the fridge for grab and go snacking.
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This recipe makes about 24-28 bars (depending on how large you cut them and how much you eat BEFORE you press them onto the pan 😉 )… and, start to finish, you’re looking at a time investment of about 30 minutes.

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The best part? If you make these yourself you’re saving a ton of $$$$ by not buying the prepackaged options. And, honestly, I think these taste a thousand times better than anything you can buy off a shelf.

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Give them a try… and play with the recipe, too! Here are some other ideas:

  • If you like more texture, don’t process all the ingredients together. Make the fruit puree as I described, then add it to a bowl with your honey, coconut oil and dry ingredients. You can use your hands to squeeze it all together and then, when it’s all fully incorporated, press it onto the pan and follow the rest of the directions.
  • You can use any dried fruit or nuts you prefer! Just follow the general guidelines for fruit/nut/grain ratios and you’ll be fine.
  • Substitute the precooked quinoa for quinoa flakes. If you do this, you remove a lot of the water content from this recipe and the bars will have a longer shelf life. (It’s the precooked quinoa in this recipe that requires they be refrigerated.)

I hope you’re inspired to make these… and, if you do, I’d love to know what you think!

Thanks for reading :) I love having you here. ENJOY!

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Quick & Creative Mealtime Challenge: A FRIGIDAIRE GALLERY® GIVEAWAY

With more and more families leading active lifestyles, home-cooking has been put on the back burner while fast food, takeout and grab-and-go options have heated up… am I right?  Well, one of the reasons I’ve been so blessed by my partnership with Frigidaire Gallery® is because, just like my heart is to inspire YOU to cook more at home, they want to inspire you in the kitchen, too!

That’s why today my friends over at Frigidaire Gallery® are offering you a chance to win a featured Frigidaire Gallery® appliance packed with time-saving, easy-to-use innovations. And, the hope? That you’ll be inspired to create a quick, easy and creative meal that will appeal to all of us on-the-go families.

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Here’s the scoop:

Starting today, you can enter the “Quick & Creative Weeknight Meal Challenge” by visiting www.frigidaire.com/contest to submit a quick and creative meal idea for a chance to win a featured Frigidaire Gallery® appliance of your choice AND have your recipe developed by a “well-known home chef and blogger”… me!

TAKE NOTE: ALL ENTRIES MUST BE SUBMITTED BY OCTOBER 23, 2015.

I’ll be selecting THREE WINNERS based on the following:

Creativity.
Speed of preparation.
Ease of cooking.

(Oh, and I also want to see you use at least TWO KRAFT® ingredients in the recipe.)

Here’s my example of what your entry might look like: 

“I marinate Tri Tip steak in a mixture of mayo, dijon mustard, lemon juice, garlic, fresh diced parsley, black pepper and sea salt, then I roast it in my oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes.” 

That’s it… simple!

Here’s how my idea plays out in the kitchen:

Simple, creative ingredients:

1 Tri Tip roast, 1/2 cup of mayo, 1/4 cup of dijon mustard, juice from a lemon, 1 handful of rough chopped fresh parsley, 2 garlic cloves (smashed), 2 TBSP black pepper, 2 TBSP sea salt

MARINADE RECIPE:  1/2 cup of mayo, 1/4 cup of dijon mustard, juice from a lemon, 1 handful of rough chopped fresh parsley, 2 garlic cloves (smashed), 2 TBSP black pepper, 2 TBSP sea salt

 

Easy to prepare:

 

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(With less than 5 minutes) Mix all ingredients in a bowl to create the marinade... then, place the meat in a large plastic bag with the marinade and allow to sit for at least 1 hour (but up to 24 hours)

(With less than 5 minutes) Mix all ingredients in a bowl to create the marinade… then, place the meat in a large plastic bag with the marinade and allow to sit for at least 1 hour (but up to 24 hours)

Easy to cook:

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and roast the meat on a roasting pan for 15 minutes per pound – and, in the last three minutes of cooking, turn on the broiler so the meat and ingredients really sizzle on top.

Remove meat from the oven, place on a cutting board (or plate), and cover with tinfoil for at least 10 minutes. While meat is resting you can prepare the table or the other sides… and get ready to enjoy!

Delicious to serve:

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Thinly slice the meat against the grain and serve with roasted potatoes, a hearty-spinach salad, or (my favorite) a simple quinoa salad made with roasted veggies and a little olive oil.

Now… YOUR TURN :)

Please SHARE this opportunity with your friends and family and GET YOUR ENTRY IN BEFORE OCTOBER 23rd!! I’m looking forward to seeing all your creative ideas.

DISCLAIMER:
Yes, this post is sponsored by Frigidaire Gallery®… but, as always, the recipe and all opinions are my own.

Portland’s AM Northwest: Roasted Spiced Pumpkin Quinoa Parfait

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If you love pumpkin spice, then you’re in heaven these days. Everything is coming up pumpkin spice: lattes… cereal… chips… yogurt… creamers… Twinkie… Peeps.

Most of these ‘pumpkin spice’ foods, however, are very little (if any) pumpkin or actual real spice. (Always read the labels – especially on ‘healthy’ foods!) And, for me, I love pumpkin and spices way too much settle for nothing but flavor. I want the good stuff – the REAL stuff… and I know you do, too!

That’s why today, on AM Northwest (KATU, Channel 2 here in Portland), I showed Dave how to cut and clean a pie pumpkin, how to spice it before roasting, and then how to turn the delicious spiced pumpkin into this:

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Seriously, peeps, THIS IS AMAZING. Wonderful texture, just the right amount of sweet, and a perfect tangy touch from the greek yogurt. Most importantly, though, while you’re getting your pumpkin spice fix, you’re also getting a fix of some amazing nutrients and goodness. (Just look at how nutritious pumpkin is!)

So, roast up some spiced pumpkins, cook up some quinoa, and store both in your fridge  this week. That way, no matter how busy your day gets, you’ll have exactly what you need on hand to satisfy your cravings and keep you powered for your calling.

Here’s the segment:

Here’s the detail:

2 pie pumpkins, stems cut off, sliced in half, and all strings/seeds scraped out

Spiced rub: 2 TBSP butter, 2 TBSP honey, 1 TBSP ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg, 1/2 tsp vanilla

  1. Melt the butter in the microwave for 10 seconds and, using a fork or small whisk, mix until all the spices are fully incorporated.
  2. Evenly divide the butter/honey mixture into the two halves of the pumpkin and, using a spoon, spread the mixture all over the meat of the pumpkin.
  3. Place the pumpkin halves skin side up on a sheet pan and roast in a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes (or until you can puncture through the skin with a fork).
  4. Remove the pumpkin from the oven and allow to cool before scraping all pumpkin meat from the inside of the skin. DONE.

Finally, as I say in the segment, KEEP YOUR SEEDS! Clean them and roast them… JUST LIKE THIS.

Let me know if you try this! Thanks for reading :)

YOU CAN DO IT: Chocolate & Coconut Black Quinoa Pudding

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Today my last little bird flew from the nest and into 3rd grade… which means a new school year has officially started for our family. Early mornings, carpool afternoons, sports, homework, and, hopefully, breathing room for my brain so that I can finally feel the freedom to get stuff done.

As I sit here in my quiet house, there are little piles of life all over the place – and I’m excited. Today begins the work of getting back to life. Bills to pay. House finishing to do. Pictures still waiting to be hung, and laundry waiting to be washed. Planning for the months to come. I feel the urge to nest – to hunker down, cozy up our half-finished house, and begin the process of welcoming Fall to settle in with us.

Another thing I’m looking forward to is getting back into a routine of cooking. I have to be honest: in the summertime, it’s grazing season. A quick salad. Slices of deli meat and cheese with some crackers. A steak on the BBQ with some roasted veggies. Meals happens… and don’t happen… and yet we all seem to make it through the hot, leisurely months satisfied.

With school back in order, however, food and life require more planning. I mean, with three kids and my man, I’m set to make over 640 lunches alone in the next 9 months. 640 lunches! Add in breakfasts and dinners, and I’m looking at potentially 1400 meals this year. (Ok – I’m tired.)

Flying by the seat of my pants when it comes to mealtime isn’t an option.

I also have to be really conscious of feeding myself well, too. While I’ll still grab and go on most days, I have to be prepared to have the right grab-and-go food available: a quinoa salad, some hardboiled eggs and a piece of fruit, greek yogurt with some quinola and fruit, or THIS:

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This is my chocolate and coconut quinoa “pudding”. When I was little, we used to eat a rice version of this pudding called “Champulado” – a Guamanian treat. Traditionally, champulado is made with white rice, sweetened condensed milk, refined sugar, and chocolate syrup. This version, however, is not only healthified with quinoa and free of refined sugars – the texture and taste is a thousand times better than what I grew up loving.

I’ve made this many times before and always used the regular white quinoa I can find in bulk. Green Quinoa, however, sent me a bunch of their black Royal quinoa and I WILL NEVER USE WHITE QUINOA FOR THIS DISH AGAIN.

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GQ’s black quinoa didn’t really ‘open’ when cooking – it softened. The texture of the quinoa in the finished pudding reminded me of what happens to chia seeds when they’re soaked in coconut milk – not mushy, and just enough of a crunch when you chew. (When I’ve made this with white quinoa the seeds always open normally… so, it’s interesting to me the black quinoa responded differently with the coconut milk/water mixture.)

Seriously: this is SO GOOD. So good hot and right out of the pot… and so good as a grab and go snack out of the fridge.

Here’s what you need:

1 box of GQ Royal Black Quinoa
1 14 ounce of coconut milk (Trader Joe’s brand is my favorite)
1 cup of water
1/2 cup sweetened coconut flakes
1/3 cup unsweetened cacao powder
1/4 cup raw honey

(Optional Add-Ins)
1-2 bananas
1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger

DIRECTIONS:

Place quinoa, coconut milk, water, and cacao in a high sided pot, then whisk the mixture until cacao powder is broken down. Add in the coconut and honey.

Bring pot to a rapid boil, then reduce heat to a low simmer and cover. Allow pudding to gently simmer for 25-30 minutes. (Every 10 minutes or so be sure to stir the pot and scrape the bottom of the pan to prevent the pudding from sticking to the bottom while cooking.)

Turn off heat. DONE.

Now, you can eat the pudding right away as a warm porridge for breakfast (the way we always ate champulado). I love topping mine with fresh fresh sliced banana and grated ginger…

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Or, you can gently mix the sliced bananas and ginger directly into the pot, stir, and then portion the pudding out into individual storage containers, like this:

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I do both… and then, when I need a grab and go meal, I have one ready to go. (I’m eating one of my pre-portioned puddings out of the fridge as I write this :) )

I’d love to know some of your tips for getting off on the right foot with food now that kids are back in school. Do you have any tips or recipes you want to share? One thing I know for sure: it takes a village… and WE ARE IN THIS TOGETHER.

Thanks for reading – and thanks to Green Quinoa for sponsoring this post! Find them on Facebook and Instagram.

YOU CAN DO IT: Tangy Roasted Beet & Quinoa Spring Salad

We’ve owned the house for about a week now, but nothing major has started just yet. We had every intention of taking possession, starting demo and getting to work… but, there’s something different about this place. There’s something deep and solid and weighty that’s drawn us in and asked us to just – listen.

Several of our friends have even said to us, “Don’t rush – you gotta live in it first to really know what to do.” While that goes totally against how we usually tackle things, we see the wisdom in it for this home and this season of our life. Stillness. Quietness. Patience. LISTEN.

So, listening is what we’ve done for the last seven days.

We lit fires in the early morning coolness and listened to the crackle of wood that came from trees in the yard. We’ve sat on the hardwood floors in the mid-day sun and drank iced tea while listening to the house adjust its bones and welcome the warmth of the afternoon. We’ve listened to the kids squeal and laugh as they had water-balloon fights on the deck. We’ve looked down into the yard and listened to the birds, the squirrels, the frogs, the ducks. We’ve walked the rooms over and over listening to the beautiful quiet the empty house holds…and, in the quiet, we’ve listened to God’s kind, sweet voice saying, “You’re welcome” to the thanksgiving prayers our hearts constantly utter.

Listening has been good – really good… and, now as we begin the work, we feel we’re doing it in connection with all this house holds.

With all that said, staring today (and for the next few posts) I want to share some of the things I learned “in the dark”. (When I say “in the dark”, by the way, I’m referring to the pit of uncertainty (i.e. darkness) stressful situations often thrust us into. The four weeks leading up to the closing of our house I was “in darkness”: scattered, unsure, and depending wholeheartedly for my Father to work everything out as I woke each day and simply did the next right thing. The paperwork requests, the documents to sign, questions, the stress of three families behind us waiting for US to close. I was not myself, to say the least. But, as Jesus said, “What you hear in the dark, proclaim in the light.” So – here I am: out of the dark, back in the light, and excited about some really cool things the dark taught me.)

The first lesson I learned in the dark:

Beets are really good things.

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I’ll be 42 in just a couple of months and, with all seriousness, I have never in my life eaten a beet. EVER. (I’m pretty sure I was traumatized after having a salad bar beet forced upon me as a child and I’ve never allowed them to touch my lips again.)

As we were going through the last four weeks, however, my homemaking duties were falling short – waaayyyy short. Not a day went by where the kids weren’t saying, “Mom, we’re out of…”… and, we honestly ate burritos probably four out of the seven nights a week for four weeks in a row. I grabbed take out more than I’ve ever grabbed take out in all our years of marriage – and, just like I had to grab take out for the family dinners, in the middle of the day I was so short on food I found myself gravitating to the Whole Foods salad bar for my personal sustenance. (I know, I know – quinoa saves the day! So, you know if I didn’t even have quinoa on hand – I was in a bad state of affairs.)

Enter, the beet salad.

There was something about the particular day I choose the beets: it was sunny outside, I had just finished a workout, the salad title said, “tangy beet salad”… and yes, I was dying for a little ‘tang’ to give me a pick-me-up. While the color and the title caught my eye, I did have to ‘amp it up’ a little. So, with the beet salad I added a couple other salads off the bar: a tricolor quinoa salad and some arugula and greens from another.

I LOVED IT.

Beets. Who would have known? They were amazing! So amazing, as a matter of fact, I went in and bought an entire bunch of them just so I could recreate my own version at home… and that’s where this salad comes from.

You ready? This recipe will make two meal servings of the salad…

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First, here’s what you need:

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1.5 cups quinoa (any quinoa will do, but I did like how the tricolor helped the presentation of this recipe)
2 medium beets, rough chopped into chunks and roasted with salt and olive oil for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees
1 large handful of baby arugula
1 large handful of baby spinach
1/4 cup of thinly sliced red onions
1 TBSP of fresh diced jalapeño (or, more or less depending on your preference)

Then, for the dressing:

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1/3 cup olive oil
1/8 cup of rice wine vinegar
1/8 cup of balsamic vinegar
1 tsp of honey
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp black pepper

First, make the dressing by putting all the ingredients in a jar with a lid, and SHAKE VIGOROUSLY for about 20 seconds. Done.

Then, assemble the salad:

First, put the beets, onions, and jalapeños in your bowl, then pour the dressing over the ingredients to soak them:

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Next, add the spinach and the arugula, and toss everything together until evenly coated by the dressing:

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Finally, add in your quinoa:

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(NOTE: when dressing with a vinegar based dressing, I ALWAYS add quinoa last and never dress the quinoa directly… you don’t want the quinoa to be overtaken by the vinegar.)

Toss everything together until evenly coated… and serve: DSC04000 Isn’t this a gorgeous salad?

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The funny part is that, had I not been ‘in the dark’ and forced out of my box to eat something new, I don’t know if I ever would have discovered my love for beets… or this amazing salad.

Conclusion? Thanks to the darkness I learned beets are really good things.

What ‘good’ has come from a darkness you’ve worked through? I’d love to hear…

(FINAL NOTE (and maybe TMI): Beets CAN turn your pee red. Just saying. So, when you eat way too much of this salad like I did, don’t call your doctor and tell her you think you’re dying because your pee is red and you have no other symptoms of anything. She’ll just ask you if you’ve eaten anything out of the ordinary and, when you tell her ‘beets’, she’ll tell you have “beeturia” and then you’ll both have a good laugh and you’ll hang up and feel like a four-year old. Oh, then you’ll read this article and you’ll learn you have low stomach acid… and you’ll start eating more yogurt, drinking lemon water, and eating a tablespoon of pure coconut oil every day. :) )

Up next: The second lesson I learned in the dark: Coffee is not my friend.

Thanks for being here…

YOU CAN DO IT: Thai-Inspired Carrot Quinoa Soup

Did you see this headline a few days ago: Harvard University has determined A Daily Bowl of Quinoa Could Save Your Life. See! Just ONE bowl… so, imagine what a quinoa habit does for your health :)

Today I want to share a recipe for a soup I made a couple of nights ago: a thai-inspired carrot quinoa soup. Traditional carrot soups are usually creamy – and we’re not a creamy soup kinda family. We like bulk. We like texture. We want to eat a bowl of soup and feel like we’ve eaten… not be left with feelings of ‘what else is comin’.” THIS soup did just that – satisfy.

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Here’s what you’ll need:

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8-10 large carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4″ rounds
1 medium onion, diced
3 large garlic cloves, diced and smashed
1 large stalk of lemongrass, quartered and pounded (or three pre-cut stalks)*
2 TBSP fresh parsley, finely diced
1 quart of chicken broth
1 cup of water
3/4 dry quinoa (OR, 3 cups precooked quinoa)
1 TBSP fish sauce
1 TBSP fresh squeeze lime juice
1 tsp fresh grated ginger
the zest of 1 lime
salt & pepper to taste

(*Find lemongrass in the herb section of your grocery store. It’s very tough; use the back of a heavy knife and hit the stalk several times to release the oils that will flavor your soup.)

DIRECTIONS:

In a soup pot, add a little olive oil to coat the bottom. When the pan is hot, add in your diced onions, garlic, lemongrass, and parsley, and sauté on medium high for a couple of minutes.

When onions are translucent and your mixture is fragrant, add in your carrots and ginger. Stir everything together and continue to sauté for another couple of minutes.

Add in the chicken stock, water, DRY quinoa, fish sauce, and lime juice. Bring to a boil; then, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and allow to cook for 15-20 minutes.

When quinoa is cooked and carrots are soft, remove lemongrass stalks; add in the lime zest, and salt and pepper to taste.
This is what you get:
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It was DELICIOUS.

Now, notice I did something I’ve never told you to do before: use DRY quinoa. When you’re making a brothy soup like this one that has adequate liquid, you CAN add dry quinoa right into the pot. The key is remembering that quinoa sucks up water and expands to almost 4x its original size. So, just keep that in mind when you choose to go the DRY route… otherwise, you’ll end up with an overly thick bowl of porridge-style soup versus a brothy one. (If this turns out too thick for your liking, just add an additional 1/2 cup of water or broth towards the end. Not a big deal.)

Before I go, if you haven’t picked up my quinoa e-book, The Quinoa Habit, don’t forget it’s available here.

And hey, if you’re in the Portland area, join me on Monday, March 30th at the Bridgeport Whole Foods for The Quinoa Habit class! You can sign up HERE… I’d love to meet you and encourage you into a healthier food lifestyle with quinoa as a foundation. Here’s the flyer:

Quinoa Habait 2015 tab-01

Thanks for being here with me!

YOU CAN DO IT: Quinoa Banana Pancakes

AMNW

Nothing to get me back to the blog like an AM Northwest morning!

Today I spent some time with Dave and we made one of my favorite quinoa recipes: quinoa banana pancakes.  (Man, I love him. He is so bright and happy – and always a joy to stand beside and cook with.) Last summer I told you about these and how to make them with fresh peaches… but, since we’ve yet to hit the summertime bounty, banana is what seems to be making an appearance most often in my kitchen these days.

These little patties  have no added sugar, can be made gluten free (just use gluten free flour), and taste great fresh out of the pan with a little maple syrup, or cold as a little mid-day snack.

I have a whole batch sitting in my fridge right now and, when the hunger strikes, I nibble on a couple with a big bottle of water and keep running through my day.

Here’s what you’ll need:

2 cups precooked quinoa
2 eggs
1 heaping cup of smashed bananas (or other fresh fruit)
1/4 cup flour
1 TBSP organic raw honey (optional)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder

TO MAKE: Whisk your eggs together and pour the eggs into a bowl with the precooked quinoa. Add your smashed banana, vanilla extract, flour, and baking powder. Stir together until evenly incorporated… and then fry in a butter coated pan on medium heat about 3 minutes on each side. Patties should be golden brown when done!

ENJOY!

BY THE WAY – WANT TO COOK WITH ME?

If you’re in the Portland area, I’ll be hosting a “Quinoa: Breakfast to Dinner” class at Whole Foods Bridgeport on March 30. Connect with me on FB, Twitter, or on Instagram for more details to follow this week. SPACE WILL BE LIMITED!

Thanks for being here with me…

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

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!)