Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Crazy for Quinoa!

Tonight is one of those nights...

All by myself



Everybody having fun but me

See, my husband and two sons took off with barely a warning for an NBA game tonight.  I had planned a nice Daniel Fast dinner for day 17 of our fast, and I was working diligently when my husband came home and said he needed to eat right away because he and the boys were heading out to the game.  He was visibly excited.

So I quit typing and quickly made dinner and he gulped it down standing over the counter in the kitchen, kissed me goodbye, and took off for the game.  I was left standing in the middle of the kitchen, bowl in hand.  So I ate my dinner standing up too, then went back upstairs to finish my shift.  When I was done working, I went back downstairs to do the dishes.  Then I decided to end my pity party and blog some more recipes!

So I've got a mug full of Daniel Fast hot cocoa and my laptop and a fire in the fireplace.  It's a dark and rainy night and the house is silent.  No one but me and the cat.  Perfect atmosphere to write!

I've liked quinoa for quite awhile, but I'm just discovering how very versatile it is.  I've now cooked with red, white and black whole-grain quinoa and used it in place of rice, in salads, and in soups.  I've made it into a hot cereal, a breakfast bowl with fruit and nuts, and mixed it into cookies.  I've tried quinoa pasta, crackers and breads.  I've got quinoa flakes that make an excellent thickener in baked goods and thin soups.  It really is a wonder grain!

But when making a yummy quinoa bowl, I started really thinking about some fun combinations.  I thought I'd share them with you.  And maybe these will stir your imagination a little, and you'll come up with some great combos yourself!

Lebanese - Add turmeric, a bay leaf and lemon zest to the pot while cooking the quinoa.  When done cooking, add diced tomato, artichoke hearts, sautéed onion and sliced black olives.

Tabouleh - Serve the quinoa cold.  Mix in olive oil, fresh lemon juice, lots of minced parsley (until it's more green than grain!), fresh tomato, cucumber and green onion.

Greek - Add a good balsamic and olive oil vinaigrette, then mix in romaine, tomato, cucumber, yellow bell pepper, Greek olives, fresh basil and feta

Mexican - Sautee onions and bell pepper.  Add black beans and then cooked quinoa.  Season with cumin, cayenne, chili powder and a dash of salt.  Top with fresh cilantro, pico de gallo, and guacamole.

Asian - Use Bragg's aminos in place of soy sauce, a drizzle of sesame oil, rice vinegar and fresh ginger to make a dressing.  Then toss it with the quinoa and add edamame beans, sugar snap peas, shredded carrot, green onion, mango, red pepper, bean sprouts, shredded cabbage, sesame seeds and even some crumbled nori.

Mushroom - Cook your quinoa in vegetable stock and a bay leaf.  Saute a shallot and cremini mushrooms.  Add some thyme and spinach.  Stir together with hot quinoa.

Thanksgiving - Add parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme to cooking liquid.  Sautee onion and celery.  Add dried cranberries and heat until softened.  Stir everything together.  Add more sage if you want more "stuffing" flavor.

California - Cold quinoa mixed with mandarin oranges or grapes, almonds, avocado, green onion, cucumber and arugula.  Add a splash of orange juice and avocado oil to make a light dressing.

Oregon - Mix up a berry vinaigrette or buy Bragg's (so good!).  Pour it over cooked and cooled quinoa, then add hazelnuts, blackberries, green onion and crumbled goat cheese.

Winter Salad - Roast chunks of butternut or acorn squash that has been tossed with olive oil and sea salt.  Then mix it with quinoa, diced apple, chopped walnuts, green onion, and kale cut in ribbons.  Nordstrom Café makes a bottled dark cherry balsamic vinaigrette that would be wonderful with this.

Indian - Cook with quinoa in vegetable broth with turmeric, bay leaf, clove, and curry powder.  Toss sweet potato chunks, cauliflower and onion with olive oil and sea salt and roast until tender.  Mix with quinoa, add in chickpeas, and then top with raisins, cilantro and pomegranate arils.

Broccoli - A twist on the classic broccoli salad.  Mix cooled quinoa with a bit of Greek yogurt, olive oil and tarragon, then stir in broccoli florets, mandarin oranges, diced red onion, raisins and sunflower seeds.

And there you go!  Get fresh and have fun.  Let me know which one sounds best to you or your favorite if you try a few!

Tabouleh Quinoa

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Daniel Fast - New Year, New Challenge, New Recipes!

It's our annual Daniel Fast and I'm excited about the new challenge I'm attempting!  This year I'm going for 40 days and I'm also eliminating wheat and corn.  No, I'm not gluten intolerant.  I just don't like the idea of how wheat and corn are notorious GMO foods (that's Genetically Modified Organism, for those of you who aren't really into the organic food scene).  Since corn is often substituted for wheat by gluten-free people, it's one more major grain crossed off my food list that really narrows my carb options.  But I really felt I wanted to eat "cleaner" this fast.  As long as I am filling myself with such healthy fruits and vegetables, I think I should also eat healthier grains.  Of the remaining grains (oats, quinoa and rice), I'm only eating quinoa (whole and flaked), organic oats (sprouted when I can find them, whole served cooked or raw, depending on the recipe, and also ground into flour), and sprouted brown rice.  In fact, I'm eating a lot more sprouted foods this year.  I bought a bag of delicious sprouted pumpkin seeds that taste almost as good as popcorn!  And I have sprouted mung beans to add to soups and GoRaw bars with sprouted everything in them.  What's so great about sprouting?  Well, as soon as a seed germinates, it suddenly is alive and bursting with enzymes.  That seed becomes super healthy with living nutrients that---ready for this?---make your body process them as a plant rather than a carb!  We all know by now that carbs are what makes our waistlines grow, so any time I can eat a piece of bread and make my body feel like it's eating salad is worth a lot to me!  I even contemplated doing a "raw food" fast, which is probably the way Daniel really ate back in Bible days, but I'm lacking some of the equipment to make it possible to eat that way for a long time.  I definitely have incorporated more raw foods into my fast, though.

So how does all that good eating make me feel so far?  Well, on day 3 I feel bloated, gassy and hungry.  How's that for honesty?  To comfort you, though, so you don't feel like quitting, I'm actually starting my fast with a 3-day cleanse (almost zero carbs, just fruit, lots of vegetables and seeds), then going into a 7-day de-tox (not quite as stringent, adding in quinoa, oats and rice), and finally easing into a more relaxed fast for 30 more days, where I add in the sprouted bread, goat's milk cheese, a touch of raw honey here and there, and even wild salmon on occasion.

All year I've been collecting new recipes.  I actually enjoy eating these dishes all year round, so I'm excited to share some of them with you!  I'm going to categorize them so you can find what you're looking for easily.  Want a great breakfast smoothie?  It's under Breakfast.  Looking for a super healthy, hearty soup?  Try searching under Lunch and Dinner.  What about a quick, nutritious snack?  There's a snack section too.

Enjoy!  Let me know how your fast is going.  Tell me what you've learned, what you've tried, how you feel, and how you've benefitted.  I'd love to hear about your experiences!

Bountiful Breakfasts

Breakfast Smoothie
1-1/2 c. almond milk (unsweetened, but vanilla flavored is fine)
3/4 c. strawberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 c. cucumber
1-1/2 c. spinach leaves or kale
1 T. chia seed
1 T. flax seed
1 T. matcha green tea powder

Banana-Oat Breakfast Bars
3 mashed bananas (not over-ripe, like for banana bread, or the bars will be too moist)
1/3 c. applesauce (unsweetened)
2 c. oats
2 T. ground flax seed
2 T. nuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 c. almond milk
1/2 c. raisins
1 t. vanilla
1 t. cinnamon

Mix and bake at 350 for 15-20 min. until set.  Try variations, like shredded unsweetened coconut, dried cherries, cocoa nibs, chia or hemp seed.

Breakfast Bowl
1/2 c. cooked quinoa
1 T. coconut oil
3/4 c. berries
1/4 c. nuts, toasted and chopped

Overnight Oats
(This is a great to-go breakfast)
1/2 c. coconut-almond milk (unsweetened, vanilla)
1/2 c. rolled oats
1 T. flax seed
1 apple, diced fine
1 T. cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a container with an air-tight lid.  Allow to sit overnight.  Ready to eat in the morning!  (If you find this too blah, add 1 t. raw honey)

Luscious Lunches
Kale and Mushroom Wraps
2 T. olive oil
2 leeks (white and pale green part)
1 c. mushrooms (cremini, shiitake or baby bella)
1 c. kale, stemmed and chopped
1/4 c. vegetable broth
1/3 c. unsweetened dried cranberries (not Craisins)
1/4 c. feta, crumbled (goat's milk or vegan feta)
4 wraps (sprouted, if you can find them, otherwise multigrain)

Saute leeks and mushrooms until soft. Add kale and saute until wilted.  Add broth and cranberries.  Stir in feta.  Divide filling among wraps.  Roll up like a burrito.

Asian Coleslaw
I had this for lunch yesterday and loved it!
4 c. shredded cabbage (add some bok choy for a truly Asian taste)
2 c. shredded carrot
1 c. edamame beans
1/4 c. green onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
1 mango, diced (or mandarin orange)
1/2 c. cilantro
1/2 c. peanuts or cashews, chopped

1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. rice vinegar
squeeze of lime juice
1 T. Bragg's amino acids (similar to soy sauce, but much healthier)
1 T. sesame oil
1 T. peanut butter or almond butter
1 t. sambal oelek chili paste
1 T. ginger root, freshly grated
1 clove garlic, minced

Mix dressing and pour over veggies.  Toss until thoroughly combined.  Note:  If you want to make it a meal, add some cubed tofu (non-GMO, of course).

Roasted Beet Salad
1 small beet, scrubbed and rubbed with olive oil
1/3 c. orange segments
1/3 c. beet greens
1/3 c. spinach leaves
1/3 c. arugula
1/4 avocado
3 T. hemp seed

Dressing:  1 T. raspberry vinegar or balsamic vinegar, 1 T. olive oil, 1 t. caraway seed, salt

Roast the beet at 400 for 45 min. until tender (if you don't mind staining your fingers, you can dice it first when raw, drizzle it with olive oil and sea salt, and then roast it and it will cook much faster).  Cool, then peel and chop into bite-size pieces.  Toss all veggies and fruit together.  Mix dressing ingredients and pour over salad.  Toss to combine.

Delicious Dinners

Daniel Fast Zuppa Toscana
(When I made this, not one of my very picky family members guessed there was almond milk in this soup instead of heavy cream!)
1-1/2 lbs. diced Tofurky Italian sausage (this tastes better than you think)
2 red potatoes, diced with skins on
1-1/2 c. kale, cut into ribbons and tough ridges removed
2 T. olive oil
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2-3 garlic cloves, minced
red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
3 c. vegetable broth
2 c. almond milk

Saute onion, carrots and celery in olive oil until soft.  Add garlic and sauté until fragrant.  Add vegetable broth, sausage, kale, potatoes and seasoning, and simmer until potatoes are tender.  Add almond milk and heat through.

Sautéed Green Beans or Brussels Sprouts
(Great side dish)
1-1/4 lbs beans or Brussels sprouts, steamed until tender-crisp
3 T. oil
1/3 c. shallots, sliced thin
2/3 c. dried, unsweetened cranberries (not Craisins, which have sugar and usually hydrogenated oil)
2/3 c. hazelnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped

Saute shallots in oil.  Add beans/sprouts and sauté 3 min.  Add nuts and cranberries and sauté 1 min until combined and hot.  Season with salt and pepper.

Thai Red Curry
(I LOVE this!)
Vegetables:  Sweet potato (pre-roasted until tender, peeled and cubed), onion, mushrooms, zucchini or broccoli or cauliflower, red pepper, carrot, spinach
Sauce:  1/2 c. red curry paste (comes in a little jar), 2 c. vegetable stock, 2 cans coconut milk, 2/3 c. basil leaves, 2 t. lime juice
Garnish:  Sprouted brown rice, fresh cilantro

Saute vegetables, add sauce ingredients and simmer until veggies are tender.  Pour over hot rice and top with cilantro.  Note:  After the fast, add chicken to this!

Super Snacks

PBB Smoothie
(This literally saved me today...I just couldn't seem to get full on fruits and veggies.  My stomach kept growling and I felt almost irritable and anxious from low blood sugar...good thing no one was home!  Then I made this and it was so satisfying that it carried me beyond dinnertime and enabled me to work late.  And it was delicious!)
1 c. almond milk (unsweetened)
1/2 banana
1 T. raw peanut butter or almond butter (no added sugar or oil)
1 T. chia seed
1 T. cocoa powder
Throw everything in a blender and whip until thick and frothy.  If you like yours cold, you can pre-freeze your banana or add ice.

Crunchy Chickpeas
These are great when you want something crunchy, salty and spicy!
2 15-oz cans chickpeas, rinsed, drained and dried
1/4 c. olive oil
1 T. curry powder (or spice mixture, like masala...I use my favorite blend I bought in India!)
1/4 t. salt

Preheat oven to 400.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Mix all ingredients in bowl and toss until well coated.  Spread on cookie sheet.  Bake for 30 min. until dry and crisp.  You may need to stir and re-spread them halfway through.  Store airtight.

Avocado-Pom Salsa
4 avocados, diced
3 mandarin oranges, diced
2 c. pomegranate arils
1 c. green onion, diced
1 c. cilantro
6 T. lime juice
1/2 t. salt
1 T. avocado oil (or olive)
dash cayenne or tabasco sauce to taste)

Mix all ingredients and allow to "meld" a couple hours.  Serve with organic whole-grain, non-GMO corn tortilla chips.