Posts Tagged ‘quinoa’

I was sent this recipe this morning through facebook. I have not made this yet but I will be making it soon. It looked too good to not share. There are a lot more recipes over on the facebook page where I got this one. If militant vegans are not your thing, you should avoid visiting it. Otherwise, there are a lot of interesting recipes there and I think I’ll be trying more of them out.

Mango Blueberry Quinoa Salad with Lemon Basil Dressing

1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup water
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
1/2 cup cubed ripe mangos
1/2 cup diced cucumbers
2 tbsp dried cranberries
1 1/2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/4 tsp lemon zest
6 basil leaves, finely chopped

Place the quinoa and water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for about 15 minutes or until the quinoa is cooked. Remove the lid and fluff the quinoa with a fork. Allow to cool to room temperature.

While the quinoa is cooking, combine the fruits in a bowl. Whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, and add the chopped basil just before serving. Add half the dressing to the quinoa and toss gently. Assemble the salad just before serving and toss the quinoa with the fruits and cucumber. Serve the other half of the dressing on the side.

Mango Blueberry Quinoa Salad

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Where all good things come from

The other day, I was at Trader Joe’s to pick up some staple foods. These include things like tofu, three grain tempeh and basic veggies and dried goods. While I was there, something caught my eye. It’s a Trader Joe’s product called Harvest Grains Blend. It consists of Israeli style couscous, orzo, baby garbanzo beans and red quinoa. It looked good and it was really cheap so I bought a bag. Last night, I made some for dinner. To prepare it, I used some TJ’s hearty vegetable stock and, after bringing it to a boil, added the Harvest Grains. I then dumped in a generous helping of spices to add some flavor and let it simmer for 10 minutes. After that, I had a great dinner that was healthy and easy to deal with. I still have half a bag left so now that I know what to do with it, I’m thinking of other things I can do with it. I love finding new things to cook/eat that make it easier to eat healthy. This will be a fun one to work with.

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As you may have heard, we got a bit of  snow here in the U.S. recently. It was only a foot or so here in Maine and it fit rather nicely on top of the foot we already had on the ground. Needless to say, today was spent securely indoors and out of the cold. It was the perfect day to finish up my first woodworking project: a meditation bench.

Once the polyurethane has finished drying, I’ll get some pictures and post them. For now, it’s a waiting game. I had a lot of fun putting this together and would never have been able to do it without the assistance of my brother who has been visiting with us. It was a great project to do with him and to learn from him and to just hang out in a workshop and make something together. I’m really pleased with the way that this has turned out and expect to see many hours spent on this bench.

When we weren’t working on the bench or playing with the kids, it was a lazy day. I actually took a nap and rested for a bit. There’s nothing like a foot of snow to bring out an instinct to hibernate. Especially after your belly is full of Caribbean Jerk Quinoa (one of my favorite ways to prepare quinoa). Overall, just a really nice day slowing down and spending time being a family.

One thing that meditation and living mindfully does is enhance your enjoyment of taking slowly the things that don’t need to be rushed. Obviously there are scenarios where time is of the essence and one needs to hurry but those scenarios aren’t as common as we like to think. I think this is because we, as a species, derive a lot of motivation from stress. It’s how we evolved. Since we no longer have to fear being eaten by wild animals or dying from a lack of food or shelter or from catching a cold and having it turn in to something worse, we invent artificial stress to keep us going. This is bad for a few reasons. One, we create states for our body to go into overdrive much more than it should. This causes health problems from “running too hot”. Two, in a lot of people, stress will trigger an emotional response to eat. This leads to a big source of overeating for many of us who have struggled with our relationship with food. It’s a quick way to weight gain since you end up consuming more than you need and your body stores away the calories as fat more readily than it would under normal circumstances. This is why a nice slow lazy day like today is really important every once in a while. It reminds us to slow down and take things as they really are.

It’s started snowing again while I have been writing this. At some point you have to say, “enough is enough!” and get tired of it. I’m probably at that point now but it’s taken all day to get there. The fact is that I have had a great day doing low stress and slow-paced work and play. Tomorrow, I’ll brave the elements and go back to work but that’s a post for tomorrow.

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Cajun Quinoa

As I mentioned before, I had a brief moment of falling off the wagon over the past few weeks but I’m not letting that stop me. With that in mind, I’ve been trying to find some new things to keep me moving forward. One thing I decided to do was find some new things to cook. That decision plus a small discussion here on the blog about good Southern food (is there any other kind?) led me to tonight’s new recipe. I found myself staring at the shelves of the pantry when inspiration struck.

Cajun Quinoa
1 yellow onion
1 stalk of cellary
1 green pepper
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 cup red quinoa
2/3 cup red lentils
Cayenne pepper
Garlic powder
Paul Prudhome’s Cajun Magic seasoning
Liquid Smoke (this is the “secret” ingredient)
1 1/2 cup vegetable stock (I used Trader Joe’s brand since its got a good tomato flavor)

Cut up onion cellary and pepper into small pieces. This is called the trinity in Cajun cooking. Classic French cooking uses carrots instead of pepper.

Heat olive oil in a pot and add the trinity. Saute until softened.

Add quinoa and red lentils. Stir until mixed. Add garlic powder, cayenne and seasoning and stir. Toss in a dash of the secret ingredient.

Add the stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Cook for 15-18 minutes until liquid is absorbed.

Put finished cajun quinoa into a bowl and bogart it like it’s a dime bag of primo stuff.

This came out so well I’m sad I didn’t make more. It would be great as lunch tomorrow. I definately need to see if I can go through some of my old recipes and re-write them to be healthier and vegetarian. Jambalaya and étouffée and other southern foods may be a fun challenge to recreate. I’m thinking that instead of deep frying some things I may be able to put the convection oven to good use to make some crispy and delicious foods.

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The other day, we had a friend over for dinner. This is someone who shares my (new) taste in food and I love it when she comes over for dinner since it means I get eat the food I’ve made with someone else. My wife can’t usually eat what I do for a number of reasons, not just because she may not like it. The one thing I need to be concerned about with our friend visiting is that she’s got a gluten sensitivity and that means avoiding using wheat flour in anything. While I was at the store, I was going to grab some quinoa for dinner. The store was selling the quinoa for $11. I couldn’t believe the price they were charging for it so I put it back on the shelf and decided to save myself 8 dollars by buying it in bulk from the health food store down the street.

However, my trip down the health food aisle was not a total waste as sitting there, near the quinoa, was a mix for a gluten-free bread. I’ve never been a big fan of gluten-free breads but this was from a brand that I knew produced high quality items so I had a bit of trust in it. I brought it home and proceeded to make it. The first, and biggest problem, I had with this stuff was that the dough was incredibly sticky. Since gluten is what gives bread it’s “oomph”, going without it means that you need to come up with some other way to hold the bread together while it bakes. This stuff was almost like glue. It stuck to my spatula, my board, my hands and anything else it came into contact with. The recipe on the bag suggested using a loaf pan but I don’t actually own a loaf pan as I prefer to shape my breads by hand. That was the first time I’ve ever found myself wishing for a loaf pan. I managed to get the dough into a decent shape, covered it with foil and stuck it in the proofer for 45 minutes for the yeast to do its thing. I couldn’t believe how well it had risen after that time in the proofer. That’s when I first felt good about this particular recipe.

I switched the oven from proofer mode to bake mode and popped the dough back in to sit for a good long time. Shortly after this, the whole kitchen started to smell like fresh bread. Even gluten-free, the stuff smells amazing in the oven. I think we’re biologically geared toward loving this smell. I couldn’t wait to rip into this loaf!

That evening, our friend came over and she smelled the fresh bread as soon as she walked in the door. She entered the kitchen and saw the loaf sitting on a cooling rack and mentioned how wonderful it smelled. My wife gave her the good news that it was a gluten free loaf that I had made special for her. I wasn’t there to see this but my wife told me she was extremely touched by this simple gesture. She hadn’t had bread of any kind in a very long time and was overjoyed at the prospect of having fresh from the oven bread with our dinner.

Once it was time to eat, we started by cutting open the bread and putting some fresh, softened butter on it. This was the best gluten-free bread I’ve ever had. I’ve had three or four other types but this was the first one I had ever enjoyed eating and the first time I ever went back for seconds on it. We proceeded to have a wonderful evening eating dinner (curried quinoa and lentil stuffed peppers), sitting around the table and enjoying spending time together. Throughout the night, the bread was there on the table and every once in a while, we would reach down, cut off a piece and eat it while we talked. It reminded me of why for so many centuries, eating with another person was referred to as “breaking bread” with them.

The next day, we got an email from our friend thanking us once again for the great night the good company and the wonderful food. She expressed her gratitude once again for the bread and told us how touched she was that we had it for her. As we talked about this, my wife felt so happy that we were able to do this for her friend that she began to cry (not much, but it was crying nonetheless). Who would have thought that as I stood in the store contemplating buying one item that something else I bought almost on impulse would be the highlight of the evening? That’s the power of a simple loaf of bread. Cooking for someone else is always an act of service and is rewarding for those preparing and those consuming it. To give someone something special to eat is to show them how you care for them and that they are important to you. This is why some flour, milk eggs and yeast can turn into tears when they have been properly mixed and cooked and consumed.

If you have someone special that you care for, take some time to think about what they enjoy to eat and then try to make them something special for them by preparing it in a way that they will enjoy. It’s a great way to let someone know how you feel about them. Food, even a loaf of bread, has the power to transform a visit with a friend into a memorable experience that will stay with you for years.

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Tonight for dinner, I decided to try a new salad. I looked around in the fridge to see what I had and I noticed I had a lot of spinach and shredded carrots. Then, I went to the pantry and I saw my unopened bag of dried cranberries. I have recently discovered that I really like them, especially on salads. I was always reluctant to eat them because I hate, Hate, HATE raisins. I can’t stand the little rotten grapes that have shriveled up and should have been thrown away instead of boxed up and sold as food. Eww, nasty things. So, because of that, I hadn’t tried dried cranberries. Eventually I realized that was a stupid reason to not try them so I was pleasantly surprised when I found I enjoyed them.

Then, in the back of the pantry, I saw the last of my red quinoa. That’s when inspiration struck. I made the quinoa, washed the spinach, plated it and added the carrots to the spinach and then plopped on a bunch of quinoa and topped it off with the cranberries. It was delicious. I dumped a bunch of spicy ingredients in with the quinoa as it was cooking so it was full of flavor and a lot of fun to eat. Here are the pics and the full recipe.

Spicy Quinoa and Cranberry Salad

Spicy Quinoa and Cranberry Salad

Spicy Quinoa and Cranberry Salad

1 cup quinoa
2 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp Jamaican Jerk seasoning
1 tbsp garlic powder
2 cups fresh spinach
1/2 cup shredded carrots
dried cranberries

  1. Rinse and soak the quinoa for 15 minutes. If you haven’t shredded your carrots before hand, this would be a good time to do that. While shredding your carrots, think about how procrastination has caused you more work while you could be enjoying the 15 minute soak time doing something else.
  2. Drain the quinoa and add it to a medium pot along with the 2 1/2 cups water. Bring water to a boil and add the jerk seasoning and the garlic powder. Stir quinoa for one minute.
  3. Reduce heat to low and cover the pot. Simmer the quinoa for 20 minutes.
  4. During the last 5-10 minutes of cooking, rinse the spinach and add to the bottom of your serving plate(s).
  5. Place shredded carrots on top of the spinach.
  6. When the quinoa is done, add it to the top of the salad
  7. Top the salad with dried cranberries and drizzle with balsamic vinegar.

That’s it. It’s an easy to make salad and it tasted great. Usually I don’t add things like garlic powder to my food but in this case it’s an easy way to get the garlic to dissolve and be absorbed by the quinoa. The jerk seasoning is one that I’ve had sitting in my spice rack for a long time. I used to add it to chicken but I haven’t done that in a long time. I think I finally found a new use for it. If you choose to make this, enjoy. I know I did. Just make sure you don’t hiccup right as you’re bringing a fork full of spicy quinoa to your mouth. You could end up inhaling it and getting it stuck in your throat where it will burn and make you cough for the next half hour.

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    As is obvious from many of the recipes that I’ve posted here, I really like Quinoa and Lentils. I just saw this “related story” link on the recipe I posted yesterday about the quinoa and lentil stuffed peppers. I checked it out and can’t believe how good this looks. I’m definately going to be making this one soon. Falafel is a great food but it’s not the healthiest thing in the world. I think the preperation here would be a nice alternative for a healthy dinner.


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    I spent some time in the kitchen tonight having fun trying to come up with a new recipe. This is what I came up with.

    I took some red and white quinoa and cooked them risotto style along with some French green lentils. I then stuffed them inside some peppers and baked them at 415 for about 15 minutes and served them with a fresh salad. It was quite tasty. French green lentils are different from the normal brown lentils you find in most locations. I get mine at a local health food store. They have a bit of an earthier flavor to them and hold up their shape and texture a little better when cooking them like this. They are a great addition to this dish because they add a lot of flavor.

    Curried Quinoa and Green Lentil Stuffed Peppers

    1 cup red quinoa
    1 cup white quinoa
    1 cup French green lentils
    1/2 large red onion, diced
    3 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tablespoon olive oil
    3 1/2 – 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth or stock
    1 tablespoon curry powder
    4 peppers, cored, seeds removed with tops cut off


    1. Begin by soaking the red and white quinoa in a bowl of water. Soak for at least 15 minutes.
    2. While the quinoa is soaking, dice the red onion and mince the 3 cloves of garlic.
    3. Drain the quinoa and set aside.
    4. Heat the olive oil in a 10 inch pot over medium-high heat and add the red onion. Cook until translucent, about 4 minutes.
    5. Reduce heat and add the garlic and sauté for another minute making sure the garlic does not burn.
    6. Add the quinoa and sauté for a minute making sure to stir constantly to coat all of the seeds with oil.
    7. Add the lentils and enough vegetable stock to cover the quinoa and lentils at least 1/2 inch.
    8. Return heat to high and bring to a boil. Add the curry powder and boil for one minute.
    9. Reduce to a simmer and lightly cover the pot. Let simmer for 15-20 minutes until liquid is absorbed.
    10. While quinoa is cooking, heat oven to 415. Cut the tops off of the peppers and remove the cores and seeds.
    11. Place the four peppers in an oven safe baking dish setting aside the tops.
    12. When quinoa and lentils are done cooking and liquid is absorbed, spoon the quinoa into each of the peppers. Replace the tops of the peppers and then bake for 15-20 minutes until the peppers are beginning to brown on the outside.
    13. When peppers are done, carefully transfer each pepper to a plate and serve with a salad.

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    Today I went to the store and picked up a bunch of stuff that I’m going to use to work on creating a few new recipes. Once I have a recipe or two, I’ll post them here along with pictures of what I have come up with. For now, a sneak preview.

    • French Green Lentils
    • Red Lentils
    • White Quinoa
    • Red Quinoa
    • Polenta
    • Rainbow Chard
    • Red Pepper
    • Orange Pepper
    • Jalapeño Pepper
    • Carrots
    • Red Onion
    • Shallots
    • Garlic
    • Ginger
    • Tofu
    • Various herbs/spices
    • Low Sodium organic vegetable stock

    I’ve got a few ideas about what to do with some of the ingredients but I haven’t come up with anything firm yet. I love going to the store and finding ingredients that I either really like or have wanted to work with for a while and just picking them up with the intent of cooking something with them. It’s a challenge to come up with something good and interesting and I’m going to have fun doing it. The great thing is that all of the produce was local and organic so whatever I end up making will have supported local farms and farmers. It’s a win/win for everyone.

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    Today is our annual Sangha Family Day picnic. I’m about to head out to spend time with my fellow practitioners and their families. Because it’s a Buddhist event, there will be lots of vegetarian options but my concern is that I’ll allow my habit energy to get the best of me and I’ll just keep eating as long as there is food on the tables. I’ve resisted the power of the buffet before and I hope to again so we’ll see how I do. For my part of the event, I’m bringing a curried quinoa pilaf salad with roasted garlic vinaigrette. It smells so good that I didn’t want to wait till I got to the picnic to eat it!


    I did a pretty good job yesterday of keeping myself in control. I did enjoy a little bit of everything there and it was wonderful food but I kept it reasonable. My biggest moment was when I enjoyed a brownie a la mode. Homemade brownies topped with homemeade vanilla ice cream was just too much to pass up. It was the first ice cream I’ve had since June and I loved all five bites. It’s nice to be able to treat myself and still have the willpower to not go back for more.

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