Friday, May 28, 2010

Quinoa Cakes

Let's hear it for quinoa ... again.

I know you thought we were done with our quinoa series last week but I just have to share this recipe for the little people in your life. Now, it's not really a recipe per se b/c I didn't measure anything and I just kind of made it up on the fly. However, that gives you complete creative freedom to add your favorite ingredients.

Combine a cup, or more, of cooked quinoa with 3 or 4 eggs, a 1/4 cup of cheese and several handfuls of whatever vegetables you have on hand. I tossed about 1/3 cup of both corn and peas into the mixture but you could really add anything. Fully combine the above ingredients and season with a bit of black pepper and sea salt. Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a pan and drop 1/4 cup of the mixture into the hot pan and cook until golden brown, turning once or twice.

The twins gobbled these up, especially when I offered a little katsup for dipping. The big surprise was how much Eric enjoyed the quinoa cakes. I was getting ready to freeze all of the leftovers when he promptly stopped me and grabbed two for himself. Voila, dinner was served :-)

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Spaghetti with Beans & Greens

As I've mentioned before, we eat a lot of beans around here, mostly because they are easy to prepare and inexpensive. The fact that they are tasty and nutritious is just a bonus because I'm pretty sure I would still sneak them into meals for the cheap and easy reasons.

Here is a delicious, light spaghetti recipe that is as easy on the wallet as it is your waistline. I always rinse and drain canned beans to remove any excess sodium but you can usually find sodium-free canned beans as well.

Spaghetti with Beans and Greens

8 ounces uncooked spaghetti (I use whole wheat)
3/4 kosher salt, divided
3 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper (or more to taste)
2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 (16-ounce) cannellini beans or other white beans, rinsed and drained
5 ounces arugula leaves
2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
1/4 or 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, to taste

Cook pasta according to directions and drain, reserving 1/2 cup pasta water. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt, tossing gently, set aside and keep warm

Return pan to medium heat and add oil, garlic and pepper; cook 2 minutes until garlic is slightly browned, stirring occasionally.

Stir in remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt, tomatoes and beans and cook 2 minutes. Add pasta and cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently.

Add reserved pasta water and arugula, tossing gently to combine.

Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice and cheese. Serve immediately.

Make yummy noises. Enjoy.

(Just 290 calories and 4 grams of heart-healthy fiber in a 1.5 cup serving)

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Dog Days of Summer

Summer is right around the corner which means more time spent outdoors, and more time exposed to the sun's harmful rays. To help protect yourself and your family please visit the Environmental Working Group's web site for a list of top-rated sunscreens with the fewest chemical ingredients.

There is some controversy about chemical sunscreens and whether or not those that contain vitamin-A actually speed the growth of cancer cells. Your best bet for fail-safe sun protection will always be a hat and lightweight clothing, but when you must expose your skin to the sun consider using natural sunscreen products that contain either zinc or titanium minerals.

Surf's up!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The King of Quesadillas

This recipe reminds me of something the King - Elvis Presley - would eat. His love of peanut butter and bananas is legendary so why not grill up a tasty version of this classic combination?

I would like to take full credit for this super easy recipe since both my children (well, all three of them if you count Eric), as well as myself, enjoyed this little concoction. However, it was our very own Jeannie C. who shared this recipe with me.

Banana Quesadilla
Spread all-natural peanut butter (or almond butter) on a 100% whole wheat tortilla.

Sprinkle a little cinnamon and slice bananas on half of the tortilla.

Fold in half and grill until warm and golden brown.

Slice, serve and enjoy.

How easy, easy, easy is that? And, if your kids are into dipping food into something, consider a side of plain yogurt or fresh fruit salsa for dunking and dipping.

This is a fast, nutritious lunch for kids and toddlers but would also be a great pre- or post-workout recovery snack for the kid in all of us.

Thank you Jeannie!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Summer Reading List

For those of you looking for some books to add to your summer reading list, I have a couple of suggestions.

Last week acclaimed author and speaker Geneen Roth was on Oprah talking about her new book, 'Women Food and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything.'

And before you get turned off by her mention of God in the title, you should know that she explains "God" as that longing for something bigger, better and deeper than our daily grind. She uses the word "God" to represent the wonder, mystery and miracle in life that you can't quite pinpoint but that you know is all around you.

Roth says that "if you suffer about your relationship with food -- you eat too much or too little, think about what you will eat constantly or try not to think about it at all -- you can be free. Just look down at your plate. The answers are there. Don't run. Look. Because when we welcome what we most want to avoid, we contact the part of ourselves that is fresh and alive. We touch the life we truly want and evoke divinity itself."

Packed with revelations on every page, this book is a knock-your-socks-off ride to a deeply fulfilling relationship with food, your body...and almost everything else.

Get it. Read it. Love it.

This next book, 'Animal, Vegetable, Miracle' is one that I am currently enjoying:

If you've read any of Kingsolver's novels you know that she is talented writer with a gift for wit and humor and her first nonfiction narrative is no different. This book chronicles the year that Kingsolver, along with her husband and two daughters, made a commitment to become locavores–-those who eat only locally grown foods.

Those looking for healthful alternatives to processed foods will find inspiration to seek out farmers' markets and to learn to cook and enjoy seasonal foods. However, the book's purpose is serious food for thought: it argues the economic, social and health benefits of putting local foods at the center of a family diet and opens your eyes to the age-old truth that you are what you eat.

Get it. Read it. Love it.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Another for the Wee-Ones

I found another crowd-pleasing quinoa mixture for the little ones this weekend. It even got rave reviews from a certain difficult-to-please-little-peanut of ours:

In a food processor, I mixed together a cup or so of cooked quinoa, a baked sweet potato (skin removed) and a ripe banana along with a teaspoon of cinnamon. Voila, dinner was served ... and even enjoyed.

This, along with the quinoa, black bean and banana puree, freezes well so don't be afraid to make a big batch and then store in smaller containers in the freezer. We do and it definitely makes the age-old question, 'what's for dinner mom?' an easy one to answer.

Bon appetite!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Quinoa & Roasted Vegetables

Quinoa with Roasted vegetables


1 red pepper
1 green pepper
2 red onions
2 zucchinis
2 large mushrooms
10 cherry tomatoes
8 cloves garlic
olive oil
fresh thyme
ground black pepper

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water

Wash and slice all the vegetables except the tomatoes and garlic.

Leave the tomatoes whole and the garlic cloves in their skins.

Toss all the vegetables together in a large roasting tin with olive oil and the thyme.

Season with ground black pepper and a little salt.

Roast at 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes, or until tender.

Meanwhile, combine quinoa and water and bring to the boil; cover and simmer for 10-15 minutes, until it is cooked.

Serve roasted vegetables over quinoa and enjoy.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Quinoa for Breakfast

Quinoa with Plant Milk and Berries

Add some plant milk (soy, rice, almond, coconut) to cooked quinoa and warm in the microwave. Sprinkle with cinnamon, add a drizzle of agave nectar and top with fresh berries or your favorite fruit. Enjoy!

You can also puree cooked quinoa, plant milk, a ripe banana and a sprinkle of cinnamon together for a healthy breakfast for your favorite baby or tot. Yummy and nutritious!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Quin-What's for Dinner?

Spicy Spinach & Butternut Curry over Quinoa
Chicken or extra firm tofu works well in this recipe as an addition

2 TBLS sesame oil
1 TBLS mustard seed
1 lb. butternut or pumpkin, peeled, seeded & cut into 1 inch cubes
1 onion, finely sliced
2 cloves garlic
1 inch fresh ground ginger, peeled & grated
1 tsp turmeric
2 TBLS curry powder
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, drained
1 ½ cups unsweetened or plain So Delicious brand coconut milk, (typically found in refrigerator section next to other plant milks)
1 16 oz package of fresh baby spinach
Pinch of cumin
Sea salt & fresh ground pepper to taste

Heat oil in a non-stick skillet or wok, add mustard seeds, and stir-fry until they pop. Add ½ the butternut squash or pumpkin and all the onions & stir-fry gently until the onions are softened & translucent. Add chicken or tofu if using. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, curry powder, salt & pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute.

Add tomatoes, remaining butternut or pumpkin and the coconut milk. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, and simmer, covered for 20 minutes, or until tender.

Add cumin and spinach, cover with lid, and steam for 2 minutes until the leaves collapse. Serve over Quinoa.

Quinoa: Add 1cup quinoa to 2 cups boiling water. Bring back to a boil, reduce heat & simmer 12 minutes. Turn off heat & let set covered 15 minutes. Serve spinach and butternut curry over quinoa.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Hello Friends. I've missed you.

And I've missed sharing recipes and ideas for living healthier with you as well. It would seem that when I'm not sharing these things with you and being inspired by your tips, tricks and efforts that I'm less inclined to make the best choices myself.

So, without further ado, I offer you a week long series on quinoa. Quin-WHAT you may ask? I will tell you.

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is actually not a grain; it is a seed. It is closely related to the spinach family but when cooked, it is light, fluffy, and slightly nutty in flavor. It is a complete protein, meaning it contains all essential amino acids that are required by the body as building blocks for muscles. It also contains high levels of magnesium which helps relax your muscles and blood vessels, helping to lower blood pressure. Quinoa is also packed with fiber, manganese and copper which act as antioxidants in your body to get rid of dangerous cancer and disease-causing substances. It is also non-allergic and can be used in a wheat-free or gluten-free diet. ‘Nuf said.

Quinoa cooks and tastes like a grain so you can use it anywhere you would use rice or couscous. However, it cooks much FASTER than brown rice and really is a snap to make:

Combine 2 parts water (or broth) to 1 part quinoa (e.g., 2 cups water with 1 cup quinoa) and bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer for 10-15 minutes until the water is combined.

How easy is that?

For a super simple lunch or light weeknight dinner, toss together baby spinach leaves with sliced strawberries, toasted pecans, cooked quinoa and a sprinkle of goat cheese. Dress the salad with a little bit of extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Yum.

Mel’s variation of this includes baby spinach, cooked quinoa, sliced cherry tomatoes, pecans and kalamata olives.

Experiment with your favorite ingredients and let us know what you discover!