Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Quinoa + Sweet Potatoes = Y.U.M.

I had every intention of doing something similar to this as a stuffing alternative for Thanksgiving, but somehow, it never got made (so many recipes, so little time...). When I finally got around to putting it together, I realized a couple of things. First, it makes a lot. Not kidding--we ate on it for a week. Second, it's wonderful as a side dish/stuffing alternative, but it also make a great meal in and of itself.

I've had the thought that it will be a great holiday dish to mix up as a side, then add leftover turkey/ham/sausage to create a "new meal" that's healthy, involves little preparation, and would be a real crowd pleaser. I look forward to hearing how it goes over at your house!

1.5 cups quinoa, rinsed thoroughly in a fine mesh strainer
1 cup broth (chicken or veggie)
1/8 to 1/4 cup oil (I used Garlic Grapeseed)
1 onion, chopped (I used 1/2 red and 1 small white)
1 bulb of fennel, chopped (optional)
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
2-3 teaspoons dried thyme
3 medium sweet potatoes, washed and cut into bit size pieces*
1 cup frozen edamame (baby soybeans)
1 bunch greens, washed and finely chopped (kale or collards would be my first 2 choices, but use what you've got)
1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds, roasted
fresh parsley, chopped
salt and pepper to taste

*smaller pieces = reduced cooking time

  1. Combine quinoa, broth, and 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan, bring it to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed. NOTE: don't bother with this once you put it on the stove--set a timer and check it after 15 minutes. It took a little longer than that to cook it completely on my stove, so I kept checking it every 2-3 minutes until the liquid was mostly gone, then turned off the stove and let it sit while working on everything else.
  2. Heat enough oil to generously cover the bottom of a large saucepan with tall sides over medium heat. Add onion and fennel and saute until it's soft (or until you get everything else prepared!) maybe 8-10 minutes. 
  3. Add the garlic and thyme followed closely by the sweet potatoes. Mix well to coat and let the seasoning infuse its flavor. Cover and cook 15-20 minutes until sweet potatoes are soft.
  4. Add edamame and greens, mix well to warm through.
  5. Get a gigantic bowl to combine quinoa and sweet potato mixture with sunflower seeds and parsley. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature.
  7. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Curried Lentils with Sweet Potatoes

This is a great cold weather one-pot-meal we eat pretty regularly these days at our house. You can even substitute carrots for the sweet potatoes or throw in other veggies you "find" in the fridge!
1 cup brown or green lentils, washed and picked over
4 cups broth (veggie or chicken)
1 medium onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, chopped
2 medium sweet potatoes, washed and cut into 1/4 inch chunks
2 cups finely chopped mustard greens (or kale or collards or other green)
2-3 t curry powder
1 15oz can diced tomatoes
salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
chopped fresh cilantro (optional)

  1. Heat 1-2 Tablespoons broth over medium in a soup pot. Saute the onion over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add garlic, sweet potatoes, and greens. Continue to saute and add curry powder. Mix well.
  3. Add lentils, broth, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium low, and simmer uncovered until lentils and sweet potatoes and tender, about 30 minutes.
  4. Serve over rice  or other whole grain.(optional--I use brown basmati rice, and it is delicious.)
  5. Add salt, pepper, and cilantro to individual servings.
  6. Enjoy!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Some Simple Stir Fry Suggestions

One of my favorite ways to get plenty of veggies in one meal is to throw them all in a pan with a little oil, stir them up, add some seasoning, serve over whole grain, and enjoy a healthy meal. But I've learned a few things along the way about ordering my stir fry. I think it makes a difference. That's what this list is about, but I'm still learning! Additional suggestions encouraged!
  1. Lay the groundwork. I always, always, always start with onion and garlic. Nothing better. After putting my grain on to cook (brown rice, quinoa, kasha, etc.), I put a little oil in a skillet, heat on medium until it runs smoothly coating the bottom of the pan, then add chopped onion (size is not an issue here--chop how you like). After stirring it around a minute or two, I turn the heat to medium-low and proceed to mince up the garlic. Then I throw that in and stir  things up. 
  2. Consider your ingredients. While the onions and garlic are simmering, I cut up my other veggies. I think order is important in stir fry, because some items should be added sooner than others or they get soggy. So I try to categorize what's going into the pan into 2 groups--need to cook a while, need to cook only a few minutes. I should probably state clearly here that I prefer my veggies a little undercooked, rather than over cooked.
    1. longer cook time veggies = carrots, broccoli, kohlrabi, peppers
    2. shorter cook time veggies = mushrooms, summer squash, zucchini, greens (bok choy, cabbage, spinach, swiss chard, kale, etc.), sugar snaps
    3. more color = more healthy, so I try to make a rainbow in my pan
  3. Choose your protein. I usually have shelled edamame in the freezer (thanks to Trader Joe's) as my main protein source, but occasionally I have leftover meat of some sort, too. In general this is when I throw it in the pan, because it only needs to be warmed through. And yes, I throw the edamame in frozen. If I've got to cook the meat, I put it in with the onions and garlic, cook until it's done, then throw in the veggies.
  4. Spice it just right. We are tamari soy sauce lovers at our house, so that's the regular seasoning I use (it's also easy to open the bottle and pour a little in). Now that it's cold outside, I try to keep fresh ginger and grate a little (or a lot) alongside the soy. Sometimes I toss in some sesame seeds. I represent a line of products from Wildtree, and they have an Asian Ginger Plum Dressing that's divine in stir fry. I also sprinkle in some sea vegetables (dulse or kelp). Whatever I choose, I add it toward the end of cooking. Also, I only add a small amount. It's easy to over-do soy sauce, so I'm really minimalist when using it in the pan. More can always be added later to meet the demand of the diner.
  5. Dig in. After heaping a warm grain onto my plate and topping it with a rainbow of veggies, I am always pleased with the result. It's never the same twice. It changes with the season, but always delivers healthy goodness in large dose.

    Wednesday, December 1, 2010

    Leftover Cold Quinoa Salad

    I love when I have things on hand that go together beautifully and make a tasty, satisfying meal. It happened today. By chopping, dicing, and throwing a few things in a bowl I made a scrumptious quinoa salad we'll be enjoying for a few days.

    Because it was a little willy-nilly and not-necessarily-exact measurements (except for the dressing), I'll just list the ingredients. Try it with what you've got in your house. You'll be surprised at how yummy it can be!

    Mix dressing first by putting the following in a jar with tight fitting lid and shaking it with all your might.

    3 T Rice Vinegar
    1 T Ume Plum Vinegar (the secret ingredient, I think)
    2 T Good Quality Extra Virgin Olive Oil
    Finely ground black pepper to taste

    Let dressing sit while combining the following in a bowl:

    2-3 cups cooked quinoa
    1 carrot, chopped
    leftover cooked greens (I used collards), finely chopped
    some red onion, finely chopped
    some almond slivers
    some dried cranberries
    about a cup of edamame beans

    Shake the dressing with all your might, taste and see what you'd like to add (oil, more pepper?), adjust, shake it up one last time before pouring over quinoa. Toss it, add sea salt to taste, and enjoy!