Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Spiced Quinoa with Roasted Pumpkin Seeds

Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) is actually not grain but rather a seed. What makes it so wonderful is that it's a plant-based, complete protein meaning it contains all nine essential amino acids (the ones your body can't produce).  Yea, that's pretty cool.  One cup cooked gives you 8 grams of protein with just over 200 calories and about 3.5g fat.  For long time I wanted so badly to love this little protein-packed wonder seed, but everytime I cooked it I found it tastless and mushy.  Yuck.  So, I decided to try using less liquid and swapped broth for water, threw in spices, garlic, etc. and voila, I was converted.

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Makes about 3 cups


Olive oil or cooking spray
1/2 medium onion, finely diced
3 cloves garlic, minced or finely chopped
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth (water can be substituted)
Salt and pepper to taste

Pepitas (already roasted pumpkin seeds) or regular raw pumpkin seeds
Chopped cilantro


Heat oil in a skillet.  Add onion and garlic with a pinch of salt and cook over medium low heat for 5 minutes or until onions are translucent.  Add vinegar, cumin, smoked paprika, quinoa; stir o combine everything and cook just a minute.  Add in broth and stir.  Turn heat up and bring to boil, then reduce to low and simmer covered 15-20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  If there's still too much liquid, you can removed cover and cook a few minutes longer.  Garnish with pumpkin seeds and cilantro. Serve as a side dish, add beans to make it a main dish, or add to a wrap with veggies.

*To roast pumpkin seeds just lay on a baking sheet, spray with cooking oil, and bake at 350 for a few minutes until they start to turn golden.  I’ve never actually timed it but they always turn out ok.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Vegan Frijoles Charros

One day I'll get around to soaking dried beans overnight and cooking them for hours, but that's not today.  There's never enough time.  So I figured out a way to cheat use canned pinto beans while still developing a sauce for them to bathe in.  Very flavorful and so easy!  

Bonus: you can puree them or mash with a fork and you've got healthier refried beans or add a little extra broth or some salsa, puree and you've got yourself a dip.  I just love taking one recipe and morphing it into several different dishes.

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Makes about 2 - 1 cup servings


Cooking spray or oil
1/4 cup diced onion
1/4 cup green pepper
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tsp chopped jalapeno (optional)
1/2 cup diced tomato
2 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1/4 tsp chipotle powder (spicy) or smoked paprika (mild)
2 tsp red wine vinegar
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1 can pinto beans, drained and rinsed


Heat a lightly oiled, high-sided skillet over low-medium then add onion, pepper, garlic, and jalapeno with dash of salt.  Cook 5 minutes being careful not to let the garlic get brown.  Stir in tomato, cumin, chipotle or paprika, vinegar and let it cook for a minute, then stir in broth.  Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes.

Transfer mixture from the pan to a blender or food processor and puree.  Add back to the pan, season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir in the beans.  Let them cook over low heat for 5 minutes, then serve.



Monday, May 6, 2013

Summer Strawberry & Avocado Salad with Basil Dressing

I must confess I often roll my eyes when I see salad with fruit in it on a menu.  It's definitely not one of my favorite food combinations.  However, I love pairing avocado with fruit so I thought I'd give strawberries a shot.  Normally I try everything in sandwich form but I this time I thought I'd get some mache lettuce (pronounced "mosh"), throw in some toasted nuts, and top with some leftover basil cashew cream sauce that I use on pasta.  Turns out it doubles as a salad dressing and basil goes so well with strawberries.  If just making it as a dressing, I simplify it a bit, cutting out the onion and sauteeing. 

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Lemon basil cashew cream dressing (makes about 1 cup)
2 garlic cloves
1/3 cup cashews soaked overnight
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1/4 - 1/3 cup vegetable broth, water from cashews or plain water
1 handful of basil leaves (or more to taste)
Salt and pepper to taste

Mache lettuce (or spring greens)
Sliced strawberries
Sliced avocado
Slivered almonds, toasted (also good with toasted pine nuts or pepitas which are roasted pumpkin seeds)


Add dressing ingredients to a blender and puree.  Simply plate your salad ingredients and pour dressing over it.