To nourish your mind as well as your body

Anger and intolerance are the enemies of correct understanding.

-Mahatma Gandhi

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Veggie-"fried" Quinoa

Do you love the taste and texture of fried rice, but shy away from the useless starch of the rice and excess oil? I do. Enter my creative side and some delicious quinoa, where you can get all the good stuff - vegetables, eggs, and the added protein of quinoa. Yum!

This makes a great main portion for a bento box. I accompanied it with a side of steamed cabbage mixed with soy sauce and bonito flakes and a little pouch of raw almonds, dried edamame, and dried cherries.

Veggie-"fried" Quinoa
(~8 servings)

2 cups quinoa, cooked (I used a mix of red and white quinoa for color)
2 inches ginger, grated
5 handfuls baby spinach
2 handfuls mixed cabbage, shredded
16 oz shiitake mushrooms, diced
1/3 lb ground lean turkey meat (or ground chicken or Quorn ground "meat" substitute)
whites of 4 eggs
3 whole scallions, finely chopped (white and green separated)
1 red onion, diced
4 cloves garlic
vegetable broth
2 tsp sunflower oil, separated
2 tsp sesame oil, separated
sea salt and fresh ground pepper, to taste
splash soy sauce

Cook 2 servings quinoa (replacing water in the recipe with vegetable broth). If you start this process first, the quinoa will just be finishing up by the time you finish with the rest.

Steam spinach and cabbage. Soak in cold water. Squeeze excess water out and chop finely.
Mince garlic. Grate ginger.

Heat a skillet. When it's warm, add the diced onions and season with sea salt and fresh ground black pepper. Add the ground meat. Cook until the onions become translucent and the meat is browned. Remove contents from skillet to a large mixing bowl.
Return skillet to heat. Add 1 tsp sunflower oil and 1 tsp sesame oil to the now empty skillet. Add garlic, ginger, and scallion whites, and cook for about 30 seconds. Add spinach, cabbage, and diced mushrooms. Cook, stirring, until fragrant and warm. Remove contents to the large mixing bowl.
Return skillet to heat one more time. Add 1 tsp sunflower oil and 1 tsp sesame oil to the now empty skillet. Add egg whites, season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook the eggs, scrambling them, until they are almost set. Add the scallion greens. Cook and stir until fragrant. Remove contents to the large mixing bowl.

Stir all contents of the mixing bowl until well combined. Add the cooked quinoa. Stir well to fully combine all elements. Add a splash of soy sauce. Serve warm. Go on, have a peace! Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Quintessential Quinoa

When on the lookout for an easy, portable lunch meal, you need look no further than quinoa for your starting point. This protein-rich seed is a delicious and healthy way to make a one-bowl meal filling and nourishing. Not to mention, it's a perfect non-spilling meal to carry with you wherever you go.

So, are you looking for a healthy, delicious, easy to make meal that will leave you full and feeling good? Try this one out.

Quintessential Quinoa Bowl
(serves 6)

1 cup uncooked quinoa, cooked to direction (replace water in directions with chicken or vegetable broth)
three handfuls spinach
1/4 cup minced garlic
1 can unsalted red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 red onion, diced
16 oz baby bella mushrooms, diced
16 oz white mushrooms, diced
1 can sweet peas, drained and rinsed
1/2 tablespoon sunflower oil
salt and pepper to taste

Prepare 1 cup quinoa as directed (replacing water in directions with chicken or vegetable broth) in a large pot.

In a large skillet, add sunflower oil, garlic, and onions over medium heat and cook til the onions are translucent and the garlic is beginning to brown. Next add the spinach and cook until wilted. Next add the mushrooms and cook those until softened. Finally, add the peas and kidney beans, stirring to combine all flavors.

When the quinoa is finished, add all vegetables from the skillet to the quinoa pot and stir until thoroughly mixed. Add salt and pepper as desired. Serve hot.

This dish reheats magnificently, so feel free to make a batch at the beginning of the week and ease up your cooking schedule for the next four days. Go on. Have a peace. :)

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Ciorba: Romanian Sour Soup

Hello again! First of all, Happy New year to all of you. I  hope your holidays were as joy-filled and exciting as mine were. I'm just now getting back to the United States after a lengthy trip to Poland and Romania (specifically Transylvania) with my family for the holidays. The trip was majestically enlightening and inspiring and I wish I could have brought everyone I love with me. If you have a chance to go, I really recommend it. There is so much to be gained, not only from the rich history there, but also from the simply glorious meeting of minds that occurs between people of dramatically different cultures sitting down to share a meal and conversation. 

While I wasn't able to bring back any of the wonderful people I met while traveling, I did - fear not - bring back recipes. Buckets of them. And one of those is the one I'm sharing today. This fabulously hearty soup was one that graced almost every meal we had in Transylvania and it was perfect every time, regardless of the slight changes in recipe. 'Ciorba' is the word used to describe traditional Romanian soups consisting of a combination of vegetables and/or meats. As most of the meats involved in their soups are pork, I relied on the generosity of my hosts and their kindness to provide me vegetarian versions of the usual stock. One of the most popular variations of ciorba available seemed to be 'sour soups', which are basic ciorba seasoned with vinegar or lemon juice to give them a tartness that I hadn't often experienced before. The result is delicious. And now you can try it yourself. 
I tried a few different variations before I managed this one, which is closest in taste to what I had while in Transylvania. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Ciorba: Romanian Sour Soup
(Serves ~10, stores and reheats marvelously)

3.5 oz diced red onions, caramelized
1/2 tbsp sunflower oil
32 fl oz vegetable broth (low sodium)
32 fl oz chicken broth (low sodium - can substitute with another vegetable broth if you want vegetarian)
1.5 cups sliced beets
1.5 cups chopped green beans
1 (28 oz) can whole natural tomatoes, drained and halved
1 lb brussels sprouts, ends trimmed
1 lb shredded cabbage
1/3 cup shredded carrots
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar (more to taste)
2 heaping spoonfuls diced garlic
sea salt to taste (I didn't use any, but I don't much like salt)

Start by sautéing your diced red onions in a skillet with 1/2 tbsp sunflower oil until they are translucent. Add the garlic and stir until all contents of the skillet are slightly browned; the scent should be rich and sweet. Your kitchen will smell awesome for the rest of the day.

In a slow cooker set to low, add all the broth and vinegar. Add the browned onions and garlic. In twenty minutes, add all the vegetables (green beans, brussels sprouts, carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, and beets). Turn up the heat to just below medium and cook for about 4 hours. Depending on what sort of slow cooker you have, this might take longer. The test is in two parts: smell and softness. The smell of this soup is mouth-watering and gets richer and more decadent over time. When the smell drags you to the pot, you're nearing completion. Then you just need to make sure that the brussels sprouts are mushy. Lift one out in a ladle and press it with a spoon or fork; if it crushes easily, you're ready to eat. Serve steaming hot. Crusty bread is a great accompaniment.

Go on. Have a peace. :) Enjoy!