RECIPE: Crockpot Quinoa


crockpot quinoaI’m told I need to get a crock pot.  Because we a have a Vitamix (love it!), a toaster oven, a coffee bean grinder (the Hub’s), a French press as well as a food processor, I’m not keen on adding to the arsenal.  But I have friends that swear by their crock pots, that they can load up in the morning, leave to slow-cook all day while they’re out ‘gettin it done’ and return home to an already made dinner. And because this blog is meant to provide easy meals under budget, I must be willing to try things outside of my norm, right?

So this one’s for you crock pot loving people! And it includes our favorite nutrient-packed grain, Quinoa. This recipe was stolen from (A Year of Slow Cooking)

cooked red quinoa
–1 1/2 cups quinoa (red or gold)
–3 cups broth (chicken or vegetable)
–1 T olive oil
–1/2 t salt
–1/2 t cinnamon
–1/4 sliced or chopped almonds
–1/3 cup dried unsweetened cranberries

–handful of baby spinach
–1 cup baby tomatoes, halved or quartered depending on size
–1/2 block feta cheese, crumbled

Preparation:

If you buy quinoa in bulk, consider rinsing quinoa in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear.  I don’t rinse the quinoa that comes in the orange box from Trader Joe’s.
Dump quinoa into the crockpot. I used my 6qt Smart Pot for this dish.
Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and mix it around. Add chicken or vegetable broth, the salt, and cinnamon. Stir in almonds and cranberries.

Cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours, or on high for 2-4. The quinoa is done when you can fluff it with a fork and it is tender. The liquid should be pretty well absorbed, similar to how you know rice is done.

Fluff the quinoa with a fork, and add the baby tomatoes and feta cheese. Stir gingerly to mix. Add a large handful of baby spinach to the top of the crockpot, and close the lid. Cook on high for about 20 minutes, or until the spinach has wilted. Stir again to distribute the spinach.

Serve it up.

RULE: Think First

So, we’ve already discussed that there many reasons we eat.  Most often, it is NOT because we are hungry.  It’s because we are at a social outing, we’re nervous, we’re bored, we’re thirsty, we’re lonely, we’re still bored, we’re curious, we want to feel good…the list goes on.  So, another version of the  “Would I eat an apple?” RULE is the following exercise.

think first

Before you eat something, ask yourself the following 3 questions:

1. Am I hungry? check in. Are you nervously cramming food in the cake hole because you don’t know what to say or do?

2. Is this what I want? or could a glass of water, a distracting activity or a hug do the trick?

3. Is there something else I could eat? like not a bowl of bar nuts, perhaps a well-balanced meal instead.

If you’re craving something salty, could you have edemame or all natural popcorn instead of a plate of chili fries? Maybe you’re just stressed and a yoga class or a brisk walk would get you back to baseline.  Figure out ways to manage your emotions that don’t involve chewing.  Your thighs (and heart) will thank you!

RANT: Pump the Brakes, Kid

food policeEver since I started talking more about nutrition and coaching folks to a healthier,  happier life, I’ve gotten the sense my inner circle thinks they can’t eat a donut or a hotdog if I’m around.  I feel a bit like an off-duty cop must feel, eager to get home, while people in front of him keep slamming on their brakes because a COP just pulled up behind them!

Do your thing people! I’m not here to judge or preach, just here to listen and pass along information to those who want it.

And speaking of pumping the brakes,  I simply could not stop scarfing down items in the ‘dessert section’ of my kitchen tonight.  I coulda’ used my own health coach tonight to explore what that was all about.  I couldn’t quite get my fix this evening.  I think I was still stressed from work because my last patient showed up 19 minutes late for her 20 minute appointment, with complicated medical issues.  It’s so hard in that situation to treat someone compassionately when they’ve totally jacked up your evening.  Or perhaps it’s the 29 things I’m managing at the moment, or maybe it’s because I simply didn’t get my 100 ounces of water in today.  Whatever the reason, know that even dentists forget to brush their teeth; cops speed and health coaches have cravings.  We all struggle with our issues, our patterns, and the obstacles that keep us from being the best versions of ourselves.  For those of you who want support with that, I’m here.

RULE: Meet other Proteins


I’m not here to take sides. If you love meat, you love meat. I get it. Sometimes the smell of a cheeseburger on a nearby grill, sends me floating cartoon-style on a levitating wave of vapor in the direction of said burger.  But most of the time, I’m looking for other protein options. I used to think Beef, Chicken, and Pork were the only proteins around.  I later learned dairy, fish and beans were also good sources.  But I now know there are so many more tasty, lean, healthy protein options other than meat.  So, let’s get to know a few, shall we?

Eggs: the  other “other white meat” and don’t be afraid of the yolk; lotta good stuff for your body in there! Eat ’em scrambled, as an omelet, or hard-boiled—dealers choice!  May wanna get ’em from the local farmers market and make sure they are free-range and aren’t from chickens that are cooped up and shot up! unless you’re into that sort of thing.

proteins

Beans: we’ve all heard “they’re good for your heart…”, but who knew they’re good for muscles and other stuff too! So many from which to choose: black beans, kidney beans, white beans, edamame (Favorite!), garbonzo beans (you know, chick peas, the stuff they use to make humus), cannelloni beans, soy beans, pinto beans, great northern beans (not so sure why they’re so great and what they are north of? but tasty nonetheless), lima beans (yuck), mung beans (???), fava beans (Silence of the Lambs), the list goes on….Lentils (YUM), peas and legumes (which I’m still learning about) are also included here…”The more you eat, the better you feel, so let’s eat beans for every meal!” [delish edamame recipe here] [black bean chili recipe here] (and bean salad recipes coming soon)

edamame shelled

Tree nuts (almonds, walnuts, pistachios, pecans, hazelnuts, pine nuts, chestnuts, brazil nuts, macadamia, this list goes on.  These are listed in approximate order from “healthiest” to more calorie dense).  A heaping hand full has about the same amount of protein as a chicken breast.  Plus they, too, have lots of fiber which helps prevent colon cancer! (nobody wants to have to have a cancerous colon removed, just ask around)  Add them to salads and yogurt to keep you fuller longer!

nuts and seeds

Dairy options: Greek yogurt (not the fake stuff) has about 20 grams of protein in one lil ole cup, throw some walnuts in there and you’ve met your daily protein quota! Cheese (yes please!) and milk.  Nowadays, I’m liking almond milk better than cow milk.  It doesn’t spoil as fast and you can store unopened cartons in the cabinets. Almond milk has less sugar and fewer calories and carbs, and is less expensive than milk if you get plain no vanilla—I like Almond Breeze.

Tempeh: “What the heck is tempeh?” you say. (pronounced “temp-hay”) Oh only just the most proteinaceous, yummy, nutty, soy protein compilation around.  Don’t be afraid of the unfamiliar. Try it somewhere they know how to prepare it, on a salad or in chili or something first. Then make your own: drizzle something yummy on it and bake it (directions on package) or add it to soup, stew or chili; or to stir fry.  It’s usually found at most grocery stores in the refrigerated vegetable/produce section. Temp-Heeyyy!

Tofu: not for everyone, sometimes can be a bit mushy; but if it’s done well, this is another Fantastically-loaded-with-protein-almost-no-fat-few calories option like tempeh. So learn to prepare it different ways: crumble it up and add it to things like marinara sauce, soups, stir-fry, etc.    [good tofu recipe here]

 

So before we close, just a word on how much protein we need. It varies depending on your body habitus, your activity level, muscle mass, among other variables.  But in general we don’t need as much as we think we do.

RECIPE: Healthy Brownies

So I know we’ve all vowed to be healthier and eat healthier this new year.  And we’re all drinking green smoothies and detoxing each day.  But just in case you find yourself with an unrelenting chocolate craving, and need a dessert that won’t undo all the hard word, check these yummy gems out!

This recipe I’ve not yet tried, but was passed a long to me from a fabulous gal pal who knows her chocolate.  (Original recipe from delighted momma) Said gal pal says she adds Coco Powder and under-bakes.

brownie ingredients

What you will need:

  • 1 cup of almond butter. You can make your own if you want to save a few bucks.
  • 1 1/2 cup of grated and/or finely-chopped zucchini
  • 1/3 cup of raw honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp of vanilla
  • 1 tsp of baking soda
  • 1 tsp of cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp of nutmeg
  • 1 cup of dark chocolate chips.

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Combine all the ingredients into a large bowl and mix everything together.
  3. Pour into a greased 9×9 baking pan.
  4. Bake for 35-45 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

brownies

RECIPE: Mom’s Super Salad

My mother does a good job of whipping up something from whatever she has lying ’round or whatever she can defrost.
She’s a petite lil’ lady who ‘grazes’ all day, usually on cheese and bread or veggies. Below is her recipe for a “Super Salad” she likes to make:
super salad
(her words, not mine):
romaine lettuce and lots veggies:
green onions chopped
finely cut red cabbage
grated or sliced carrots
sliced red bell pepper
edamame or chopped apple
cooked pasta (optional)
chicken if you like-recipe says debone a roasted chicken from grocery.  I use turkey from freezer–or no meat.
dressing–juice of two limes (I scrape out pulp as well)
1/4 cup sesame oil
grated ginger–three-four inch piece
huge bunch of cilantro chopped with scissors
Big salad; I use so many veggies it takes me several days to eat it all.