Tomato Parmesan Quinoa

I was craving a simple, healthy lunch last week, and goodness did I have one. I bought a giant clamshell of sungold snacking tomatoes that I needed to go through, and a bag of royal quinoa (mixed red, white, and black quinoa!) was sitting untouched in my cupboard. In went my good intentions, and out poured this amazing pilaf-like quinoa dish. Tomato Parmesan Quinoa

Tomato Parmesan Quinoa

Makes 2-3 servings

1/2 C quinoa, rinsed until water runs clear (very important!)
1 C water
3/4 C grape tomatoes (I used the golden variety)
3 garlic cloves (if you’re not crazy about garlic, you may want to use less)
dash of dried basil
dash of dried oregano
pinch of sea salt
splash of white wine (2-4 Tbs)
1/4 C grated parmesan cheese

1. It is critical to wash your quinoa until the water runs clear. The seeds have a coating called saponin that tastes bitter to protect it from being eaten by birds. Much of this is washed off when the quinoa is prepared for packaging, but it will taste much better if you rinse it yourself. I used to greatly dislike quinoa until I started rinsing mine diligently. Sometimes it can take a while – especially if you don’t have a fine mesh strainer and use a french press instead! 🙂

2. Place quinoa and water in a small pan and bring to a boil. When boiling, turn down to a simmer and cover. Cook 20 minutes or until all liquid is absorbed.

3. While quinoa is cooking, chop tomatoes and garlic into a paste. I have a ninja chopper, and just put both ingredients in at the same time. If you don’t have one, you could use a blender or food processor. You could chop by hand, but the reason for using the chopper is to save all of the tomato juices to be reduced into a delicious sauce.

4. Heat a small or medium saucepan over medium heat with a tiny splash of olive oil. When heated, pour in tomato-garlic sauce. Mine was a little frothy from the blender, which is totally fine.

5. Add basil, oregano, and salt while mixture is cooking. Cook over medium heat until nearly all of the tomato juice is gone.

6. Add white wine and cook again until liquid is reduced. Take off heat and stir in parmesan. Stir mixture into cooked quinoa.

There you have it! Very easy and quick. I had some leftover shrimp fra diavolo that I served over this quinoa and it was DIVINE. Seriously. Go make it, right now.

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Green Mango Power Smoothie

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I start every morning with a protein smoothie. What I put in it depends on what I have in the kitchen. However, there are main staples that I put in there every day. These are Sun Warrior protein powder, maca powder, and greens. I love this protein powder because it is vegan and gluten free, which is awesome for my sensitive tummy. It is made from a blend of pea, hemp, and cranberry proteins, and sweetened with a touch of stevia. Maca powder is made from a root that the Incas use for vitality, endurance, endocrine function, and its wonderful complex of amino acids. Greens are something that I have just started putting in my smoothies in the last month, but I put them in every day. A large handful of baby kale yields over 100% of my daily intake of vitamins A, C, and K, as well as potassium, calcium, magnesium, and many other essential nutrients. A great way to start the day! Other additions that I commonly use are fresh mint, fresh lime juice (bought a giant bag of limes from Costco for cheap!), Matcha (powdered green tea – high in antioxidants and a nice caffeine boost), chia/hemp/flax seeds, and coconut or fish oil. This ensures my breakfast is a fantastic balance of protein, carbs, fats, and nutrients. I made this smoothie recently, throwing in this and that and it was AMAZING. Seriously – make it. If you don’t have all the ingredients, don’t fret! I’ve had smoothies every morning for breakfast for years now. Experiment!

Green Mango Power Smoothie
Serves 1

8 oz water, milk, or chilled tea
1 large handful of greens such as kale, spinach, or chard
1/5 of an english cucumber, with peel
fresh mint leaves (I use 5-10 leaves)
Juice of 1 lime
1/2 tsp matcha powder
1 tsp maca powder
1 scoop protein powder
1/2 to 1 C frozen or fresh mango
1/4 C coconut or dairy yogurt

Place ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Add more liquid if desired. NOTE: if you have an average kitchen blender like myself, it may help to blend just the greens and liquid first. This is especially true with tougher greens like kale. I blend it up until smooth, then add everything else and blend until smooth again.

Do you make smoothies? What are your favorite additions?

Banana Coconut Chai Muffins

As my first experimental gluten-free baking adventure, I’m proud to say the results are DELICIOUS! I present to you gluten, dairy, and egg free muffins, sweetened with honey and flavored with the subtle melodies of banana, coconut, and chai tea.

Banana – Coconut – Chai Muffins

Makes 12 muffins

1 Tbs coconut oil, melted
3 Tbs canola oil
1/2 C honey diluted with enough hot water to make 1 C total
2 Chai tea bags (conveniently, I had coconut chai tea on hand)
1.5 C mashed banana (I used 3 frozen)
2 T lemon juice
2 tsp Chai Spice
3/4 C ground flax seed
2.5 C all-purpose gluten free flour
3/4 tsp xanthan gum
1.5 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 C chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line muffin pan with papers.

Steep tea bags in hot water/honey mixture for 5 minutes. Remove tea bags, mix honey/water with melted coconut oil and canola oil in stand mixer for 20 seconds. Add mashed banana, lemon juice, chai spice, and flax seed, then mix for 30 seconds.

In a separate bowl, mix flour, xanthan gum, baking soda, and salt. Add flour mixture to wet mixture, mix until just combined. Fold in the pecans, then fill muffin papers. The papers will be really full, so don’t be worried. Bake 25 minutes or until golden brown.

 

Chocolate Avocado Pudding – Breakfast of Champions!

Alas, I can’t seem to get a steady flow of posts going. Lately it seems I’ve been posting once every 6 months – yikes! Here I am, to make another attempt. Short story news: off thyroid meds, apparently didn’t need them at all, and I feel much better since (dumb doctor, glad I got a second opinion). Next, I stopped eating gluten a couple months ago, since I still wasn’t feeling top-notch, and I do feel much better now. My battle with resisting pizza has ended – the last time I ate a piece (maybe a month after going gluten-free), I thought I was going to die. Maybe not that extreme….but my stomach hurt, badly. Not going to make that mistake again any time soon. I’m feeling much healthier these days, and my body seems to be functioning more normally that I can remember in years. Feelin’ pretty good 🙂

I recently discovered the bliss of a new recipe – and it involves CHOCOLATE! And, of course, it’s allergy friendly. It’s full of healthy fats and doesn’t have any refined sugars, and you add protein via the almond butter.

Chocolate Avocado Pudding

1 ripe avocado (very ripe is good)
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 C cocoa powder
1/4 C agave, maple, or honey (I used grade B maple – rich and tasty)
6 Tbs milk of your choice (I used unsweetened coconut milk, which is my favorite for pretty much everything)
almond butter to taste and consistency (I only used a spoonful)
a dash of cinnamon (optional)

Throw it all in a blender, and enjoy! I mixed in sliced banana and strawberries right before eating, which was delightful for taste and texture. For those of you that are nervous about the avocado – don’t be. You can’t taste it, and it stands as the rich, creamy base for the delightful chocolate.

I have been enjoying my days off with this beautiful weather – canoeing yesterday, hiking today. Are you doing anything fun outdoors?