Hearty Quinoa Bowl

 

quinoa bowl

I am truly blessed with wonderful female role models and friends.  When I look around and realize I am surrounded with beautiful, loving, giving, and Godly women, it makes my heart full.  We have each walked through marriage, and some of us parenthood, at different times and stages, but at the core, we are all just women trying to gracefully stand in the shoes we are privileged enough to wear.  I couldn’t be more thankful.  I welcome the similarities we share and humbly embrace the differences.  That is, after all, what grace is, right?

Most of my girlfriends have older children as we were a bit late in the game.  I love how each of my friends understand I am a full-time mom of two young boys, so if they want to visit, more often than not, they come to me.  Actually this system works out beautifully because we can sit around my family table or in our playroom with a nice warm cup of tea and focus on each other.  I try to schedule a “friend date” for myself once-a-week as it does my soul good.

My offering, in return for their coming to me, is food.  You know, all things go back to food for me!  It’s my love language.  This quinoa bowl is a staple for brunch visits.  I generally make it with a side of fruit, or even better, pancakes.  It is packed with beneficial protein  that keeps you satiated until your next meal.  Because I generally have some sort of green or vegetable with every meal, this is no exception.  The addition of kale chips gives this bowl the texture and taste it needs to feel complete.  This recipe may appear to be time consuming, but you can prepare the kale chips while the quinoa cooks and then quickly add the perfectly fried egg.  Done.

*I have decided not to take offense when my sweet husband grabs the hot sauce bottle before every meal without even tasting anything  first.  In this case, I would recommend following his lead and adding a few dashes of your favorite “hot” to this dish.

If you aren’t currently investing in time with friends, I highly recommend it.  We are good for each other.

 

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Hearty Quinoa Bowl

2 cups bone broth – homemade or a high quality store bought

1 cup quinoa – rinsed

1 bunch kale – rinsed, deveined and torn into small pieces

4-5 fresh mushrooms – rinsed and sliced

1 carrot – grated

2 cloves fresh garlic – peeled and chopped

fresh eggs

olive oil to drizzle

pat of real butter

hot sauce – to taste

grated pecorino Romano cheese – to taste

pink salt and pepper –  to taste

Preheat oven to 350.  Cook quinoa, carrots and garlic in broth according to package directions.  In a bowl toss the kale pieces with a drizzle of olive oil and pink salt.  Place kale on a baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes or until crispy.  Turn the chips one time during cooking to ensure evenness.  While the kale and quinoa are cooking, add 1/2 the pat of butter to a sauté pan and cook the mushrooms until tender, about 5 minutes.  Remove the mushrooms and add the second 1/2 of the butter to the same pan and cook the egg the way you like it.

To a bowl add: cooked quinoa, mushrooms and kale chips.  Layer the egg on top and add a dash of hot sauce and cheese to taste.

Healthy Homemade Pickles

Healthy Homemade Pickles One

I took the kids to the beach for a few days a couple of weeks ago.  It was our first beach trip of the season.  And, my first time ever making that trip without my husband.  We went to meet family, and Tom wasn’t able to join us due to his workload.  So, at 6:00 pm on a Wednesday night the kids and I set out for our four hour trip.  I continued to glance at my GPS timer countdown.  Yes, we still had 4 hours to go!  As soon as we pulled out of our local Whole Foods parking lot (where we had dinner), the kids started asking if we were almost there.  It did cross my mind a few times to turn around and head home as fast as possible.  But, I kept going and we got into our groove.  The kids came together and chose a movie that would please them both, and I didn’t focus quite so much on the countdown timer anymore. The kids were beyond excited about this trip so I tried really hard to change my attitude and my mindset so that I could become excited too.  It worked!  I always tell them they have the ability to change their attitude at any given moment.  This was a time when I needed to practice what I preach. I love how my kids show me my true heart.  They keep me on the straight and narrow and I am so grateful for that.  Once we got there, we had a wonderful three days of eating, playing and relaxing in what I would consider to be my “happy place.”

While we were soaking in the sun on the beach, the cucumbers in our home garden decided to rapidly multiply.  I have honestly never seen a cucumber plant expand the way these beauties have.  As soon as I walked in the door, my husband looked at me very seriously and said “you need to learn how to make pickles.”  We’ve had a garden for several years now, but this is the first time we have ever had such success with cucumbers.  The vines are magnificent and they are taking over most of the garden as well as some of the yard.  So yes, It was crucial that I quickly learn how to make pickles.  As I researched many different recipes I was a bit disappointed as most of them required some amount of sugar.  I was not on board.  Finally I came across this recipe from diynatural.com and I hope I never have to purchase store bought pickles again!  The recipe is simple, the ingredients are wholesome and the results are delicious.  We adapted the recipe a bit to fit our needs, which was to make them a little spicier.   We have wonderful jalapenos in the garden, so it was a natural thought to add them to the mix.  We also opted for the highly beneficial apple cider vinegar instead of white vinegar, and I couldn’t have imagined they would turn out so good.  While cucumbers are so abundantly in season, please give this recipe a try.  I hope you enjoy!

Healthy Homemade Pickles Four

 

Healthy Homemade Pickles Three

 

Healthy Homemade Pickles Two

 

Healthy Homemade Pickles

1 quart jar with a lid

2-3 pickling cucumbers (as many as will fit in the jar)

1 TBSP dried dill weed

2-4 cloves fresh garlic (I use 4)

3 TBSP apple cider vinegar

1 TBSP kosher salt

20 black peppercorns

1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

1 jalapeno pepper – cut in half lengthwise

filtered water – enough to top off jar

Cut cucumbers and add them to the jar.  Add the remaining ingredients except water.  Once everything is in the jar, fill to the top with filtered water and screw the lid on very tightly.  Shake the jar to equally distribute the spices.  Leave on your countertop for 12 hours.  Shake the jar again and turn it upside down for an additional 12 hours.  For the 2nd 12 hours, I place the jar on a cookie sheet or in a large pot in case the lid leaks.  After a total of 24 hours, taste your pickles.  Refrigerate for up to one month.  Enjoy!

Here is another great cucumber recipe:

Basic Green Smoothie

Healthy Mac N’ Cheese

 

I am sitting here with a little one under the weather.  And, after feeding him bone broth rice and a smoothie, he is resting nicely.  I was also thinking of napping myself since neither one of us got any sleep last night, but making this blog post won out.  Yea!  I love how I continually think to myself, after a restless night, that “I will definitely nap tomorrow”, and NEVER do.  I always seem to have something that could be done rather than napping, and this day is no different.  I can hear the rather loud hum of my spinning washing machine in the background and know it will soon begin “beeping” to let me know it’s time to put down the computer and change out the clothes.  It is truly never ending when you run a loving household full of people.  I honestly don’t mind, but I wanted to ensure I got this recipe to you as it has been a big request for some time.   So, I am going to press on and ignore the rhythmic “beep” that is about to occur.

I have honestly tried this classic dish many different ways using several different vegetables, but this one got major approval from my family, so it is the keeper.  Sometimes it takes 100 tries to finally nail something down worthy of writing about and sharing.  I have looked for many years for the perfect inspiration to completely renovate one of my all-time favorites.  I do have a really good recipe using butternut squash, and will share that one with you sometime around Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Those are the times I usually make that particular dish as the gourd squashes are in season.  But, for now we are going to use cauliflower as the base for this decadent rendition.  I wanted this make-over to be much more than the standard macaroni and cheese.  I wanted more than two ingredients.  I wanted protein and spices and vegetables.  I have managed (after many failed attempts) to pack all of those requirements into this super healthy, super tasty dish.  We, often times, eat it for lunch with a side salad or fruit.  My 3 year old usually eats 2 bowls and if I must confess, so do I.  If you are worried about the cauliflower taste, don’t be.  You really wouldn’t even know it was there if I didn’t tell you.

The health benefits of cauliflower are great, and I am certain you are aware of most of them by now.  So, I want to introduce you to a somewhat unfamiliar ingredient called nutritional yeast.  “What is it” you ask?  It is deactivated yeast.  A more formal definition from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen is “nutritional yeast is made from a single-celled organism, Saccharomyces Cerevisiae, which is grown on molasses, and then harvested, washed and dried with heat to “kill it” or deactivate it”.  It is a good source of vitamin B 12, folic acid and protein,  and has a bold nutty flavor.  Many vegans use it as a cheese substitute.  It is a nice addition to  this recipe as it increases the nutritional value while enhancing the bold flavor I was looking for.  Win Win!  I truly hope this becomes a future classic for your family.  Enjoy!

 

Healthy Mac N’ Cheese

1 16oz package brown rice noodles

1 small head of cauliflower – steamed

1 cup raw cashews – soaked overnight, if possible

5 TBSP warm water

2 medium cloves garlic

1 cup goat gouda cheese – shredded

1 TBSP nutritional yeast flakes

1 tsp ground black pepper

2 tsp Himalayan pink salt or sea salt

1/4 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp turmeric

4 TBSP extra virgin olive oil

1 cup almond milk

Cook noodles according to package directions.  While the noodles are cooking, steam the cauliflower for about 10 minutes, don’t overcook.  To a blender add the remaining ingredients and blend until creamy.  Drain the noodles and add the cream sauce.  Stir until well combined.

 

 

 

 

 

Calcium Rich Foods to Supplement a Dairy-free Lifestyle

 

Calcium Rich Foods to Supplement a Dairy-Free Lifestyle
Calcium Rich Foods to Supplement a Dairy-Free Lifestyle

How do you ensure you are getting enough calcium when you consume very few dairy products?  That’s a great question and one that I am asked often.  What most people don’t know is that there is a plethora of dairy-free foods that contain high amounts of calcium.  Up until about 10 years ago, I consumed large amounts of dairy products.  Unfortunately, those products did not agree with me.  Commercially produced cow milk is highly processed and is often times intolerable by most people.  So, it was one of the first things I gave up on my quest for better health.  I am not recommending everyone stop consuming cow products, I just want to educate you in other varieties of calcium rich foods that can help you reach your recommended daily requirements. Our bodies need calcium.  According to Dr. Sears, not only do we need calcium for strong bones and teeth, but it is also required for every cell in the body to function in a healthy way.  Calcium is used by nerves and muscles and it contributes to proper blood clotting.  Given all these very important functions of calcium, I make it a point to ensure I am getting enough.  I eat a well-rounded whole foods based diet.  That includes calcium rich foods that are produced from nature.  Fresh fruits, vegetables and legumes all have good amounts of calcium.  For an entire list of calcium-rich foods, click here.  Today’s post includes the calcium-rich foods that my family eats on a regular basis, but we do not limit our menu to just these ten.  It’s important to offer and try many different foods.  Add a few of these to your families meal planning and know that you are fueling their bodies with the proper nutrition.   Dairy-free Calcium Rich Foods 1.  Spinach – 1 cup – 24% DV 2.  Beet Greens – 1 cup – 16% DV 3.  Bok Choy – 1 cup – 16% DV 4.  Swiss Chard – 1 cup – 10% 5.  Kale – 1 cup – 9% DV 6.  Sesame Seeds – 1/4 cup – 35% DV 7.  Cabbage – 1 cup – 6% DV 8.  Brussels Sprouts – 1 cup – 6% DV 9.  Oranges – 1 medium – 5% DV 10.  Parsley – 1/2 cup – 4% DV   Here are a few of my recipes using these foods: Raw Kale Salad Sizzling Cabbage & White Beans Superfood Smoothie

Vegetable Stuffed Sweet Potato

 

Vegetable Stuffed Sweet Potato
Vegetable Stuffed Sweet Potato

This is a new, healthier spin on the classic.  I used to love a good “stuffed” baked potato.  You know, the kind loaded with butter, sour cream, cheese and a few chives.  Chives are green.  That’s makes it healthier right?  Well, at least that’s what I told myself.  I completely understand the desire for carbohydrates.  That is, honestly, my weakness.  Because of this weakness, I had to invent an alternative to satisfy my craving.

My version of a “loaded baked potato” is truly loaded. It begins with a vitamin C packed sweet potato and includes lots of yummy vegetables and healthy fats.  Not only is this a perfectly balanced meal, it is super simple to prepare.  I generally make this dish for lunch as it gives me the energy I need to get through the remainder of the day.

For more simple, family friendly recipes, check out my monthly column in Upstate Parent Magazine.

 

Vegetable Stuffed Sweet Potato – Serves 2

2 medium sweet potatoes

½ TBSP extra virgin coconut oil

½ yellow or white onion – chopped

1 large clove garlic – chopped

2 medium carrots – chopped

½ bell pepper – chopped

5-6 stalks asparagus – chopped

½ cup broccoli – fresh or frozen

4 mushrooms – chopped

1 cup fresh spinach

1 tablespoon bragg’s liquid aminos or soy sauce – adjust the amount you use based on your taste preference

Preheat oven to 350.  Bake the sweet potatoes for approximately 45 minutes or until soft.  In a large skillet on medium heat add the coconut oil.  Add the onion, garlic and carrots.  Cook until tender, about 5 minutes.  Add the pepper, asparagus, broccoli and mushrooms.  Cook for 4-5 more minutes.  Turn heat to low and add the spinach.  Toss until wilted.  Drizzle the soy mixture over the vegetables and toss until well incorporated.  Open the sweet potatoes and load them with the vegetables.

Here are a few other healthy sweet potato recipes:

Healthy Sweet Potato Skins

Sweet Potato Pancakes

Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie

 

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Chili

Happy New Year.  I can’t believe it’s the end of another year.  Time is zooming by.  I hope you all had a wonderful, safe and healthy holiday season.  We have spent the last few months unpacking, setting up and settling into our new house.  It’s finally starting to feel like home.  I am looking forward to the coming days of just “being” instead of my previous state, which entailed things being hung, fixed or unpacked.  2014 was a very blessed year for me and I am so thankful for my family, friends, neighbors and a few strangers I met along the way.  Having these people, encounters and experiences help to make my life full and I couldn’t be happier.

Even though I have not posted in a while, I assure you I have been hard at work in the kitchen creating, testing and eating some very yummy food.  I am excited about the many recipes I am planning to share with you over the next year.  This particular recipe combines two of my favorite foods into one nutritious, quick and easy family meal.  Sweet potatoes are very versatile and can easily take on the flavors of sweet or savory in many simple dishes.  They are also extremely beneficial to someone following a clean eating lifestyle.  Some have even deemed them a “superfood”.  I tend to agree.  As whfoods.com states “One difficulty in describing the health benefits of sweet potatoes is knowing where to begin. There are a surprising number of nutrient categories responsible for the health benefits of this underappreciated tuber. Among these categories are antioxidants, anti-inflammatory nutrients, and blood sugar-regulating nutrients.”  Read more about the health benefits here.  I know I can sometimes get off on a tangent, but this particular food is very important to incorporate into your weekly meal plan.  I hope this recipe helps you get acquainted with this special root vegetable.

 

Sweet Potato & Black Bean Chili

1 TBSP coconut oil

3 cloves garlic – peeled and chopped

1/2 white onion – chopped

1 large sweet potato – peeled and chopped

4-6 medium carrots – peeled and chopped

4 cups broth – either vegetable or bone broth

24 oz organic strained tomatoes

45 oz organic black beans – I use Eden Organic

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp paprika

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp chipotle chili pepper powder

1 TBSP chili powder

sea salt and pepper to taste

avocado

In a large stock pot or Dutch oven melt the coconut oil.  Add the garlic, onion, sweet potato and carrots.  Cook until vegetables are tender.  Add the turmeric powder and cook until well combined.  Add the broth, tomatoes and beans.  Add the remaining spices.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce to a simmer and cook for about 30-45 minutes.  Ladle into bowls and top with fresh avocado.

Here are a few additional recipes to help get you on your way:

Healing Mineral Broth

7-Minute Sweet Potatoes

Sweet Potato Pie Smoothie

 

Black Bean Bowl with Raw Kraut and Salted Yogurt

Black Bean Bowl with Raw Kraut and Salted Yogurt
Black Bean Bowl with Raw Kraut and Salted Yogurt

This dinner bowl was created completely by accident.  We just moved into our house and most of the kitchen boxes have not been unpacked.  I don’t know how many of you have moved several times in your life, but I am not a fan!  I really hope this is our last one for a while.  But, I am certain my hubby will get bored in the next few years and take us on another ride.  Deep down, I really love it.  Well, maybe not the packing and unpacking, but seeing it all come together, I do enjoy.  As for dinner, I managed to find my Dutch oven, and then went into the mountain of paper bags lining my pantry to find a bag of dried black beans and basmati rice.  Because we eat vegetarian most of the time, beans are a staple at our house.  Fortunately, everyone in my family enjoys them.

For this bowl, I layered everything together for the perfect presentation.  The layering is what makes a food bowl truly special.  The addition of raw kraut is fantastic, even though it may sound a bit odd.  Raw kraut is very beneficial for gut health.  During the fermentation process, natural probiotics are created making kraut a superb food for healthy digestion.  I add kraut to my diet several times per week, if not everyday.  It makes a great topping for soups, salads or even a side dish to a sandwich.  The other topping to this bowl that may raise questions is salted yogurt.  I use Greek yogurt to replace anything that calls for sour cream.  Adding a bit of sea salt and olive oil to plain Greek yogurt gives it a hearty and bold flavor.  I hope you enjoy this yummy dish.

 

Black Bean Bowl with Salted Yogurt and Raw Kraut

cooked black beans – soak beans overnight and  slow cook them with garlic, onion and turmeric

basmati rice – you can use brown or white

green leaf lettuce – chopped

1 1/2 avocados – smashed and blended with sea salt and ground garlic

raw kraut – I use Farmhouse Culture

salted yogurt – 1 cup of plain Greek yogurt mixed with 1/4 teaspoon fine ground sea salt and 2 teaspoons olive oil

salsa

grated goat gouda cheese

Layer your bowl in whatever order you desire.

 

Roasted Pumpkin with Peanut Butter

Roasted Pumpkin with Peanut Butter
Roasted Pumpkin with Peanut Butter

Roasted Pumpkin with Peanut Butter 2

I have missed posting on the blog over the past month.  The reason for my absence is founded on the fact that we have been in the process of building a new house for close to a year.  And, for the past 4+ months we have been living with family or at the beach.  So for the last month I have been focused on getting my oldest son acclimated to a new school, chasing around my 3 year old and choosing all kinds of “stuff” that goes along with a new house.  We are still several weeks from move-in, but last week when my youngest came up with this yummy recipe, I decided it was time to share it with all of you.  So here goes…..

This time of year always makes me smile as I love the cooler weather and the abundance of gourd vegetables.  My memory of pumpkin is in the scrumptious pies you see adorning every family’s Thanksgiving table.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with a delicious pumpkin pie, but there are definitely many other ways to incorporate this highly nutritional and very functional food.  So last week when I was scooping the flesh out of our roasted pumpkin to make bread, my son asked to eat the remainder of the pumpkin and requested I add peanut butter to it.  To my surprise, this was a very tasty lunch.  I have since added a few more things to the recipe to further enhance the flavors, but all the credit goes to him for the original idea.  I recommend preparing it for lunch alongside steamed broccoli or as a side dish to accompany a dinner meal.  I hope your family enjoys this simple, yet satisfying recipe.

 

Roasted Pumpkin with Peanut Butter

1 medium pie pumpkin – cut in half and de-seeded

2 TBSP peanut butter – no added sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

pinch of celtic sea salt

drizzle of raw local honey (optional)

Preheat oven to 400.  Roast the pumpkin flesh side down in a baking dish with approximately 1 inch of water for 45 minutes or until a fork easily slides into the skin.  In a medium bowl, scoop all the flesh from the roasted pumpkin.  Add all the remaining ingredients and stir until well combined.  If your house is nut-free, feel free to substitute a “butter” that works for your family.

 

Here are some other yummy fresh pumpkin recipes:

Maple Pumpkin Spiced Muffins

Pumpkin Ginger Soup

Pumpkin Pancakes