Tag Archives: quinoa

Why I almost burnt the quinoa…

8 Jun

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So I got home Monday night around 7:30 after a full but wonderful day. I was making the deliciousness that you see above for a pre-race healthy carbo-load meal (more on that in a sec) (and race recap will come tomorrow), and, as the title says, I almost burnt the quinoa. Why, you ask? Well, I was a little preoccupied. With what, you ask? Well, if you follow Donna over at Love, Run & Travel, you might already know the answer….Winking smile

…I WAS REGISTERING FOR THE HEALTHY LIVING SUMMIT!!!!!!!!!

So I read all about the HLS on Tina’s blog, Carrots ‘n Cake, last summer, and thought it sounded pretty cool. That’s back before HHH was born, before I was a blogger myself. I saw the registration announced on Meals ‘n Miles and was thinking that I really wanted to go. But I didn’t want to go alone – it would be cheaper to have one (or two) people to share a room with.

I went out on a limb and emailed two of my fellow Canadian health/food bloggers that I “know” (even though I’ve never met either one face to face) and Donna emailed back within the hour saying that she was totally in!

So tickets went on sale Monday at 8 pm. There are only 200 tickets, and apparently last year they sold out in 20 minutes, so I was sitting at my computer, obsessively hitting refresh, and manically texting Donna…it was a bit stressful, not gonna lie. After FINALLY getting to the registration page, I completed all my login info and was paying, and there is a weird extra security code on my card that only applies to some sites, and I didn’t know what it was, and the BMO site said I couldn’t recover it. “Ok. Don’t panic. Don’t panic.” I told myself. I made a quick decision, grabbed my mom’s credit card, paid with that, and immediately paid her back. Phew, that was a close one, but I’M IN! …and so is Donna!

I cannot tell you how excited I am about this event! I think it will be such a fun trip, a great city to explore, and an awesome opportunity to increase my blogging knowledge, get new food/exercise ideas, and do some serious blog networking…can’t wait!

Speaking of Donna, I was inspired by IMG_1676her “Healthified” Mint Chocolate Chip Soft Serve and decided to create my own version over the weekend. I’m not gonna lie, the idea of adding mint extract to the banana kind of weirded me out, but I decided to give it a go. Donna made a mint version with chopped chocolate. For my version, I did the basic method of banana soft serve, adding a touch of mint extract and a spoonful of cocoa. I proceeded as usual and came away with a DELICIOUS bowl of chocolate mint-y goodness. Don’t get me wrong, I love the fruity flavour of the usual soft serve concoctions I make, but sometimes you just need chocolate, you know? Winking smile

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Now onto the salad you saw above. I wanted to make something healthy as my pre-race lunch (the race was at 7, with a supper after, so I knew I’d only be eating a snack before, not supper), that had good carbs, but wouldn’t weigh me down. Enter quinoa! For the salad, I roasted some eggplant, onion, red pepper, mushroom and asparagus with salt, pepper, fresh rosemary, fresh thyme and 1 teaspoon olive oil.

I combined the roasted veggies with fat-free Italian salad dressing, Dijon mustard, fresh basil and oregano, balsamic vinegar, one chopped canned artichoke, and more salt and pepper. After the roasting and cooking, it really didn’t take that long to put together. And of course, there was extra quinoa to use later on in the week. Smile Perfect flavour combo of the nutty quinoa, roasted veggies and fresh herbs.

So that’s my exciting news of the week!…and a lunch time salad to boot. Stay tuned for the details the weekend of August 19-21…I can’t wait to update you about the HLS!

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I’m keen for these brownies

27 Mar

Quinoa Brownies

Note: in order to understand the title of this post, you have to know that the word quinoa is pronounced keen-wah. So remember all those quinoa recipes I posted last week? Well…I tried my first one: quinoa brownies! Even better? I had a snow day to bake them on! I am not thrilled that we got snow/ice at the end of March, but it gave me a day off  work to bake, so I can’t complain. Better still? My sister (also a teacher) was staying at our house, so we got to bake the brownies together.

So…here’s the recipe. It’s kind of unusual, in that you cook the quinoa, let it cool, then just throw it and all the other ingredients into a food processor and puree (see photos above)…but I’m game for anything. I made the recipe as directed, except I didn’t use the PC Organics Quinoa or Omega 3 eggs….and shockingly, the brownies still turned out (bold move using other brands, I know Winking smile ). Also, I used a 9 inch square pan, not an 8 inch, and cut the brownies into 16 smaller squares, not 9 BIG ones. And there was one final addition (you’ll see it if you look in the photo on the bottom right)…remember those cocoa nibs I bought in London? I’ve been itching to try them out, and after searching the internet and not coming up with much, I decided to go my own way…I sprinkled some on top off half of the brownies. So, what’s the verdict (on both the brownies and the nibs)?

I liked the brownies. They are SUPER-moist, and the quinoa adds just a subtle nutty flavour. The texture is not quite like regular brownies, but I don’t mind it. I gave a few to my mom’s assistant (she’s a regular reader…hi Julia Winking smile)…after visits with a naturopath, her and her son are cutting out several foods and so are looking for flour alternatives. In her son’s words the flavour was the “best of all the “alternative” brownies”…but he didn’t love the texture. I think I enjoyed these best on the day they were made, not the day after.

And the nibs? I think I will become a big fan of these things! They are not sweet at all (so if you don’t like really dark chocolate, I’m not sure these are for you), but they have a great crunch and a deep cocoa flavour. I really like the crunchy texture they gave the brownies. I think they would be good in a nice hearty oatmeal cookie with some dried fruit…will keep you posted if I try. If you look in the top right, you’ll see that the nibs and the brownies made their way into a TASTY sundae on Friday night. It started with a scoop of light vanilla ice cream, then I drizzled with sugar-free chocolate syrup, one crumbled brownie, fat-free Reddi Whip (both this and the ice cream were from my Buffalo trip) and some more nibs. Oh my goodness…SO GOOD! Again, the nibs added great crunch and a deep chocolate flavour. I can’t wait to think of more ways to use these delightful little gems. And the bag says they’re a Mayan superfood, so I can’t go wrong, right?

Have you ever tried cocoa nibs (or any other Mayan superfood)? Are you a dark or milk chocolate person?

Bits and Bites

23 Mar

This post is going to have a little of this, and a little of that…hence the name. First of all…remember my post in praise of quinoa? Well, a few days after I posted about all of my quinoa adventures (side note: don’t let quinoa sit in the fridge too long….I had to toss the last 1/2 cup or so on the weekend, it smelled kind of funky after a full week in the fridge :P), I received an email in my inbox from President’s Choice (one of the many food/cooking emails I subscribe to) all about quinoa. It has a link to 10 quinoa recipes that I thought I’d share with you. At the top of my list to try is the quinoa hotcakes, followed closely by the chocolate quinoa brownies….I’ll keep you posted as I try them.

Secondly, there is one item I didn’t mention in Monday’s post about cross-border shopping (I know I said I wasn’t going to include everything, but this one is too good to miss): tofu shirataki noodles! This is another food that Hungry Girl turned me on to (shocking, I know ;)). Now I have mentioned these before, but as much as I love them, I just can’t say enough about them. 🙂 They are a GREAT low-carb, low-calorie substitute for pasta…20 calories per serving, HELLO? Yes, they are a bit pricey…but so worth it. Now, I do still eat pasta (you’ve seen it on here before)…but sometimes you just want a huge bowl of noodles, plus something more on the side, (like chicken Parm 🙂 ), these guys fit the bill. They are available to order online in Canada, but, since I was there, why not avoid the shipping fees?

Thirdly (and most excitingly), I was nominated for a Stylish Blogger Award by Katie 😀 (thanks hun)! It was sort of funny, I was reading her post about being nominated and thought to myself, “that’s so cool, I wonder how I could get one.”…then I read on and found myself listed as one of her picks…I am so honoured! Katie and I were saying how it’s so cool how the blog world has connected the 2 of us who live many miles apart…one of the many reasons I love blogging! Anyways…back to the award….here are the rules (as posted by Katie….I’m taking her word that they’re correct):

1 – Thank and link back to the one who awarded you
2 – Share 7 things about yourself
3 – Pass the award on to some awesome blogs
4 – Contact said bloggers and let them know they are awesome

Here goes:

1. Thank you so much Katie…as I said above, I am honoured. Check out Katie’s healthy adventures (and follow the crockpot chronicles) at Real Food Katie’s Way.

2. Okay….7 things about me….here goes:

  • 1. I have played the cello since I was 5, done 2 cello exams and 3 theory exams…which was enough to get me a high school credit…I don’t play nearly enough now these days…I need to get back at it before I forget how!
  • 2. As a high school graduation present, my mom took me to Italy and Austria. I got to spend my 18th birthday in Salzburg, Austria, on the Sound of Music Tour (that one was for you Katie, don’t be too jealous ;)).
  • 3. I consider myself an adventurous and healthy eater, except for the fish/seafood department….I don’t touch the stuff if I can help it!
  • 4. My sister and I love to watch re-runs of American Gladiators….not on though right now (if anyone knows a station, let me know).
  • 5. I rarely drink (there’s hardly any alcohol I like…except Bailey’s) and I have never been drunk.
  • 6. My favourite colour is pink, and has been for my entire life (my bedroom, my camera, cell phone, computer, one of my coats and much of my clothing is pink).
  • 7. I don’t drink coffee (I’ve made it 23 years, not starting now), but I love anything that’s coffee-flavoured, and really enjoy coffee-ish beverages (Starbucks lattes and frappucinos are at the top of my list…skinny, of course ;)).

….so there you have it, any surprises?

And now for my nominees (drumroll, please):

Just live laugh eat

Lettuce choose healthy

Carrots ‘n Cake

So there you have it…a nice random post for Wednesday. Happy Hump Day everyone! Do you have any favourite healthy/cooking blogs I should be reading? Let me know…I’m always on the hunt for more!

Adventures with Quinoa

10 Mar

You’ve already read about my love for Quinoa. I heard somewhere last week (I can’t remember for sure, but I think it was a guest on the Rachael Ray Show….I can’t remember who though) say that you can cook a big pot of quinoa on the weekend and use it during the week. I guess I “knew” this before, but had never really thought about it. But after hearing this, I thought it was a great idea, as when I cook quinoa, it’s normally in really small amounts and it’s difficult to get it just right. So on Sunday, I cooked a whole cup of the stuff dry, which made a sizeable amount. At first, I wondered if I could put all of that grainy goodness to use. I need not have worried…I’ve used lots of the quinoa so far for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Read on to see what I (and you) can do with it!

I made muffins! No, really! More specifically, these pumpkin quinoa muffins from Carrots ‘n Cake. I gave them all away to a friend, but they looked and smelled amazing (and the batter tasted good ;P)! The muffins also had raisins and nuts (recipe said walnuts, but I had some toasted almonds to use up, so I substituted those). I would really encourage you to try these….it’s a unique mixture of textures and flavours that come together for a healthy muffin (and they got positive reviews from the receiver).

I made salads! Tuesday’s lunch was an AMAZING salad containing 1/2 cup of quinoa, veggies I had in my fridge (I think the mix was cabbage, broccoli slaw, orange pepper, onion, mushrooms), one chopped artichoke heart and an ounce of light feta cheese, crumbled. I added a tsp of olive oil, some fat free Italian dressing, red wine vinegar, and seasoned with garlic salt, pepper, dried basil and cumin. This was SUCH a great mix of flavours! I liked it so much that I prepared a variation for today’s lunch – same dressing/seasoning, but I used spaghetti squash and added some different veggies (now that I have gotten groceries)!

I made a super-yummy side! In the past, I think the only way I have cooked quinoa is as a side-dish for supper. But I think that Monday night’s dish may be my all-time favourite. I sauteed a small onion and an apple in 2 tsp of olive oil. Once they were softened, I added 1 cup cooked quinoa (this made 2 LARGE servings, btw), some leftover cooked squash, diced (probably about a cup), and seasoned with salt, cinnamon and cumin. I love the smoky/sweet combo of cinnamon and cumin…you have to try it sometime! And see that chicken on the side? It was stuffed with leftover mushroom cream cheese and leftover cooked ham…I baked in just a little bit of chicken broth, and topped it with salt, pepper and dill seasoning. It was DELICIOUS….this was a good supper!

I made breakfast (besides the muffins)! I have read on a couple of blogs and in my Biggest Loser cookbook about using quinoa for breakfast (instead of oatmeal), so decided that this would be the perfect time to give a try. I made something I’ll call ABQ – Apple Breakfast Quinoa. 🙂 I cooked the apple as I did in my apple cinnamon oatmeal, then added in half a cup of quinoa at the last minute, cooking until it was heated through. After the quinoa was cooked and in the bowl, I gradually added 1/2 cup of skim milk (which I heated a bit first…don’t know why I’ve never thought of this before wiht oatmeal) and sweetened with Brown Sugar twin. This was yummy! It’s nice to switch it up from oatmeal, and the quinoa lends a different texture to the usual hot breakfast cereal.

I still have a bit of quinoa left in the fridge, so who knows what else I’ll create!? But I know that I will definitely do the big batch quinoa trick again. It has been a time saver, and made me think outside the box a bit…and incorporate more quinoa into my diet, which is a good thing, because it’s SUPER-healthy! Read more about why it’s such a superfood here. What about you…do you eat quinoa? Will you now after reading this post?

Feeling Blue

4 Mar

I love President’s Choice Blue Menu products…anyone with me on that? (if you are reading from outside of Canada, probably not…since they’re sold at Canada’s Loblaw chain of grocery stores). They are are great option for those trying to watch fat/calories, or just boost the nutrition in your diet. A word of warning though? Beware the “health halo” effect on these products (when you automatically think, “oh, it’s Blue Menu, it must be healthy” and just throw it into your cart without checking the nutritionals….or you buy it and take it home and eat with reckless abandon because it’s “healthy”). I’ve noticed that sometimes on Blue Menu Products, they’re only Blue Menu because they’re high in fibre or another specific nutrient, and they’re not especially low in calories.

Anyway….the other night I had PC Blue Menu Garlic and Herb Chicken Skewers (FYI the package doesn’t look exactly like the picture, but that’s what was on their website). It was Tuesday night, I had hula hooping at 6:30 and my mom had had a busy day, so I was looking for a supper that could mostly be prepared ahead. I pulled out 6 of these skewers (3 each) right after school so they could thaw on the counter. I made a quinoa salad by cooking just under 1/2 cup of quinoa, then combining the cooked quinoa with tomatoes, onion, mushrooms, celery…maybe some bell pepper (can’t remember!) and olive oil, fat-free Italian dressing, red wine vinegar, cumin, dried basil, garlic salt and pepper. I let it sit in the fridge for a couple of hours so the flavours could blend. I cut the bottom part of a butternut squash in half, topped it with butter spray, Brown Sugar Twin, spices, salt and pepper. I threw it in the oven at 400 right before I left. I’m not sure exactly how long my mom cooked the skewers – I’d guess about 20 minutes at 400 (although the box says broiling or grilling is best, we baked them).

The skewers were yummy! They only have about 45 calories each, and they are really flavourful, and nice and juicy (as long as you cook them properly I guess). I found three was the perfect amount, and it made a perfect supper paired with the squash and the salad. I can’t wait for warmer weather so I can cook them on the grill!

Do you like Blue Menu products? What’s your favourite? Or do you have another brand of healthy food items that you love?