Morning Rush Hour

Morning is the toughest time for us to manage a decent breakfast. My Hubbin’ has to get up too darned early and get out the door and I get up early enough to take a morning walk and still be ready for work. There is barely enough time to cook food and pack lunches.

I usually heat up some miso soup and eat it and then take whole grain cereal and lightly steamed veggies to work with me for Second Breakfast.

Hubbin’s solution is to drop over to the local coffee shop and get his coffee and something to eat—NOT the best choice, no sireee. So I have endeavored to find sugar-free healthy grab n’ go foods for him to take along and eat with his coffee.

I’ve gone two ways with this. One is to make a whole grain treat that is slightly sweet (using whole grain sweeteners) for him to nosh with coffee. He really likes my oatmeal cookies. Cookies for breakfast?  Why not!!? It is whole grain, sweetened only with a little barley malt and a helluvalot better than some sugar-laden coffee cake or white flour bagel!

Another thing I’ve made is Blueberry Coffeecake using Christina Pirello’s recipe here.  That was pretty good, though it wasn’t exactly grab and go. It requires a utensil in order to eat it. This coffee cake was a bit too sweet but that didn’t stop us!.

Then last Saturday we both had to be someplace fairly early and I hadn’t thought ahead for breakfast and I found myself staring at a refrigerator filled mostly with containers of leftovers. What could I throw together from this that would be “breakfast?”

I grabbed a leftover quinoa dish. This happened to be quinoa with small pieces of roasted yams and some peas. It had dried out considerably and I knew I wouldn’t serve it again as is.

i brought out my awesome double-burner grill pan to make these grab-n-go croquettes.
I brought out my awesome double-burner grill pan to make these grab-n-go croquettes made from quinoa with corn,  red pepper and mexican spices.

So I quickly put together a little organic corn bread mix with some oil and almond milk. Skipped adding egg or any sweeteners at all. Instead I added minced onions leftover from making chilled cucumber fennel soup, some oregano and some celery seeds. I dumped in the quinoa and adjusted the dry cornbread mix so I ended up with a very thick batter. I spooned this onto a hot oiled cast iron pan and cooked the patties. I served them with slivered scallions and a dribble of shoyu (soy sauce).

We both loved them!! These savory little whole grain patties made great breakfast and we also ate them with a salad for lunch. They were perfect for grab n’ go because they held together just fine when you grabbed them!

Endless combinations of leftover whole grains could be used here along with various seasonings.. It would be so easy to make your own cornbread mix with whole wheat pastry flour, corn meal, a pinch of salt, baking soda and baking powder.

My quinoa patties were a big hit and they were gone in no time. So I made more for us and to photograph for you!

I like to serve these with thinly sliced scallion and a drizzle of shoyu.
I like to serve these with thinly sliced scallion and a drizzle of shoyu.

Quinoa with Roasted Vegetables

Our Sunday Supper today is going to be with some friends at their home. We are sharing the job of making the food, so I volunteered to bring veggies and dessert.

Since I have a full day scheduled I had to plan ahead and of course, I wanted to choose something that perhaps everyone hasn’t tried but that would very likely taste good to them. I chose to take advantage of sweet-tasting root vegetables that could be roasted (making them even sweeter) combined with some lovely quinoa.

Quinoa is one of my favorite grains for a number of reasons. Number one, it has a germ that, when it is cooked, forms a ring around the grain. Like Saturn! Number two, quinoa is a very high protein grain and is therefore very sustaining. And three, quinoa is quick and easy to prepare.

I roasted the veggies ahead of time so that late in the afternoon I could finish up the quinoa dish, finish another simple dish of kale, yellow squash and carrot salad with roasted crushed pumpkin seeds on top, and make one of my dark chocolate mousses. For the mousse I’m returning to the “March Madness Mousse” for its richness and because I’ve got all the ingredients.

(Some who follow me may be wondering, “What about your April chocolate mousse installment?” But never fear, April is not over yet and there will be a new mousse recipe before the month runs out.)

The real challenge is, ‘Can I make this quinoa dish so delicious that even someone who mainly consumes standard American fare will enjoy it?’

Roasted Vegetable and Quinoa Salad (Serves 6)

  • 2 organic medium carrots
  • 2 organic small parsnips (big ones get too woody)
  • 1/2 organic rutabaga
  • 1 bulb organic garlic
  • 1/2 organic yellow onion
  • 1 1/2 cups organic quinoa
  • olive oil
  • lemon juice
  • salt
  • pepper
  • cumin
  • cardamom

Wash the veggies and dice the carrots, parsnips, rutabaga and onions into 1/2-inch dice. Peel each clove in the garlic bulb and cut into similar diced size. Coat the diced veggies in olive oil and season them with salt, pepper, cumin and cardamom to taste. (I used about 2 teaspoons of cumin and about 1/2 teaspoon of cardomom.) Spread the seasoned veggies out onto a baking pan so they are in a single layer and put them into a 350 degree oven. Periodically mix them, turning the veggies so all sides get roasted. It takes about a half hour for these to be done at this temperature.

READY TO ROAST

Wash the quinoa in cold water. If you wish, you can quickly roast the quinoa in some olive oil or just dry roast them. I opted for dry roasting because the veggies had plenty of oil already. I used a cast iron frying pan to lightly roast the washed qunioa.  About 5 minutes.

Cook the roasted quinoa with 2X water (give or take) and a two-finger pinch of sea salt. I ended up using 2 2/3 cups because I didn’t want the quinoa to be too wet since I was mixing it with the veggies as a salad. Bring the quinoa to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes.

All of this can be done ahead of time. I don’t like to serve veggies that were refrigerated if I don’t have to. So I just left the roasted veggies out for the day until I got home.  Then I combined the quinoa and roasted vegetables. I blanched some frozen peas and threw them in for color. I also slivered up some preserved lemon rinds. Find out what these are and how to make them here. If you don’t have them, try some fresh lemon zest!

Dress the salad as desired. I simply used a little extra drizzle of olive oil and some freshly squeezed lemon juice.

The result? Here’s what the quinoa and veggies looked like:

FINISHED DISH 2

And what about the other diners? They all served themselves a generous portion and most had seconds!

Summer Dinner Salads

Let’s say you want to eat well—nutritionally speaking—and you are willing to put in some quality time in the kitchen. (That’s Great!!!!)  But you don’t feel you have enough time or know-how to make fresh, new, organic, whole-food meals every day.  To top it off, summer’s coming and the kids will be out of school and you have a gazillion things you also would like to do.

One way to handle that without feeling like you have to slave away in the kitchen in the heat of summer is to plan and make all-in-one-meals.  That’s not a new idea, of course.  But let’s make it into a new idea by creating some wonderful whole grain salad meals.  These will have your whole grains, protein and vegetables all in one dish.

Harvested Quinoa Seeds

Have you ever tried quinoa?  I was first introduced to it about 30 years ago and at that time I had never heard of it.  All of a sudden it appeared on the shelves and bulk bins of the natural food stores along with quinoa flour, bread and pastas.  I took a close look at some that was cooked for me and was fascinated by the fact that each cooked grain of quinoa looked like a little planet with a ring around it–like Saturn.  Far out!

Quinoa is referred to as an ancient grain.  Technically it is a seed but is considered a grain as far as its qualities and uses.  Quinoa was a staple food for thousands of years in the Andes region of South America as one of just a few crops the ancient Incas cultivated at such high altitude.  I suppose that’s why I’m attracted to eating it here in Albuquerque which is more than 5,000 feet above sea level.

[From Wikipedia:  The Incas, who held the crop to be sacred, referred to quinoa as chisaya mama or ‘mother of all grains’, and it was the Inca emperor who would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season using ‘golden implements’. During the European conquest of South America, the Spanish colonists scorned quinoa as ‘food for Indians’, and even actively suppressed its cultivation, due to its status within indigenous non-Christian ceremonies. In fact, the Conquistadores forbade quinoa cultivation for a time and the Incas were forced to grow wheat instead.]

Quinoa Salad - An all-in-one meal!

2013 has been declared UN International Year of Quinoa and I’m all for it!  Here is a recipe I recently developed for a summer dinner salad using quinoa.

Quinoa Salad

Serves 4-6

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ tsp finely minced fresh turmeric root
  • 2 tbls currants
  • 1 two-finger pinch of sea salt
  • ½ cup diced red pepper
  • ½ cup diced celery
  • 1  cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1  cup black beans (cooked)  [For this I used Eden canned black beans.  I like this brand because they have cooked the beans with kombu seaweed.  The kombu provides minerals which balance the fat and protein in the beans and reduces the (ahem) “tooting.”
  • ¼ cup brown rice vinegar
  • 3 Tbls oil of your choice.  I used toasted pumpkin seed oil but you could also you toasted sesame seed oil or olive oil.
  • ½ tsp sea salt
  • 2 Tbls barley malt
  • Dash of cinnamon
  • ½ cup chopped roasted almonds
  • thinly sliced scallion garnish

Wash the quinoa by placing it in a bowl and filling the bowl with cold water.  Make sure the water has mixed with the quinoa by gently stirring and then pour off the excess water.  Use a strainer to catch the small quinoa seeds so they don’t get wasted.  Repeat the washing process.

Bring the cup of quinoa and 2 cups of springwater plus a two-finger pinch of sea salt to a boil.  Add the currants and the tumeric.  Simmer or lightly boil for 10 to 15 minutes.  If you live at a higher altitude like I do, you may have to simmer the quinoa a bit longer.

While the quinoa is boiling, finely dice the peppers, celery and parsley.

When the quinoa is done cooking (it is tender and there is no more water in the pan) then turn it out onto a plate to cool.  When the quinoa is cool, mix in the red peppers, celery and parsley.  Add the cooked black beans.

Combine oil, vinegar, cinnamon, sea salt and barely malt.  Adjust to your preferred taste.  Pour the dressing over the quinoa mixture and mix it through.  Add the roasted chopped almond slivers*.  Garnish with thinly sliced scallions.

* I roast almonds by taking organic raw almonds and rinsing them off in cold water and draining them.  I spread them onto a baking pan and put that into the oven at 350 degrees until they start smelling aromatic and roasted and then take them out.  Let the roasted almonds cool off a bit before chopping them up.

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Whole grain dinner salads can be made with infinite combinations of grains, vegetables, beans and other garnishes.  I suggest using recipes until you get the hang of it and  then just go for it!  No limitations.