Vegan Green Quinoa Gazpacho

Steamed greens…they’re so easy to make.  Just a blanch here, a blanch there…a bit of water here and there.

I mean, what more can I ask for? Steamed pure green veggies…soaring with antioxidants n’ vitamins.

So, when I recently came across The Pioneer Woman’s Gazpacho recipe, I thought…why not create a spin on Ree’s recipe and add my steamed greens to the recipe.  It was easier said than done. Just plopped these steamed veggies into my food processor and added Ree’s gazpacho ingredients.  What more can I ask for?

So, here’s what I did.

Starting with the Cuisinart. Yes, the Cuisinart; my very own brand spankin’ new Cuisinart that I have been obsessed with since Saturday.  I’m talking nonstop blending, pureeing, processing, o my gosh….these new Cuisinart’s are incredible.  I’ve been having way too much fun tossing all of my food into this baby.

So, after playing around for hours upon end with various steamed green veggies, I got to work.  Tomatoes, a must, of course…a bit of sweetness with anise seeds and cilantro and a bit of savory with chili powder and ground cumin.

A chop here and a chop there. Tossed into the food processor and the rest is history.

Thanks Ree, for this Gazpacho inspiration.

Vegan Green Quinoa Gazpacho

(Inspired by The Pioneer Woman)

Ingredients

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 large red onion, chopped
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 cup green beans, trimmed and steamed
  • 1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and steamed
  • 1 cup quinoa, cooked
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. coriander
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly ground orange zest
  • 1/2 tsp. anise seeds
  • 5 large Roma tomatoes
  • 1 yellow squash, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced
  • 1 avocado, peeled and pitted
  • 2 Tbsp. Tabasco
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
  • Pinch of sea salt and freshly ground white pepper

Directions

  1. Combine all ingredients in a food processor; pulse until it forms a smooth consistency.
  2. Transfer to a large bowl. Place into the refrigerator for 1 hour to chill.
  3. Serve cool or at room temperature.
    Enjoy!

Take a peak at this new website I came across, Fooducate, which helps people eat healthier and just launched a cell phone app where you can scan or type in a bar code for a food product and receive an overall grade rating for a product based on certain ‘bad’ ingredients such as too much sodium, sugar, high fructose corn syrup, additives, etc.

Pretty clever, don’t ‘cha think?

I also stumbled upon a few articles I thought were worth sharing:

NYC Chefs Resolve to Eat Better (And Worse) in 2011

Americans Aspire to be Healthy Eaters

 

Get Those Kids Cookin’…

Ever wonder how to get your kids involved in the kitchen? Here are a few tips that I offer to my clients…whether you have young children, nieces, nephews, neighbors, family or friends…these tips are sure to get your little ones active and entertained in the kitchen.


  • Cucumber Caterpillar: Slices of cucumber held together with natural peanut butter. Place the Caterpillar on ‘greens’ to look like grass.
  • Taco or Burrito Bar: Serve brown rice, black beans, onions, hot peppers, sprouted grain or gluten free tortillas, broccoli, arugula, cauliflower, guacamole and  salsa.  Add nuts, seeds and spices in tiny serving dishes to jazz up the flavors!
  • Salad Bar: Spin your greens in a salad spinner, then dress dry greens with a lime dressings made by combining sesame oil, fresh lime juice, low-sodium tamari, cayenne pepper, agave nectar, balsamic vinegar and water.
  • Mashed Potato Parfaits- Sweet Potatoes, Parsnips and carrots mixed together…topped with raisins, cinnamon, shredded coconut and agave nectar
  • Individual Pizzas: Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Choose gluten free or sprouted whole grain tortillas, caramelized onions, spinach, red onion, mushrooms, kalamata olives, artichokes, fresh basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Add each ingredient atop each tortilla and bake for 20 minutes.
  • Panini Party: Gluten Free or sprouted whole grain bread, SoyaKaas Gluten Free/Dairy Free cheese, tomato slices, eggplant slices, fresh basil leaves, balsamic vinegar, avocado, zucchini and squash slices.  Add all ingredients to 2 slices of bread.  Place onto a panini maker (sprayed with cooking spray); cook until cheese is melted and veggies are warm and cooked.  Dip into marinara (red) sauce.
  • Stir-Fry: Switch up your usual recipe with unique grains such as millet, quinoa or buckwheat.
  • Fruit Salad: Add exotic fruits to spice up the flavors.  Use a melon baller and serve in a wine glass to add to the allure of this meal.  Add a dollop of plain Greek yogurt atop each fruit salad serving and sprinkle with cinnamon and stevia.
  • Slaw Wraps: Cabbage, celery, carrots, bok choy, mushrooms, peppers, snap peas, bean sprouts, snow peas, green beans and Napa Slaw can easily be combined and wrapped in rice paper.  Liven up this dish by pairing it with a special sauce of grapefruit juice, ginger, balsamic vinegar, lemonade and seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower.  Toss with fresh apples or cumin roasted chick peas.  Adding berries such as blackberries, raspberries and cherries add a nice antioxidant punch to these wraps.
  • Peanut Butter Chicken Fajitas: The best way to make a good peanut sauce is by combining organic peanut butter, fresh ginger, cayenne pepper, agave nectar and low-sodium tamari/soy sauce.
  • Frozen Basil and Banana Pops: Blend together 2 cups ice, 2 cups fresh basil leaves, 1 ripe banana, 1 cup fresh mint leaves, 1 1/2 cups water, 1/2 cup agave nectar in a blender.  Blend well and pour into glasses! This is a wonderful treat for a healthy dessert!

Have fun and experiment with some of my ideas above…Getting the kids active in the kitchen is fun…and who knows, your kids may just start to ‘enjoy’ their veggies!!!

A Gluten-Free Thanksgiving

With a little experimentation and creativity, you can effortlessly tweak your Thanksgiving menu into a gluten-free holiday spectacular.


Appetizers

Make your appetizers simple by offering a variety of cheese, spreads and rice crackers.  Quinoa stuffed mushrooms are a great alternative to wheat- stuffed mushrooms and taste just as delicious; your guests will never know the difference.  Arrange a platter of nuts, seeds and dried fruits for nibbling throughout the evening; your guests will take pleasure in snacking while savoring wine and socializing.

Side Dishes

Cranberry sauce is an easy way to create a fresh, seasonal fruit on your dinner table.  Furthermore, everyone loves mashed potatoes; make a large batch of mashed sweet potatoes; add fresh apples and freshly squeezed orange juice in place of half the butter.  Not a sweet potato fan? Opt for mashed yams and top with a drizzle of honey and a sprinkle of cinnamon.  Roasted carrots and parsnips are a great way to incorporate tender, root vegetables onto your turkey table; simply chop into fry-like shapes, drizzle with olive oil and a dash of nutmeg, sea salt and pepper; spread on a baking sheet to roast in the oven until crispy.  Roasted cauliflower is a tasty side dish alternative; toss chopped cauliflower florets in a mixture of turmeric, rosemary, balsamic vinegar and olive oil before baking.   Green vegetables such as broccoli rabe, Brussels sprouts, green beans and asparagus pair nicely sautéed with olive oil and slivered almonds.  If you and your guests are more inclined to dine on soup before your main meal, create a warm butternut squash or apple pumpkin soup with gluten-free croutons and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

Main Meal

When selecting a bird, be sure to carefully check the label to ensure the turkey does not contain hormones, pesticides or additives.  Compliment your turkey with a unique twist to awe your guests and create a mouthwatering feast.  Gluten free stuffing is an easy alternative to bread stuffing using apple cider vinegar, brown rice, quinoa, dried cranberries, ground nuts and herbs.  Create a sweet herb rub by adding a touch of honey or agave nectar to fresh herbs, sea salt and pepper, creating a sweet and savory turkey topping.  Create gluten-free gravy combining cornstarch or arrowroot with water and chicken stock.

Desserts

Fear not, there are countless ways to prepare healthy, gluten-free desserts to satisfy any sweet tooth on a crisp autumn evening.  Create a fresh fruit crumble using your favorite harvest fruits and gluten-free flour along with a touch of cinnamon and nutmeg; top it off with Greek yogurt and fresh mint. Pumpkin pie is a staple at the Thanksgiving table; create the crumbs for this holiday must-have with crumbled gluten-free crackers, cereal or puffed rice. Pumpkin muffins are always a hit; try using tapioca starch and canned pumpkin to create a moist consistency.  Zucchini quinoa cake is another unique dessert; top this tasty treat with unsweetened coconut and powdered sugar.  Each of these gluten-free treats can be topped off with fresh cranberries and figs, a sprig of fresh herbs, a dash of cinnamon and a dollop of Greek yogurt.

 

And take a looksy at the POM Wonderful homepage where I’m featured as the POM Wonderful Blogger with my tasty Thanksgiving POM Recipes.

Cranberry n’ Mint Quinoa

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You know its fall when recipes call for cranberries…the thoughts of Thanksgiving and warm, comforting food comes to mind when the leaves begin to turn beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow. Well, there are no trees here in Manhattan (aside from Central Park), however, when I take my yearly pumpkin picking trip, I admire the true beauty of the foliage.  Cornstalks, pumpkins, gourds, o my! Fall is such an exciting time of the year and my favorite season.  This fall I will be sharing with you many harvest recipes that you can easily create with local, seasonal foods.

This is the best time of the year to check out your local farmers market where you will discover pumpkin, winter squash, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and gourds, which can all be incorporated into a delicious dish.  So, set aside the pumpkin pie recipe  because I’m going to take you on a fall foliage feast!  Let’s start off with cranberries, which are packed with antioxidants and nutrients, giving them superfruit status. I recently purchased some fresh cranberries at the Union Square Market here in Manhattan and used them to create this deliciously healthy meal.

Fresh cranberries will start to peak in just a few weeks as we enter October…therefore I thought it would be a great idea to post a delicious quinoa n’ cranberry dish that I made last week.

I decided to throw in some fresh green beans that I picked up at the farmers market- the beans were the perfect addition to this hearty meal- they added a perfect crunch.  I often blanch my green beans instead of steaming them.  Blanching vegetables gives them a crisp, fresh taste that adds a nice bite to any dish.  Once again, I found myself browsing the pantry and fridge for ingredients to create this quinoa masterpiece; lemon juice- a staple in my fridge, crushed red pepper flakes- another staple, fresh mint from the farmers market-not a staple but definitely a fun market splurge, a dash of balsamic vinegar- which adds the perfect tang for my taste buds and a sprinkling of crushed macadamia nuts as a topping for a dose of protein and healthy monounsaturated fat.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups quinoa, cooked
  • 1/2 cup cranberries
  • Handful of fresh mint, finely chopped
  • 1 lb. fresh green beans
  • 1/4 cup macadamia nuts, crushed
  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. crushed red pepper
  • Dash of balsamic vinegar
  • Sea salt and pepper, to taste

Directions

  • Cook quinoa per directions on package.
  • Cook cranberries in a pot of water for 10 minutes over medium heat just until they pop.  Be sure not to over-cook the cranberries, as this will make them bitter.
  • While the cranberries are cooking, blanch green beans by boiling a pot of water and pouring it over the beans in a colander.
  • In a large bowl, combine cooked quinoa, cranberries and green beans; toss with macadamia nuts, balsamic, lemon juice, crushed red pepper, sea salt and pepper.
  • Enjoy!

Pumpkin Seed Crusted Tilapia

Last night, I made this quick and simple dinner of baked tilapia with pumpkin seed crust.  It takes just minutes to prepare and is quite delicious!

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Ingredients

  • 2 Fresh Talapia filets
  • 2 Tbsp. Organic Tomato Sauce
  • 1/2 Red Onion, chopped
  • 1/3 cup Pumpkin Seeds
  • 1/4 cup Bran Crumbs
  • 1/2 ripe Avocado, mashed
  • Dash of NuSalt and Pepper, to taste
  • Dash of chili powder
  • Handful of Fresh Cilantro, chopped
  • Handful of Fresh Basil, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups Quinoa, cooked
  • Lemon wedges, juice for topping
  • Parchment Paper

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
  • Combine bran, pumpkin seeds, fresh cilantro, avocado, tomato sauce, red onion, fresh basil, chili powder, Nu-Salt and pepper in a food processor; blend until mixture is the consistency of paste.
  • Spoon a thick layer of the pumpkin seed mixture on top of each tilapia fillet.
  • Lay a large piece of parchment paper atop a baking sheet.  Place each tilapia fillet atop the parchment paper.
  • Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until the fish flakes easily with a fork.
  • Remove tilapia fillets from the oven and unwrap parchment paper.
  • Serve each fillet over a bed of cooked quinoa with a squeeze of fresh lemon.
  • Enjoy!

Radish, Apple and Parsnip Salad

This cooling summertime salad is a perfect compliment to any meal.  Today for lunch I prepared this salad atop a mixture of leftover whole grains; brown rice and quinoa.  For a fresh dinner idea, this salad also pairs well alongside grilled tempeh or tuna steak.

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Ingredients

Salad:

  • 4 radishes, thinly sliced
  • 4 parsnips, thinly sliced
  • 2 apples, cored, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 lb. fresh spinach greens, chopped

Dressing:

  • 2 tsp. honey
  • 4 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp. lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup raw peanuts
  • 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • 1 tsp. Nu-Salt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Directions

  • In a medium-sized bowl, combine radish, parsnip, apple and lemon juice with chopped spinach.
  • In a separate small bowl, combine balsamic vinegar, Nu-Salt and honey.  Slowly whisk in oil, Greek yogurt and cilantro.  Add peanuts and mix well until peanuts are completely coated with dressing.
  • Drizzle dressing evenly over salad and serve.
  • Enjoy!

Great Grains

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Move over pasta, hit the road potatoes! Make room for my Great Grains- they’ll not only add new flavors to your meal, but will provide you with fiber, as well.

Say good bye to boring white rice, potatoes, and pasta.  Give the bye-bye to “white” starches and welcome in couscous, bulgur wheat, brown/wild rice, quinoa and barley.  These grains give your side dish a unique taste and are an excellent source of iron, dietary fiber, vitamins, and protein.  Each of these grains has its own distinctive flavor, making them as nutritious as they are yummy.

Bulgur Wheat

  • If you’re in a time crunch and want a grain that’s quick and easy to prepare.  Look no further!  Bulgur wheat’s latest and greatest claim to fame is tabbouleh salad, which is a Middle Eastern veggie and wheat salad that is very popular in the US and can be found pre-made in many food stores.  Bulgur wheat cooks by rehydration, meaning, pour 2 cups of boiling water or broth over dry bulgur and let stand for 45 minutes.  Bulgur wheat is often used as a ground meat substitute in vegetarian cuisine.  Moreover, when cooked in vegetarian chili, for instance, the bulgur texture becomes very similar to ground meat- but lends more fiber and less fat!

Wild Rice

  • Wild rice is actually not a rice-it is the seed of a grass grown in Canada and Minnesota.  Wild rice has a unique flavor,  therefore you may want to combine it with other grains before serving it alone.  Moreover, this grain is quite expensive since it is hand harvested-so in this economy you may have to stick to this grain on special occasions if you’re watching your food budget.  Wild rice uses three to four times the amount of water or broth versus grain and the rice must simmer for a full 45 minutes to 1 hour before serving, however, take my advice…this wild grain is well worth the wait!

Brown Rice

  • This is probably the grain you are most familiar with, however, try to substitute this brown rice for your old friend, the white rice when you can.  Brown rice contains more fiber and is more nutritious.  You can simply cook a batch of brown rice and store it in an airtight container in your fridge for days when you do not have time to let it cook slowly.  Brown rice cooks in double the amount of water or broth and needs to summer for a full 45 minutes.

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Quinoa

  • Quinoa has a nutty taste and aroma that is wonderful to the palate, which explains why it is commonly used in salads, pilafs, side dishes and soups.  This grain has been growing in the fields of South America for years, as the Incans called it “The Mother Grain.”  This grain only needs 15 minutes to cook on the stove top with 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of quinoa. 

Barley

  • Barley is a mild-flavored kernel-shaped grain that’s known for adding thickness to soups and stews.  This grain pairs wonderfully when added to casseroles containing winter root veggies.  The two most often types used for cooking are pearled barley and hulled barley.  Pearled barley is barley that has been milled and because of this, it only takes 40 minutes to cook.  Hulled barley is barley who’s outer layer has been removed, this is more nutritious than pearled barley, however it takes 90 minutes to cook. 

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Couscous

  • Yes, you’re right.  Couscous is NOT a grain; it’s actually a tiny pasta made from fine semolina wheat.  However, couscous is similar to a very light grain, making it ideal for those who are just starting to experiment with specialty grains.  Couscous is quick and easy to prepare with 2 cups of water for every 1 cup of couscous and it’s ready in 5 minutes! Now that’s a quick fluffy bed of couscous ready for a topping of chicken, fish, or tofu.

Here are a few of my quick and easy tips for adding Grains into your day:

  • For breakfast, cook brown/wild rice in 1 cup water.  Sprinkle the hot cooked rice with cinnamon and nutmeg. Drizzle with agave nectar. Check out my post, What’s For Breakfast for more ideas on incorporating grains into your morning meal.
  • For a meat-less chili, substitute 1 cup dry bulgur wheat for 1 pound of animal meet.  Saute the bulgur with onions and peppers.  Add beans, vegetables, and spices of your choice and let the chili simmer until thickened.
  • Don’t be afraid to mix up your grains-combining two grains in one dish packs a powerful punch of flavor and won’t leave your taste buds disappointed.  For instance, mix couscous and quinoa, or brown and wild rice.  These grains complement each others flavors extremely well and add a nice touch to any dish.
  • For a hearty dish that follows the “Cook once, eat Twice” philosophy, simply saute 1/2 cup mushrooms an 1/2 cup onions in 1 Tbsp. olive oil in a non-stick skillet.  Add 1 cup chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Stir in 1 cup of barley and reduce heat- cover and let simmer for 45 minutes.  Now you have a delish side dish for dinner, leftovers for your morning porridge and just enough to mix into your hearty chicken salad with dried cranberries at lunch tomorrow.

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No matter what Great Grain you try, these babies will Not disappoint!  Try one of these fun, new grains tonight and experiment in your kitchen.  Let me know what recipes your making and share with us your favorite ways to enjoy your grains!