Archive of ‘FOOD’ category

Sweet Summertime Quinoa Salad

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It’s Summer!! And you know what that means!!? Picnics and barbecues, pool parties and outdoor events day and night. It also means homemade and store-bought food sitting out in the heat for hours on end. Aside from the health risk of leaving gloppy, mayonnaise-based coleslaw, potato and macaroni salads out in the sun, it is just not very satisfying. After eating a creamy macaroni salad, as delicious as it may be, I feel weighed down…ready for a snooze- not another dip in the pool or a game of frisbee. I want something lighter that will give me not only energy, but great health benefits as well- and why not add a fresh and healthy option without skimping on flavor! That is why I LOVE this quinoa salad!!

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Quinoa salad are popping up left and right. Just do a Google search and you’ll be able to find a multitude of options. Why is this? Because word of quinoa’s amazing benefits is spreading fast! Due it their small, round shape, they resemble couscous- and are often mistaken for couscous. However, they could not be more different. Couscous is actually pasta made from Durham wheat flour and water. Many people believe that they are making a healthy choice with couscous, but unfortunately it’s no different than white spaghetti or penne pasta. You might as well go for the macaroni salad! At least you aren’t being fooled with that option.

Quinoa on the other hand, is a seed, and technically not a grain. However, nutritionally it can be considered a WHOLE grain- but it is so much more! These seeds have a bitter exterior, called saponin, that is a natural defense designed to keep insects and birds away without the use of pesticides. For this reason, they must be washed before cooking. Most commercially sold quinoa is pre-washed, however, I like to give them a quick rinse before cooking just for good measure. Quinoa brings power punch of nutrients. To start, it is a complete protein. That means they contain all the essential amino acids that our bodies need but do not produce on its own. There are only a handful of plant-based foods that can say the same. With slowly-digestible complex carbohydrates, it is great for sustaining energy without blood sugar highs and lows. Containing iron, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, calcium, B-vitamins, and vitamin E, quinoa is a great source of vitamins and minerals. Because it is a WHOLE grain, toy are also ingesting plenty of fiber to keep you fuller longer, allow your digestive tract to function happily and healthfully, and potentially lower blood cholesterol. Quinoa’s plentiful array of antioxidants make it true contender, and now researchers have found very high levels of certain antioxidants present that may be even greater than some berries. It is naturally a gluten-free food and is thus suitable for those with a gluten sensitivity.

To top off all of this great news, quinoa is very easy to cook! Just bring 2 parts water to a boil, add 1 part quinoa, reduce heat to simmer, cover, and let the magic happen in 25 minutes or less. It can be eaten as a side in place of rice or pasta, as a hot breakfast cereal, as a sweet dessert (like a rice pudding), or cooled and served as a salad like I have made here.

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This Quinoa Salad is both sweet and tart. Dried cranberries bring out the sweetness in the honey balsamic vinaigrette, while diced red onions and toasted walnuts add crunch and mixed greens bring a slightly bitter, but light and fresh quality. It is simple to assemble and an easy make-ahead as it only gets better with time.

Sweet Summertime Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry (uncooked) quinoa
  • 1 medium red onion, diced
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
  • 7 cups Spring Mix salad greens
  • Vinaigrette:
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup balsamic vinaigrette
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Instructions

  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions and allow to completely cool.
  2. Add onions, cranberries, and walnuts.
  3. Whisk together vinaigrette ingredients, or pulse in a blender.
  4. Pour over quinoa mixture, and stir to combine.
  5. Add salad greens just before serving. Enjoy!
http://tastefulwisdom.com/sweet-summertime-quinoa-salad/

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“For the Birds” Granola Bars

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Waking up early enough for a sit-down breakfast has never been my style. I have just enough time to shower and walk the dog before I’m out the door. That being said, I will not sacrifice a healthy start- I simply make sure I always have grab and go bites to eat as I’m on the run.

These “For the Birds” Granola Bars are fiber-filled, protein-packed, ultra delicious and are perfect as a meal or a snack thanks to their secret ingredient. They remind me of food for the birds because there are lots of small seeds and morsels that look like they belong in a bird’s house. These bars are just sweet enough to satisfy but, however, have real staying power thanks to heart-healthy fats and plant protein. The secret ingredients, garbanzo beans (AKA chickpeas) keep them moist and only add to the nutrition of the bars. With loads of fiber and a generous supply of protein, they are the perfect for starting the morning off right. Plus, their flavor is so mild that no one would ever guess beans are inside!

Having no flour, this recipe is easily gluten-free and vegan friendly. Although oats don’t actually contain the proteins comprising gluten, they are often processed in the same facility, and on the same conveyor belts as wheat, barley, and rye. Bob’s Red Mill makes gluten-free oats that are processed separately and now widely available at most supermarkets. Because most chocolate chips contain dairy, it is important to look for vegan chocolate chips if you are making these vegan friendly.

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The food processor does most of the work by pureeing beans, dates, honey, and salt to a smooth consistency. Then you simply add the remaining ingredients, stir and bake on a quarter sheet pan or square 8 x 8 inch pan. The bars should cool completely before being cut. Depending on the size of the bars, this recipe should yield 12-15 bars. Enjoy!

“For the Birds” Granola Bars

Ingredients

  • 1 - 15 oz Can Garbanzo Beans
  • 12 Pitted Deglet Noor Dates
  • 2 Tablespoons Ground Flax Seeds
  • ½ Cup Raw Honey
  • ½ Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Cups Oats
  • 1 ½ Chopped Nuts or Seeds of Your Choice (I like a mix of Sunflower Seeds, Pumpkin Seeds, and Sliced Almonds)
  • 1/2 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In a food processor, combine beans, dates, flax seeds, honey, and salt. Process until completely smooth.
  3. Remove mixture from food processor, add remaining ingredients, and stir well.
  4. Press onto a greased quarter sheet pan and 8 x 8 inch pan and bake for 30 minutes.
  5. Allow completely cool and cut into 12-15 bars.
  6. Bars can be stored in refrigerator for one week. Enjoy!
http://tastefulwisdom.com/birds-granola-bars/

 

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BYOL Coconut Curry Soup

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One of the “perks” of working as a clinical dietitian in a hospital is eating in the cafeteria at no charge. Although the wide array of food to choose from is far from healthy, there is a salad bar that is doable. As its reputation suggests, hospital food is not quite gourmet, but it is easy in a pinch. So after all of my pleas to BYOL (bring your own lunch), I myself had fallen into the trap of not bringing my own food every day. I have to admit, it was quite enjoyable not making lunch the night (or weekend) before, or dealing with the burden of preparing the lunchbox in the morning and then actually remembering to take it with me when I left the house. Not to mention the cost savings. So with all of these positives, there is no reason to go back to making my own lunch, right? Wrong- and here is why.

As I said, the healthiest option is the salad bar, and although it is full of color and selection, this selection NEVER changes. It is virtually the same salad every single day. So there I was, with this great opportunity to eat salads everyday for free. However, I quickly began to notice that this may not be so “great” after all.  I was finding that in order to spunk up the salad, I fell into the habit of adding buttery croutons, or wontons, or more than a little cheese, or changing the dressing to a creamier one because oil and vinegar or balsamic vinaigrette just wasn’t doing it for me anymore.

Let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with adding a few croutons here and there, or enjoying a creamy dressing on occasion. My problem began after lunch, when I got back to my office and attempted to return to work. It was near impossible. My brain fog was so thick that I needed to work twice as hard to focus. Every day I felt like I could just close my eyes and take a snooze. It was difficult for me to express my thoughts or use clinical judgment with my patients. I attributed this to not sleeping enough at night. So I made it a point to get to bed earlier to ensure proper sleep. This made no difference. I began drinking coffee in the afternoon in an attempt to regain my consciousness. As you can imagine, hospital coffee is far from hospitable, so of course I needed a little half and half to get it down. This became a daily cycle, until I started thinking about my past experiences at work. I never felt this crappy. Was it the job? Is this just me now that I am almost 30? Do I have chronic fatigue syndrome?! What’s going on here!?!?

It was this after-lunch malaise that forced me to reevaluate my lunchtime habits. I was completely sick of that salad bar anyway, so I decided to go back to my BYOL philosophy. By going to my local farmer’s market and keeping my lunches meat-free, I am able to load up on veggies and not break the bank. This way I don’t feel too bad about giving up my free lunches. As soon as I put the BYOL back into effect, I experienced a night-and-day difference in mental clarity. I had energy to complete the day strong, there was no more mid-afternoon coffee breaks, and I was able to rest assured knowing exactly what was in my lunch. Plus I really enjoy knowing that I am giving my cells the best possible nutrition. I implore you to do the same! photo 1

 

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I have expressed my love of soups in previous posts. They are such a great way to jam a plethora of vegetables into one bowl. I also love the fact that I can make a big pot on Sunday and have lunches for a week. I can usually even freeze some for those Sundays I don’t have time to hit the farmer’s market. This Coconut Curry Soup is a staple. It is loaded with amazing benefits. The coconut milk provides healthy fats while providing a rich mouth feel.  The curry, ginger, and garlic offer anti-inflammatory effects, while broccoli and onions provide the cancer-preventing punch. Now, rather than eating who-knows-what for lunch, I treat myself to this healthy midday elixir- and I hope you will too!

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BYOL Coconut Curry Soup

Ingredients

  • 1 Tablespoon Coconut Oil
  • 2 Medium Onions
  • 2 2-inch Knobs of Ginger, Peeled
  • 6 Cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 5 Large Carrots, Thinly Sliced
  • 2 Tablespoons (good) Curry Powder
  • 8 Cups Water
  • Salt to Taste (start with 2 teaspoons and add more as you like)
  • Broccoli Florets from 1 Head of Broccoli
  • 2 Cans Light Coconut Milk
  • 6 Scallions, Thinly Sliced
  • ½ Cup Cilantro, Chopped

Instructions

  1. Sautee onions, whole ginger, garlic, and carrots and curry powder in coconut oil until onions become soft and translucent.
  2. Add water and salt. Bring to a boil until carrots are tender and cooked through (usually about 15 minutes).
  3. Add the broccoli to the boiling soup and allow it to cook for 4 minutes.
  4. Add the coconut milk, scallions, and cilantro until just before the soup comes back up to a boil.
  5. Remove from heat and allow to cool. Remove the whole ginger peices before portioning into smaller lunch containers.
  6. This soup is easily reheated in the microwave. Enjoy!!
http://tastefulwisdom.com/byol-coconut-curry-soup/

 

 

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“Boneless” Cauliflower Hot Wings

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When I attend cocktail parties, my favorite part is (no, not the cocktails or the good company), the hors d’œuvres!….The small mouthfuls that burst with flavor when you bite into them. I’m talking about those finger foods that are packed with so much flavor so as to satisfy with just a taste. Sadly, these little pieces of heaven are likely to be dripping with grease and packed with an unfavorable amount of saturated fat. Why? Because fat has flavor, and fat tastes good….cheese is fat…bacon is fat. Keep enjoying these and our buns will be…well….generously proportioned. Don’t get me wrong, fat can also be very healthy in the unsaturated form, such as olive oil, avocados, and nuts. Unfortunately, animal fat is just not very healthy. Predominately of the saturated variety, animal fat may be heart stoppingly delicious, and simply heart stopping. So let’s find ways to still enjoy our fats and our fun without near death experiences.

With that, I present to you “Boneless” Cauliflower Hot Wings. These suckers are so good you will never remember you are eating a vegetable! With a crispy crust and a creamy, yet crunchy interior they are to die for. I do dip these in a blue cheese dressing, and yes this is high in saturated fat – but c’mon we just knocked off like a million calories by using cauliflower – so live a little, will ya.

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We start by trimming the cauliflower into small pieces and dipping them in a seasoned batter before baking them. I had on hand a few samples of an all purpose gluten-free flour that I was interested in testing out, so I used this- but regular whole wheat flour works great as well.

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Once the cauliflower pieces are coated in the batter, bake for 15 minutes. Remove them from the oven and coat with the hot sauce mixture (cayenne pepper sauce, I like Frank’s Red Hot, and a dollop of coconut oil). Return these little jewels to the toasty oven to cook for an additional 12-14 minutes or until golden brown and crisp. If they aren’t crisping up enough, place them under the broiler for 3-4 minutes.

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I like extra sauce, so I prefer to drizzle additional hot sauce over the “hot wings” when they are fresh out of the oven. Serve with your favorite blue cheese dressing and celery sticks, and enjoy!!

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“Boneless” Cauliflower Hot Wings

Ingredients

    Wings
  • 1 Head Cauliflower
  • Batter
  • 1 Cup All Purpose Gluten-Free or Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1 Cup Water
  • 1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
  • ¼ Teaspoon Black Pepper
  • Sauce
  • ½ Cup Cayenne Pepper Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Coconut or Olive oil

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Trim and cut cauliflower into bite-sized pieces.
  3. Mix together batter ingredients
  4. Add cauliflower pieces to batter and coat evenly
  5. Spread onto baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes
  6. Remove from oven and coat with sauce mixture. Bake for an additional 12-14 minutes
  7. If “wings” aren’t crispy enough, place under the broiler for an additional 3-4 minutes
  8. Coat with extra sauce if you so choose. Serve with celery and blue cheese dressing. Enjoy!
http://tastefulwisdom.com/boneless-cauliflower-hot-wings/

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Frozen Chocolate Covered Banana Sandwiches

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Here in Florida, while the rest of the country is celebrating the ice melting, we are preparing for summer. With temperatures in the 90’s for the past two weeks, it is apparent that the heat index is going nowhere but up.  Growing up in Florida, this warm breeze meant school was coming to an end and the fun was about to begin! Summers were full of sunshine and sun showers, pool parties and long days at the beach. It brings a certain smell to the air. A familiar smell, that reminds me of firecrackers and barbecues and chlorine drenched hands picking up sandwiches and snacks before taking another jump in the pool. There is no better smell in the world.
As we rejoice in the heat, why not find solace with a cool frozen treat –  but rather than downing a frozen sugary juice, let’s  indulge in a cold snack that has protein, fiber, sweetness, and is filling enough to satisfy in one or two bites. Behold, Frozen Chocolate Covered Banana Sandwiches! These little babies are great to make for kids and adults alike. A healthy helping of almond butter sandwiched between two slices of bananas then covered in chocolate… How can you go wrong!? They are simple, fun, and the perfect sweet snack to cool off under the sun.
20140427-132447.jpg Make your banana sandwiches by placing roughly a teaspoon of almond butter in between two slices of banana. To skewer or not to skewer….I prefer to add a skewer to the sandwiches before freezing them. A Popsicle stick would work just fine, but it may be a bit on the large side. I purchased mini wood skewers and cut them down with a pair of craft scissors to about 4 inches. You can choose not to skewer and I promise they will be just as delicious! 20140427-132438.jpg
After assembling the sandwiches, place in the freezer for at least 2 hours (but no more than 12 hours to avoid freezer taste). Before taking them out of the freezer, prepare the chocolate. I like to use dark chocolate baking chips to up the antioxidant potential and decrease the cloying sweetness that semi-sweet chips can bring. Melting chocolate can be tricky because heating just a few seconds too long,  will leave you with a burnt mess. This is one of the few occasions that I prefer the microwave. I have burned chocolate one too many times in a double boiler and have never had a problem in the microwave. Add chocolate chips to a microwave safe bowl and place in the microwave for 30 seconds. You will notice they have become slightly shiny as the melting has just begun. Give them a stir and place back in the microwave for 20 seconds. Again, remove and stir. Repeat this process usually about one or two more times until the chocolate is almost all melted. The heat from the bowl will melt the remaining chocolate as you stir. This will keep the chocolate from seizing. When the chocolate is smooth and creamy, dip each banana sandwich one by one. Use the back of a spoon or a small spatula to ensure that the chocolate completely coats the bananas. Place back in the freezer for an hour, and they are ready to serve! After the bananas are completely frozen, store them in a freezer bag to guarantee freshness for up to one month. Enjoy!
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