Peanut Butter and Jelly Quinoa

Looks like winter is planning to stick around a bit longer. Everyone keeps saying March is the worst month in New England. It sounds like it should be a spring month and we’re all so ready, but Mother Nature keeps us waiting.

Oh well, at least there are cute pictures of puppy paw prints in the snow…

paw prints in the snow

and lattes…

coffee

and peanut butter and jelly quinoa…

peanut butter and jelly quinoa

but I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

Yesterday’s attempt at a quinoa casserole turned out to be a semi-flop. The flavors were good but overall it was way too dry. I ended up eating it with salsa on top but it still didn’t do it for me. I have some ideas on how to fix it and will keep tweaking until it’s sharable.

quinoa casserole

I also made a basil, pear, pineapple smoothie yesterday. I’d never made a smoothie with basil but I had some wilting in the fridge (like always) and thought I’d try. I don’t know what to make of it. At first sip it was not good, then I had another, the pear was making it gritty, still not good. Then I had another sip and another until the whole thing was gone. Hmm, couldn’t have been that bad. 🙂 It definitely wasn’t ready to share, but with the right fruit pairing I’m sure it can be a refreshing drink.

Okay, where was I? Ah, peanut butter and jelly quinoa, yes.

I love pb&j’s. I ate them almost everyday when I was growing up, except on the days I’d switch it up to have a delectable ketchup sandwich. Yup, I just said ketchup sandwich! I bet my mom is wondering why she ever let us make our own lunches.

This quinoa has the same flavorings as a traditional pb&j but is made with healthy quinoa instead of white or wheat bread, plus, no crusts to cut off! Also, if your quinoa is already cooked it takes less than 3 minutes to put together. Perfect for a quick breakfast or kid’s lunch.

Peanut Butter and Jelly Quinoa (vegan, gluten-free, soy-free)

1 cup cooked quinoa

2 tablespoons natural peanut butter

pinch of salt

1/2 cup milk of choice, I’ve been loving rice milk instead of almond lately

1 tablespoon of your favorite jam

————

Cook quinoa according to these directions.

While quinoa is cooking mix peanut butter, milk and salt together. If the mixture is to thick add a little bit more milk.

peanut butter and milk

Place quinoa in a bowl.

quinoa

Top with peanut butter mixture.

peanut butter and jelly quinoa

Then some jelly.

peanut butter and jelly quinoa

Mix. Eat. Gobble the whole thing up like a kid.

peanut butter and jelly quinoa

Enjoy and Exhale!

Quinoa Vegetable Spring Rolls

I made these on Friday after coming back from a super hot and sweaty yoga class. I was in the mood for something light but still filling and frankly I was looking for an excuse to eat a bunch of dipping sauces. These spring rolls were just the thing.

quinoa vegetable spring rolls

I didn’t have any rice noodles so I substituted red quinoa; it added some heft and substance to these rolls. I love how versatile this recipe is. Swap in some tempeh, tofu, maybe even some lentils instead of the quinoa. If you try lentils let me know how it goes, I worry they might not hold together well. You can also mix and match the veggies, I wish I’d have had some bean sprouts, next time.

Quinoa Vegetable Spring Rolls (vegan, gluten-free)

5 brown rice paper wrappers

water for wetting the wrappers

1 cup cooked quinoa, any variety

1/2 avocado, thinly sliced

1 small carrot, cut into match sticks

cilantro

sriracha

spicy mustard

————

Cut your veggies in long match sticks. Still working on my knife skills. 🙂

spring roll vegetables

Grab your rice paper wrappers. I used brown rice wrappers. They were a little old and kept breaking on me. Buy a fresh package if you’re looking to wow with the presentation.

brown rice spring roll wrappers

Put some water on a large plate, place one wrapper on the plate at a time. If you have plates without the center rim I would use those. If not, make sure to move the wrappers around so the water evenly coats the wrapper.

place water on a plate

The wrappers should be soft but not falling apart. Let excess water drip off before placing on a second plate. Pile with quinoa, vegetables, cilantro and sauces.

veggie spring roll prep veggie spring roll prep

To roll, turn two sides in on the topping. Then roll the far side over the two sides you just turned in until the seams are covered. I’m sorry there aren’t step by step pictures. I’ll try to take some next time I make these.

veggie spring roll prep quinoa vegetable spring rolls quinoa vegetable spring rolls

Eat with additional mustard and sriracha if you’re like me and love sauces. These would also be tasty with my cilantro stem dressing.

quinoa vegetable spring rolls

Enjoy and Exhale!

Christmas Colored Quinoa

It’s been a lot of sweets around here lately and although I love me some sugar, it’s time for something savory.

tomato basil quinoa

This quinoa salad seems a little summery for late December but let’s use red and green to our advantage and say this is a Christmas themed quinoa salad shall we? Even if it’s really just a product of the leftovers from my paninis earlier this week.

This basil has been taunting me, slowly turning brown with each passing day, and yet I didn’t know what to do with it. And these grape tomatoes, although completely out of season, taste surprisingly sweet and shouldn’t be wasted. So I decided to keep with the panini theme in quinoa form. I mixed the grape tomatoes and basil with sun-dried tomatoes, balsamic vinegar and a big squeeze of lemon for a dish that makes it feel like August in December.

Just a little something healthy in between all the Christmas cookies.

Tomato, Basil Quinoa Salad (vegan, gluten-free)

2 cups dry quinoa

4 cups water

pinch of salt

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar, reduced to 1/4 cup

2 tablespoons olive oil

salt to taste

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 cup grape tomatoes

2 tablespoons of lemon juice

1/4 cup basil, cut into ribbons

————

Cook quinoa according to these directions.

While quinoa is cooking, heat the balsamic vinegar in a saucepan on medium low. Reduce to about half, approximately 7-8 minutes. The vinegar should still be liquid-y, don’t let it get too thick.

Chop tomatoes into bite size pieces and chiffonade the basil (i.e. French for cut into little ribbons).  grape tomatoes

sundried tomatoes and basil

Place quinoa in a bowl with the tomatoes and basil. Mix in balsamic reduction, olive oil, lemon and salt.

quinoa salad

I mixed the basil in when I took these photos but you can also just top with basil at the very end if you prefer.

tomato basil quinoa

I also only used 1 cup dry quinoa in my recipe and found it a little heavy on the vinegar. Hence the quinoa in my photos will seem a bit darker than yours will, use 2 cups quinoa as the recipe states and I think it will be just right.

Enjoy and Exhale!

Red Lentil Chickpea Hummus

I’ve been in a hummus slump, if such a thing exists. I love Sabre hummus but for some reason it hasn’t been appealing to me lately. We’ve been buying it for the past year but recently it’s largely getting left in the fridge until it’s so old that I feel obligated to throw it out. Hating to waste food I’ve stopped buying it.

The other day while reading Health Magazine I saw a recipe for homemade red lentil hummus and it got the wheels turning. Before store-bought hummus, I used to make my own. Why did I ever stop?

Off I went to the kitchen. I had red lentils and some of the other ingredients from the magazine’s recipe but not all of them. I also had a tupperware filled with chickpeas that needed to be used up. I decided to mix the lentils and beans with whatever else I had on hand to see if it tasted any good.

Verdict? I licked the bowl clean.

The lentils add creaminess and bulk that you don’t get from chickpeas alone. I ate it for lunch with veggies and crackers and felt full through my afternoon workout and long wait at the Registry of Motor Vehicles, blech.

This recipe is so versatile. Feel free to add whatever herbs and spices you have lying around. Varieties with parsley, green onions, turmeric, curry powder, etc would be fabulous. It also only took about 20 minutes start to finish including the cooking of the lentils. I may start making big batch on Sundays for quick use throughout the week.

red lentils

Oh, and if you’re wondering how vegetarians get their protein wonder no more. Red lentils! 40 grams of protein for 1 cup. Just to put that in perspective, a cup of milk has 10 grams. These are some powerful little legumes. Enough nutrition, time for the recipe.

Red Lentil Chickpea Hummus (vegan, vegetarian, gluten-free)

1 cup red lentils, cooked

1/2 cup chickpeas, cooked

1 tablespoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

juice of half a lemon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon tahini

1/2 tablespoon minced garlic

1/2-1 tablespoon olive oil, start with 1/2 and if the hummus seems too thick add the other 1/2

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar mixed with 1 tablespoon water

handful of cilantro

————

Rinse lentils and sort through for any twigs or rocks.

Bring lentils to a boil, then reduce to a simmer until tender. I didn’t measure how much water I added but I’d guess it was a 2:1 ratio and the water was completely evaporated by the time the lentils were done.

In a food process, add all ingredients.

red lentil chickpea hummus

Run processor until mixture is almost smooth. You will probably need to scrap down the sides once or twice. I like my hummus a little chunkier but keep processing until it’s at your desired consistency.

red lentil chickpea hummus

Taste to make sure seasoning is right. Adjust accordingly. I needed more salt and cayenne while making mine.

Serve with your favorite crackers and raw vegetables. This would also be great on a wrap or sandwich. hummusred lentil chickpea hummus

Enjoy!

Recipe FAIL(s)

It’s not all rainbows and kittens here at quinoa, kale and exhale. Sometimes you start a recipe with the highest of expectations and then it turns out to be a big fat flop!

Yesterday I set out to make gluten-free bread sticks. I did some research online, per usual. I mixed the yeast with warm almond milk and sugar. I added it to the dry ingredients, plus some fresh rosemary. I formed the bread sticks, brushed them with garlicky vegan butter and crossed my fingers. Michael came home about an hour later and I eagerly showed him the baked bread sticks, they looked so nice. He took a bite, looked at me with a mouth full and shook his head ‘no, I do NOT think so’. He’s my biggest fan in the kitchen and often says things are better than they actually are so when he denied the bread sticks I knew I had to admit defeat…this time.

With no bread stick recipe to share with you I scoured the web and my cookbooks for some inspiration. Last week I bought some mustard seeds and I thought maybe a sweet mustard salad dressing would be the perfect make-up recipe for today’s post.

But, some days the cooking gods are just not in your favor. The only successful thing I’ve done in the last hour is burn two sets of mustard seeds and make a horrible charred and acidic mustard dressing.

I am now sitting under a big blanket with the windows wide open, letting in the 40 degree air so I can rid the house of the smell of failure 🙂

Lunch today? The simplest kale salad with rice wine vinegar, salt and water chestnuts and some Trader Joe’s veggie pot stickers.

White flag waving.

Until tomorrow.

 

Pumpkin Acorn Squash Soup

If I’m not tweaking someone else’s recipe, I’m developing my own. Although recipe development seems really high-tech and makes me sound way cooler then I am. In truth, I’m not that high-tech or cool, the process is pretty simple and goes something like this:

1.) What do I feel like eating? Some days this is clearer than others. There are days when I sit around for a long time trying to decide what I feel like. Those are often the days you get smoothie recipes. 🙂

2.) What do we have in the house?

3.) Based on what we have, what looks interesting and inspiring on Tastespotting, Foodgawker, Epicurious or other food blogger’s sites?

Then I pull up a word doc and start writing out an ingredients list. Then I cook. If the recipe turns out worth sharing I then write the directions out for you all, adjusting the ingredients to match how I made something. If the recipe sort of sucks, you get pictures of my dog!

Today the recipe did not suck, in fact, it was down right tasty. And I’m sorry that you’re getting another pumpkin recipe but you can omit it if you’re all pumpkin’d out. I just happen to have 1/2 a can leftover from the smoothie yesterday. I also used the other 1/2 of the jalapeno from Monday’s juice as I try to use up what’s left in the fridge before Michael leaves for London for work and I head to Chicago for my mom’s birthday weekend.

Pumpkin Acorn Squash Soup

1 acorn squash, roasted, fleshed scooped out

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 apple, cored and chopped

2 ribs celery, diced

1 onion, diced

1 tablespoon garlic, minced

1/2 jalapeño, diced

1/2 can pumpkin puree

4 cups veggie stock

1 tablespoon cumin

1 bay leaf

salt to taste

————

Preheat oven to 375.

Carefully cut the acorn squash in half.

Scoop out the seeds, lay face down on a sprayed cookie sheet and prick with a fork a few times. Roast for 30 minutes or so until a fork can slide through easily.

In a stockpot over medium high heat, saute apple, celery, onion and jalapeno in olive oil until tender.

Add vegetable stock.

Scoop squash out of skin and add to the pot with the 1/2 can of pumpkin puree.

Add cumin and bay leaf. Let soup come to a boil then reduce to a simmer for 45 minutes.

Salt soup and remove bay leaf.

With an immersion blender, blend soup until smooth. You can also do this in batches in a blender or a food processor.

This soup has the perfect balance of earthiness from the squash, sweetness from the apple and spiciness from the jalapeno. I serve with pepitas, sunflower seeds and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Enjoy!

Poblano Hemp Seed Salad Dressing

I’ve always been a big sauce person. If the normal person eats their french fries with ketchup, I eat mine with ketchup, bbq sauce and ranch. So a few years ago when I started examining my diet more closely I was a little horrified by the amount of processed sauces I was actually eating; especially in the form of ranch dressing.

I can honestly say that I was probably going through a huge bottle of Hidden Valley Light Ranch almost every month! And justifying it because it was ‘light’ of course, simply ignoring the mile long ingredient list. In full transparency, I still indulge in ranch every once in a while when dining out but I’ve started creating my own salad dressings for every day use. I have also created a vegan ranch, with Michael’s help, but that’s not today’s recipe.

This dressing came about because of a sad looking poblano pepper sitting in my fruit basket. I intended to use it last week in some recipe I’ve long forgotten about. The thing is, I really hate to waste food, so I started wracking my brain for recipes using this poor pepper. While looking through my pantry I came across a big bag of hulled hemp seeds I bought this weekend. Between the two I figured I could come up with a flavorful salad dressing made of whole foods.

Poblano Hemp Seed Salad Dressing

1 poblano pepper, de-seeded and diced

1/4 cup of hulled hemp seeds (these are sometimes also called hemp hearts)

3 tablespoons water

juice of 1 lemon

2 tablespoons garlic infused olive oil (or regular olive oil and a teaspoon minced garlic)

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

salt

————

Soak hemp seeds in 3 tablespoons of water for 15 minutes. When I attempted to make this yesterday I didn’t soak the seeds and they wouldn’t blend in my immersion blender. If you’re using a food processor or high-speed blender you may not need to soak but I found that adding this step helped create a creamy, smooth dressing.

Dump hemp seeds and soaking water in food processor. Add all remaining ingredients except salt.

Whirl until smooth. You may need to scrap down the sides a few times.

Add salt to taste at the end. I didn’t measure how much salt I put in but if I had to guess I’d say 1/2 teaspoon, maybe a bit less.

I had this dressing over a kale salad with delicata squash but this would also be great over a taco salad. The poblano has a hint of spice but is very mild. For a spicier version, try with a jalapeno.

 

Enjoy!

Weekend Update

I know today wasn’t a holiday for many people but they take Columbus pretty seriously in New England so we had a nice 3 day weekend here in these parts.

The weather was a sort of mixed bag. It was 80 and beautiful on Saturday and by Sunday it was 60 and rainy. We made the most of it regardless.

Friday night looked a lot like this.

Wii bowling!

And Michael looking shocked that I’d won 2 in a row. In his defense I’m not usually this lucky.

Saturday we explored Boston by foot. We had brunch in the South End at a place called El Centro. The service was pretty sub par but the food more than made up for it. I had a veggie quesadilla and Michael had the huevos. We shared a side of guac.

After lunch we walked.

North End

Old men playing bocce.

Cute street in Beacon Hill.

Some PDA.

Beautiful fall colors.

On Sunday we went to the Patriots Broncos game! I’ve been a Patriots fan since even before moving to Boston (don’t ask) and Michael is from Colorado so this game was extra special for us. We scored some really great seats. I’m pretty sure it’s the closest to Brady I’m ever going to get 🙂

 

Patriots win! Too bad Manning.

Tomorrow a recipe and a recap of today’s race.

Happy Monday.