Tag Archives: vegan

What is Quinoa Anyway?

If you’re anything like me, you’ve likely heard of quinoa before and all it’s powerful health benefits, but aren’t really sure if you want to try it. I’m not adventurous when it comes to food, I never have been. So when I hear about all the latest “super foods”, I’m always a little skeptical. Sure, they have great health benefits, but what if they taste like dirt?

When I first heard about quinoa, I couldn’t even pronounce it, let alone know what it was or what to do with it. Back in the day, I would have loved a manual for dummies on how to cook all the healthiest of foods, and what was just so great about them.

Since I never found one, I figured I might as well create one for you and that is what I intend to do. Over the next few months, I’m going to be covering some “health-nut” foods that you may be skeptical about eating. I’m going to teach why they’re so good for us, how to cook them, and how to make them taste great.

First up: Quinoa 

Quinoa is actually a seed and not a whole grain. When planning meals though, I typically consider it more of a grain and less of a seed, simply because it is higher in carbohydrates than it is in fats. Quinoa is naturally gluten free making it an awesome replacement for pasta-based dishes. You can even use quinoa flour for baking.

One of my favorite things about quinoa though is that it is the only vegetarian source of a complete protein. This means it contains all the essential amino acids our bodies need. It also has a low glycemic load, meaning it won’t spike your blood sugar, plus it is high in fiber, meaning it will be slow to digest and will hold you over for a long time.

In terms of vitamins and minerals, quinoa contains both antioxidants and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. It naturally contains a good source of folate and magnesium, two things crucial to a healthy diet.

Now for my favorite part…

What do you do with it?

Cook quinoa, as you would rice. Combine the quinoa and a liquid of your choice in a 2:1 (water to quinoa) ratio in a saucepan. For example, if you have ½ cup dry quinoa, you would combine it with 1 cup of water. Bring your liquid and quinoa to a boil in a saucepan. Once it begins to boil, cover and cook over medium heat, 15-20 minutes, or until the liquid is fully absorbed. Fluff with a fork and enjoy.

Quinoa is pretty bland in flavor so I like to cook mine in something with a little flavor. Some of my favorites are vegetable broth for a savory dish, and apple juice diluted with water for a sweet dish.

Quinoa is a great way to switch up your breakfast options and get a protein boost early in the day. One of my favorites is quinoa cooked in a little apple juice diluted with water and tossed with fresh sliced strawberries and a drizzle of peanut butter.

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Add quinoa to your salads for added texture, flavor, and protein. This is a spinach salad with oranges, strawberries, sliced almonds, and quinoa. 

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Mix in beans and vegetables for a protein packed vegetarian or vegan meal. Here I have black beans, quinoa, tomato paste, bell peppers, chili powder, and paprika. 

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Or add in ground meat for a filling and savory meal. Here I have mixed ground turkey with quinoa, baby spinach, and diced tomatoes. 

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What’s your favorite dish with quinoa? Any mystery health foods you’d like me to uncover?

P.S. Don’t forget, my 21-Day Clean Up Your Diet Program is running again starting Monday November 4th! Registration opens on October 23rd but get on the waitlist now to be sure you get all the details!  

Super Food Macaroon Bars

Back to School Time is upon us! That means some extra, easily packable recipes from me. These bars make the perfect granola bar replacement and they are packed with super-foods and 100% gluten free. They would work great in your child’s lunchbox or as your own sweet treat! They are also packed full of my absolute favorite food: coconut!  They are no bake and take minutes to make. You can even get the kids involved. Hope you enjoy them!

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Ingredients: 

  • 1-cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup almond meal
  • 1 tbs. maca powder
  • 2 tbs. melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • ¼ cup goji berries
  • ¼ cup carob chips or cacao nibs

Directions:

  1. In a mixing bowl combine the coconut, maca powder, sea salt, and almond meal until combined.
  2. Next add in the maple syrup, vanilla extract, and coconut oil, stirring well to combine.
  3. Lastly add in the goji berries and carob chips.
  4. If the mixture is not sticking well together add in another tablespoon of maple syrup.
  5. Press the mixture into a 6X6 container, cover, and freeze overnight.
  6. Slice into bars and store in the freezer.

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P.S. You only have a few days left to sign up for my 21-Day Clean Up Your Diet Program!

I promise you won’t be disappointed. These will be 21 days packed with nutrition advice, recipes, and more. You can ditch all the diet books for good. Some side effects might include improved digestion, weight loss, improved energy, and better sleep! The best part?! It only takes 21 days :) Head over here to sign up now!

Raw Chocolate Macaroons (Gluten Free, Paleo, and Vegan)

It’s no secret I have a serious love of chocolate. Unfortunately a lot of my prior favorite chocolate treats are loaded with a combination of chocolate and sugar. Instead I try to find the purest, best chocolatey foods I can find, and limit the sugar. If I can’t find them, I make my own and this recipe is no exception. The sugar comes from pure maple syrup, and while it is still sugar, it is a far more natural form than white table sugar. These macaroons remind me of my favorites from Hail Merry. They are easy to make and require absolutely no baking. I’ve even provided you with a bunch of versions just in case you’re not as big of a chocolate fan as me. Enjoy!

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Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ c pure maple syrup
  • ¼ cup almond meal 
  • 2 tbs. unsweetened cocoa (or cacao) powder
  • 2 tbs. melted coconut oil
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • sprinkle of sea salt

Directions: 

  1. In a mixing bowl combine the shredded coconut, almond meal, cocoa powder, and sea salt, mixing well. 
  2. Slowly add in the maple syrup, mixing well to combine.
  3. Add in the melted coconut oil and vanilla extract.
  4. Form the mixture into small rounded tablespoon-sized macaroons.
  5. Place on greased parchment paper and freeze until set (about 2 hours or so).
  6. Store in the freezer or refrigerator

Makes 9 macaroons

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Vanilla Bean Macaroons 

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Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • ¼ c pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup almond meal
  • 2 tbs. melted coconut oil
  • ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • The beans from ½ of a vanilla bean
  • Sprinkle of sea salt

Directions: 

  1. In a mixing bowl combine the shredded coconut, almond meal, vanilla beans, and sea salt, mixing well.
  2. Slowly add in the maple syrup, mixing well to combine.
  3. Add in the melted coconut oil and vanilla extract.
  4. Form the mixture into small rounded tablespoon-sized macaroons.
  5. Place on greased parchment paper and freeze until set (about 2 hours or so).
  6. Store in the freezer or refrigerator

Makes 9 macaroons

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Cinnamon Cacao Nib Macaroons

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Ingredients: 

  • 1 cup shredded unsweetened coconut
  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • ¼ cup almond meal
  • 2 tbs. cacao nibs
  • 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • Dash of sea salt
  • 2 tbs. melted coconut oil
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup

Directions: 

  1. In a mixing bowl combine the shredded coconut, coconut flakes, almond meal, cacao nibs, cinnamon, and sea salt, mixing well.
  2. Slowly add in the maple syrup, mixing well to combine.
  3. Add in the melted coconut oil and vanilla extract.
  4. Form the mixture into small rounded tablespoon-sized macaroons.
  5. Place on greased parchment paper and freeze until set (about 2 hours or so).
  6. Store in the freezer or refrigerator

Makes 9 macaroons

What’s your favorite chocolate (or vanilla) treat? 

P.S. Check out my latest post on Mind, Body, Green. It’s a fun slideshow of the 5 Foods You Should Eat for Great Health and How to Enjoy Them. Read more here.

Strawberry Watermelon Kale Salad with Coconut Lime Dressing

Summer is here and with it comes tons of fun, but also tons of excuses to fall off the wagon when it comes to your nutrition. Barbeques, pool parties, and labor day weekend is coming up — you name it something is happening every weekend. Just because you’re eating out or cooking outside doesn’t mean your healthy diet has to be derailed.

This does not mean you need to fear all of these fun summer outings…at all. One of the exact reasons I got started in the nutrition field was because I realized there was more to life than dieting, and wanted to share that with the world. It is totally possible to live a healthy lifestyle and have a blast while doing it.

So my number one tip is this: don’t skip the summer parties to be “healthy”. Did you know that when we are relaxed and having fun we are actually primed to have a high metabolism. It’s plain and simple fact that eating under stress, or just stress in general can actually slow down your metabolism! So relax and enjoy the summer parties. Another thing you can to do to ease your stress, bring something with you.

One of my favorite things to do in the summer is bring along one of my favorite healthy dishes to each event I attend. Not only do I know that there will be something there I will feel good about eating, but I can also share my favorites with friends and family and hopefully rub off a little healthy eating onto them.

Fun fact about this particular recipe: I made it for a family cookout last summer and my grandpa loved it. He even asked if I knew that kale was really good for you! I’ve posted a recipe similar before but wanted to spruce this one up for you!

So here’s one of my favorite summer dishes. Enjoy!

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Ingredients:

▪ 4 cups chopped and rinsed Kale
▪ 1 cup diced watermelon
▪ 1 cup shredded carrots
▪ 10 medium strawberries, chopped
▪ 1/4 cup dried apple juice sweetened dried cherries or dried cranberries
▪ ¼ cup hemp seeds
▪ 1 lime
▪ 1 tbs. coconut oil

Directions:

1. In a large bowl combine your chopped kale, diced watermelon, shredded carrots, and sliced strawberries.
2. Toss in your hemp seeds and dried cherries or cranberries.
3. Once mixed, use a zester to zest about ½ of the lime peel into the salad.
4. In a separate bowl combine a tablespoon of melted coconut oil with juice of ½ the lime and stir well. This is your dressing.
5. Drizzle your dressing over the salad and toss to enjoy.

Makes 8 side salad servings

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Want more recipes like this? Check out my Non-Diet Guide to having a life and body you love!

What’s your favorite food to bring to a party? 

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