Showing posts with label vegetarian. Show all posts
Showing posts with label vegetarian. Show all posts

Monday, August 29, 2011


After a brief hiatus from blogging, I have returned with a healthy vengeance! For those who don't already know, I am 18 weeks pregnant. What this means for the blog is that I have to give up wine (sob!) and start watching what I eat more closely. No more sushi, no more lunch meats, no more soft/unpasteurized cheeses...but that doesn't mean that I can't have fun with food anymore! One of these fun, healthy foods I have been enjoying of late is quinoa.

If you are unfamiliar with quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa), it's a grain that is said to originate in the Andean region of South America. What makes this food so super is that it's known as a complete protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids, making this a great food for the vegetarian/vegan diet. It is also gluten-free, great for celiacs too! All this on top of being fun to say, of course :P Quinoa can be cooked up like rice, couscous, etc, or eaten raw, but I find it best to rinse it first to remove it's bitter coating.

My vegetarian mother introduced me to quinoa a couple of years ago while I was visiting her back in my hometown. She likes to cook hers up and grill it in a wrap on a panini press with various vegetables she has in the house-she also includes hummus and sometimes cheese. One time she threw avocado in a wrap she made for me, WOW! I was sold on quinoa in that moment!

We've had quinoa in the house for the past week and since I'm a "qui-newbie" with using it, I referred to some of my cookbooks, as well as the internet, to see what I could do with it. I made 3 side dishes for 3 meals throughout the week to use it all up. A great time-saving tip I found on is to cook up a large amount of quinoa at a time, way more than you need, and use it as you need it throughout the week.

The first dish I attempted was called Basil Quinoa with Red Bell Pepper. Cooked quinoa is tossed with red bell pepper in a pureed basil-parmesan-garlic-lemon homemade dressing. I served it as a side along roasted pork tenderloin in a curry paste rub. The recipe is found in the Sonoma Diet Cookbook. Although the recipe is definitely healthy, I found it to be lacking in taste, despite the fact that I used fresh basil, garlic, etc. I will make it again, but will double the dressing recipe for added flavor.

The next dish I tried was also from the Sonoma Diet Cookbook, Grilled Beef with Quinoa and Vegetables. In this dish, cooked quinoa is combined with green beans, roasted bell peppers, and a dressing that includes red wine vinegar, olives, and olive oil. I had to make a few changes because I didn't have olives, and I prefer to eat my bell peppers raw instead of roasted. I served it alongside a top sirloin steak with a fennel seed rub. I will definitely make this again!

Finally, I found a great salad recipe on that pairs fresh cherries and quinoa with other power foods such as spinach and walnuts. Click here to see the recipe! Of course, I made a few changes. Instead of goat's cheese I used cranberry/pepper flavoured Boursin cheese, I didn't toast my walnuts, and I thawed frozen cherries and used the leftover juice to make a cherry vinaigrette. In my opinion, this was the best of all 3 recipes I tried. The bitterness of the spinach and walnuts was muted but was still complemented by the sweetness of the cherries and the cheese. Wonderfully balanced dish. It got great reviews at the BBQ I originally served it at, and I liked it so much I made it again tonight (cheese-free) as an accompaniment to chicken breasts stuffed with the leftover Boursin.

Quinoa doesn't have to be limited to just sides and salads - there are tons of other great recipes for cooking with quinoa, including the ones on the website I mentioned above. There's a recipe on the site for flourless chocolate cake, and I definitely plan to try it sometime! All you have to do is look, cook and definitely open your mind. At first, I had no intention of trying quinoa. And thanks to my mom, I'm glad I did!

Saturday, February 19, 2011

A Great Vegetarian Soup for Hangovers!

"Hangovers. Because no good time goes unpunished."-A demotivational poster I have up on my wall at work. I spent most of today in pajamas with bangs wild & askew recovering from a great night with really good friends yesterday. It's just too bad that 3 pitchers of beer, too many to count amaretto & cokes and porn star shots will likely cause an internal revolution, because it is fun to do at the time!

I found the idea for this soup from a cookbook by a fabulous Canadian food personality, Lucy Waverman-the book was a gift from my mother-in-law last Christmas. I love this book because she shows her readers how to use unique items like fiddleheads in awesome ways. I'm hoping to try her recipe for cherry preserves in the future. The recipe I tried was her Spiced Cauliflower Soup with Spinach but her version calls for chicken broth, and I only had vegetable on hand. Also, I didn't season with salt or pepper-it didn't need it according to my tastebuds! The soup comes out a vibrant green color, a smooth, rich texture and full of spicy flavor. Here's my version:

1 head cauliflower, broken up into small florets
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp curry powder
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp fennel seeds, ground
1L vegetable broth
1 bunch spinach
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450F
2. Toss cauliflower with olive oil, cumin, curry powder, coriander and fennel seeds in a bowl. Pour into shallow roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes, turning once.
3. Bring veggie broth to a boil in a pot and add roasted cauliflower. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
4. Add wilted spinach and simmer for 1 minute max, until spinach is wilted and a dark emerald green colour.
5. Puree soup and return to heat on low simmer. Add lemon juice and season to taste.

Serve with crusty bread. Serves 4.

I calculated the nutritional information on this recipe through an iPhone app that I have. It's only 82 calories as made, and I love that you can make some changes so it's even healthier-by using canola oil instead of olive oil, and water instead of the broth! It's also be very high in iron from the spinach.

My husband took a photo of it when it was finished. Here's what it looked like:

Originally we were going to pair a bottle of rose wine with this, Robert Renzoni's 2008 La Rosa, but I want my friends to try this in a couple of weeks as I believe it cured a hangover in the past, so no go for tonight. Here's the side story for that belief:

Last May my husband and I took a side trip to Temecula, as part of a trip to California for his cousin's wedding. There is a small wine region nearby. The night before our wine tour we went out for sushi and wound up staying there until the wee hours of the morning drinking sake bombs as made by the sushi chefs. And boy did we ever get sake-bombed that night! I woke up the next morning while "praying to the porcelain Gods" and we had to leave the hotel at 10am for an all-day wine tour on the Grapeline. I wasn't sure I'd even make it through the first winery, I felt so sick during the first tasting! But I found a sweet surprise in the 2nd winery we visited, Robert Renzoni. Very plain looking on the exterior, but once we got to the tasting it was apparent that their main focus is on their wines, and they sell a fantastic Marinara Sauce too! The Rose was the highlight of the tasting, as I took one sip and I felt a million times better. In fact, I was easily able to stomach all the wines we tried from that point onwards! I ended up buying 2 bottles and the one pictured was signed by one of the owners, Fred Renzoni. He was so friendly and passionate about what he does. Lucky man.

After eating the soup I now feel so much better, just mostly lazy and tired, he he. If you're still reading, I'll end this entry with a video my husband took of us about to do a sake bomb on his phone. The girl knocking the sake into the beers with the samurai sword is me! If you're still reading this, check it out!