Mexican Kale Quinoa Salad

I can eat quinoa in so many ways, I throw it in stir frys, chili’s, in place of brown rice, but my husband doesn’t love quinoa, and will always go for the brown rice instead of quinoa. But this recipe is an exception. I think all the mexican foods, kale and the lime juice, masked the flavor and texture.He told me twice during dinner that he really liked this salad, and the next morning he had it for breakfast with some scrambled eggs on the side! If you’re looking for a good way to use this superfood, that contains all 9 essential amino acids, give this one a try!

THE RECIPE

Mexican Kale Quinoa Salad
Serves 6-8

1 c dry quinoa
1 1/2 c water
1/2 tsp sea salt, divided
3 c loosely packed, finely chopped kale, stems removed
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 jalapeno pepper, finely chopped (include seeds if you like spice)
1/2  red onion, chopped (if you don’t love onion, try soaking in cold water for 10 min, drain then add to salad)
1/2 c chopped cilantro leaves
1 1/2 c cooked black beans (or a 15 oz can, rinsed and drained)
1/3 c lime juice (about 3 limes)
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
1/2 c Feta cheese, crumbled (chopped olives work too)
1 avocado, sliced
1/2 c toasted pepitas (toast on cookie sheet in 350 degree oven for about 5-8 minutes)

In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring water, quinoa and 1/4 tsp salt to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes until water has been absorbed. Transfer to a large salad bowl and fluff with a fork. Set aside to cool. Once cool, add the kale, bell pepper, jalapeno, onion, cilantro, back beans, lime juice, oil, Feta cheese and remaining 1/4 tsp sea salt to the quinoa and toss to combine. Chill in the fridge until ready to serve. Just before serving, top with the avocado slices and pepitas.

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Filed under Dinner, gluten-free, Lunch, Salads, Snacks/Sides/Appetizers, vegan, vegetarian

Daily Food Journal: 7 days

“Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” -Michael Pollan

I love the quote above and try to follow it, eating lots of plants, and real foods as opposed to foods made in a lab, and not too much. The ‘not too much’ is probably the hardest part for me because I love food! Awhile back I read the book  “French kids eat everything”  and it was interesting to learn that snacking or grazing is something that is not done all over the world, and is, in fact, thought of as rude in some areas, like France. But it makes sense that if kids, and adults don’t snack, and are actually hungry at mealtimes, of course foods taste better and they’ll eat more variety! And it’s a good way to keep your weight in check. Anyway, that’s a bit off topic for today so let’s get back on track.

I often get asked what I eat in a day, or what a typical day looks like with food, so I thought I’d share a sample week. And since I’m a very visual person, I’ve made a collage of those foods I eat in a day. I really only have a couple of snacks(hummus and veggies, lara bar, fruit or shake) and lunch items(wraps, salad and oatmeal) that I eat regularly, though a couple of times a week I might have leftover dinner for lunch, so that does add variety. My breakfast almost never changes, besides adding a little something extra on Saturdays before my long run like a banana, rice cake with almond butter or a Superhero muffin. So you’ll see that I have my hot lemon water and green smoothie pictured daily. Also, the only thing I drink besides my smoothies/vegan protein shakes is water. And I drink a lot of water throughout the day, probably around 90 oz.

I’m pretty regular about when I wake up, go to sleep, and the times of day I eat so I thought I’d lay that out for you here as well:
515 am wake up, drink room temperature water from my water bottle on my nightstand (around 16 oz);
6-730 am exercise and drink water
8am  12oz hot lemon water
830am 32 oz green smoothie (I drink this over about an hour)
1130am lunch (if I’m really hungry before lunch, I’ll have a piece of fruit like a banana)
230pm snack
6pm dinner
930-10 asleep

Monday:
Breakfast: hot lemon water and green smoothie 
Lunch: wrap (lettuce, tomato, black beans, avocado, hummus, onion on Teff wrap)
Snack: rice cake with 1/2 Tbsp almond butter and apple slices
Dinner: salad and vegan Mac and Cheese

Tuesday:
Breakfast: hot lemon water and green smoothie
Lunch: Oatmeal with slice strawberries and coconut, and toast with coconut oil
Snack: banana and Lara Bar (my favorites are lemon, coconut cream pie, blueberry muffin and cherry pie; it’s nice to have a grab and go snack with no added sugars. Lara bars only have a few ingredients which are usually dates and some form of nuts and dried fruits)
Dinner: Enchilada Soup  and salad (not pictured)

Wednesday:
Breakfast: hot lemon water and green smoothie
Lunch: Granola with plain yogurt, honey and sliced strawberries
Snack: Maca Date Shake (I usually have this multiple times a week)
Dinner: veggie Stir Fry and watermelon

Thursday:
Breakfast: hot lemon water and green smoothie
Lunch: Oatmeal with toast
Snack: Vegan Protein Shake
Dinner: Baked Sweet Potato, Mexican Style (the rest of the family used Russet potatoes) and an orange

Friday:
Breakfast: hot lemon water and green smoothie
Lunch: Leftover veggie Stir Fry
Snack: 2 almond flax balls and a banana
Dinner: Homemade Whole Grain Pizza and salad (sometimes I like to put my salad on top and not use any dressing). We make pizza weekly.

Saturday:
Pre-long run: banana and Superhero muffin
Breakfast: hot lemon water and green smoothie
Lunch: Avocado Egg Salad Sandwich
S
nack : Hummus with veggies and sweet potato crackers or Ak Mak crackers
Dinner: Black bean, egg and veggie burrito (often Saturday night, Scott and I will go out to dinner and kids will get leftovers or something easy like spaghetti or Little Caesar’s Pizza…yes, I said it, we get Little Caesar’s for the kids. Don’t judge).

Sunday:
Breakfast: hot lemon water and green smoothie
Lunch: leftover Mexican Quinoa Salad
Snack: Banana
Dinner: Breakfast; usually pancakes or waffles with eggs and hashbrowns…sorry I couldn’t fit everything into the picture, but Sunday dinner is a BIG breakfast. Here is our pancakes with Squash and Onion Frittata.

And just so we’re clear here, I do have treats. Usually on the weekend I’ll have a bowl of popcorn with Strawberry Aussie licorice, and then probably once a week I’ll bake something using a healthier sweetener, like our peanut butter cookies, PB popcorn, candy bars, key lime pie or honey sweetened muffins etc and I’ll have some, but I try to limit my sugar consumption and stick to having a treat or two on the weekend.

 

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Yogurt Fruit Popsicle

When the weather warms up, this girl continuously begs to make popsicles. And today was her lucky day because Mom said yes! We actually make Yogurt Fruit Popsicles fairly regularly in the Summer because it’s nice to have a cool, healthy treat on hand, and the kids like to help make them so it turns into a fun family activity.

Here is everything you’ll need; and you can sweeten it with stevia, pure maple syrup or honey, whatever you like or whatever you have on hand.

 

Yogurt Fruit Popsicle
*makes about 8-10 popsicles

2 c plain yogurt
1 c frozen berries (I like to use a blueberry and strawberry combo)
2 Stevia packets (2 grams; could also sub 1/3 c honey or 1/3 c pure maple syrup)

Combine all ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into popsicle molds according to directions, and freeze 5 hours or overnight.

 

 

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Butternut Squash and Onion Frittata

I have my second ever half marathon coming up this Saturday morning and I’m a feeling a little nervous. I feel prepared, I trained a lot over the past four months, usually running 6 days a week, doing some speed work outs, long runs and easy runs each week, and also doing some yoga and weights mid week, but I ran this same half last year and I ran it hard, and I really want to get a personal record. But it may not happen. And that makes me nervous. But I know that in the long run, it doesn’t really matter and that PR or not, it’s gonna be okay.

Besides all my running, I’m also trying to get really nutritious and quality foods in this week(and always), and I’ve already got my dinner, the night before the race, and my breakfast that morning, all planned out. I’ve been trying lots of new recipes from Runner’s World magazine and my ‘Run Fast Eat Slow’ cook book and this is a recipe I lightly adapted from the Runner’s World magazine.   Scott and I LOVED this Frittata, though most of our kiddos didn’t appreciate all the chunky veggies.  But, since I don’t always cater to our children’s tastes anyway, because I know that they need to experience these foods so that they will one day develop a taste for them, we still make them and I will for sure be making this one again!

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You can buy already cubed butternut squash to save prep time, but to save money I usually buy the whole squash and then peel and cut it myself. And when I say ‘peel’, what I really mean is, I take a sharp knife and slice off all the skin with a downward motion on my cutting board. Once it’s all cubed, I put mine on a large rimmed baking sheet with a silicone liner, drizzle with my olive oil, salt and garlic and cook it in the oven at 425 degrees for about 30 minutes. You can do this step hours, or even a day, before you throw the dish together. If not using within a couple of hours, cover your squash and store in the fridge until you’re ready.

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In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, 1/4 tsp salt and pepper, feta cheese and cooked squash. Set aside. Heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Saute 1 sliced onion and cook, stirring until brown and soft, about 10 minutes.

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Pour the egg mixture into the cast iron skillet with onion and stir gently. Transfer to oven and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until eggs have set.


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Butternut Squash and Onion Frittata 

2 cups butternut squash, cubed
3 Tbsp olive oil, divided
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, sliced
9 eggs
1/4 tsp salt and pepper
1/2 c feta cheese

Cube butternut squash, if you haven’t already. Place on baking sheet, toss with 3 Tbsp olive oil, sprinkle with 1/4 tsp salt and garlic powder,  and cook in 425 degree oven for about 30 minutes. Set aside.

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in cast iron skillet (mine is 12 inches) over medium heat. Saute 1 sliced onion and cook, stirring until brown and soft, about 10 minutes. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, 1/4 tsp salt and pepper. Stir in  feta and 2 cups roasted cubed butternut squash. Pour into the cast iron skillet with onion and stir gently. Transfer to oven and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, until eggs have set. Serve warm.

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Quick Veggie Stir Fry

I love stir fry! I often eat them for lunch and I love that I can take whatever random leftover veggies I need to use from my fridge, throw them into a pan with some already cooked brown rice, a little sauce and some cashews and I have a healthy, yummy meal in very little time! I make brown rice in my rice cooker about once a week and make enough that I’ll have some leftover for this very reason. Another way to make this meal even faster is to chop up your veggies before hand and just have them ready in your fridge. Usually when I make dinner, if a recipe calls for part of a pepper/onion/broccoli etc, I will just cut up the whole thing which saves time later because I don’t have to get my cutting board and knife out again and wash them etc.

This is the sauce I use when I make this quick stir fry recipe (I also have a recipe for a sauce I make from scratch that I’ll share another time). I either use the coconut aminos or the teriyaki flavored coconut aminos, both taste great, and you could also use soy sauce or braggs liquid aminos.

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Here’s a picture of another stir fry I made with some fresh pineapple I had on hand. I love that you can play around and add in whatever you like. Sometimes I’ll throw in a 1/2 cup of quinoa too.

 

Veggie Stir Fry

1 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 white or yellow onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced
1 small package sliced mushrooms (white or cremini)
1/2 c raw cashews
optional: tofu, tempeh, broccoli, carrots, pineapple
1/4 c coconut aminos  (could use braggs liquid aminos or soy sauce)
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 c cooked brown rice

Melt coconut oil in a wok over medium/high heat. Add vegetables and allow to cook until softened and onions are translucent, adding 1 Tbsp water at a time, if necessary, to prevent sticking and burning about 3-5 minutes. Add cashews, coconut aminos, pepper flakes and brown rice and stir to combine. Turn heat to low and allow to cook for 2 more minutes. Serve immediately.

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Berry Crumble

I have no excuse for the ‘no-post’ last week except that I didn’t plan ahead, meaning we had guests in town for a week, then my kids were off of school the next week for Spring break which was the week of the missed post, and since I knew I wouldn’t get around to it with them around, I should’ve written the post awhile back, but I did not. So I apologize. But that’s not to say that this won’t ever happen again, because it probably will some day, but I will try to let them be few and far between. Alright, let’s move on!

Last week was my 34th birthday and my sweet husband (and bff) made me a dessert he thought I’d like but boy was he wrong…I LOVED it! He knew I’d like it because of the ingredients: no dairy, no refined sugar but still sweet with a crumble topping and just amazing! And really, you can’t go wrong when there’s a crumble topping. He doubled the crumble topping from the original recipe because he knows me :). This is our modified recipe with the doubled crumble topping. Finish it off with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, or in my case, coconut milk vanilla ‘ice cream’ or coconut milk whipped topping. I hope you enjoy!

Berry Crumble
serves 6-8

4 c sliced strawberries (frozen or fresh)
2 c blueberries (frozen or fresh)
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp corn starch or tapioca starch
1 1/2 c rolled oats
3/4 c almond flour or almond meal
1 c chopped raw walnuts or pecans
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp sea salt
2/3 c pure maple syrup
1/2 c coconut oil, melted
Vanilla ice cream or whipped cream (I use coconut milk ‘ice cream’ instead of dairy)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and adjust rack to center of oven. Get out a 12 inch  cast iron skillet(or 9×13 pan) and set aside. In a large bowl, toss together the strawberries, blueberries, lemon juice and corn starch. Spread the mixture in the skillet or 9×13; no need to grease. In the same bowl, whisk together the oats, almond flour or meal, nuts, cinnamon, ginger and salt. Add the maple syrup and oil and stir until combined. Spread the oat topping evenly over the berry mixture. Place in the center of the oven. Bake until the topping is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling, 25-30 minutes(closer to 30  if using frozen fruit). Serve warm or at room temperature with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

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Superhero Muffins

These Superhero Muffins are a recipe I lightly adapted from the cook book, Run Fast, East Slow. Shalane, an olympic marathon runner, often enjoys one of these before a long run or as a snack. They are filled with nutrient dense ingredients including zucchini, carrots, almond meal(they’re gluten-free), oats, walnuts and more! Shalane used olive oil in her recipe, but we subbed that out for coconut oil and a little applesauce, but either way works great.

If you’re not sure how to get grated zucchini and carrots, take a look at the picture below. Basically, I grate it on the really small holes on my cheese grater.

We added carob chips to these muffins, but you could also do chocolate chips or raisins, or you can leave them.

I like to line my muffin tins with silicone liners for easy clean up, and so it’s easy for the kids to grab one and take it to school for lunch. Paper liners are great too, I just always have these on hand because they’re reusable. You can also just spray the pan with Pam.

Enjoy!

Superhero Muffins– adapted from Run Fast, Eat Slow
*makes 15 muffins

1/4 c coconut oil (or olive oil)
2 Tbsp applesauce
1/2 c pure maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1 c zucchini (about 1 zucchini)
1 c grated carrots(about 2 carrots)
3 eggs
2 c almond meal**
1 c rolled oats
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
(optional) 1/2 c chopped walnuts
(optional) 1/2 c raisins, chopped dates, or chocolate/carob chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with paper or silicone liners, or spray with Pam. In a medium saucepan or a microwaveable bowl, warm the coconut oil, applesauce and maple syrup until coconut oil is melted(if they’re not warm, the coconut oil will turn into firm clumps). Transfer to a large mixing bowl. Stir in the zucchini, carrots and vanilla. Stir in eggs. Add the almond meal, oats, cinnamon, nutmeg, baking soda and salt and stir to combine. Add the optional chopped walnuts and chocolate chips. Using an ice cream scoop, pour batter into the muffin cups, filling each to the brim. Bake until the muffins are nicely browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean, about 30 minutes(20-25 for mini muffins).

*these can be frozen in a tupperware or freezer ziploc bags. Pull out in the morning and it’ll be thawed by lunch, or you can defrost in microwave on low power.

**I make my own almond meal in my high power blender by grinding 1 1/2 c raw almonds until they resemble almond meal. I blend for a few seconds, then scrape with my rubber spatula and blend for a few more seconds….don’t over blend as it’ll turn to almond butter.

 

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Filed under Breads, Breakfast, gluten-free, Snacks/Sides/Appetizers

Apple Cider Vinaigrette

Salad dressings are one of those things that I always have around, because I eat salad daily, but I don’t like to buy them because 1) they’re expensive and 2) there are so many added unnecessary and unhealthy ingredients(though Newman’s Own does a pretty good job with some of their salad dressings). Making a salad dressing is simple, fast and inexpensive so homemade dressings have become a staple in our house.

Apple cider vinegar has some pretty amazing health benefits, but I am not one of those people that can just drink a tablespoon or a watered down glass, straight up. This is a fabulous way to get some apple cider vinegar into your body! I love this dressing on any of the green salads I make. The one pictured below has romaine lettuce, carrots, cucumbers, bell peppers, tomatoes and sunflower seeds. And you can totally do this recipe with or without the maple syrup; I would try it first without and then if you feel like it’s too bitter, add the syrup.  I like it both ways though my kids prefer it with syrup.

Apple Cider Vinaigrette
*makes 1/2 c

1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
1/4 c apple cider vinegar
1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp garlic, minced
1 Tbsp white or yellow onion, minced
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 Tbsp pure maple syrup

Combine all ingredients in a glass jar with a lid and shake vigorously until emulsified. Pairs beautifully with any green salad. Can be stored in the fridge for up to 1 week.

*if oil solidifies, microwave for a few seconds until melted

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Blonde Brownies

My kids had a piano recital Monday night and they asked if we could go out for frozen yogurt after, but we had just did that last weekend after another special event and taking out a family of 7 for FroYo is not cheap. So I asked them what would be a good in-home alternative and they requested these Blondies. I’ve had this recipe for years and years and we’ve made it multiple times and love it, but because it does have quite a bit of sugar, I save it for special occasions or when we’re going to share it with a crowd.

I like to bake these in my 11×7 inch rectangular pan (2.2 quart) because they cook very evenly and turn out looking beautiful with very few breaks/cracks. But I have also made it in my 8×8 and it works, but I like the way they look better when they come out of the 11×7. So just putting that out there. You could also double this recipe and stick it in a 9×13 pan.

I’ve used both coconut oil and butter in this recipe and both turn out fabulous. Just make sure they are softened when you cream them together with the sugar (10 seconds in the microwave should do it if they’re pretty firm).

For the flour, I wouldn’t try and go all whole wheat, I’d stick with the half and half as I have it in the recipe. If you’ve ever tried this in a chocolate chip cookie recipe, you’ll know what I’m talking about when I say they don’t quite look or taste the same. But half and half in this recipe works beautifully.

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Blonde Brownies
*makes 12 bars

1/4 c coconut oil or butter, softened
1 c brown sugar, packed
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c whole white wheat flour
1/2 c white flour (I like to use an unbromated white)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 c chocolate chips (or white chocolate or butterscotch)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 11×7 inch pan (2.2 quart); can use 8×8 but they bake a little more evenly in the 11×7 and there is less breaking/cracking. In a large mixing bowl, combine softened coconut oil and brown sugar. Using a hand mixer, beat until blended. Beat in egg and vanilla. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour, baking powder and salt and mix together. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread into your greased pan. Bake about 25 minutes until light golden. Cut into 12 bars. Eat warm or, once cooled, cover and save to eat within a day or two.

*These freeze well in a freezer ziploc bag.

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Hot Lemon Water

I have been trying to solidify the habit of drinking hot lemon water in the mornings, for quite some time, like for 2 years. I would start up, and remember to do it for a day or two, but inevitably, I would forget and then it was over. The reason I wanted to make this a daily habit was because I’ve heard its  praises sung for such a long time from so many different sources. Having warm lemon water in the morning helps flush out toxins and aids digestion(warm liquids will help keep you regular; it loosens up stuff…and this is a much healthier choice than coffee) . Lemons are also a high alkaline food; having alkaline blood (rather than acidic) (ph balance) makes it harder for cancers and other diseases to flourish. Lemons also: strengthen liver, help cure common cold, reduce inflammation in joints and knees as it dissolves uric acid, are good for your skin, maintain health of eyes, help replenish body salts (especially after a hard work out).

A couple of months ago I decided to start the hot lemon water habit in the mornings again, but this time I came with a plan on when and how I was going to incorporate this into my morning routine and I’m happy to say that I’m still going strong! In the morning, after I read scriptures/meditate and exercise, I then drink my hot lemon water, and while I’m drinking it, I make up my green smoothie which I drink throughout the morning as I’m running kids to school and getting ready.

So, give this a try! Begin each day with a hot/warm cup of lemon water. Oh and a word of caution: lemons can be hard on our enamel, so brush your teeth shortly after you finish your lemon water, which you should be doing in the morning anyway ;).

This is my quick and easy way to make lemon water:

  1. Fill my mug with cool water

2. dump cool water into my small saucepan and turn stove on high (I don’t like to just pour water in because I usually pour too much which makes it take longer to heat up). I like this saucepan with the pour spout…makes pouring less messy for me.

3. Meanwhile, cut a lemon in half, stick your lemon juicer on top of your mug, and squeeze the juice out

4. This is usually the perfect amount of time for my water to heat up to a hot but not boiling temperature. Pour water into mug with lemon juice. Drink immediately.

Hot Lemon Water

1/2 lemon
water

Fill a mug with cool water. Dump cool water into  small saucepan and turn stove on high (I don’t like to just pour water in because I usually pour too much which makes it take longer to heat up). Meanwhile, cut a lemon in half, stick your lemon juicer on top of your mug, and squeeze the juice out. This is usually the perfect amount of time for my water to heat up to a hot, but not boiling, temperature. Pour water into mug with lemon juice. Drink immediately.

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