Tag Archives: quinoa

Easy Quinoa With Mushrooms and Spinach

Quinoa. Mushrooms. Spinach. What could go wrong? Nothing! It’s a great dish for vegans and non-vegans and it’s very easy to make, especially if you have a rice cooker.

Let me take a step back for a minute: I haven’t been the best vegan lately. I can rattle off all the usual lame excuses and legitimate reasons but it really boils down to this: I haven’t been eating well, whether I’m being a good vegan or breaking down and eating a block of cheese with a side of yogurt. I’ve also been exercising a lot more which is great, but I can definitely feel that it’s bordering on unhealthy because I’m not getting proper nutrition.

I’m trying to get back to healthy eating – meaning that I’m trying to ensure that I’m getting all the nutrients I need. This easy quinoa dish is a step in the right direction. It makes a great side dish with tofu or other protein of your choice and is totally versatile. Add some walnuts or sweet peppers or squash! Yum.

Quinoa with mushrooms and spinach

Easy Quinoa with Mushrooms and Spinach

(adapted from Damn Delicious)

1 cup quinoa
1 lb mushrooms, sliced (I used baby bellas)
5 cloves garlic, minced
1-2 cup spinach
1 tbsp canola or safflower oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Rinse and cook quinoa according to the package instructions. I use a rice cooker and it is perfection!

2. Heat up the oil in a pan. Toss in the garlic. After it starts getting fragrant, toss in the mushrooms, salt and pepper, and saute until cooked, about 3-4 minutes.

3. Lower the heat or remove from heat altogether and toss in the spinach – it all depends on whether you want the spinach fully cooked or just wilted.

4. Stir in the quinoa until well combined.

I ate this by itself, but I encouraged the fam to eat it as a side dish with fish or chicken. Feel free to throw in other spices or veggies! I myself sprinkled some crushed red pepper on this and that added a great kick.

As far as nutrition goes, I felt really good about eating this since:

  • Quinoa is a good protein source AND has a perfect balance of important amino acids AND also has a good amount of fiber and iron
  • Baby bellas are a great source of selenium, niacin, copper and pantothenic acid – all good things
  • Spinach is just awesome. Do I really have to explain why? There’s a reason that Popeye wolfed down a can of it to power up!

 

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Tempeh Cacciatore

Not long ago I got a request for cacciatore from fellow blogger, VeganMonologue. How can I resist!? I took a slab of tempeh and cut it in half. I did it at an angle to satisfy my love of the rhombus. Add that to the list of things nobody needs to know about me. You’ll need the following:

1 package of tempeh
1 pinch salt, plus more to taste
1 pinch freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
olive oil
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 green bell pepper, chopped
1 onion, chopped
4-5 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 cup dry red wine or 1 cup of dry white wine
1 28oz can diced tomatoes with juice
3/4 cup veggie bouillon
3 tablespoons drained capers
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/2 teaspoon dried cumin
1 pinch nutmeg
1/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh basil leaves

I added it to a pan with some rosemary infused olive oil (regular olive oil is fine) and a pinch each of salt and cracked black pepper. I sauteed until it was lightly browned on each side. I transferred the tempeh to a plate with some fabulous wooden tongs that my sister got me.

Then I added a chopped onion, 1/4 of a chopped green bell pepper and 1/4 of a chopped red bell pepper. I sprinkled in some chopped parsley and slivers of garlic and sauteed until the onion became translucent.

I added the white wine (I used a pinot gris and kind of wished I’d used a merlot. If you try that let me know how it goes.), 1/2 tsp of dried oregano leaves, 1/2 tsp of cumin and a pinch of nutmeg and simmered until the wine was reduced by half.

Then I added a half cup of vegetable bouillon, a tin of tomatoes, 2 tablespoons of capers and a pinch of cracked black pepper. I stirred it a few times to mix and then added the tempeh back to the pan, covered it with tomatoes and allowed it to simmer for another 20 minutes.

Brent made some guinoa while we waited because it was what we had but I think this would be better with pasta or mashed potatoes.

After 20 minutes, the tempeh should have taken on some of the characteristics of the broth. Put the tempeh on your quinoa, potatoes, pasta, whatever and spoon generous helpings of the remaining deglazing/reduction. I sprinkled mine with some fresh basil leaves. This is a hearty meal, full of savory and herbal flavors all brought out by the acid and sweetness of the tomatoes. This would also work with chickpeas or seitan instead of tempeh for those with a soy allergy. It’s a surprisingly healthy crowd pleaser.

A note for the health conscious: don’t be afraid of soy. There’s a lot of propaganda out there that says soy isn’t good for you for one reason or another. A word from your vegan scientist: the data suggest that soy is better for you than meat, dairy and eggs by a long shot, particularly if you’re worried about cancer (particularly colon cancer) or cardiovascular disease.

This is Christie and Brent, signing off!

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Easy Miso Tofu

Maybe it’s the change of season, but I have found myself yearning for comfort food. I’ve been thinking about one dish in particular for the past few days: my Mom’s baked catfish. How could I recreate this dish, vegan-style? Pretty easily!

First, I grabbed a block of tofu and pressed it overnight using my TofuXpress. Then, I scored the tofu and let it sit in some miso paste and chopped green onion for several hours.

I cooked the tofu by baking the entire block in a toaster oven at 350 degrees for about 12 minutes. While it was baking, I took some brown rice and quinoa that I had in the fridge and heated them together in a pan, seasoning it with soy sauce and some garlic powder.

It really was as simple as that! I definitely want to tweak the recipe a bit, be more fancy with the seasoning and really crust some of that miso on there. But this hit the spot and satisfied my catfish craving. –Melissa

 

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Adventures in Fruit: Finger Limes

Finger limes are also known as citrus caviar. They’re appropriately named in both regards: they’re finger sized, finger shaped and contain little beads of citrus lime action.

They’re great for use in drinks, in soups or over any food that would benefit from a splash of lime in a unique format.

The last thing I made with these was some chipotle lime quinoa. The advantage of using citrus caviar was that the first thing I tasted when I put the quinoa in my mouth was savory spicy chipotle and as I began to chew the quinoa I got the nutty quinoa and zesty lime. It was definitely an evolution of flavor that you can’t get from ordinary lime.

I hope you find these at your local market!

This is Christie, signing off!

P.S. This is the LAST day to make an entry to our giveaway for 4 tins of Muir Glen organic tomatoes. We will name winners later today and need your mailing address by midnight this Sunday.

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No Need to Knead Gluten-free Vegan Bread

I’m going to start this post by thanking 2 bloggers who have inspired me to take a stab at vegan baking. Somer of Vedged Out and recently featured on Forks over Knives and an Unrefined Vegan who has organized Virtual Vegan Potlucks have tickled my eyes, nose, mind and mouth in the best kind of way. They are two bloggers who seem to bake effortlessly. Vegan baking is certainly a nuanced thing but if any of you are experienced with baking gluten-free know that these recipes require lots and lots of eggs. So what’s a girl to do when she wants bread without gluten or eggs?

For baking bread today I’m using ground flax seeds. Flax is full of omega fatty acids and other important nutrients but practically speaking they’re also loaded with long chain polysaccharides that make it a great binding agent. With chicken eggs, protein forms the binding agent along with lots of cholesterol and recent studies bolster the claim that eggs are worse for your body than smoking. I don’t want that in my body so flax it is! Combine your ground flax seeds with water half an hour before baking (mix well) and you’ll notice the gelatinous texture that will help hold your bread together forming in your container. To start, we assembled the following ingredients

1 3/4 cups gluten-free all purpose flour (I’m using Bob’s Red Mill)
1/8 cup oats
1/8 cup quinoa flakes
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp agar agar or suitable vegan gelling agent
1/4 cup lightly packed coconut sugar
5 tbsp flax meal in 1/2 cup of water (mix well and allow to sit for 20-30 minutes)
1/8 cup vegetable oil
1-1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons almond milk or other vegan alternative
1 tbsp active dry yeast (no need to put it in water first, seriously)

First, Brent combined all the dry ingredients in a large bowl including the yeast.
In another bowl, I combined the vegan milk, oil and flax “eggs”. It looked kind of gross.


I added the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients. Beat the batter until smooth. This can be done with a stand or hand mixer, but I like to use my Brent for this; his muscles are amazing. The batter should be thick but not doughy.


I sprayed a non-stick pan with olive oil. Then I poured the batter into the bread pan and sprinkled the top of the batter with sunflower seeds and buckwheat groats. You can also sprinkle with sesame or poppy seeds.

We set it aside to rise for about 50 minutes or until the batter was peeking above the rim of the pan.


We baked it in a 375°F pre-heated oven for 50 minutes; until a toothpick comes out clean. We let it cool for 15 minutes. Then we removed from the pan and cool thoroughly on a rack. A glass pan might be better for next time.


As a first effort to bake gluten-free and vegan in about a year and a half, I’m pleased. The texture of the bread was good, lightly crispy outside and fluffy inside. I have had problems in the past with vegan gluten-free breads being far too dense for my taste.

The taste was lightly sweet and nutty but nothing special. Next time I plan to add some nutritional yeast or carob and maca powder and Braag’s aminos to bring out more of the flavors in all those grains and seeds. Quinoa, flax, sunflower seeds, buckwheat groats, rice, sorghum, oats and almonds make for awesome bread.

This is Christie and Brent, signing off!

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Saag with Sweet Potato

Brent and I really love Indian food. We make several versions of Americanized favorites including saag. Typically saag is a spinach based sauce flavored with cilantro, chili and turmeric and usually includes chunks of potato, mushroom, and/or paneer. Paneer is a bland home-made cheese so we use tofu that we’ve marinated in lime juice instead. Today, however, we’re using cubes of sweet potato because we had a random sweet potato floating around the apartment (I just had a funny mental image). We put the following into the blender for a creamy base:

1 box of MoriNu soft silken tofu (If you’ve got a soy allergy, soak 1/2 cup of cashews overnight, drain them and add to your blender. This actually tastes marginally better but adds a lot of fat)

1 thumb sized piece of turmeric or 1 tsp powdered turmeric

5-7 cloves of garlic

a generous pinch of cinnamon

1 onion, diced

1 jalapeño pepper or generous spoon of chili paste

1 tablespoon of coconut sugar

This mixture was blended until creamy. Then I added the following greens in the following order, blending thoroughly between:

1 bunch cilantro (stems and leaves)

1 bunch of Swiss chard or mustard greens

1 bunch of spinach

The cilantro goes in first because the stems need to get cut finely. The stems have a lot of flavor. Swiss chard will make a milder saag, mustard greens will make it spicier. Spinach is just a wondrous vegetable. EAT IT!!! Frozen greens work fine for this recipe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I transferred the contents of the blender to my big pan and rinsed out the blender with almond milk (use soy if you’ve got a nut allergy) and put the milk into the pan. I started to heat it and added 1 sweet potato cut into bite sized pieces. A carton of water packed tofu or a few handfuls of mushrooms are great veggies to add to your saag.

Heat the saag through and stir frequently until the potato is cooked. It should be thick and make giant messy bubbles if unattended (hence the stirring).

This will take about half an hour. Add water, salt, spices, and pepper as needed. I also use a garam masala spice mix  that an Indian colleague brought me from his home Hyderabad instead of pepper. Cracked black pepper is better for most tastes. It looks like sewage but tastes like awesome!

We served this with quinoa that we prepared in the microwave with several green cardamom pods. I love saag and know it’s not for everyone. It’s very herbal and spicy and is too vegetal for some. That being said, We ate the whole pan and all the quinoa too… I’ve got a blood donation coming up and I need the iron and vitamin K!

This is Christie and Brent, signing off!

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Fiddling Romping Quinoa

We’re still awash with fiddleheads and ramps so we’re finding ways to add them to things we already love to make them more exciting. This was a night when we were in a hurry so we did something quickly. Brent prepared quinoa with the following ingredients.

1 1/2 cups of quinoa (he used red and white, but any sort will do)

1 cube of veggie bouillon

salt and pepper to taste

He made it in the microwave, microwaving at 2 minute intervals, stirring between heatings, until the liquids were absorbed. Meanwhile I collected the following:

15-20 fiddleheads

10-15 ramps, washed, bulbs, stems and leaves separated

1/2 cup edamame (any beans will do)

1 medium onion, diced

1/4 cup cilantro (use parsley if you’re not fond of cilantro)

3-5 cloves of garlic, minced

1 tsp vegan margarine

1/4 cup vegan mayonnaise

I sauted the onion and garlic with Earth Balance buttery spread until the onion began to caramelize. I added the fiddleheads, edamame (white Northern beans would be a great substitute for those with a soy allergy) and ramp bulbs until they began to soften.

I added the ramp leaves and cilantro and stirred until they wilted. We combined this with the ramp stems, mayonnaise, and quinoa and devoured it. I put a sliced avocado drizzled with balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with garlic salt on the plate too for even more omega fatty acids: nourish your brain!

You can do this with spinach, asparagus and scallions instead of ramps and fiddleheads. There were no leftovers and only 2 survivors.

This is Brent and Christie, signing off.

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Tofu Burgers with portobello mushrooms!

I’ll make just about anything into burgers. I just like the format. In this particular case we tried using a beloved burger recipe as a stuffing for portobello mushrooms. Whether you want patties or stuffed ‘shrooms, all you need to do is gather the following:
12 oz silken tofu
2/3 cup quinoa flakes (rolled oats work too)
1 tbsp flax meal
2 small carrots, grated
2 small stalks celery, chopped
2 tbsp nutritional yeast (optional)
2 tbsp onion powder
2 tbsp garlic powder
1 tsp cumin
tamari or soy sauce to taste

I shredded my carrots and celery in my food processor. I put everything into a bowl with the tofu and then Brent went to work mooshing. Watch him showing this future burger mix who’s the boss. You can also use a food processor but Brent is an expert moosher. Add more quinoa flakes if you find they’re not firm enough.

Shape into patties. Heat a skillet or grill and grill the burgers until each side is crispy and golden brown.

We decided to use it as a stuffing for portobello mushrooms and that’s just another option. We baked some portobellos drizzled lightly with balsamic vinegar at 350C/180F for 10 minutes.

We then stuffed each mushroom cap with the burger mix and baked an additional 20 minutes.

We topped with cheese and baked another 10 minutes. This is Heidi Ho organics, chipotle cheddar. We liked that it was low calorie (about half that of dairy cheese) and it had a nice chipotle flavor but it wasn’t particularly cheesy and didn’t melt like some other vegan cheeses. This didn’t stop us from eating the entire block. It was tasty, just not cheesy.

These burgers were definitely a hit. We ate all three and then fried up the rest of the burger mix and dipped it in buffalo sauce. They came out crispy and tender. Double win! If you try it, let us know what you think. Until then, stay tasty!

This is Brent and Christie, signing off!

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Tofu Makhani Quick and Easy

The man and I are always trying to reproduce take-out favorites at home. A few weeks ago I became obsessed with creating a truly vegan, gluten-free version of veggies makhani which we periodically order from a beloved Indian restaurant. “Makhani” means butter in Hindustani and though a lot of restaurants make it with olive oil as a cheap alternative to ghee, I still worry my special request for olive oil won’t be met. This version isn’t stereotypical Indian food but rather an Americanized version of the Indian classics but that shouldn’t stop you from giving this a try. We made ours with traditional herbs and spices, peas and tofu instead of paneer. Paneer is a traditional home-made Indian cheese often used in this dish. Tofu is a great vegan substitute. Other veggies that would be appropriate include bell peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, and potatoes. I started with the following:
1 carton of firm Chinese style water packed tofu, cut into bite sized pieces
1 lb bag of frozen peas

Before you do anything, set these aside to drain and thaw respectively. I like to marinade my tofu in lemon juice for 30 minutes or so with a dash of ground coriander. I finish it by heating the tofu lightly in the pan I’ll eventually add my sauce to and pouring off any excess liquid.
1 tsp oil
1 generous pinch of cinnamon
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tsp fenugreek seeds (optional, but recommended)
3 cloves of garlic, sliced
1 thumb sized piece of ginger, sliced (more if you like spice)
1 small onion, chopped
1 large tomato, chopped
6 oz. tomato paste
1/2 pinkie sized piece of turmeric, sliced OR 1/2 tsp dried turmeric
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp syrup (any kind will do)
2 cups vegetable stock (use water if you need more)
1/2 cup cashew nuts (soaked is good)
1 tbsp vegan “butter”
1 tbsp lemon juice
salt and chili paste to taste
Fresh green coriander/cilantro for garnish

Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the cumin and fenugreek seeds, and when they sputter add the cinnamon. Add the ginger and turmeric and stir for a minute or so over medium-high heat. Add the onions, “butter” and a little salt and saute until the onions start to brown, about five minutes. Add the tomatoes, cashew nuts and chilli powder. Saute the mixture until the tomatoes soften. If the mixture starts to get too dry before the tomatoes are done, add some water or vegetable stock and continue cooking. Once the tomatoes are really soft, turn off the heat and let the mixture cool. Pour into a blender along with the lemon, syrup, and tomato paste, using some broth to get all the paste out of the can. An extra tablespoon of cashew butter won’t hurt but we’re trying to keep this light. Blend to a smooth paste adding veggie stock, syrup, salt, and chili paste as necessary.

I don’t recommend blending the mixture while it’s still hot because it can be dangerous. If you have a hand blender, this is the time to use it. Pour the blended paste back into the saucepan with your tofu, turn on the heat, add the remaining vegetable stock if the mixture is particularly thick. Now add the peas and any other veggies you like and stir them in. Let the mixture heat until it’s steamy. Garnish with coriander leaves, and serve hot with some rice, or a suitable substitute.

We used quinoa that we prepared by microwaving at 2 minute intervals. We also added some cardamom pods because they bring out the nutty smells and flavors in quinoa with their lemony aroma.

I just wish I could take a picture of the flavor for you: this is comfort food, pure and simple. I hope you get to enjoy some!

This is Christie and Brent, signing off!

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Squash “ribs”, green beans, and cilantro lime quinoa!

People often cite being vegan as being too difficult as a reason for continuing to eat meat, dairy and eggs. I was ruminating on this idea, this afternoon as I was thinking of what I would prepare for dinner this evening. I picked a handful of ingredients: green beans, butternut squash and cilantro. These were left over from other things I’d prepared this past week.

I sliced up the squash, leaving the skin on, sprayed it lightly with olive oil and sprinkled it with sea salt. I put it into the oven on a tinfoil lined baking dish and set the timer for 30 minutes at 350F/175C. I also put the seeds from my squash onto another piece of tinfoil with a light sprinkling of garlic salt and checked every few minutes or so until they were crispy and delicious. You can do this with pumpkin seeds or the seeds from spaghetti squash as well. I snacked on these while I was tending the rest of the meal.

While that was happening I washed my green beans and snapped the ends off each one. I put them in a covered steamer and waited until they were BRIGHT green. This takes 8-12 minutes, because I like mine crispy and green. As soon as they got really bright green, I took the lid off the beans and took them off the heat.

While I was waiting for that to happen I put collected the following:

1/2 cup red quinoa (any sort of quinoa will do)

1 cup of water

1 cube of bouillon

1/2 onion, chopped

3-4 sun dried tomatoes, sliced into strips (optional)

1/4 cup of cilantro leaves

juice from 1/2 lime

I put the quinoa and water into a microwave safe bowl and microwaved it for a minute. I stirred it and added the bouillon cube and microwaved for another minute. I stirred it and added the sun dried tomato and microwaved for a minute. I stirred it and added the onion and microwaved it for a minute. I microwaved for another minute and then all of the liquid was absorbed and I stirred in the cilantro. I squeezed some lime over it before serving.

I placed the green beans on the plate and sprinkled some almond slivers over them (omit these if you’ve got a nut allergy and use the baked squash seeds instead). I ended up drizzling some balsamic vinegar on them too but that’s not in the picture. I was starting to check that the squash was tender with a fork at this point and as soon as it was ready, I put the squash on the plate with everything else and because I didn’t take off the skin, I ate them like they were ribs… except there was no hunks of fat or gristle to get in the way of my eating pleasure. As I ate, I thought about how I made something really healthful, beautiful, fragrant and tasty in 40 minutes. As far as I’m concerned, the best food nourishes your mind and your body.

This is Christie, signing off.

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