Mexican Quinoa & Sweet Potato Casserole

New kitchen methods fascinate me.

 

The stranger the learning, the better!

This week’s ingredients aren’t necessarily strange, but the way I cooked it was strange to me.  It’s a quinoa casserole… but you don’t have to cook the quinoa first!  Perfect for the lazy chef.  Like me.

For some reason I have a mental block about cooking grains.  It seems like SO much effort.  I know this is totally irrational, and I make other things that take much longer.  It is what it is.  When I saw this recipe from Lee where she simply baked the quinoa uncooked, I knew I had to try it.

Mexican Quinoa and Sweet Potato Casserole

 

I used Mexican flavors here, but I’m excited to try the method with other flavor profiles (French is next on the list!).  It’s one of those magical recipes that seems like it took a ton of effort, but is incredibly easy.  It’s a one dish meal – I just tossed everything in a bowl to mix and transferred it to the dish.

Random story about my dish – it was just returned to me by a friend.  She’d had it for 2 years from when I brought over these Mexican Black Bean Brownies to an Oscar party.  LOL!

Mexican Quinoa & Sweet Potato Casserole

 

If you like heat, you’ll love this.  If you don’t, I’d keep the paprika but leave out the cayenne.  The smoked paprika is a must for me.  I love that smokiness with the Mexican spices and the slight sweetness from the sweet potato.

Between the bean and the quinoa, this makes for a fantastic protein-rich vegan dish!

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Mexican Quinoa & Sweet Potato Casserole

Mexican Quinoa and Sweet Potato Casserole

  • 1/2 C quinoa, uncooked and rinsed
  • 1/2 C vegetable broth
  • 1/2 can (8 oz) salt-free black beans, rinsed
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 small white (or orange) sweet potato (~275g), diced

 

Preheat oven to 350F.  Prepare a baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.

Place all ingredients into a large bowl and miix until everything is evenly combined.  Pour into baking dish, spreading evenly to combine.

Cover with foil and bake for 75 mins, or until sweet potatoes are tender and quinoa is cooked.

Makes 9 servings.

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How have you enjoyed making co-workers, friends, or family stare with strange but good creations this week? The link up rules can be found here or by clicking on “Strange But Good” in the menu bar above. In short, I want to see what concoctions have earned you weird looks from co-workers, family and friends! Post your Strange But Good creations, grab the logo below for your blog, and link up here.

Sprint 2 the Table

Remember to use #strangebutgood in any Tweets and Instagrams of your creations. :)



***

I’m so excited for this weekend – I’m going to see some of my old teammates at the Atlanta Rollergirls Bout!

Do you have certain foods that seem like a lot of effort to cook?

What is your favorite quinoa dish?

 

Strange But Good: Cinnamon Toasted Quinoa and PB Eggs

Start your day out toasted.

 

I crack myself up.

When I prep food I usually end up double-cooking it.  You get the groundwork done during your Sunday meal prep, but to keep it tasting fresh and crispy I pop it back in the oven before you eat.  Oven, not microwave.

Double-roasted is my favorite way to eat kabocha, and yesterday morning I did that with my quinoa.  Strange to do with stuff you already cooked, but oh-so-good.

Toasted Quinoa ingredients

Can you believe how cheap that giant thing of cinnamon was?! Love my farmer’s market.

 

This is really a non-recipe.  There are no measurements, only flavors you should adjust to your liking.  3 simple ingredients: my new English toffee liquid stevia from iHerb (you can use any sweetener), cinnamon, and ginger.

 

Basically, it tasted like cinnamon toast.  Much healthier than the butter-slathered stuff mom made us.  Add to that some bananas brushed with coconut oil and thrown under the broiler with the quinoa and you’ll wonder who put the dessert on your breakfast plate! 

Cinnamon Toasted Quinoa, Caramelized Banana and PB Eggs with Raspberries

 

The quinoa was prepped on Sunday (after I burned the beans), making it quick and easy to grab from the fridge to make this.  When you toast already-cooked quinoa, it becomes crunchy and granola-like.  The added texture was amazing on top of my PB eggs!

How do you make PB eggs?  I’ve posted them a lot in all my “Jegg” creations (there’s even a
vegan tofu version
)
, but here’s the run down.

Peanut Butter Eggs

  • Mix peanut flour, cinnamon, butter extract, and a teeny bit of liquid stevia with enough water to make it a runny PB consistency
  • Prepare egg whites in a small pot until almost cooked
  • Stir in peanut flour and allow to cook the rest of the way (~30 secs)

 

PSA: It’s also awesome on top of a protein-rich bowl Chocolate Zucchini Bread Batter (this recipe, but with chocolate protein powder).

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Cinnamon Toasted Quinoa with Caramelized Banana and PB Eggs

Cinnamon Toasted Quinoa

  • Quinoa, cooked
  • Liquid stevia (I used toffee)
  • Cinnamon
  • Ginger

 

Toss together all ingredients and spread evenly on a piece of non-stick foil

Place in over under the broiler until crisp.  Watch closely – it’s easy to burn on broil!

Remove from oven, top your eggs (or yogurt, salad, etc).

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How have you enjoyed making co-workers, friends, or family stare with strange but good creations this week? The link up rules can be found here or by clicking on “Strange But Good” in the menu bar above. In short, I want to see what concoctions have earned you weird looks from co-workers, family and friends! Post your Strange But Good creations, grab the logo below for your blog, and link up here.

Sprint 2 the Table

Remember to use #strangebutgood in any Tweets and Instagrams of your creations. :)

***

There aren’t many (any?) things I say this about, but caramelized bananas could honestly replace dessert.

Quinoa for breakfast: yay or nay? Yay!

Have you ever tried peanut butter eggs?  How about just sweet eggs?

 

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

Quinoa is one of the easiest things I never make.

 

Maybe it’s not strange enough?

After complaining about the lack of fresh tabbouleh available in restaurants, it was brought to my attention that I could just make my own.  Thank you, Captain Obvious.

Traditional tabbouleh uses bulgur, but I’m not traditional.  I use quinoa for the added protein.  And because that’s what was in my pantry. ;)

I really loved the bright lemon in this.  It compliments the parsley perfectly and helps make this salad last several days in the fridge.  It also nicely complimented the sea bass I ate it with.

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

 

One of the reasons I had not made tabbouleh before was the overwhelming thought of mincing that much parsley.  Then I remembered my kitchen shears.

Best short cut ever.  In fact, I even cut the onion with them!

parsley

 

This dish is a fantastic way to get more parsley in your diet.  Why should you eat more?  I’ll tell you…

Parsley Benefits:

  • Rich in many Vitamin C,  B 12, K and A (good for immune system, bones, and nervous system)
  • Acts as a diuretic, helping flush out excess fluid
  • Can help control your blood pressure due to the folic acid content
  • Rich in luteolin, which eradicates free radicals, promotes carbohydrate metabolism,  and is an anti-inflammatory
  • May impede growth of cancerous tumors.

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Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad

  • 1 C cooked quinoa
  • 1 large bunch fresh parsley, minced
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1 small cucumber, diced
  • 1/4 C red onion, diced
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 tsp ground garlic

 

In a large bowl, toss together parsley, chopped tomato, cucumber, onion, lemon juice, and seasonings.

Add chilled quinoa to bowl and mix together.  Adjust seasoning to taste.

Makes 4 servings.

***

It’s also a great way to use those massive bunches they sell.  Who can eat all that so fast?! 

Do you eat much parsley?  Tabbouleh?

What’s your favorite herb?  Keep it legal (in most states ;) )…

 

Strange But Good Mornings

Strange doesn’t wait for 5 o’clock!

 

Neither does my mother… she’s in Mexico! ;) 

Remember Kat’s “Amazing Kitchen Mistakes” post?  We’ve been on the same wave-length eating similarly, so I apparently am also making happy accidents.

Have you ever under estimated how much is left in a bottle?  I thought there was just a drop of butter extract left when I dumped it into my oatmeal… it was more like 1/2 a teaspoon.  I thought I’d ruined it.  Too much extract can be nauseating (and I don’t need more of that!).  It turn out, too much butter extract in your oats is like eating cookie dough for breakfast.  Strange, but unbelievably good.

 Cookie Dough Oatmeal

Cookie Dough Oatmeal

  • 1/2 C oatmeal
  • 1 C water
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp butter extract
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla
  • 5-6 drops liquid Stevia
  • 1 T peanut flour (or nut butter, to taste)
  • My toppings: pomegranate arils, Greek yogurt, more cinnamon

 

Cook oatmeal as usual, adding flavors in the last 2-3 mins (or when your microwave finishes).  Stir in peanut flour when just done, adding addition liquid as needed.  

Add toppings.  Inhale.

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I’m not the first person to do eat quinoa in the morning… but it’s still uncommon enough to be strange.  And it’s good! 

What took me so long it beyond me, but quinoa for breakfast is amazing.  If you haven’t tried it, you must.  Particularly this cinnamon-y version.  The heaping scoop of cinnamon with the coconut butter had me dreaming of an airport treat that shall not be named.

I just realized this looks a lot like the oatmeal above.  I had a lot of pomegranate.*  Sorry.

 *Did you hear the FTC found “POM Wonderful health claims to be deceptive?”

 

Cinnamon Roll Breakfast Quinoa

Cinnamon Roll Breakfast Quinoa

  • 1/2 C quinoa, cooked with a cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 tsp coconut butter
  • 1 tsp ground flax
  • 1/2 tsp almond extract
  • 1/2 heaping tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ginger
  • Milk, to taste (I used ~ 1/8 C unsweetened vanilla almond milk)
  • My toppings: pomegranate arils, Morningstar maple breakfast sausage

 

Stir it all together, top with your favorites, and enjoy!

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In order to kill two craving with one stone for Meal 2, I added a poached egg to the last of my mom’s Matzo Ball Soup.  The strange part isn’t even the egg.  It’s HOW I poached it.  My lazy arse poached that thang in the microwave.

Let me be the first to tell you that runny, silky, yolk porn goodness streaming into a hot bowl of soup is heaven on a spoon.  So good that I wanted to be spooned after it was over.

 

Matzo Ball Soup

Microwave Poached Egg

  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 C water
  • 1 T apple cider vinegar

 

Fill a small bowl (I used a cereal bowl) with water.  Add 1 T of apple cider vinegar (this is important – it keeps the egg white intact).  Microwave until boiling hot, about 2 mins.

Crack the egg and gently drop it into the water.  Whites will begin to cook/thicken, and you may need to use a spoon to carefully direct them around the yolk.  

Microwave for another 20-30 seconds.  Remove immediately from water and place in soup, atop salad, on bread, etc.

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Now for the link up!  The rules can be found here or by clicking on “Strange But Good” in the menu bar above.

In short, I want to see what concoctions have earned you weird looks from co-workers, family and friends!  Post your Strange But Good creations, grab the logo below for your blog, and link up here.

 

Sprint 2 the Table

 

Remember to use #strangebutgood in any Tweets and Instragrams of your creations. :)



***

This time tomorrow I’ll be in a forest in FLA… in the midst of an 8-hour adventure race.  Ahhhh!  #strangebutcrazy

Also, I forgot to mention I was featured in FitFluential’s Ambassador Spotlight yesterday! Check it out here.

Have you ever made breakfast quinoa?  What are your favorite mix-ins?

What #strangebutgood creations have you enjoyed lately?

 

Cherry-Balsamic Chickpea Salad

Those who eat a (mostly) plant-based diet are often asked about protein.

Those who eat a Whole Foods-based diet are no strangers to $100+ weekly grocery bills.

 

As someone who is into lifting weights, I am especially conscious of how much protein I get on a daily basis (click here for more).   While I DO eat meat when I’m dining out, I rarely prepare it at home.

My main sources of protein include:

  • Beans/legumes
  • Tofu/tempeh
  • Nuts
  • Dairy (Greek yogurt and cottage cheese)
  • Eggs
  • Protein powder

 

So how much bang for my whole paycheck buck am I getting at the grocery store?  And how many calories is that going to ring up?

A recent article on FitSugar answered both questions for me!  They looked at how to most efficiently get ~5 of protein from some common protein sources.  Several were really surprising!

Source: FitSugar

The Highlights:

  • Least expensive, most calorie-efficient: Chicken ($0.37 for 28 calories)
  • Least expensive, vegetarian-friendy: Peanut butter; however, it’s also the most caloric ($0.19 for 125 calories)
  • Least expensive, vegetarian-friendy, lowest calorie: Cottage cheese ($0.28 for 31 calories)
  • Most expensive, highest-calorie: Quinoa ($1.45 for 130 calories)

 

Click here to check out the full article.

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One of my favorite sources of protein is chickpeas.  Surprisingly, they weren’t specifically called out in the article (hummus was listed – $0.84 for 105 calories).

I do love hummus, but chickpeas are also a great salad base.  They add bulk (protein + calories), texture, and taste good with just about anything you can think of to put on your salad – like fruit!

 

I’m sure everyone has gotten the memo by now – it’s cherry season!  If you happened to read my blog last Wednesday, you learned some of their benefits… and saw them appear in my oatmeal (predictable, I know).

 

We all know cherries make a great smoothie, muffin, or cobbler… did you know they also make a great addition to a chickpea salad?  Especially with a quick simmer in some balsamic.

Good-quality balsamic vinegar has a tart yet rich, fruity flavor that makes it a perfect mate to just about any fruit.

Here, a quick simmer in balsamic enhances the sweetness of the cherries, and creates a deliciously syrupy sauce for your salad.

Toss your cherries and chicks with some fresh herbs and creamy cheese and this salad will be the most decadent 10 minute lunch you’ll ever taste.

No cherries?  Try this with strawberries or blackberries.  Prefer meat?  Serve balsamic-glazed berries over a pork tenderloin.

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Cherry-Balsamic Chickpea Salad

  • 1/3 C sweet cherries
  • 1 T balsamic vinegar
  • 1 C chickpeas
  • 1.5 C spinach
  • 1/2 C cucumber, chopped
  • Juice of 1/4 large lime
  • 1/2 oz goat cheese
  • Mint chiffonade
  • Basil chiffonade
  • S+P, to taste

Slice cherries in half and pit.  Place them in a small pan on med heat.  Once warmed, drizzle with the balsamic.  Allow to cook until balsamic forms a reduction and the cherry halves soften (~7-8 mins).  Remove from heat.

Toss the still-hot cherry mix with spinach.  (I did this directly in the pan, allowing the heat to slightly wilt the spinach.)  Set aside, allowing to cool.

Place the chickpeas in a bowl and give them a rough mash – just enough so that half the peas are smashed.  Mix in the cucumber and lime juice.

Add the cherry-spinach mixture to the chickpeas, tossing with the herbs and seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.  Top with crumbled goat cheese (I used Purple Haze, a Cypress Grove Chevre laced with lavender and fennel pollen).

Makes 1 main salad or 2 sides.

***

Thank you to everyone for the comments on this past weekend’s race!  Seeing those comments come through all day made Monday much more bearable. :)

 

On June 30th Spicie Foodie will be hosting her monthly “Your Best Recipe” roundup.  Click on the image below to participate, and/or check back on June 30th to see an impressive collection of culinry creations from around the world.

 

What’s your favorite protein source?

Did any of the cost per breakdowns surprise you?

 

Avocado Quinoa

Two important items in today’s news:

  1. Apparently we are getting SNOW tonight in the South (boooo hiss)
  2. I finally got a new camera!!!

Good-bye fuzzy cell phone pictures.  Don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out.

The new addition is a Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ3.

I have NO idea how to use it (you’ll see what I mean with the pics below…).

Even more awesome is the deal I got on it: $23 through an auction site!!!

It didn’t come with a cable… details, details…

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If you’ve read much of my blog, you have probably noticed that I think Angela @ Oh She Glows is brilliant.  I’ve never made anything of hers that I didn’t like love.

In keeping with my recipe pack rat rehab, I tried one of her newer recipes.  It still counts!  I already had it bookmarked on Delicious. :)

Her Creamy Avocado Pasta is reminiscent of an alfredo sauce-covered pasta.

I took her recipe, reduced it by half (half my avocado was bad.  fail.), changed up the pasta, and added a little spice.

She claims it is a 15 minute recipe… she’s right.  The only “cooking” involved is the pasta of your choosing!

Here are the details, with my minor edits.

Creamy Avocado Quinoa

  • 1/4 lemon, juiced
  • 1 large garlic clove
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded
  • 1 T EVOO
  • 1/4 C fresh basil (+ some for garnish)
  • 1 small-sized ripe avocado (or 1/2 a medium)
  • 2 servings (1/2 C uncooked) quinoa
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Cook quinoa according to package instructions.

Meanwhile, place garlic clove, lemon juice, salt, jalapeno, and olive oil into a food processor.  Process until smooth.  Then add avocado, basil, and salt.  Blend until smooth and creamy.

When quinoa is done, place pasta into a bowl, add sauce, and toss until fully combined.  Garnish with basil and black pepper.

Serve immediately.  Makes 2 servings.

Note: Next time I do it, I’ll top with red pepper flakes too (I like a lot of spice).  Also, Angela noted that it doesn’t keep well due to the avocado.  I’ll let you know tomorrow. :)

***

Do you have a go-to site for recipes?

Like I need more bookmarks… ;)

How ’bout them apples?

Last night I took a rest.  I went on a walk and that was all I could muster fitness-wise.  Between getting over being sick and Thursday’s workout craziness… I just couldn’t do it, Captain!

My abs are really hard to make sore.  I have done every ab workout under the sun, but they just won’t get sore anymore.  Until Thursday.  I did core at boot camp and then lead the core workout at derby.  Apparently doing about 45 mins of abs was the trick! :)

Here’s the core workout I wrote for derby:

1. 30 sec plank
2. V-ups (30 – alternating V and regular sit up w/ legs flat on ground)
3. 30 sec side plank (1x each side)
4. Plank-ups (6 w/ left leg up, 6 w/ right leg up)
5. Double crunch (30)
6. Side plank w/ twists (12 each side)
7. Bicycle abs (30)
8. 30 sec plank
9. Toe Touch (30)
.
Not bad, eh?


Dinner last night was an easy WIN.  I got home late and didn’t want to think about what I was doing, so I roasted some veggies in the oven:
  • Portabella mushroom (sprayed with olive oil)
  • Kale (chopped, salted, rubbed with olive oil)
  • Asparagus (rubbed with olive oil and lemon juice)
I threw all of this on some foil and placed it in the oven on broil for a few minutes (maybe 8-10?).  The kale was cooking faster, so I removed that when I added my toppings to the portabella.
The portabella was topped with:

I put it back in the over for another 5-ish mins until the feta was browned and added the kale back for the last minute to warm.

Since the oven was warm, it seemed the perfect time to try the Apple Pie Burritos I read about on Oh She Glows.
Angela posted an awesome play-by-play on her blog, but here is the recipe with my modifications:
.
Apple Pie Burritos

Pie filling:

  • 2 red apples (mystery variety from the farmer’s market), peeled and sliced into wedges
  • 1 tbsp whole grain spelt flour
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp 0% lactose-free milk
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ginger
  • Pinch sea salt

Spelt Crust:

  • 1 cup spelt flour
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 2 tbsp 0% lactose-free milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Pinch sea salt

Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking pan with a parchment paper or non-stick silicone mat. In small bowl place filling ingredients and mix until apple slices are thoroughly coated.

In a large bowl mix spelt crust. Mix the dry ingredients (spelt flour, brown sugar, flax, cinnamon, and salt) and mix well. Now add slightly melted butter and milk and mix with your hands just until the dough comes together. Form a ball. Grab about 2 T of the dough and flatten with your hands to make the shape of a large circle. Place 2-3 apple slices in the middle and wrap like a burrito.

Once you have about 8 small burritos, place in the oven for about 20-25 minutes, until slightly crisp and golden.

Notes: Angela says you can roll out your dough with a rolling pin, but spelt dough is temperamental and it cracks easily.


I had some left over apple slices begging to be used in this morning’s oatmeal:


This was an amazing bowl of oatmeal.  Mix-ins included:

  • 1/4 C egg whites
  • 4 leftover cinnamon-y apple slices
  • 1T Trader Joe’s Flaxseed Roasted Valencia peanut butter (thanks to Mom for introducing me to the most amazing PB ever!)
  • Splash of vanilla
  • Pinch of salt

Now I  must finish strategizing for the tour of Napa I will be on this time next week. :)

Morocco, anyone?

Inspired by other bloggers, I decided to try something new.  A sweet potato.  I’ve never cooked one before.  Never really eaten one that didn’t come in the form of a french fry.

You just wrap it and stick it in the microwave on the “potato” setting, right?  Notsomuch.

Sweet Potato: FAIL

 

I supposed my microwave’s potato setting isn’t reliable (clearly this couldn’t be my fault)?  Maybe try it in the oven next time?  Help!?

No matter.  This week’s lunch staple is a quinoa dish that SHOULD have included sweet potato adapted from Eat, Spin, Run, Repeat.

It was easy to make and I had all of the ingredients on hand (huge bonus)!  So good - I will definitely me making this again.

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Moroccan-Spiced Quinoa

For the base:

  • 1 C Quinoa (raw)
  • 1 C Tofu (pre-cooked to your liking – I grilled mine)
  • 1 C Spinach
  • ¼ C Goji berries
  • ¼ C toasted slivered almonds
  • 2 tbsp fresh chopped basil

For the vinaigrette:

  • ½ tsp ground coriander
  • ½ tsp ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ c apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ c oil
  • ¼ c orange juice
  • ½ tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp orange zest
  • ¼ tsp salt

Cook quinoa according to package instructions. When fully cooked, transfer to large bowl and toss with other ingredients (except vinaigrette).

To prepare the vinaigrette, add spices to small pan and heat 1-2 minutes until fragrant. In the meantime, whisk all remaining ingredients in a small bowl.  Add spices and whisk again until combined.  Add mixture to salad and serve.

Notes:

You can adjust the cayenne pepper to your taste (I like a little heat!). I may add red pepper flakes or jalapenos next time as well.

Next time I wouldn’t add all of the vinaigrette – it is just a bit too much.  Reserve a couple of tablespoons for a great salad dressing.

Can add sweet potato.  Just don’t burn  it up in the micro.

***

Happy Hump Day!!!