Tag Archives: quinoa

Girls Can Grill Part II

29 Oct

As I said in my last blog, girls can grill. Very well. With style and creativity. Besides amazing flavors, grilling does not heat up the kitchen or leave tons of dishes behind. How about trying easy meal of grilled chicken with roasted carrots on the grill? Here’s how!

First, prepare your grill. I fired mine up and then gave it a good cleaning with a wire brush.

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Carrots, like most root vegetables, take longer to cook than chicken so prepare those first. I had 2 pounds of sweet baby carrots to cook. I first spread them out on paper towels to dry a bit. Less moisture means the carrots will cook up with more sizzle.

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After your carrots are nice and dry, give them a drizzle of good olive oil and a dusting of salt and pepper.

 

 

Making foil packets for the carrots means easy cooking and no dishes. I made 2 packets so the carrots wouldn’t be crowded. You want to seal your packets up good and tight.

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After the carrots are seasoned just right and sealed up, put them on the grill. Make sure the grill is preheated for around 20 minutes at about 350 degrees. Put those carrots on and forget about them while you tend to the chicken.

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It’s time for a homemade marinade to help make the chicken more savory and tender. Creating  a marinade at home is so easy, and a great way to control salt and sugar. Store bought marinades are loaded with hidden ingredients that aren’t healthy. Doing this yourself is a great way to customize the flavors of your food and keep it clean. Ready to try a simple marinade?

Here we go. Toss together dijon mustard, olive oil, a bit of rosemary, sea salt, freshly ground red and black pepper, and the juice from one grapefruit. Grate some of that lovely grapefruit rind into the marinade with a handy zester (a kitchen tool that is indispensable).  Adding some rind increases intense flavor and beneficial oils to the marinade. Bonus-not only will the chicken be delectable, the kitchen will be bursting with crisp citrus fragrance after grating some of that beautiful rind.

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Add the ingredients for the marinade to a large zip lock bag, toss the chicken in, zip it up and put this in the fridge for a bit. Because of the acid in the grapefruit juice, the marinade can easily so it’s job in about 20 minutes. The carrots have had a head start, and now it’s time for the chicken to go onto the grill.

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The chicken needs the hottest part of the grill so the carrots can go up one level. Close the lid and let the chicken cook. Turn them after about 10 minutes, close the lid again, and let them finish.

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The chicken is almost done. Time for a peek at those carrots. A little look lets us know that they had cooked up beautifully and had a tinge of sweet brown color on them. A little taste was a delicious reward! Dinner was almost ready.

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I brought everything inside. The chicken was on a plate with a few pats of butter on the top for perfect resting. The butter would assure that the finished chicken would be flavorful and moist. I covered the chicken with foil and let it rest and relax a bit. Leftover quinoa quickly reheated easily rounded out the meal quite well.

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Go ahead. What are you waiting for? Get grilling! Let me know whats cooking at twitter

@amykgarman or on instagram at amyjoyblog

 

 

 

 

 

Hey Breakfast Skippers…

28 Apr

I am up and at the gym by 5:30 most mornings. After a good workout, I dash back home for a quick shower and then zip off to work. Nope-no time for breakfast.

But that is a huge mistake. We all know that. A healthy breakfast sets a successful eating pattern for the day, so we’d better make it a good one. That is a challenge on a tight schedule though. What is the solution? The Grab and Go breakfast.

No-not the drive through kind, the refrigerator leftover kind. Here is how to do it. First, grab a couple of eggs because they offer excellent protein. Why does that matter? Protein can help stabilize blood sugar and keeps the hunger pangs at bay. You feel full longer. Eggs pack a quality nutritional punch, so feel free to grab 3 or 4 of them. Next grab the leftover quinoa with spinach and pimento that you made last night for dinner.

Once you are at work, get situated. Check your emails, review your calendar, and fill your water bottle with refreshing ice water. Next, take your eggs and quinoa and find a microwave.

Crack your eggs into a glass microwave safe dish. Include one or two whole eggs and one or two of the whites only. Most of the protein in an egg resides in the white so use all of the whites. Don’t be afraid of those egg yolks though-they contain beneficial vitamins and minerals like choline, selenium, and B vitamins like folate.

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Next, take a fork and whip up your eggs. If you are a milk drinker, add a few tablespoons to make your eggs fluffy. Add some pepper for a little kick. Pop it in the microwave.

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Try cooking your eggs in 30 second increments until almost done, stirring your eggs every 30 seconds.

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Next, add in your grains. This adds fiber, texture, flavor and a bit more muscle building protein.

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Finish cooking your eggs with the grains.

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So there you have it. You are having a delicious healthy breakfast at the office in a snap. This is how to do a healthy Grab and Go breakfast. And the best part is that this is very budget friendly because you used leftovers. Love that! What are you doing with your leftovers?

Lover of Leftovers

1 Aug

Time. There are 24 hours in every day, but sometimes it feels like less.  So when I cook, I have to make it count for more than one meal.  Cooking big is a time saver. If I have a little wiggle room during the weekend to cook, I try to fill the fridge for the upcoming week. But even quick week night meals can provide leftovers for another meal.

Okay, it’s no secret that I love leftovers.  You can enjoy them for a second meal as is, but they can also be used as inspiration for a new dish.  I use my leftovers both ways.  If I cook a couple of extra pieces of chicken, that goes to work with me for a quick lunch at the office.  Using that chicken as inspiration for another meal might mean a nice chicken casserole or chicken salad sandwich.  Need some ideas?  Let me outline my leftovers from the past few days.

Night #1.  Leftover: Quinoa.  Used the next morning as an addition to breakfast oatmeal to power it up. Quinoa is a plant based protein loaded with beneficial amino acids. It was a satisfying protein and grain breakfast following an early morning workout at the gym.

Leftover quinoa added a nice nutritionally punch to morning oatmeal.

Leftover quinoa added plant protein to morning oatmeal.

Night #2.  Leftover:  Goat cheese.  It was leftover from a beet salad.  The next day goat cheese was a wonderful addition to a “gourmet” sandwich, adding delicious creamy flavor to a weekday brown bag lunch.

Leftover goat cheese not used for this salad added flavor to a sandwich.

Leftover goat cheese not used for this salad added flavor to a sandwich.

Night #3.  Leftover:  Home made vinaigrette.  I used this to drizzle over veggies going into the oven to roast.  Homemade vinaigrette is super flexible and great to have around. It is a delicious way to add a wonderful layer of flavor to most anything.

Leftover vinaigrette.  This isn't just salad dressing.  It has a zillion uses.

Leftover vinaigrette. This isn’t just salad dressing. It has a zillion uses.

Night #4.  Leftover: Roasted veggies.  These leftover roasted veggies made the most amazing salad. I also threw in some of that leftover quinoa so it was a complete meal.

Roasted veggies made an awesome sandwich, panini style!

Roasted veggies made an awesome salad! The added quinoa was the perfect protein for this dish.

Night #5.  Leftover:  Pesto, with a bonus of shredded chicken. (Nonleftover: frozen cauliflower). This made a quick pasta dinner.  Dinner was ready in the time it took for a pot of water to boil and pasta to cook.  The cauliflower cooked up quick in the microwave. It was tossed together with the chicken and pesto for a quick and easy one dish dinner for a busy night.

By now I am sure you get the picture.  Be creative.  When cooking, cook a larger portion than you need.  Toss leftovers in both the fridge and the freezer.  And start embracing the ease of the next meal using leftovers.  Let me know what ends up on your dinner table!

Resolutions. Really?

18 Jan

So it’s the beginning of the year, and the season of resolutions.  This is the time many folks decide to make healthy lifestyle changes.  People at work are buzzing about losing weight, eating better, detox potions, and avoiding fast food.  And, of course, I am no different.

I do not make new years resolutions.  I do, however, reflect on making  positive changes in the new year.  I too have been making an effort to eat a little healthier since ringing in the new year.  Getting kind of bored with my regular “go to” recipes, I have tried to energize my normal recipe repertoire by trying to put fresh new combinations together.  The other day I came up with a real winner.

I made a super healthy quinoa salad.  One day I took it for lunch at work.  Another day I had it in the morning after my workout for a healthy protein boost.  I do not limit my meals with traditional labels.    If I feel like chicken for breakfast, I eat that.  A bowl of cereal for dinner?  Sure. Why not.  So I enjoyed my quinoa all day.  And it was delicious.

Simple fresh healthy quinoa salad!  Yum!

Simple fresh healthy quinoa salad! Yum!

How did I make it?  I had about 2 cups of leftover quinoa, a handful of shredded carrots, a green onion, a half bag of spinach, and homemade vinaigrette in the fridge.  I tossed it together with a can of rinsed canned beets and Voila!  A healthful flexible meal packed with protein and veggies.  It had a nice crunch, great flavor, and a colorful appearance.

Vinaigrettes are easy to make and even easier to customize to certain tastes.  Want to try one?  Start with this.

  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 T. lemon juice
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 t. of sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients and stir vigorously with a fork.  Use to dress vegetables or your favorite salad.  Yes, it’s that simple.  I customize this recipe by using different vinegars and different mustards.  Some times I use honey instead of sugar.  If I am in a crazy mood I will add some red pepper flakes to heat things up a bit.

So anyway, this is the vinaigrette that I added to my quinoa salad.  Simple dimple.  And so good.  So as 2015 rolls on, I hope to make some more fresh and healthful dishes.  No resolutions…just a positive change or two.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Roasted Veggies-3 ways

7 Dec

The other day I had two things:  a lot of good fresh fall vegetables and a little extra time.  So I went to my happy place…the kitchen.  I decided to roast the vegetables.  I started peeling, chopping and layering.  This was going to be a big honking batch of veggies!  Mushrooms, bell peppers, butternut squash, onions, celery…Yum!

A big batch it was.  After they were chopped, I dusted the vegetables with salt, pepper, basil, and parsley then sprinkled olive oil and a bit of balsamic vinegar on them as well.  After a good healthy stir, I poured them onto a lined baking dish and placed them in a preheated 400 degree oven.  Almost immediately, warm succulent aromas began to fill the house.  My mouth began to water with those decadent scents wafting though the air.

I checked the vegetables after 15 minutes in the oven and couldn’t resist sneaking a taste. Ooh!  What a delicious bite!  Back into the oven for a few minutes, and then they were ready.  We enjoyed the roasted  veggies with lovely grilled salmon.

Did I mention that it was a big ol’ batch of fall veggies?  And that I love leftovers?  Did we ever have leftovers!  But that’s okay.  They were fantastic to have around.  And like spaghetti, the vegetables were more flavorful as leftovers.

Leftovers day one: Roasted veggies made an amazing addition to an omelet the next morning.

Leftovers day two:  I cooked quinoa to mix into the vegetables.  That created  a powerhouse side dish of veggies and quinoa.

Leftovers day three: Roasted veggies piled on a turkey sandwich.  Who needs mayo??

And that is what you do with leftovers my friends.  I used a little extra time to cook big, and had nutritious  leftovers to launch other dishes.

Next…

25 Aug

I am a single mother that is short on time.  When I cook, I have to make it count for more than one meal.  Time is my most precious commodity at the moment, so cooking bigger sure helps in a time crunch.  If I have a little wiggle room during the weekend to cook, I try to fill the fridge for the upcoming week.

Okay, it’s no secret that I love leftovers.  They can be easy to eat as is for a second meal, or used as inspiration for a new dish.  I use my leftovers both ways.  If I cook a couple of extra pieces of chicken, that goes either in school lunches or to work with me for a second meal.  Using that chicken as inspiration for another meal might mean a nice chicken casserole or chicken salad sandwich.  Need some ideas?  Let me outline my leftovers from the past few days.

Night #1.  Leftover: Quinoa.  Used the next morning as an addition to breakfast oatmeal.  Quinoa powered up morning oatmeal following an 8 mile bike ride.  It was a solid “recovery” breakfast.

Leftover quinoa added a nice nutritionally punch to morning oatmeal.

Leftover quinoa added a nice nutritionally punch to morning oatmeal.

Night #2.  Leftover:  Goat cheese.  It was leftover from a beet salad.  My high schooler used it to spread on his “gourmet” sandwich, adding delicious creamy flavor to a weekday lunch.

Leftover goat cheese not used for this salad added flavor to a sandwich.

Leftover goat cheese not used for this salad added flavor to a sandwich.

Night #3.  Leftover:  Home made vinaigrette.  I used this drizzled over roasted veggies going into the oven.  Homemade vinaigrette is super easy to customize ingredients and flavors to make even picky eaters happy.

Leftover vinaigrette.  This isn't just salad dressing.  It has a zillion uses.

Leftover vinaigrette. This isn’t just salad dressing. It has a zillion uses.

Night #4.  Leftover: Roasted veggies.  These leftover roasted veggies made the most amazing sandwich to take to work.  I wish I also had some of that leftover goat cheese too, but it was quite tasty as is.

Roasted veggies made an awesome sandwich, panini style!

Roasted veggies made an awesome sandwich, panini style!

Night #5.  Leftover:  Pesto, shredded chicken. (Nonleftover freezer item: frozen cauliflower). I actually pulled this from the freezer to make a quick pasta dinner.  Dinner was ready in the time it took for a pot of water to boil and pasta to cook.  The cauliflower was microwaved.  Everything was tossed together for a quick and easy one dish dinner for a busy night.

By now I am sure you get the picture.  Be creative.  When cooking, cook a larger portion than you need.  Toss leftovers in both the fridge and the freezer.  And start embracing the ease of the next meal using leftovers.  Let me know what you make with your leftovers!

This ‘n That

16 Jul

The weather is hot.  Summer is in full swing.  It is hot outside, and the air conditioning is blasting inside.  That adds up to one thing…time to take the cooking outside.  Fire up that grill!  Marinate and toss some tuna, chicken or tofu on the grill.  Cook a meal without heating up the house.  Oh, but wait.  There has to be a side dish to go with the delicious grilled food.  Hhhmm.  What is an easy cold refreshing summer side dish?  I have the answer and I just made it!  Try it!

Amy’s Summer Side Quinoa Salad

  • 2 cups cooked and cooled quinoa
  • 1 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced free onions including green tops
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups coarsely chopped arugula
  • 1 cucumber peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 4 ounces feta cheese

Vinaigrette:

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 t. fresh lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Mix vinaigrette and set aside.   In large bowl, combine quinoa through cheese.  Stir.  Add vinaigrette and stir to combine thoroughly.  Cover and refrigerate.  Next step..enjoy!

This is an easy recipe to quickly toss together as a side dish. I had the leftover salad for breakfast the following morning after my morning workout.  It is a nutrient packed salad, and the ingredients can be easily substituted with any veggies on hand. Toss in some of this, a little of that.  Make a this ‘n that salad!  So go ahead!  Keep the energy bills low and take the cooking outside.  Toss this fabulous cold salad together and enjoy!

 

Fresh summer side dish.  Yum!

Fresh summer side dish. Yum!

Breakfast-A New Idea

19 Jun

Guess what?  I had the most wonderful breakfast this morning, and it came about quite unexpectedly. That made it all the more special!  Since it is a weekday, I enjoyed my breakfast in my office when I got to work.  Folks popped in to say good morning, I pursued my emails and began a planning a presentation I am giving at a meeting next week.  All while slowly eating my delicious breakfast.  Why did I was slowly?  Let me tell you.

Your mother was right.  Really?  Did I just say that?  Sure did.  What was mom right about?  Besides just about every thing?  (Haha!  I can say that because I am a mom, and moms enjoy being right occasionally!) Your mother was right when she saw you wolfing your food way too fast and told you to slow down.  Eating slowly really is best for you.  Why?

Chewing food, called mastication (no naughty jokes please), is an important but often rushed part of digestion.  Chewing starts saliva flowing, crucial for digestion, and can strengthen the jaw muscles.  Also, the “full” signal to your brain takes about 20 minutes, so chewing and swallowing slowly means being more in tune with your “fullness” signals.  In other words, that helps in natural portion control.  Fullness is actually two fold: the stomach fills and the brain signals fullness.  Best to have those working in tandem and eating slowly helps that process stay more aligned with one another.

Its easy to see why eating fast can mean eating more.  But there is another compelling reason to eat more slowly.  It can quiet the mind.  You can actually feel more relaxed and satisfied with your meal if you partake in mindful eating.  To savor your food and better enjoy your dining companions, slow down.

But let’s get back to the weekday morning breakfast that I was slowly enjoying in my office.  When leaving for work, I grabbed some leftover quinoa, blueberries, and greek yogurt out of the fridge.  I went ahead and mixed them together for a powerhouse breakfast.  It was delicious!  Nutrient dense, low calorie, and loaded with flavor and texture.  And I ate it slowly…

Blueberries and quinoa.  A great start...

Blueberries and quinoa. A great start…

Then I tossed them into my yogurt.  It was super yummy!

Then I tossed them into my yogurt. It was super yummy!

 

Surviving Morning (C)rush

25 Feb

Any busy parent has been stuck in what I call “The Morning Crush”.  We get caught up in finding this, grabbing that, scheduling this, signing that.  Find a coat.  Pack up lunch.  Locate the car keys.  Take the dog out.  Yup, mornings are busy.  But they are survivable.  It does take some planning and organization though.  But any parent with kids, a job, multiple schedules, taxi duty, and household management duties can do it.  In fact, planning and organization makes mornings a bit of a breeze sometimes.  As with anything, practice is key here.  You get better with experience.

Making one change at a time is a good way to make positive changes work for the long-term.  Let’s begin with a good hot nutritious breakfast.  Made fast.  Loaded with vitamins, minerals, and goodness.  And super easy.  Just pull it out of the fridge, heat it up, and enjoy.  Impossible you say?  Nope, not at all.  With a little advance planning and prep, weekday morning breakfast will be a snap.

My secret weapon here is oatmeal.  Made ahead of time, my oatmeal will keep in the fridge, and can even be frozen.  It is quick to reheat on a busy morning, and a healthy way to begin any day.  And for those of you with a sweet tooth, you can add in fresh or dried fruit to sweeten this without sugar.  The possibilities are endless with the add ins to make my oatmeal into your oatmeal.  Just toss in what you have around, within reach, and bammo!  You have a powerhouse start to your day in minutes.

I make oatmeal with quinoa.  Why add quinoa to oatmeal?  Well, first of all, it is a good way to add another whole grain to your diet.  Second, quinoa is a complete protein.  Third, this pumped up oatmeal is stick to your ribs and will really hold off hunger and temptation for the entire morning.  Quinoa is also a good source of iron and fiber.  I like to make a big batch of quinoa and keep extra in the fridge.  In addition to adding it to oatmeal, I also add it to, for example, roasted veggies for an easy side dish for supper.  But back to oatmeal.  Let me share my pumped up oatmeal recipe for you to try.

Do Ahead:  Make a large batch of quinoa.  Cool and keep cooked quinoa in the fridge.

Amy’s Pumped Up Oatmeal

  • 2 cups skim milk (may substitute with almond or soy milk if desired)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups oatmeal
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • dried fruit like raisins, and/or 1 banana to add, sliced, at serving time (avoid if watching sugar intake. Dried fruits are high in sugar.)
  • nuts or seeds, like sunflower or almonds, to add at serving time

Combine water and milk in a saucepan over medium high heat.  When boiling, add oatmeal and cinnamon, stir, and turn heat down so the oatmeal simmers uncovered.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in quinoa.  Continue cooking until desired doneness, about another 5 minutes, stirring as needed.  Remove from heat.  Portion in 6 ounce serving size and refrigerate or freeze.  Easy tip:  Freeze in muffin tin.  Pop out to heat and serve.

When ready to prepare, remove number of portions needed from fridge or freezer and place in separate bowls.  Add 1 T. water and microwave for 2-3 minutes.  Stir and add fruit, nuts, and/or seeds.  Enjoy a super fast, easy, and nutritious breakfast.  This is a terrific recipe to customize for preferences.  I have had this breakfast, and it has lasted through morning crush, a tough workout, and a busy morning at work.

There you go.  One step toward making morning crush more manageable.  And a way to start your day off with a solid healthy breakfast!  Go ahead.  Get going.  There is nothing stopping you.  Bon appetite!

Quinoa and Roasted Vegetables Part Deux

4 Oct

Oops, I did it again!  Ugh!  I don’t mean to pat myself on the back in such an obvious way.  I am having a rare moment of confidence sprinkled with a dash of sassiness!  Anywhoooo, you know I love having leftovers around.  I made quinoa and roasted veggies the other night.  I also have some fabulous leftover grilled tuna medallions from last night.  Denis and I are heading out to the JV high school football game tonight, so no time to make dinner.  No worries.  I quickly packed up a cooler to take to the game.

Here is what I made to take to the game.  I sliced up the tuna, grabbed the leftover quinoa and veggies out of the fridge, along with some tortillas.  I laid a tortilla out and slathered the quinoa and veggies on it.  Next, I piled on some leftover tuna.  The great finish was some wasabi sauce.  Hey, what can I say?  I like a good kick of heat!  Then I rolled the tortilla up and sliced it in two.

I wrapped the tortillas in parchment paper.  Wrapping them this way makes them easy to eat on the run.  Into  the cooler they went, along with an apple, an apple cutter, some bottled water, and a few cookies.  After that kick of heat a bite of something sweet is perfect, so a few cookies were a must!

Out the door we went to cheer Quinn and his JV football team on!  We were able to munch on outrageously healthy food that was ready in a quick minute.  Sure beat the bleacher pizza and nachos that others were munching on.  Have a peek at my prerolled tortilla!  Yum!  What can you do with your leftovers?

Roasted veggie and quinoa, sliced grilled tuna, and some wasabi! Rolled up, this made a perfect wrap to transport and eat on the run!

Roasted veggies and quinoa, sliced grilled tuna, and some wasabi! Rolled up, this made a perfect wrap to transport and eat on the run!