An exotic, satisfying meatless dish

Speaking of Switcheroos…. How about losing some meat from the plate?  It is ‘Meatless Monday‘  and we are here for the party!  People at the party are Hot Hot Hot – I know I’ve been reading your blogs and comments 🙂

Why go meatless?  Without getting into ugly arguments about which Real Food program is the best and only way to health…(personally, I think there is individual variation about the best way to health), here are some reasons to go meatless at least part of the time.

Most Americans get far more protein than necessary.
Most meat is not very clean, being raised un-naturally with hormones, antibiotics and food the animal doesn’t normally eat like giving cows corn.
Raising livestock uses up a lot more natural resources and creates more pollution than raising similar quantities of plant based food.
Many MDs and health experts believe that too much meat, particularly red meat contributes to heart disease.

So this Meatless dish is based on Quinoa – pronounced Keen-Wah.

Quinoa is a grain-like crop with edible seeds that have a high protein content.  It is not cheap, but neither is meat!  I buy it at Costco in a large bag which saves a lot of money and everybody here loves it.

I discovered a recipe in Meals That Heal Inflammation: Embrace Healthy Living and Eliminate Pain, One Meal at at Time that makes you feel really good.  No kidding.  My husband and son both agreed, this ‘kichadi’ that I made felt really good… best of all it was easy. I LOVE easy.  The book is also full of very interesting information for eating foods that reduce inflammation… check it out!

One last bit about quinoa and I’ll stop yapping and get to the recipe.

Quinoa is related to beets and spinach, is gluten free and is a complete protein source for vegetarians which means it contains all of the amino acids that humans do not make themselves.  It is also high in iron and fiber.  (Info and picture from

Now for the Kichadi.  You can let this finish cooking in a thermos, but I made it on the stove.

Ingredients: from Meals that Heal Inflammation by Julie Daniluk p. 330
4 cups water (1L)
1 cup (250ml) chopped spinach – I used twice that much
1/2 cup (125ml) grated carrot
1/2 cup (125ml) quinoa
1/2 cup (125ml) split mung beans – I left out, didn’t have
1 tsp (5ml) fresh grated ginger root – you can get fresh ginger root in the produce department, stick it in the freezer and easily grate what you need and still have some for next time.
1 tsp (5ml) turmeric
1/4 tsp (1ml) cumin – I doubled the cumin because I can if I want to 😉
1/4 tsp salt
Optional additions:
1 Tbsp (15ml) minced garlic – I used
1/2 cup (125ml) grated parsnip – I used, and then some, again because I can if I want to ..
1/2 cup collards – I did not use, but as mentioned above, used extra spinach
1 Tbsp. olive oil – I used
1 Tbsp. miso paste or vegetable bouillion – I used bouillion

I believe I tripled this the first time I made it as it was for supper, and leftovers = cheap/healthy school lunch for my boy and work lunch for me

If you have a food processor -grating the carrots and parsnips is a snap… if not, recruit children for th grating.  Really, now, shouldn’t they do something to earn their keep 😉

Bring all the ingredients except for miso or oil if using to a rapid boil and stir.

Lower heat to medium, cover and simmer for 10 minutes.  At this point you can transfer (if making small amount) to a large 1 L stainless steel or glass-lined thermos, add your oil and/or miso and shake well.  It will be ready in 1 hour – 2 hours is better.

Or, like me, you can cover and simmer until the quinoa is done (it has little rings around it that come off and it becomes tender) and the veggies are tender.  The author also states that you can try different vegetables in this.  I would think cauliflower would be nice, as well as other greens.

warm and satisfying

I use the microplane (yellow handled grater) for my frozen ginger – so fast and easy!

Make sure you use lots of utensils and slop things about so your family can tell how hard yo worked on this… The microplane is also very good for zesting lemons.  Check it out here.

If you want to try some other quinoa recipes, check out

Simple Quinoa Salad Recipe

Simplest Quinoa Tabouleh Salad

Roasted Pepper and Quinoa Chili

This is a great fall and winter stew – very warming, good for your gut and for the rest of you as well!

Enjoy your meatless Monday, or Tuesday… or anyday!

Pantry Fare

Real foods are the best foods.   Well… okay I’m gonna say it.  Real foods are the only foods.  The other things are chemicals and synthetics that we’ve been convinced will satisfy us.  So there.  Even in the real food category, however, some are better than others.  While we could get into a lengthy discussion of nutrition benefits, I have to admit that the real foods that earn my highest praise are often those that are not only nutritious, but the most versatile.  Versatile real foods allow the greatest number of variations without too much skill building and are real pantry boons (especially if they are CHEAP).

And so, I return joyfully to my previous post on recalibrating our grocery bill.  Things are going pretty well in this department, and the pantry is finally thinning enough that I can see what’s in there and what’s not.  I can also feel out what we actually NEED based on how many times I look for something that is already gone.  Granted, I am no longer prepared in the event of a nuclear disaster as I was prior to attempting to ease up on the grocery mania, but we still could eat for a while out of that pantry….  Based on my experiments this week, I WILL make sure that I’m always stocked with bulgur and lentils.  I’ve continued playing with the lentil-bulgur mix and I’ve discovered a home run that is kid approved (yes, even the picky one).  It is also one of those lovely recipes that provides lots of opportunity for the less mature members of the family to participate in the cooking (I am talking about my children here, in case you were wondering if that was a jab at my wonderful and very mature husband).  I give you Mini Neatloaves. (Applause)

Mini Neatloaves – Served our family of 4 two dinners with 2 adult lunches left. Inspired by Confetti Mini-Meatloaf on Spark Recipes

  • 4c lentil-bulgur mix
  • 3c rolled oats
  • 1 med onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2/3c mushrooms ( I used reconstituted dried)
  • 2/3 c diced tomatoes (or tomato sauce – we had leftover pasta sauce to use up)
  • 1 small zucchini
  • 2 medium carrots
  • 2 eggs (I used flax)
  • 1 t mustard powder
  • 2 t marjoram
  • 1T creaminess (milk, mayo, yogurt… whatever.. I needed this because I mixed in the remainder of the leftover lentil-bulgur taco mix and it needed some mellowing)
  • 3T Braggs or soy sauce

Preheat oven to 350.  Lightly oil two muffin tins – you can also use a loaf pan, but I’m just gonna tell you that’s not as fun.  If you’re making flax eggs, prepare them first so they have time to set up.  Put lentil-bulgur mix and oats in large bowl.  Put veggies in food processor and process until they are no longer distinguishable as individual bits to your pickiest eater (you may not need to be quite as thorough as I was on this front).  Add veggie slush to bowl.  Add spices and flax eggs and mix.  I added about of cup of leftover peas that were in my fridge.  (My two still love measuring so they helped a lot on this part).  Mix until well combined.

Recruit volunteers to fill muffin tins with neat loaf mix.  Bake in oven for about 25-30 minutes (Watch closely as we had little people crises and I’m not sure I got the time exactly right.)  If you make a loaf, you will need to cook it longer.  If you make one enormous meatball, you’d better make a lot of spaghetti.

I served ours on a bed of orzo (insurance), beet salad with orange dressing, and cucumber slices.  We got 100% approval rating and all parties ate more neat loaves than orzo.  The  younger crowd enjoyed theirs with a little ketchup (don’t judge).  Most everyone enjoyed the beets as well (she just doesn’t like beets, even with orange juice in the picture).

Absolutely delish.  Oh, and if you’re wondering about the dressing, it was simply an attempt to get my daughter to eat beets.  3T orange juice, 1T olive oil, small squeeze honey, pinch salt.  While it didn’t change my daughter’s mind about the beautiful beets that we grew and that she helped harvest from the garden, the rest of us enjoyed it, and found it especially yummy when it slid from our beets into our orzo and onto our cucumber slices.  Summer is fabulous. Hope yours is delish as well.