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 www.wellness.com.au

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!

C’mon, Really?

So one of the things Big Sis and I talk about a lot (at least to each other when everyone else has tuned out) is the various forms that sugar takes and how much of it hides in unexpected places.  Having eliminated most processed foods from our diet, the whole question of hidden sugar is not something I pay that much attention to anymore.  And it is at that moment, isn’t it, when we realize our vulnerability.

I’ve mentioned (once or twice only, I’m sure) that my daughter is a pretty picky eater.  We struggle to find foods that she enjoys that are also healthful and that I am willing to provide her with.  Recently we discovered that she truly enjoys pickles.  She is CRAZY for pickles.  Now, she will try any pickle, but (no shocker here) she is particularly fond of bread and butter pickles.  I know, I know.  They are sweeter pickles, Little Sis, duh.  Did you really think they didn’t have any sugar?  No, I just didn’t check to see how MUCH sugar.  Nor did I read the list of ingredients…. Shame on me.  Buyer be-freaking-ware all the time.  After I watched my daughter scooping handfuls of these pickles into her mouth, I became quite suspicious….  Turned the jar to read the label, and promptly put the lid back on the jar, moving it to the far end of the table.  With just 8 of these delicious little pickle chips my sweetie pie had eaten the equivalent of half a snicker’s bar worth of sugar, or in this case, high fructose corn syrup.  Swell.  The real kicker was the discovery of Yellow 5 in the ingredient list.  What’s that you say?  Yellow 5?  You mean the one on the Center for Science in the Public Interest’s list of foods everyone should avoid?  Yes, that Yellow 5 (which is found in countless other processed foods, by the way).  Super Swell.

So I put on my detective cap…  Next trip to Wegman’s (where I purchased the relatively affordable and inedible in my home pickles) and discovered that in the “regular” food aisle they only carry their own bread and butter pickles.  No choice.  There are bread and butter pickles that use regular sugar in place of HFCS, and also those who use turmeric in place of Yellow 5 (all of this to keep the pickles from being bluish instead of creepy greenish).  None of these options were available to me.  Bummer.   On my next trip, I remembered to look at pickles in the “natural foods” section – the weird store within a store that Wegman’s has (that I think is really annoying and confusing, but maybe that’s just me).  In this section, Wegman’s offered it’s store brand organic bread and butter pickles which contain sugar (rather than HFCS), and were noticeably less creepy green because of the lack of Yellow 5, or any other coloring agent, in the jar.  These pickles were significantly more expensive, and the sugar count (albeit a sugar I preferred) was still shockingly high.  My children were with me for this investigation and I allowed them to bully me into buying these organic wonder pickles on the condition that we would also buy dills and they would give them a shot and that their bread and butter intake would be limited at my discretion with no complaining (yes, I had them sign a contract).

I was kind of stunned by this whole thing, which may be silly.  It reminded me of a few simple rules that I tend to get lazy about since I make most of my own food.

1) Most food manufacturers produce the food that profits them the most.  Period.  That means high fructose corn syrup and toxic dye so the pickles don’t look blue.

2) With processed foods if it doesn’t taste sweet or salty, it only has some sugars and salts; if it does taste sweet or salty, it has an enormous amount of sugars and or salts.

3) There are prices that are too high when it comes to getting a vegetable into picky daughter’s  (or anyone else’s) belly.  Yellow 5 and HFCS are on that list for me.

4) While Wegman’s has gone to great lengths to label their store brand foods as being gluten-free, vegan, food allergy problem, whatever when appropriate (and I applaud them for this, really) none of these things mean a food is good for you.  Potato chips should be the big tip-off.  What?  They’re vegan, right?  I bought them the fancy grocery store – they must be good for you….

5) More often than not, the processed food that I’m buying (with guilt and trepidation) is only a shadowy substitute for a real food that I could make in my own kitchen without an enormous amount of time or energy expended.

On that note, I am taking up the great pickle research project.  I have canned pickles before and frankly, I wasn’t thrilled with the result.  I will look for recipes for this again, but will only undertake that task if my cucumber plants go INSANE.  Instead, I believe I will opt for fresh pickles.  I’ve found a few recipes, but most of them go something like this: cucumbers, onions, salt, celery seed, white vinegar, and sugar.  Dissolve dry into wet, pour over veggies.  Let sit overnight in fridge – done.  But will they last?  Doesn’t matter over here.  What about the sugar?  See that’s the beauty of doing it at home; I can cut it and then reduce it more over time to fool the little stinker into liking them that way.  What if they’re blue?  Frankly my dear…..