Tag Archives: gluten free

Wellness Wednesday: Sweetheart Quinoa Breakfast

A few years ago I had a friendly waitress let me in on a little secret; cook quinoa directly in the coconut milk for “breakfast quinoa”.  Add some seasoning such as cinnamon and, voila, a simple breakfast substitute.

Well sourced quinoa (often from fair trade channels in countries such as Bolivia) is good for a.m. protein, at 8 grams per cup.  It is also a “complete protein” which refers to the whole form and that fact that it consists of an adequate proportion of essential amino acids.  Appropriate protein and healthful fat sources incorporated into the a.m. meal is thought to help support appropriate hormonal regulation through out the day.

To make your sweetheart (and you yourself are also a sweetheart!) a special Valentine’s day themed breakfast, consider making this and adding antioxidant rich dark cherries, raspberries, or strawberries.  Although not in season for all this time of year, organic berries can typically be found in the frozen food section or freeze dried fruits have seemed to pick up in popularity.

I would also suggest cacao nips and coconut flakes!

*Note:  Freeze dried fruits are great for travel and not candied in the way dried fruit options are.

Wellness Wednesday: Time for Curry!!!

This has been one of the most popular recipe requests by my friends and colleagues.

Many recipes for curry have been developed.  Although this is not a known fact, I imagine the variations have originated out of different villages across the various areas in which it curry, as the dish we now know it, was popularized.

In my brief research, I learned that the term “curry” may be more “Americanized” (or influenced by regions such as Britain) to designate a certain dish itself versus a cuisine type.  More can be found from the links at the bottom of this post.

Similar to many culinary connoisseurs before me have done, I have taken the guidance of others, tried it in the kitchen, and adjusted to develop my craft.

Although I experiment with different variations and adjust for the occasion, my most common go to is Red, Spicy, & Basil Vegetable!

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As many of you may already know, I am a conscientious cook.  My goals are healthful (nutrient dense and balanced), non- or minimally processed, additive free, eco-/sustainable, and, when possible, locally sourced.  Of course operating in this way is a craft in itself.

For curry, I have settled on culinary coconut cream (milk).  Right now I know of one who makes it; So Delicious Dairy Free.  The option isn’t 100% in line with the standards above, but its the best I can find with the most desired outcome for consistency.  It comes in a small carton;  http://sodeliciousdairyfree.com/products/culinary-coconut-milk.

Otherwise, I rely on organic spices and produce.  (Check out Mountain Rose Herbs for a beautiful array of bulk, organic spices!)

This recipe can be scaled up.  I find the measurements below make 3-4 hearty dishes.

  • 1 carton of culinary coconut milk
  • 1-2 tbs of coconut oil
  • approx. 1/4 C vegetable broth
  • 3 tbs paprika
  • 1 tbs each turmeric, cumin, black pepper, garlic powder, & red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 2 tbsp dried ginger (can use grated fresh if preferred/available)
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp of salt, pink Himalayan or sea salt
  • 1 medium white onion, thinly sliced or diced
  • 4-5 fresh garlic cloves, minced or chopped
  • 1-2 cups of chopped fresh vegetables of choice (Really, any can work, but I prefer broccoli, peppers, carrots, and mushrooms most.  Sugar snap peas are also a commonly used option for this style of dish.  A mix of hot & mild peppers is in the photo.  I have also been known to thrown in other assortments that I need to use up, such as a turnip, radish, or handful of spinach at the end of the cooking process).
  • 1-2 healthy handfuls of fresh basil, chop if needed
  • 1-2 sprigs of fresh parsley, curly preferred and chopped as needed
  • 2-3 fresh green onions or chives, finely chopped
  • 1 C dried quinoa (which will be cooked according to your preference)

This may seem like a lot of spices and herbs, but trust me, spice makes the dish!  I recommend pre-measuring the dried spices and salt out in a small bowl, mixing them together in advance.  Then, they will all be added in one step during the cooking process.  Another option is to make a curry paste with the fresh garlic minced and dried spices.  This version will include a healthy dose of olive oil which I often skip for this recipe version.  If possible, I avoid heating olive oil.

Start with a larger pot and the burner on low.  I have a gas stove and need to use the absolute lowest setting.  Add at least 1 tbs of the coconut oil and allow to melt.  Then, add the onions.  Don’t allow the coconut oil to get too hot or it will pop when you add the onions.  Add the remainder of the coconut oil as needed.

Allow the onions to soften approximately 40-50%.  They will just be starting to turn glass like in appearance.  At this point, you will want to stage your vegetables by desired cook time (including the fresh garlic).  For example, carrots take longer than broccoli and peppers.  This is also when to start adding the vegetable broth.  Adjust as needed, but you shouldn’t need much because the fresh vegetables will have their own moisture.  Use just enough to keep the mixture moist and not charred or dry.  Stir periodically and cover as needed.

Once the vegetables are approximately 75% tender, you can add the spices and coconut milk.  Stir!  Allow the mixture to begin to bubble slightly, then turn the burner off and add the fresh Basil, Parsley, and Green Onions.  Put the lid on for a 1-3 minutes, then you are ready to serve over the cooked quinoa.

For an Autumn twist, swap out the quinoa base for cooked squash.  If using squash for a base, you might also sweeten the pot with 1 tbsp cinnamon and 1/4 tbsp each of nutmeg & clove.  Some also prefer to add chick peas or lentils.

The cooking process should take approximately 20 minutes or less.  The variance will be due to your choice of vegetables.

Ladle out the curry and vegetables over your base to serve.  Sit back, enjoy!

 

A little more on “curry” –

http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/0/24432750

http://www.indepthinfo.com/curry/history.shtml

Balsamic Seared Tuna Steak with Garlic Spinach & Onions

Purposefully, I did not start this blog as a way to develop a recipe site, despite the encouragement by friends to do so.  The reality is that I am very much an at-home cook and, although my life consists of plans and schedules, not a calculated “chef”.

I learned to cook by age 7 (actually probably closer to age 3!) through shadowing my grandmother Rosemary.  My skills were enhanced after moving around a bit as a young adult.  My palate was expanded as the result of greater exposure to different cuisines and at-home, family styles.  At some point, through a collection of observations paired with trial and error, I learned attributes for foods and flavors.

Now, I sort of just do.  I follow some great recipe blogs and have no desire to compete with their awesomeness!  Another reality is that from most of those other blogs, I draw inspiration, but will often do my own variation.

However, as this blog is in its infancy, I have come to realize that despite best of intentions of an organized, clear calendar, it can be hard to keep up with blogging as a side “gig”.  Therefore, I will sprinkle a few of my own “recipes” into my blog.  Of course I will also continue to special mention those other awesome blogs along the way, particularly as they relate to the other content I publish.

Last week I made a new variation of pan-seared tuna steak.  This recipe worked out great and was easy to make.

Balsamic Seared Tuna 2

First, I started with a low-medium heated pan (I have a gas stove) and began to caramelize chopped onions in coconut oil.

Meanwhile, I prepped the raw tuna steak with a little salt and pepper on each side.  Then, I added some granulated garlic to the pan when the onions were partially cooked.

Next, I added the tuna directly to the pan with the onions still in it (cooked halfway) and turned up the heat slightly.  (I would suggest doing this before the onions are at a half-way tenderized point.  Otherwise, you will have burned, charred onion “chips” which is not the desired outcome).

Tuna steak cooks rather quickly.  Basically you watch the flesh color change from bright pink to grey.  Once the bottom looks like this, despite pinkness in the middle and top, flip it.

Once I flipped the steak, I added raw spinach to the sides of the pan where there was space left in the pan (and on top of the onions).  Immediately, I sprinkled a light coat of olive oil over the uncooked spinach.

I try to avoid cooking with oils, except coconut, because they break down from the heat and become less healthful.  However, due to the firmer consistency of coconut oil, sometimes a cook timing aspect makes  me use olive oil.  Since the fish cooks quickly, I used olive oil.

As the fish finished to turn in color (cook), the spinach wilted and onions completed their path towards caramelization.

To plate the dish, I first removed the tuna from the pan, then topped with spinach-onion combo.  For the finale, I drizzled cool balsamic vinegar over the top.

The reason I saved this for last versus adding to the hot pan was to preserve some of the microbial aspects of balsamic vinegar (fermented food).

Balsamic Seared Tuna Steak with Garlic Spinach & Onions

Balsamic Seared Tuna 1

Ingredients

  • 1 tuna steak
  • 1/4-1/3 of a medium-sized white or yellow onion, chopped
  • Up to 1 Tbs of coconut oil (due to the method for onion caramelization, you may need the full tablespoon)
  • 1/2 Tbs of granulated garlic or garlic powder (adjust for preference)
  • 2 dashes each of salt & pepper
  • 1 healthy handful of raw spinach
  • Olive oil (desired, but likely close to 1/2 Tbs)

***A note on Tuna Steak (or fish in general), it will continue to cook inside after removed from the pan.  Therefore, especially with seared tuna, a little pink is o.k.  Restaurants typically serve it quite pink inside and in a sliced presentation.  This is really personal preference.  However, be sure to not leave it on the pan too long.  It will dry out and become tough.

If you aren’t familiar with cooking it, I would recommend cutting into it before removing it from the pan.  If its still really pink for your preference, leave it on a little while longer, then remove.  This doesn’t create a beautiful presentation, but it allows you to learn what the outer sides should look like when it is cooked to preference.  Bottomline, it will cook in a matter of minutes, so don’t walk away from it either.