Tag Archives: dinner

Dinner in 15 min: Brown Rice Noodles With Asparagus and Mushrooms, Bathed In Walnut-Cottage Cream Sauce

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It takes longer to read the title of this post than to whip up this beauty dinner dish. True story.

It took me 15 minutes to make this dish and I was making it up as I went, which leaves me to think you could do it even faster. Nutritious, filling, comforting, creamy.

Is your mouth watering yet? It should.

The base for the sauce is cottage cheese and walnuts, and I beg of you as I always will when it comes to dairy products: Stay away from the low-fat, 0-fat, low-cal, 0% bullshit versions. If you’re too worried about the fat contents then have less of the stuff and have it less often. But really, if you’re going to eat it you might as well eat the real stuff with all its real nutrients, and not the chemical-laden shit. To the cottage cheese and walnuts we will add one clove of garlic and some quality salt.

The asparagus and mushrooms are sauteed on low heat in a little olive oil with a crushed garlic clove. Do not skip out on the garlic! It brings so much flavor you’ll miss it if it’s not there. Worried about this dish turning out too garlicky? Fear not. Garlic is a fantastic antibacterial, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, helps the absorption and circulation of iron in our body, it has cardioprotective elements, and HEADS UP– it helps regulate the amount of fat cells that get formed in our body. Reasons of weight to eat garlic often! (get it?!)

The fact that we’re using brown rice noodles makes this an excellent gluten-free dinner option, though you can use regular whole wheat pasta if that’s what you have in hand.

 

Quick and Delicious Dinner (makes 2 servings)

1/4 pack of brown rice noodles

8 asparagus stalks, tough fibers shaved off and cut into pieces

2 C mushrooms

1/2 Tbs olive oil

1 crushed clove of garlic

For the Creamy Sauce:

1 crushed clove of garlic

2/4 C cottage cheese

1/3 C walnuts

3 Tbs water

quality salt, to taste (I used Himalayan pink salt)

pepper, to taste

Start by crushing both your garlic cloves. It is recommended to crush the cloves and let them sit while you finish prepping other stuff, because this allows for garlic’s nutrients to surface and be more effective before being exposed to heat.

Place 1/2 Tbs of olive oil in a skillet and warm up gradually, then add the asparagus pieces and saute for 5 minutes. After this time, add in the crushed garlic and mushrooms, and continue to saute for about 5 more minutes, stirring every now and then. While this is going on, begin your sauce.

Take the other crushed garlic clove and place it in the blender with 2/4 C of cottage cheese, 1/3 C of walnuts and 2 Tbs of water. Blend, scrape down sides of the blender, blend again, and add a final 1 Tbs of water if needed for a smoother consistency. Salt to taste.

Remove the asparagus and mushrooms from the heat when they’re done, and prepare the noodles: Simply soak your amount of noodles in boiling water for about 2 minutes, or until they’re as tender as you’d like them. Drain completely and serve on a plate, topped with the asparagus, mushrooms and walnut cream sauce. Sprinkle with black pepper to taste.

 

How tasty is this cream sauce? Well, I licked the blender blades clean. And that’s all I have to say about that.

 

The Betrayal of a Nation: Quinoa Vegetable Chili

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In Mexico where I grew up chili-dogs (that’s chili in a hot dog bun) are the all-time go-to staple for kiddie parties. It’s the accurate demonstration of being able to feed the masses for cheap cheap. They are traditionally made with a wackload of pinto beans (cheap), with some cut up hot dog wieners (cheap) and some ground beef (cheap). Calling it chili con carne is in fact not only redundant but almost absurd, because what else is chili supposed to have if not carne? Our chili always has meat. Always.

And so not too long ago a good friend of mine (gurlfriend, CHEST BUMP) and I rolled our eyes and scoffed with disapproval while discussing this ridiculous nonsense that some people call ‘vegetarian chili’. Pfft.

Now, you hear that dry heaving? That’s me swallowing my words.

As it turns out, with great knowledge comes great decision making. Or something.

Anyway, for a while now I have flat out refused to buy wieners because… they’re fucking wieners. You might as well boil a plastic bag and call it lunch. We do have ground beef occasionally, but I try to keep the times few and far in between because it’s next on the list of shit foods.

My husband is super particular when it comes to meatless meals. More than once he’s caught me red handed trying to pass an all-veggie meal as if it contained meat; though, surprisingly, he quite likes this chili. He said today that the combination of textures helps a lot: the chunkiness of the corn and peas with the chewiness of the mushrooms makes it difficult to even notice the meat is missing. This from my very omnivorous significant other. THERE IS HOPE.

I do love me a one pan dinner, the kind that lets you take advantage of the odd lonely veggie, that doesn’t require much attention and that can satisfy even a  picky meat eater. This chili meets all these qualifications, and then some.

Quinoa Vegetable Chili (a.k.a. Don’t Dare Call It Mexican Chili)

3/4 C cooked quinoa

Corn

Mushrooms

Red kidney beans, or pinto beans, or black beans.

1/2 orange, red or yellow bell pepper (or a combination of the three), chopped

1/2 red onion, chopped

1/2 white onion (Spanish onion), chopped

3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

Peas

Tomato sauce (homemade is best)

Worcestershire sauce (omit to keep it vegan)

1 Tbs of cooking oil

Chili powder, paprika, oregano, white pepper, black pepper, and salt to taste.

If you’re anything like me you’ll have some quinoa left over from making soup. There’s something about quinoa, no matter how hard I try to be precise I always manage to make double what I need. If not, remember to soak the uncooked quinoa in water for 15 minutes, discard the water and cook it in a saucepan with vegetable broth, allowing for the broth to boil and immediately bringing down the heat to low. Cover and leave it for ten minutes. Remove from the heat.

In a medium saucepan heat your cooking oil and add the diced onions (red and white) and the bell pepper. After about 2 minutes add the finely chopped garlic. Allow it to saute for a minute or two, then add the rest of the vegetables and the tomato sauce. If the sauce is too thick feel free to add some water in small increments. Add your spices little by little until you find your perfect taste and let it all simmer, allowing for the flavors to mesh.

If I can be honest I’ll tell you to season the shit out of that thing, especially with lots of chili powder. After all, it’s what makes chili taste like chili. Whodathunk it.

Remember to use up anything you have sitting in your fridge, this dish can take it all. Carrots, leeks, tomatoes, celery, and potatoes are all good additions. This recipe should make about 4 servings, but add as much stuff as you want because any leftovers freeze beautifully. And hello, ready made dinner!

And now, you hear that? That’s the sound of Mexico gasping at my betrayal. Chili con carne be damned.

Quinoa Black Bean Chipotle Soup

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You know what Canada did? After weeks upon weeks of sunshine and warmth, it snowed. SNOW. It was ridiculous and I was pissed because how dare you play with my sanity like that, Canada.

Maybe you’ve experienced a bit of funky weather yourself, or maybe you live in Australia or Chile and it’s now Fall in your side of the equator. Either way, I have something to keep you warm.

You can find quinoa now in most supermarkets, but also in health food stores and definitely online. Although it can be considered pricey I think it’s very worth it. For starters, once cooked it expands quite a bit and goes a long way. It’s also extremely diverse and can be used in tons of ways: On top of salads, in chilis, to make burgers and meatballs, added to soups and stews, as a hot breakfast cereal, in cookies and power bars… quinoa does it all.

Not only that. Quinoa, the revered seed of the ancient Incas, gives you much more than you can imagine: It is a complete protein (it contains the full spectrum of nine amino-acids needed by the body without any of the downsides of animal products), it is full of fiber, and it helps prevent gallstones and various forms of cancer including breast cancer. Also, it improves your stamina– which is why it was a venerated staple by the Inca warriors. And hey, if it was good enough for mighty warriors it sure as heck will be good enough for you and me.

My absolute favorite way of eating quinoa is in a soup with chipotle powder and a bit of lime. There’s something in the contrast of the tastes, the nuttiness of quinoa with the smokey hotness of chipotle and the tang of lime, that gets me salivating just thinking about it. We can’t ignore the fact that chipotle is a little superstar all on its own credit. Being a hot pepper and thus containing capsaicin (the element that gives peppers their heat), this baby protects us from various nerve disorders, it clears any nasal and lung congestion,  at the same time that it acts like a powerful anti-inflammatory– and if you’re working out anti-inflammatory foods are your FRIENDS.

Paired up with the soft-spoken black bean and all its properties, including but not limited to: more healthy protein, more fiber, vitamin B1, phosphorus, folates and magnesium, this soup is sure to not only fill you up and keep you warm, but also to stay well in accordance with your health goals.

Quinoa Black Bean Chipotle Soup

1/2 C of uncooked quinoa

1 carrot, peeled and diced

1 onion diced

1/2 C cooked black beans

Vegetable broth

Chipotle powder

Freshly squeezed lime juice

Sea salt to taste

Remember homemade is always better! To learn how to make homemade vegetable broth, go here. Veggie broth has tons of uses and it can be frozen for later. Very worth making.

To learn how to cook all sorts of beans and lentils at home, go here. It’s so easy!

For this soup, use up any veggies you have around. You can add celery, tomato, potato, or anything else you have in hand.

Soak the uncooked quinoa in water for about 15 minutes; discard the soaking water and place in a saucepan. Add the vegetable broth, diced carrot and onion (or other vegetables that you’re using) and bring to a boil. Cover the saucepan as soon as it starts boiling, and bring temperature down to low. Leave it cooking for about 20 minutes.

Once the quinoa is cooked but still a bit crunchy (you don’t want it to get mushy), add the cooked black beans and salt to taste.

To serve, add a few drops of squeezed lime and sprinkle lightly with the chipotle powder; or if you’re anything like me, use so much of the stuff that your eyes get watery and snot is dripping down your nose. It’s very attractive, I promise.

A friendly pasta

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Oh Carbs, you make us so confused. Whose great idea was it to name carbs the earthly personification of Satan, anyway?

Carbohydrates are wonderful and very much necessary in that they are the primary sources of energy for our body. They are what gives us that humpf to run that extra mile or lift that extra rep.

Carbs are your friends, but like with real friends it all depends on the crowd you’re hanging out with. You remember that back stabbing mean girl in high school who told your secrets and made up rumors about you? Well, simple carbs are rude like that. A simple carb is, like the name implies, simplistic: One dimensional and without a lot to offer. Superficial. Practically an air-head.

On the other side, you know your real-life sidekick and BFF, who always laughs at your jokes, is straight-up honest and loves you regardless of what an ass you can be sometimes? Complex carbs are that buddy. A complex carb is elaborate and multi-layered: It has depth and richness, with so much to give and just wanting what’s best for you. A real bro.

But let’s not get too far ahead. It is important to properly identify our saboteur, so let’s learn more about her, that simple carb. For research purposes we will give her the scientific name of Meaney McSugar.

Meaney McSugar lies, but has endless charm and good taste. How can something so good be so bad, many have asked after falling prey to her allure. She’s a threat because right away she makes you feel good and lets you forget about consequences– it’s all about instant gratification. Make no mistake, it doesn’t matter if you see her every once in a while or if it’s a lifelong friendship; Meaney McSugar is on a mission: To steal your energy and withdraw from your metabolism account. Like a gold digger, but of physical functions.

Like any professional swindler, Ms. McSugar has a vast array of costumes and disguises. These are a few of her more commonly known alternate personalities:

White bread

White sugar

White pasta

High fructose corn syrup (found in most, if not all, processed foods)

All simple carbs turn into sugar in our bodies. Technically complex carbs do so, too, the difference being that complex carbs give us a more gradual and steady release of energy without the sudden crashing and cravings for more.

Simple carbs are nasty because they provide calories without any nutrients. This is referred to as empty calories. Empty calories make you fat because they can’t be as easily metabolized by the body. It’s so much sugar that the body, in its infinite wisdom, says Ooooh I’ll store this shiz up for later… but with our current sedentary lifestyle ‘later’ never comes, and it all gets stored. Excessive sugars + sitting on our ass = a bigger ass. Quite simple, really.

But it’s not difficult to turn the cold shoulder on Meaney McSugar’s tricks once we know how to avoid her. You just gotta ditch the bad influences and go back to your real pals.

The good news is that complex carbs, like true friends, are always there when you need them. You’re surrounded by them in every trip to the store, you just have to learn to notice them and appreciate them.

Complex carbs that are kind to you and take care of you include whole wheat bread, brown rice pasta, spinach, broccoli, zucchini, romaine, tomatoes, bananas, strawberries, homemade oatmeal, beans, lentils, peas, brown rice, brown rice noodles… basically all vegetables, all fruits, all legumes and whole cereals. These dudes have got your back. They’ll never give you up. They’ll never let you down. They’ll never run around and desert you.

Think of complex carbs like the turtle bro in Finding Nemo, all Duuuuude, I’m just hanging out and cleansing your insides with this wackload of fiber. Rockin’.

And to celebrate the wonderful world of complex carbs, I give you:

Now that’s a friend.

Your BFF Balsamic Pasta

1   1/2 C Whole wheat noodles

1/2  red bell pepper, sliced

1/2 green bell pepper, sliced

1 zucchini

1 yellow onion

stuffed green olives, to taste

Balsamic vinegar vinaigrette (recipe below)

Olive oil for sauteing

Salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Cook the pasta according to instructions, and drain. Saute the thinly sliced onion, peppers and zucchini in a little bit of olive oil making sure temperature remains low (otherwise the oil goes rancid with the heat). Season with salt, pepper and garlic powder to taste. Make your balsamic vinaigrette in the meantime.

Balsamic Vinegar Vinaigrette

I like to keep the oil-vinegar ratio 2:1, meaning that whatever amount of oil you use, use half of that of vinegar.

4 Tbs Extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbs Balsamic vinegar

1 garlic clove

salt and pepper to taste

Process all ingredients in the blender. Once your vinaigrette is ready, combine the whole wheat noodles with the vegetables, toss in the stuffed olives and dress with vinaigrette.

Now go call your real life BFF and tell them they’re your complex carb, the whole wheat to your bread, the brown to your rice, the quinoa of your life. Then laugh when they don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about.

 

The Practical Portable Pretty Salad

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Without further ado, I give you… salad in a jar.

 

 

No, I don’t have a jar fetish in case you’re wondering. There is, however, a very good reason for all the containing that has been going on here lately and it will all make sense very soon. Plus it’s, like, a scientific fact that food in a jar is infinitely better. For reals.

Portability is key– just pop on the lid and store in your fridge until you need to bring it with you. The homemade dressing is what makes this beauty the wonder it is.

Layered Portable Salad

Of course you can customize this to your liking, but what I used today for the layers, in order from bottom to top, is as follows:

1 sliced mushroom

apple cider vinegar- honey dressing (recipe below)

a few almonds

corn

shredded carrot

chickpeas

sliced red pepper

a few black olives

walnuts

diced green onion

baby spinach leaves

That’s all. Just layer your ingredients always making sure the dressing stays at the very bottom and the green leaves stay at the very top. These two must not touch or your leaves will go rancid really fast. Great for travel and keeps well: Make several jars and have them ready in your fridge to bring with you to work during the week. Shake the jar right before eating, and it’s easier if you serve it on a plate. No more little containers of dressing popping open up and soaking the bag or cooler, yay!

Apple cider vinegar- honey dressing

This is so easy and so tasty.

1 Tbs honey

1 Tbs water

2 Tbs extra virgin olive oil

1 Tbs raw apple cider vinegar

salt, pepper, garlic powder to taste

Mix all the ingredients and blend them for half a minute in the blender. That’s it!

When it comes to choosing your ingredients opt for organic raw apple cider vinegar with Mother (and now my Spanish-speaking friends are laughing because in Mexico con madre means a very different thing). Mother is made up of living nutrients and bacteria, and you can tell if your apple vinegar has Mother because it looks like little pieces of debris settled at the bottom of the glass bottle. Shake your bottle before using to stir up the Mother, and enjoy its many benefits. MOTHER KNOWS BEST.

So how is your apple cider vinegar meant to be? Con madre! And how does this salad taste? Well, con madre.

 

 

A Pizza that Would Make Your Mother Proud

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I’ve criticized pizza before, especially when a big bunch of corporate wackos decided it’s ok to buy their way into the school system and further brainwash kids that regular pizza is ‘good’ food. Moving on!

But things are what we make them be, and I’ll be the first one to admit that taste-wise pizza is indeed appealing. I don’t think we should swear off things we like forever, but we definitely can bring our own sanity to the table and approach such things in a much healthier manner.

Enter… my pizza.

Eating can be such a psychological game. If you look at my picture you will see lots of oozy melted cheese. You know how much I used? The amount equivalent to the size of my thumb. That’s really what one serving of cheese should be. But of course when we go out to eat a poutin or when we have our nachos we are faced with gallons of the stuff, we don’t question it, and what’s worse: We assume that that’s what cheesy food is supposed to be like. We have been lied to, deceived, fooled! We’ve been made fat and unhealthy, all by power of misinformation that we happily accepted because you know, it’s cheese. 

Casein (the protein in dairy) has proved to be quite addictive, so it’s likely that the vicious circle won’t end until we become aware and start choosing differently.

So what’s the trick? You can still use cheese, but use a little and keep it visible. Instead of placing a thick bed of it as the base underneath our toppings, as traditional pizzas would have it, we’ll sprinkle it on top of the whole thing. Also, grated cheese goes a long way because it covers much more area and melts much better, so suddenly a thumb size of cheese doesn’t seem like such an insignificant thing. Thumbs up to proper serving sizes!

Pizza For the Sane (makes 1 serving)

1 whole wheat pita bread

Any and all chopped vegetables you like! I used:

Green and yellow bell pepper

Onion

Zucchini

Mushrooms

Small bunch of baby spinach, stems removed and coarsely chopped

Green onion

Black olives

1.5 – 2 oz. of grated cheese. Keep it the size of your thumb. NOT MORE (glare). Use vegan cheese to keep things, well, vegan.

Salt, pepper, Italian spices, and garlic powder to taste

Oil for sauteing

Red pepper flakes

For the sauce:

I had some of my tomato soup left over, so I transformed that into pizza sauce by placing it in a pan and adding Italian spices and garlic powder, and letting it simmer until the liquid was gone.

Make yer pizza:

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Take your chopped vegetables except for the green onion, olives and spinach, and saute them in a pan with very little oil, at medium-low heat. Flavor them with salt and pepper to taste. Once your veggies are done you will take the spinach and toss in with the veggies, cover the pan and let it cook for one minute. Do not let the spinach in the heat for longer than 90 seconds because it loses its nutritional properties super fast.

Assemble the pizza by taking the pita bread, smearing your sauce on it, and placing all the sauteed veggies on top, adding the black olives in this moment. Place in the oven and let it warm all together for about 8 minutes. After this time, bring it out and add the chopped green onion and cheese, place back in the oven and allow for the cheese to melt.

I like to sprinkle my pizza with red chili flakes and Worcestershire sauce. Delish! This recipe is awesome because it allows you to utilize any leftover veggies that have been sitting in your fridge.

So, to recap: Why is regular pizza godawful?

1) Because of the crust: It’s made of white, processed, fattening flour.

2) Because of the ‘tomato’ sauce: It’s full of sugar, sodium, chemicals, preservatives, and without a trace of the benefits that real tomatoes would bring.

2) Because of the excessive amounts of cheese: It’s way too much, way too fatty, way too much casein that we don’t need.

3) Because of the traditional toppings: More grease, more fat, more stuff to expand your ass.

This pizza offers a solution to all of the above: Whole wheat pita bread in lieu of crust, homemade tomato sauce made with real vegetables sans additives, the proper amount of cheese, and delicious and colorful toppings that will bring a whole lot of nutrients to your body. Love.

Remember, your thumb is for measuring cheese and your middle finger is for the food industry as we know it because they’re lying, cheating bastards. Word.