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Basic Quinoa

We have more or less replaced rice with quinoa. There are several reasons why we’ve done this. One reason is due to the fact that brown rice has a high acid kidney load, whereas quinoa is almost neutral. Another reason, is that quinoa has a higher protein quality.
It has been our experience that quinoa is basically cooked the same way you cook rice with a ratio of 2 cups water to one cup of rinsed quinoa. Quinoa often is packaged as being already rinsed. If this is the case, you will not need to rinse it. (The reason to rinse the quinoa lies in the fact that it has saponins on the outside of the seed. Saponins are bitter, and we don’t want that.) We have found that toasting the raw seeds in a moderately hot dry skillet adds a nice flavor and the finished product is fluffier. For a more exotic dish, you can add ingredients such as vegetables, nuts, and dried fruit. We will go there later.

Basic Quinoa
1 Cup raw, rinsed Quinoa
2 Cups water
1/2 tsp. salt

Toast the quinoa over medium heat in a sauce pan until it has browned. Stir frequently to prevent the quinoa from burning.
Slowly add 2 cups hot water and the salt to the quinoa.  This gives off a lot of  steam, so wearing a rubber glove will prevent scalding.   Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the water has been absorbed to the level of the quinoa. This takes around 10 minutes. Cover the quinoa and turn down the heat to low and let it cook, undisturbed, for another 5 to 10 minutes until all the water is absorbed.
Test for water absorption by tipping the pot.
Turn off the heat, and let it rest for another 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork or tongs.

At this point, you can serve it as it is, or add more flavors such as is done for fried rice.
Brown 1 chopped onion in 1 tablespoon oil (or without out oil) with 1 – 2 chopped chili peppers (Serrano or jalapeño). Add  1 tablespoon finely chopped ginger root, and 2 cloves of chopped garlic.
Cook 5 minutes and add seasonings: 1/2 tsp. turmeric, 1/4 tsp. cayenne, 1/2 tsp. cumin.   Adjust spices. (Add more cayenne and black pepper to make it more spicy).
Add some or all of the following ingredients (optional).
Stir in 1 cup frozen peas, the juice and zest of one lime, and 1/2 cup dry, shredded unsweetened coconut,  sunflower seeds or sliced almonds.

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Lunch for a lifetime

Many of us who work outside the house are faced with the perennial problem of deciding what to do about lunch.  Eating out is expensive and often it is not that healthy.  The recipe I want to offer is not really a single recipe.  Rather, it is a framework from which you can make an almost infinite set of variations.  I got started with a recipe from Pacific Food Imports website http://www.Bigjohnspfiseattle.com.  On their home page, they have a link to recipes and on it they call this recipe ‘black chickpea salad’.  It was posted in its original form by  Daniel C. McGlothlen.  Thank you, Daniel, for the great start.

The recipe has several components and each one is open ended, so you can create a different recipe every time you make it and stay within the framework.  Kelly makes a batch of this every week and the amounts given in her recipe will feed three people for at least 5 good lunches each.  It keeps well in the fridge as long as you use plenty of lemon juice in the dressing.  We have literally used this recipe five days a week for the last year, and I am not in the least tired of it.  It is different every batch.

The basic structure is a combination of beans and grains to get the protein and carbohydrates.  Then we add nuts and seeds for texture and more protein.  The next component is the fresh vegetables and Kelly picks from the list she shows.  We like it spicy, so we add pepperoncini and green olives.  Finally, we make a dressing, and again this is a variable combination.  We like ours a little more picante, so we add more ginger and garlic, but the important components are lemon juice and olive oil plus salt and pepper.

Black Chick Pea Salad.

 The first time we made this salad, it took us several hours.  So, we bought a food processor, which really cut the prep time.  Also, consider purchasing a large (15”diameter) steel mixing bowl.  I got mine at Cash & Carry. 

2 cups dried black or green chickpeas.  (These tiny chickpeas can be found in any Asian or Indian grocery.) Soak overnight.  Cooks in 35 minutes in a pressure cooker.  Rinse & drain.  (OK to use other beans such as black beans or canned beans.)

2 Cups cooked:  of orzo, or Israeli Couscous, or bulgar, or brown rice, or quinoa, or a  combination of all.)  Follow cooking directions.

(Cooking & refrigerating the chickpeas and couscous the day before is fine.) 

1 packed cup coarsely chopped fresh Mint..

1 packed cup of fresh whole Italian Parsley leaves  (optional)

Other Ingredients:  (These you add according to your taste and availability.)

Veggies:  (Whatever you like and/or have available) Bell peppers, broccoli, carrots, cucumbers, zucchini, tomatoes, radishes, celery, green onion, cherry tomatoes, peas, corn, blueberries, celery..

(To speed things up, I cut the veggies into long thin strips and then feed the strips through the food processor using the slicing disc.

Nuts and dried fruits: 1/4 – 1/3 cup each of sun flower seeds, pumpkin seeds, pistachios,  golden raisins, Craisins.  I’ve added chopped dried apricot, dates, and prunes.  I’ve added grated unsweetened coconut. All good.

Other Options:   Olives (green or black), Peperoncini, even sweet pickles..

 Dressing:Blend

2 T olive oil  & 1 Tablespoon sesame oil (optional)

3/4 Cup lemon or lime juice (real lemons are nice, but bottled is just as fine)

zest of the limes or lemons (this can be zested directly into the salad)

2 T chopped ginger,

3 cloves garlie,

Salt and pepper to taste.

2 T honey and 1 Tablespoon Mae Ploy Sweet Chili sauce or 3 T Sweet Chili sauce.

1 tsp cayenne, 1 teaspoon salt, ground black pepper.   Blend ingredients.

 

Hello World!

This blog is going to track two parallel voyages of discovery.  My wife, Kelly, and I have been changing our diet for several years and have arrived at a place where we feel we have some ideas we would like to share.  I also teach nutrition at South Puget Sound Community College (SPSCC), and my students have asked me to post some of the things they have brought to class.  It is a requirement in my class that each student has to prepare and bring a dish that satisfies my grading criteria.  The dish must be both nutritious and delicious.  They have to provide the recipe for the dish and we must satisfy ourselves that the food is actually as delicious as they would have us believe.  I will be posting recipes from their contributions.

Kelly and I have also been developing recipes that we would like to share with our readers.  We eat a plant-based diet using whole foods that are as locally sourced as is practical.  The terms ‘vegetarian’ and ‘vegan’ have come to be associated with a whole lifestyle with which some people are unwilling to associate themselves.  I do not believe it is necessary to be vegan to be healthy, but it helps to change the emphasis of the meal from meat to plants.

No matter what the constraints of the diet are, I do not believe a diet is sustainable unless the consumer is happy with it.  Food needs to be delicious as well as nutritious, and I hope to share with you the knowledge that allows you to eat that way.

These days, there are so many wonderful sources of information about food.  I will be posting links to some great food blogs and websites that we use.  There are also some great books that have informed my diet selections.  I will refer you to some of those.