Eat Happy, Be Healthy!
Most of us know that quinoa is a wonderful, nutritious gluten-free grain. It is much higher in protein than most gluten free grains containing ~5g per 1/2 cup cooked, which is about double that of brown rice. Since it is naturally higher in protein than brown rice, it is also naturally lower in carbohydrates, increasing satiety and stabilizing blood sugars. It also contains about 3.5g of fiber per 1/2 cup cooked, 70-80% of which is insoluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is wonderful at bulking up stool and increasing transit time. If you struggle with constipation or struggle to fully evacuate, then consider enjoying quinoa more often.
However, I find that often many of my clients haven't found a groove with this fiber rich and nutrient dense pseudo-grain. Also unfortunately, many fad diets exclude grains altogether. With Paleo, Carnivore, and Keto diets on the rise, many folks are missing out on this gut friendly and delicious grain. So, unless you have a sensitivity to quinoa, I urge you to reconsider and try to incorporate this little seed into your diet routine more often. Your gut microbes and your belly will thank you for it.
If you have been on a diet that restricts grains, I suggest starting with a small serving, and gradually increasing from there. The body always needs some time to adjust to new dietary changes. To avoid digestive distress, consider cooking your quinoa with more liquid or making a quinoa porridge. A quinoa porridge is a great alternative to oatmeal and can be a wonderful way to add some variety to your morning routine.
Turmeric Quinoa Porridge with Berries
1 cup milk (your choice)
1/2 cup cooked quinoa
Sprinkle turmeric (cinnamon or cardamom also works well)
1/8th tsp sea salt
Raw cranberry chutney (recipe on website)
In a small saucepan heat 1 cup of your choice of milk (I really like unsweetened plain soy milk with this) until simmering. Add the cooked quinoa, sprinkle turmeric, sea salt, and stir until combined. Cook one minute or until the milk becomes golden from the turmeric. Alternatively, you can put all the ingredients into a microwave safe bowl and heat together until hot. If you want to increase the protein content you can add some collage powder to it as well.
Transfer the porridge to a bowl and stir in your toppings. I added 1-2 T of raw cranberry chutney, blueberries, and chopped hazelnuts. Drizzle with maple syrup for added sweetness if desired. Feel the cozy with every bite and hopefully the sweet relief later!
Do you struggle to incorporate quinoa into your regular routine??
Hopefully now you have a tasty way to do so!
I love blackberries. Maybe it is because they bring me back to my childhood memories, picking buckets upon buckets along the Skagit River, to make a years supply of blackberry jam. My father always recruited my brother, my mom, and I to help him pick. The more, the better. The following days would be spent making jam, wafting the aroma of blackberries and lemon throughout the house. We always made so much that the surplus became holiday gifts for friends. It was a time when all four of us were together, happy and healthy.
Now in my mid thirties I am reliving this memory. Earlier this week Toren and I went to pick our own bucket full at the abundant neighborhood blackberry bushes down the street. Within a quarter hour, I had picked plenty for a little batch of jam, and extra for snacking. The hot rays of the sun had transformed the little firm green berries into plump, sweet, and juicy bits of dark purple goodness. They were delicious.
Inspired by a glass of good red wine, I got into production mode. How could I make a delicious, unique and healthy jam with these perfectly ripened blackberries? Well, instead of sugar I decided to use dates. They not only sweeten, but also carry along fiber which helps thicken the jam, vitamins and minerals. A generous swig of red wine, and a squeeze of lemon juice also brighten the flavor.
Making homemade jam is great way to preserve these delicious berries and have access to them year round. Blackberries are EVERYWHERE FOR FREE right now, so don't spend your money on bland store bought alternatives. Just make sure to pick berries aways from high traffic zones, and to rinse them thoroughly prior to use. You can even freeze them for later. Plus, you have full control of what you use to sweeten the jam. Besides using it on buttered toast, you can stir some into plain yogurt, into oatmeal, or even add a dollop to vanilla ice cream. I hope you like this lightly sweet jam that tastes of high summer.
Blackberry and Red Wine Jam
Makes Four 8oz mason jars
6 cups rinsed blackberries
12 medjool dates, pitted and soaked with hot water for 10 minutes
1/2 cup red wine (I used cabernet sauvignon)
juice of 1/2 lemon
Put blackberries and red wine into a large saucepan and heat until boiling. Reduce heat to a steady simmer. With a large spoon or fork crush the blackberries against the side of the pot. Stir often and allow the berries to break down completely and the liquid to reduce. This takes about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place dates into a food processor, and discard the soaking water. Process until a smooth paste is formed. Add the date paste and lemon juice to the blackberry and wine mixture and stir well. Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes while stirring often. Do not let it burn on the bottom!
Meanwhile bring a large pot with mason jars and a little water to a boil. Place a lid on top to keep steam in. This will sterilize your jars. Pour the hot jam liquid into sterilized jars and top with clean lids. Place on counter top until the lids "pop" inward. They can now be stored safely for later use.
Alternatively, you can transfer the jam into jars random clean jars, allow to cool, top with lid, and then freeze. Either way is fine.
When the weather turns gray and the rain drums lightly on the roof, I want to bake. It just brings a sense of cozy into the home by wafting smells of cinnamon spice throughout the house. Perhaps I am constantly nostalgic for the Fall, but even with the rainy days of late Spring, these muffins do not disappoint. Since I am a mother of a toddler, whatever I bake needs to be quick and cannot dirty too many dishes. If Toren gives me a 30 minute window of self-play, then I am lucky.
So here is what I whipped up this time. APPLE BANANA BREAKFAST MUFFINS!! If you are a fan of apple, banana, and cinnamon, then this recipe is for you! Sweetened only with whole fruit, these muffins are naturally free of refined sugar. They are fluffy yet fiber rich, and an excellent alternative to otherwise sugar laden muffin recipes. I am not a fan of sugar replacements, and encourage the use of fruit, as nature intended, to sweeten recipes. Not only does this practice encourage the consumption of whole foods, it also increases the fiber and polyphenol content. Flaxseeds further boost the fiber content and provide a lot of health benefits including supporting healthy bowel movements, balancing hormones, and reducing inflammation. This little seed may be small, but it is mighty! Plus, the polyphenols in the oats, apple peel, and cinnamon support the growth of bifidobacterium and lactobacillus two groups of good gut bacteria known to support human health in a wide variety of ways.
Although these muffins are gluten free, they are not dairy or egg free. If you want to play around with these additions let me know how it turns out! Also, of importance, when grating the apple make sure to leave the skin on because most of the polyphenols are found directly beneath the skin. Don't let the skin go to waste. I also opted not to use muffin liners, because I feel the muffins rise better when placed directly into an oiled muffin tin. You can easily make a double batch and freeze the leftovers. These muffins taste just as good fresh out of the oven as they do reheated in the microwave or toasted in the toaster. With a pat of butter or nut butter they taste extra yummy too. And yes, my little toddler loves them as much as I do!
Apple Banana Breakfast Muffins
Makes 6 Muffins
1 cup rolled oats
1 medium banana
1 medium apple, grated with skin on
1/4 cup ground flaxseed (also known as flaxseed meal)
1/4 cup whole milk yogurt (I used plain Grace Harbor Farms yogurt)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile add all of the ingredients except the baking powder and baking soda to a high speed blender (I have a BlendTec). Blend until smooth, about 60 seconds or so. I am sure a good quality food processor would work well too. Then sprinkle in the baking powder and baking soda and blend for another 10 seconds, just until incorporated.
Oil six spots of a regular muffin tin with butter or olive oil and transfer the mixture evenly into all spots. Place into oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. Remove from oven and allow the muffins to cool in the muffin tin for 10-15 minutes undisturbed. Then gently remove the muffins and enjoy!
For a balanced breakfast consider pairing these muffins with a protein rich meal such as veggie scrambled eggs.
I would love to know what you think of these little gems! Share your adaptations below, so others can learn from you as well :)
I hope you enjoy my creative, flavorful, and nutrient dense approach to whole foods cooking. All recipes are gluten free.