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With JTs job, he sometimes misses lunch or dinner, so I went to our local health food stores to pick up some healthy energy bars. I was shocked! The high protein versions could run as high as $5 EACH! That’s absolutely crazy, and they are not even that “good” for you. So instead I bought some quinoa (sorry indigenous people of Peru), sunflower seeds, flax seeds, dark chocolate, dried cherries and agave and came home to search for a tasty recipe. My inspiration came from this recipe in Epicurious but it was purely Barb (from Profiteroles and Ponytails) that inspired the Quinoa addition to this treat, thank you Barb!

I toasted the quinoa so that it popped like pop corn; toasting brings out the nuttiness (hmmm, that’s a coincidence, when I’m toasted I become nuttier too ;-)!) and makes them nicely crunchy and not too jaw breaking.

Note that I updated the nutritional facts because someone asked about calories. Check out the tool I used here.

A delicious healthy snack or meal replacement

A delicious healthy snack or meal replacement

Quinoa Energy Bars

Makes one pan 10″ x 13″ (25cm x 33cm), cut into 20 bars

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups toasted quinoa (or you could buy the commercially puffed quinoa, which is like puffed rice)
  • 1 cup unsalted sunflower seeds, slightly roasted in a frying pan
  • 2 cups uncooked oatmeal, old-fashioned or instant
  • 1/4 cup partly ground flax seeds
  • 1/2 cup dried cherries or other dried fruit
  • 3/4 cup crunchy peanut butter, organic, just peanuts
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup agave syrup or honey
  • 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup water

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 121° C or 250° F.
  2. Prepare a 10″ x 13″ pan by lining it with parchment paper, enough to have the sides come up as ‘handles’.
  3. Add the quinoa to a hot dutch oven (you will need the high sides) and stir as the quinoa pops. Keep stirring so it doesn’t scorch. This volume will take about 10-12 minutes. The quinoa pops like corn, but not nearly as aggressively, but you do need the high sides of the pan, otherwise you’ll be chasing the quinoa all over the place!
  4. In the same pan, slightly roast the sunflower seeds. Combine with the puffed quinoa, oatmeal, flax and cherries. Set aside.
  5. In a micro-wave proof bowl, add the peanut butter, brown sugar, agave syrup and chocolate chips and microwave on a low setting until chocolate and sugar have melted . Add the water and stir well.
  6. Pour into the dry ingredients and mix well (I used a very large bowl with a wooden spoon). You want to make sure that everything is coated with the wet ingredients.
  7. Pour the combines ingredients into the prepared pan and press evenly into all corners (I used a glass as a rolling pin). Bake for about 20 minutes.
  8. Allow to cool about 10 minutes, carefully remove from the pan with the parchment handles onto a cutting board and cut into 20 slices. Allow to cool completely before storing in an air tight container in the freezer.

Notes: depending on how dry your house is, you may need to adjust the wet ingredients as the final product can be a bit crumbly (so say the comments on Epicurious). That’s why I added the water and baked it out. Mine came out nice and tight and even after freezing wasn’t crumbly.

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As most of you already know, my family Christmas was cancelled due to illness, both my niece and nephew came down with the stomach bug (in the olden days, we called it the 24 hour bug). Fortunately they both recovered, but we had to postpone the festivities so they wouldn’t spread the nasty virus.

Our Do-over Christmas was Sunday, January 13 and I made a full Turkey dinner along with stuffing, celeriac and cauliflower mash, Cherry Soup, Cherry Squares and Pumpkin Brûlée mini-tarts! Needless to say, it was a grand success and everyone went home with their bellies filled and their hearts happy. We may have to make this another tradition!

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Even though we had already taken down our real Christmas tree, I put up a small, artificial tree so that the kids would have their presents underneath it!

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Christmas dinner wouldn’t be complete without the traditional crackers. No one but me wore the stupid hats.

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Quinoa Stuffing

Serves 8-10 (yes, I made way too much!)

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Quinoa stuffing, trying to keep the carbs down.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup quinoa (we had a mix of red and white)
  • 100 g celery, cubed
  • 50 g roasted chestnuts, roughly chopped
  • 100 g onion, finely chopped
  • 100 g chorizo, finely choppedd
  • 100 g shitaki mushrooms, sliced thinly
  • 50 g dried cherries, roughly chopped
  • 1 tsp butter, melted
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 eggs well beaten
  • 1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted

Directions:

  1. Cook the quinoa according to the directions, plus add 1/2 cup more water.
  2. Melt the butter in a small frying pan, and cook the onions until translucent. Add the mushrooms and sauté until soft.
  3. Mix quinoa, onion, mushrooms, chestnuts, chorizo and dried cherries together. Add herbs and eggs and combine well.
  4. Pre-heat oven to 350°F
  5. Press the stuffing mixture into a well greased baking pan and bake for 30 minutes.
  6. Top off with the toasted, sliced almonds and bake an additional 15 minutes.
  7. Serve warm.

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The weather was unbelievable on the May long weekend. We couldn’t help ourselves to drag the table down to the dock and two chairs so we could have lunch right on the water.

The sun was so bright, my photo turned out a little ‘hot’

The recipe is the similar to one I posted some time ago, but I changed it up so here it is again. It’s so versatile that you can put anything you desire in it. AND what was new and different was the amazing poached egg on top (yes, I had the egg yolk on this one, I figured I earned it!).

The yolk just oozed all over the tabouleh making it so delicious and rich. That little sprinkling of feta sure didn’t hurt either!

Quinoa Tabbouleh and a Poached Egg

Serves 4 (or two for lunch with leftovers)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup Quinoa
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/3 each red, yellow and orange peppers
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 6 mint leaves
  • 4-6 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • Sea Salt
  • 2 tbsp crumbled sheeps milk feta
  • 2 or 4 poached eggs

Directions:

  1. Add salt to water and boil.
  2. Toast Quinoa for a couple of minutes in a dry pan – moving around so it doesn’t burn (when you hear it pop, count to 5 and remove immediately)
  3. Add Quinoa and cook for 12 minutes on a soft boil, or until all the water is soaked into the Quinoa.
  4. While cooking the Quinoa, add minced garlic to lemon juice, allow to sit.
  5. Remove Quinoa from heat and add lemon juice and garlic mixture, mix well. Allow to absorb and cool.
  6. Chop all veg into similar sized pieces (I like about 1/4″ dice).
  7. Chop parsley and mint finely.
  8. When Quinoa has cooled, mix everything together. Serve with a poached egg over it and crumbled feta.

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I would have never thought that eating vegetarian would leave me so satisfied. And I don’t have the afternoon snackie feeling either. I’ve done well, down 3lbs this week…but I’ve also been working out like a fiend. 16km each day on my bike on Tuesday and Wednesday, and working out cardio and weights everyday this week (don’t worry, I mix up the muscle groups that I work on!). But I am tired…not quite 25 anymore (who am I kidding, I’m not even 35 anymore!!!).

The foods we have prepared are tasty but I must admit it is a bit of a challenge when you have to find recipes each day to cook (kinda like learning to cook again!). I came up with the Quinoa Mushroom Risotto because I was in the mood for a risotto and I didn’t want the carbs that rice has (and I’m still not eating meat during the week). I also came up with a great idea on how to achieve the creaminess that Arborio rice brings to the table, without adding cream or butter!

Pull up a chair and enjoy.

Gluten Free and Vegetarian Quinoa Mushroom Risotto

Serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup red and white Quinoa uncooked
  • 545 g variety of mushrooms
  • 3 small shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp roasted garlic purée (see note below)
  • 3 tbsp navy bean paste (see note below)
  • 100 mL water
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. In a cast iron pan, toast the quinoa until they begin to pop, remove immediately. Cook as per directions on package.
  2. In cast iron dutch oven, give a good squirt of cooking spray and heat. Add the Shallots and cook gently, adding a bit of water if the oil dries up. Add the mushrooms and cook until soft.
  3. Mix the roasted garlic purée with the navy bean paste, adding enough water to make a thick sauce (like a roux). Pour it into the mushroom mixture and stir well.
  4. Add the cooked Quinoi, thyme and soy sauce to the mushrooms and stir until everything is coated with the garlic bean purée.
  5. Serve with freshly grated parmesan cheese.

Quinoa is a super food, but you still shouldn't wear a cape if you eat it.

Notes:

Roasted garlic purée

Take a head of garlic and roast with olive oil and sea salt in the oven until soft (I usually do it in a ramekin, not foil). Pop the cloves out into an immersion blender jar and purée until smooth. Add vegetable stock or water to make the consistency you need. I usually roast a bunch and freeze in special ice cub trays — pop out into a zip lock bag and return to freezer (don’t do it in your regular ice cub tray, otherwise your gin and tonic will taste garlic-y!)

Navy bean purée

Cook dried navy beans until soft. Purée with an immersion blender until you have a very smooth paste adding only as much water as the blender needs to continue the purée. Store in a glass container in the fridge and use as needed. I have used this paste as a roux for many things.

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Happy Saturday, dear readers! This is a full weekend of chores…some more fun than others, but you shall have to wait for tomorrow to find out. Plus, tomorrow I am going to introduce you to a dear friend who has just started blogging, we’re going to make one of her first blog-recipes tomorrow! I am very excited about it.

Today is my blogging friend, Charles of Five Euro Food, birthday, so I’d like to take this moment and wish him a very happy birthday. Charles has been a loyal commenter since I have discovered the pleasure of reciprocal commenting (OK, it only took me 4+ years!). You have certainly enriched my blogging experience beyond my expectations. Happy Birthday Charles, and many many more!

If you have made any of the Moroccan Salad recipes, you will by now understand the mass quantity of salad you are left with. We have been eating Morrocan salads all week; dallop on this, mixed into that, etc, etc, etc. You can well imagine that we are now a little tired of the same thing :-(!

This week we decided to reinvent our Quinoa Tabouleh recipe; we used RED and regular Quinoa which added colour to an already beautiful salad. And we added the left overs of the Carrot and Courgette (zucchini) Moroccan Salads. We grilled our shrimp and then I made a very simple green sauce with lemon juice, parsley, cilantro and garlic (a tip of the hat to Chimichurri Sauce). It was DELICIOUS. I loved the added flavours that the Moroccan carrot and zucchini brought in and I loved the colour of the red quinoa. If you haven’t already tried tabouleh, you MUST. And making it with quinoa just adds the extra healthiness that we need (and it’s gluten free!).

Reinventing Quinoa Tabouleh

Some other Quinoa recipes I’m sure you will love (sorry if I missed your recipe, some of you didn’t have ‘search’ built into your home page!):

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