Thursday, January 31, 2013

Quinoa and Healthy Eating Days

Hello everyone!
It's been a month since I posted anything: my apologies for the delay!
After New Year's, I have been crammed with school but I have also been dedicating whatever time I have to healthier eating habits. In the last week, I have committed myself to a strict quinoa eating diet, cutting out bread, pasta, and rice. Within five days, I had lost 7lbs both with my quinoa diet and committing myself to a workout routine. I've decided to feature the quinoa dishes that I made during my diet since not many people know what this super-food is nor its health benefits (and to commorate the recent 2013 decalaration of the UN in calling this new year the declared International Year of Quinoa).
Quinoa is a pseudo-cereal or pseudo-grain because although it looks like a grain, it is actually a seed. It is a super-food held in sacred standards by the Inca, who viewed the grain-like crop as having the abilities to provide their warriors with stamina and strength as well as feed the population. It is known as a superfood because it is high in nutritional value, especially protein (almost 11.5 grams of protein per 100 grams) and is also high in amino acids, fiber and low in carbohydrates. It is gluten free and since it is very versatile, it is ideal as a great alternative for anyone who does not include gluten in their diets.

The first quinoa dish I made was a breakfast scramble, with hints of cilantro, cumin and tumeric. I cooked quinoa until the right doneness (I like them still slightly crunchy) and scrambled it with an egg, some turmeric, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper, diced tomatoes and finished it off with cilantro. It was so yummeh! I ate some leftovers cold and it was still good!

The second dish I made was a Black Bean, Corn and Quinoa soup that lasted me for around two and a half days (or two dinners and one lunch). It was seasoned with Mexican spices like chile powder and cumin and of course, I loaded it up with a lot of chopped cilantro! The recipe is completely vegan, unless you want meat, you can tear up some leftover chicken or cut 1 raw chicken breast into strips and saute it with the onions n' garlic

Black Bean, Corn and Quinoa Soup
1 tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 glove of garlic, minced or 1 1/2 tsp of garlic powder if you are lazy.
2 tsp chile powder (or more if you like heat)
2 tsp cumin (more if you like)
1 tsp coriander powder (more if you like)
1 tsp paprika (more if you like)
4 cups of vegetable stock or chicken stock
1 medium can of black beans, rinsed and drained
1 cup of frozen corn
2/3 cup cooked quinoa (or 1 cup if you want)
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 bunch of fresh cilantro, chopped (or 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro)
salt and pepper to taste

In a small pot, heat the olive oil on high heat. Add the onions and garlic and lower the heat to medium. Saute until onions are slightly transparent, then add the spices. Cook until the spices become aromatic.
Add in the stock, beans, corn and bring the heat up to high.
When the soup comes to a gentle boil, add the quinoa and chopped tomato. Simmer for around 5 minutes then  Season to taste.
Remove from heat then stir in the chopped cilantro and serve immediately.

The third dish I made with quinoa was also another soup: Kale, White Bean and Quinoa Soup. This one also lasted me around two and a half days (or two dinners and one lunch). This one was more "hearty" and fresh and less spice went into it, if any at all. I used the recipe found here but I did cut the recipe down to fit my own serving requirements. The kale adds an extra boost to you nutritional intake as well! Kale is very high in Vitamin K (helps prevent blood clots), Vitamin C and A as well as fiber, iron and calcium. The soup itself is very filling because of the white beans and quinoa so I felt very full very quickly. It helped me reset my metabolism by eating less for more :).

A dish that I made twice because I loved it so much was the Quinoa Omelette found in an amazing quinoa cookbook that I own. It is called Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming. I have yet to try the dessert portion of the cookbook but I will very soon in the near future! I only used the recipe for the eggs and the filling was basically whatever I wanted. The first time I made it, the omelette was overloaded with four different types of sweet bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, a sundried-tomato "pesto" and crumbled feta cheese. The second time was just green bell peppers, mushrooms, onions, tomatoes and crumbled feta cheese. Maybe I am biased because I love omelettes aha <3

Egg Mixture for Omelette
2 eggs
1 tbsp milk
2 tbsp cooked quinoa
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground black pepper

Whisk all the ingredients up. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a skillet or frying pan then add the egg mixture into the hot pan, waiting around a minute before taking chopsticks or a fork to draw circles into the omelette, then swirl pan to cover the holes you just made with the uncooked egg mixture. Cook until the edges start to come away from the pan. Add your filling on one half and fold over with the other half with a spatula. Serve hot. Happy omelette making!

Another dish that I also really loved was my Avocado Quinoa Uramaki (Inside-out) Sushi. I made sure to cook the quinoa with a little bit of extra water so that it becomes softer and seasoned it with a mixture of rice vinegar, mirin, water, salt, and a little bit of sugar. If you don't want to get these ingredients or if you're too lazy to make the sushi rice dressing, there are pre-made dressings available at Asian super markets!
I like this sushi because the quinoa adds a fantastic nutty flavor to the roll, plus it is gluten free so it's even better! I topped the rolls with Sriracha Sauce for an extra kick. If you don't like avocados, cucumber, or any filling is fine! Just make sure you have a sushi mat (covered with plastic wrap for easy clean-up and less stickiness) and that the quinoa is cooked till soft so it would hold together!

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