Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers

June 11, 2012

If you’ve been wondering if I was ever going to post another recipe, rest assured that I have not forgotten about my blog! It’s just that I was away on vacation for two weeks and returned less than a week ago, and it has taken a few days to settle back into “normal” life with three young children. I wish I could tell you that I had a relaxing holiday, however most of you already know from first-hand experience that there is no such thing as a “vacation” when you are a parent!

Now, don’t get me wrong – we had a lovely time in PEI, where we rented a cottage (really, it was more like a house) near Cavendish (where there is a wonderful beach where my children had great fun playing in the red-tinted sand) and we were blessed to have our good friends from Nova Scotia come visit us for a few days. It’s just that being away from home means your children are in even more need of your constant attention, and that just gets to be E-X-H-A-U-S-T-I-N-G!

I know this may sound strange to some of you, but cooking and baking have the opposite effect on me. The kitchen is where I “recharge”, so to speak. That is why it was important for us to have accommodations with a decent kitchen – and the kitchen at this cottage was pretty amazing, actually. The first day our dear friends from Nova Scotia stayed with us we had a BBQ dinner: pork souvlaki for the adults, sausages for the children, and today’s featured recipe post – Quinoa-Stuffed Peppers.

My mother introduced me to these D-E-L-I-C-I-O-U-S peppers, which I have since made many times. Each time I use slightly different ingredients so they are never the same. My mother heard about the original recipe while watching the Dr. Oz show, and subsequently found it on his website. The original recipe is made with ground turkey and can be served as a complete meal.

Now, I did not actually take the time to photograph the stuffed peppers I made that evening in PEI, but I did make and photograph them shortly before we went on vacation and so will use those photos and ingredients below. Here, I made a vegetarian version, which can be used as a complete vegetarian meal, or as a side to grilled meats.

Ingredients & Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash 4 red peppers (any colour will work, really – I prefer red though) and cut lengthwise, including the stem. Leaving the stem in place makes possible an impressive presentation. Spray with olive oil (or rub on the olive oil if you haven’t got any spray). Place on baking sheet or in casserole dish and bake for at least 20 minutes, until they begin to soften.

2. Meanwhile, saute 1 shredded carrot, 1 shredded zucchini, 1/2 finely chopped onion, 1 finely minced garlic clove. (I also like to add some fresh baby spinach if I have some on hand.)

3. Add left-over grilled eggplant (or add some sautéed mushrooms, preferably coarsely chopped) and cooked quinoa (approximately 1 cup). Sometimes I reduce the amount of quinoa and replace it with cooked brown rice. (If you don’t have any left-over eggplant or mushrooms from last night’s dinner, just saute some for a while BEFORE you add the shredded carrot, zucchini, etc. in step 2 above!)

4. Add cumin and chilli powder to taste. Add salsa (approximately 1/4 cup).

5. Spoon quinoa mixture into red peppers, cover with foil and bake for approximately 20 minutes.

6. Remove foil, sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Continue baking uncovered for approximately 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

7. Serve with plain greek yogurt and a side salad. I sometimes add 1/4 of an avocado on top of the yogurt. ENJOY!

Here is a picture from our vacation on PEI. I would add more, but I seem to be having issues uploading photos without it taking what seems like an eternity!

Have you ever been to PEI? What was your favourite part of the island and/or vacation?!

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Quinoa-Veggie Burgers

May 4, 2012

If you’ve been following my blog since its inception just over two weeks ago(!), you already know that I adore quinoa. Well, today I finally had a chance to try out the Quinoa-Veggie Burger recipe that I discovered while flipping through an issue of Chatelaine during one of my many visits to the walk-in clinic (when you have three young children, you go there A LOT!). These tasty “burgers” are surprisingly quick and easy to make.

Chatelaine gives the preparation and cooking time as 20 minutes each (for a total of 40 minutes), but really the preparation (peeling and chopping vegetables) can be done in about 5 minutes, and if you use left-over quinoa instead of cooking a fresh batch, the cooking time can also be reduced to 15 minutes – meaning you can have lunch or dinner ready in about 20 minutes!

You can view the Chatelaine version of this recipe here, or you can follow along below to view how I made my burgers.

Ingredients:

1 and 1/4 cup cooked quinoa (I usually cook 1 cup quinoa – which turns into approximately 3 cups once cooked) at the beginning of each week so I have some readily available throughout the week for recipes like these Quinoa-Veggie Burgers, Quinoa Carrot Muffins, Greek Yogurt Delight, etc.)

1 egg, scrambled – EDITOR’S NOTE: by scrambled, I mean whisked & uncooked!

2 Tbsp cornstarch and 1 Tbsp brown rice flour (because I ran out of cornstarch, though you could use 3 Tbsp of either ingredient – I purchase my brown rice flour at the Bulk Barn)

2 Tbsp ground flaxseed (optional)

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp cumin (because I didn’t have any cayenne pepper, which the Chatelaine recipe calls for and I thought cumin would taste good – it did!)

1 tsp canola oil

approximately 115 g cremini and portobello mushrooms, cleaned and chopped

1 coarsely grated medium zucchini

1 coarsely grated medium peeled carrot

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

1 garlic clove, finely chopped

Directions:

1. Transfer quinoa into a large bowl. Stir in egg, cornstarch (and/or brown rice flour), ground flaxseed, salt and cumin.

2. Heat a large, wide non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add oil, then mushrooms, zucchini, carrot, onion and garlic. Cook until soft, about 5 min.

3. Add cooked veggies to quinoa and egg mixture and stir.

4. Heat the same non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Firmly press quinoa mixture into a 1/3-cup measuring cup. If the burgers are not sticking together well, add some more cornstarch or brown rice flour to the mixture.

5. Turn and release into pan. Gently press to shape into a patty. cook until golden and warmed through, about 4 minutes per side. Repeat until quinoa-veggie mixture is “all gone” (picture my almost-two-year old here shrugging her shoulders and holding out the palms of her hands upwards as she says “all gone”- too cute!).

I THOROUGHLY enjoyed my quinoa-veggie burgers along with some romaine lettuce, sliced tomatoes, cucumbers, and avocado, topped with a generous dollop of hummus. Of course, I drizzled the raw veggies with my Honey Mustard Salad Dressing! [Though I have made my own hummus in the past, I prefer the one from Costco (brand name: “fontaine sante”) because let’s face it, I don’t really have time to make EVERYTHING from scratch, and the listed ingredients are “normal”: chickpeas, tahini (sesame butter) canola oil, lemon juice concentrate, sea salt, vinegar, garlic juice (garlic juice, salt).]

Chatelaine suggests topping the burgers with tahini sauce and roasted plum tomatoes. Their photo of the cooked burgers shows them served on top of a grilled portobello mushroom and arugula. It looks soooo yummy, I think I’ll try this next time!

Will you give this recipe a try? Are you interested in more “meatless” meals?

Guacamole

April 30, 2012

One of my favourite snacks is freshly made guacamole with toasted whole wheat naan bread. Though my kids aren’t really a fan of “the green stuff”, they are willing to try it every now and again and I am confident that one day they will call this one of their favourite snacks, too! Update: My middle child now officially likes (maybe even “loves”) guacamole, and the other two are almost there! This is living proof that if you keep offering you child healthy foods, they will learn to like them!

This “recipe” is one I have come up with by experimenting over time.

Ingredients:

1 ripe avocado

1 clove garlic, finely chopped or pressed

1/2 small onion, finely chopped

lime juice of 1 small lime

1/2 medium tomato, diced (or smaller)

salt & pepper to taste

whole wheat naan bread

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Place naan bread on baking sheet. Bake for 3 – 5 minutes, turning once after 2 minutes. Remove from oven and cut into triangles (I use a pizza cutter to do this).

Cut avocado in half, lengthwise. Discard pit, and spoon out flesh into a small bowl. Add garlic, onion, and lime juice. Mash everything together to desired consistency (I like mine a bit lumpy!) and then add the tomato and salt & pepper and stir gently.

Serve immediately, but be sure to share and ENJOY!

Yes, avocado is relatively high in calorie and fat content, but it is the “good” kind of fat, so “avocado is definitely a food we should be including in our diets”, according to Canada’s leading nutritionist, Leslie Beck. See the following link for more about avocados on Leslie’s website.

What’s your favourite way to enjoy avocados?