Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Quinoa paella

A friend of mine is a real food lover but his food repertoire runs the gamut from Burger King to fast-food burritoes. He caught me a little off guard the other day when he excitedly told me that he had discovered a delicious and versatile food---quinoa. I guess it didn't expect someone without food allergies to declare quinoa one of their favorite foods. But I whole heartedly agree with him.
Quinoa, pronounced "Keen-wa," is not only delicious but also a nutritional powerhouse. It contains more protein than any other grain (although technically it's not a grain) with an average 16.2 percent. It rivals the protein content of meat and is a complete protein with essential amino acids. What's not to like about quinoa?
I recently found a recipe for orzo "paella" and decided to doctor it up and use quinoa instead. No surprise, it was perfect!
Quinoa Paella
Serves 4
3/4 pound large frozen shrimp, cleaned, shelled and thawed, tails on
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 T. plus 1 tsp. olive oil
1 cup vegetable broth
1 cup water
1/4 tsp. turmeric
1 cup quinoa
1/2 cup frozen peas
1/2 small onion, chopped
Optional: 2-4 boneless cooked chicken thighs, cut into chunks
1/4 cup roasted red pepper strips
Optional: 1/4 cup chopped parsley


Place first four ingredients in a ziploc bag with 1 T. olive oil. Set aside.

Add quinoa to pot with veggie broth, water and turmeric. Bring to a boil. Reduce to simmer and cook 15 minutes.

Heat remaining olive oil in a large skillet. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add shrimp and cook for 3 minutes, turning them halfway through. Add chicken thigh chunks if using. Add quinoa to pan. Add peas and heat mixture. Lay red pepper strips on top and sprinkle on parsley.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Garbanzo bean brownies (dairy and egg free)

Here's my little pal, Pumpkin, asking for his dinner. He raises his paw for food! I'd raise my hand too but it would have to be for chocolate, my weakness.
As you can tell, I'm always trying a chocolate recipe. The trick is making it free of dairy, flour, egg and sugar. And if I can make it low-fat, that's good too.
I've always wondered if I could make brownies with whole garbanzo beans that filled all my requirements so I decided to give it a try. They were tasty but kind of flat compared to regular brownies. I call them my flat, not fat, brownies.
Garbanzo bean brownies
2 cups canned garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
Egg replacer for 4 eggs (follow directions on box but mix with hemp milk instead of water)
1/4 cup dark baking cocoa powder
3 T. olive oil or canola oil
1/8 cup powdered stevia
10 drops vanilla-flavored liquid stevia
3/4 tsp. baking powder (gluten-free)
Optional: 2 T. cacao nibs for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place all ingredients (except for cacao nibs) in a food processor and blend to a dough-like consistency. Add additional hemp milk if needed. Pour batter into a 8-inch square baking pan. Sprinkle with cacao nibs. Place in oven and bake for about 20-30 minutes. Check frequently for doneness. Makes eight servings.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Spring-Vegetable Soup

Spring is definitely here. I can tell because of the roller-coaster ride weather. Some days it's freezing; some days it's blowing and freezing; and some days it's warm and beautiful. Unfortunately, the warm and beautiful days are few and far between.
On those cold and windy days, I feel like it's still winter and reach for a bowl of soup. Spring-Vegetable Soup is delicious and fits my low-gylcemic eating plan. Hopefully, some day I'll be able to get my garden planted and start growing some of my own spring veggies for this soup. In the meantime, I'm not being a locavore with this soup.
I like this soup because it has lots of optional add-ins. You can add diced chicken for more protein, and 1 cup cooked quinoa and/or diced baked sweet potato for more carbs. I usually add some quinoa if I'm eating the soup for breakfast.
Spring-Vegetable Soup
Ingredients for 4 servings:
1/2 sweet or yellow onion, sliced
1 T. olive oil
2 zucchini squash, diced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3-4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1 or 2-inch lengths
3/4 cup frozen peas
Optional: diced chicken, 1 diced baked sweet potato and/or 1 cup cooked quinoa
1 1/2-inch piece of fresh ginger, grated
In a large skillet, cook onion in olive oil. Add zucchini and saute until slightly soft. Add bell pepper and cook, 3 minutes more.
Add chickpeas and 3 cups broth to same pan. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat. Add asparagus, peas, ginger and other options. Simmer for 2-3 minutes until asparagus is crisp-tender. Add a little more broth. Spoon into your bowl and enjoy.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Mint-cacao bit ice cream with hemp milk

My favorite flavor of ice cream is mint-chocolate chip. I decided to treat myself for Easter to my own version of my favorite flavor. The trick would be making it low carb and free of dairy, sugar, and eggs. It was surprisingly easy to make and delicious to eat.

I also have been dreaming of peppermint patties for some reason lately. I knew a regular peppermint patty would be impossible to recreate given my dietary restrictions. Instead, I opted to satisfy my craving with peppermint ice cream sandwiches which utilized some of my ice cream creation. The ice cream sandwiches were yummy and filled in quite nicely for a peppermint patty.
Mint-Cacao Bit (Hemp Milk) Ice Cream
(makes 2 servings)
2 cups unsweetened vanilla hemp milk
3 tsp. egg replacer mixed with 4 T. hemp milk
10-12 drops vanilla-flavored stevia
1 T. cacao bits
In a medium saucepan, whisk together the hemp milk and egg replacer. Add the stevia. Heat till mixture thickens like pudding. Stir constantly as the mixture thickens. Transfer mixture to a bowl and refrigerate until cold. Freeze mixture in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. Add the cacao bits towards the end the freezing process.
Peppermint Ice Cream Sandwiches
1/2 cup garbanzo bean flour
1/8 cup powdered stevia such as SweetLeaf
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder or carob powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 cup canola oil
egg replacer for 4 eggs (use hemp milk in place of water)
1/2 tsp. peppermint extract (alcohol free)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Combine first five ingredients in a large bowl. Mix the egg replacer, canola oil and peppermint extract in a small bowl. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
Spray a large cookie sheet with pan spray. Drop teaspoonsful of dough onto the baking sheet. You should get 12 small cookies. Bake 7-9 minutes. Transfer to a rack to cool.
To assemble ice cream sandwiches, soften the mint ice cream slightly. Spread ice cream between two cookies. Set sandwiches on a cookie sheet, uncovered, and freeze until firm. When hard, wrap each cookie individually in plastic wrap.