Monday, November 19, 2012

Spinach Quinoa Cakes

When I think of quinoa, I think of "trendy" health food.
You know, one of those foods that no one really thought about until one day, someone writes an article, a recipe, or publishes a study about all its benefits, and boom! it's the hottest thing since sliced bread.

In years past, I tried incorporating more quinoa in my diet.
However, quinoa just didn't leave me with that happy feeling that pasta and bread always gives me.
I didn't enjoy it plain and I had no idea how to season it.
my solution? ketchup. lots and lots of ketchup.

This continued until, one day, I broke up with quinoa and decided to just stop buying it already-
it is one of the more expensive grains, after all. I shouldn't be eating it with ketchup.

Fast forward a few years to last night.
As I was browsing on Pinterest, I came across a quinoa cake recipe that actually sounded really yummy.
I was inspired, and knew quinoa deserved one more shot.

Friends, it was a delicious, healthy, fulfilling success. 
And, after experimenting with these little cakes, 
I already know i'll be seeing a lot more quinoa on my dinner table-
only this time, ketchup is optional,
not required.

Spinach Quinoa Cakes:
Servings: 14 cakes
Serving size: 1 cake

1 cup quinoa 
1 tbsp. oil 
16 oz. frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 yellow onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 stalks green onion, chopped
1 cup panko breadcrumbs (or breadcrumbs of choice)
1 tsp. chipotle powder
1 tsp. cayanne powder (if you like a little heat)
1-2 tsp curry powder
1-2 tsp. cinnamon
salt and pepper
2 eggs
lemon (optional)

First, prepare the quinoa according to directions on the the package.  Once fully cooked, set aside and allow time to cool.
In pan or skillet if choice, add the 1 tbsp. oil and chopped onion. Cook on medium heat for approximately 5 minutes- the idea is to cook the onions so they are just starting to soften. Add your thawed spinach and mix until the spinach and onion are mixed evenly.  Continue to cook for an additional 5 minutes, mixing occasionally.  Move the onion and spinach to the side and cook the garlic separately for about 30 seconds before mixing with your onion and spinach.  Cook for another minute or two and set aside.

After your quinoa and spinach/onion mixture are cool, transfer to a large bowl.  Add breadcrumbs, chopped green onion, chipotle powder, curry powder, cinnamon, salt and pepper.  Mix well.  

Before adding the eggs, taste and add any addition spices you feel necessary. I love heat, so I generally add extra cayenne.  I also love salt, so it's pretty much guaranteed that I'll be sneaking in a bit more of that, too.

Finally, add the eggs to the mixture and mix well.  You don't want the mixture to be too dry.  Use your best judgment and add an extra egg if you feel necessary- it certainly won't hurt.

Place a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Spray with non-stick cooking spray, or lightly coat with butter or oil. Start forming your cakes- you can, realistically, make them as large or as small as you want.  The size pictured here produced 14 cakes.  Gently add your cakes to the pan and cook on each side for approximately 5 minutes.  You know it's time to flip when they are starting to turn golden brown.

Nutritional Facts:

Servings:  14
Serving size:  1 cake

Calories:  87
Carbohydrates:  12 g
Fat:  3 g
Protein:  3 g

Health benefits of Quinoa:

1.  Great source of protein-  At 16.2-20% protein, quinoa is comparable in protein level to milk.
2.  Great source of Riboflavin-  What is riboflavin, you ask?  Well, it has been shown to decrease migraine attacks by improving energy metabolism within the brain and muscle cells.
3.  Considered a powerfood- apparently, Inca warriors had more stamina and faster recovery times because quinoa was part of their regular diets.
4.  Antiseptic- in other words, it helps promote healing of skin injuries.
5.  Virtually fat free-  with approximately 172 calories per 1/4 cup dry (24 calories from protein and 12 from sugar, the rest? complex carbohydrates, fiber, and healthy fat)
6.  Gluten Free
7.  Smart Carbohydrate- this little grain has a low glycemic index. No blood sugar hike!

source (here)

We ate our spinach quinoa cakes with a side of broccoli and a small piece of salmon.
Drizzle all of the above with fresh lemon.

How do you like to eat quinoa?
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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Whole Wheat Banana Oatmeal Waffles

As I've mentioned before, i'm not much of a breakfast or lunch eater.
But, that doesn't mean I don't love breakfast food.
And, lately, all I I've been able to think about is just that-
Especially waffles.
So, last night, I decided to whip up these whole wheat banana oatmeal waffles for dinner.
They definitely hit the spot.

Whole Wheat Banana Oatmeal Waffles:

Servings: 6
Serving size: 1 waffle

2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 cup oatmeal
2 eggs, beaten
1 3/4 cups vanilla soy milk *
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
4 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. ground flaxmeal 
1 large ripe banana, mashed
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat your waffle iron and coat with non-stick cooking spray.  In a large bowl, whisk eggs until light and fluffy.  Into the same bowl whisk together the remaining wet ingredients- milk, applesauce, and vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl, combine the flour, oatmeal, baking powder, salt, spices and ground flaxmeal.  Beat the flour mixture in with the egg mixture until combined thoroughly.  Finally, fold in the mashed banana.

Carefully spoon the waffle mixture into your pre-heated waffle iron and cook until golden brown.  

Serve with syrup, jam, peanut butter, or fresh fruit.

Nutritional Information:

Serving size:  1 waffle

Calories:  264
Carbs:  46 grams
Fat: 5 grams
Protein:  11 grams

*You could also use fat-free, skim milk, or water in place of the Vanilla soy milk I used.  Play around with the recipe a bit too- you can always add more mashed banana, a little honey or whole flax seeds.
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Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Annapurna Circuit, Day 12, After the Pass

Although we had an easy ride to the top of the pass,
we had to use our legs to get to our destination for the day- Muktinath.
Getting to this little village was no easy feat, 
requiring a decent of 5,445 feet.
Had altitude not played a factor,
I am convinced that going down would have been harder than the trek up to the pass.

After five minutes admiring the view from the pass,
we said goodbye to the horses,
and were on our way.
Hour after hour passed, and it seemed we would never reach the bottom.
Despite the slow descent,
and bruised toe nails,
the view made it all worth it.
simply stunning.

More than 4 hours later,
we arrived in Muktinath- a sacred place for both Hindus and Buddhists.

my only regret is not taking more photos.

Mountain on the left- Dhaulagiri I towering at 26, 794 feet
We plan to conquer that next.
haha, just kidding. I wish.

We took a warm shower,
drank a beer,
and ate a pizza.
It was a good day.

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Monday, November 5, 2012

weekend review and random thoughts

This weekend, the fiance and I went to SF for a friends surprise bday party.
Lucky for us, the weather in all of northern California has been gorgeous the past few days,
though highly unseasonable for early November.
The beautiful weather prompted us to take the longer route to the city, 
so that I could get some photos of the lovely Golden Gate Bridge.
Despite my enthusiasm for taking photos,
pictures of the bridge were all I captured of the weekend.
my bad.
Saturday night was spent taking over a tiny sushi restaurant with far too many birthday celebrators for the small space and lack of tables,
crowding into packed, smelly, boisterous bars,
and observing drunkin tomfoolery from sober eyes.
Despite my sober state, and first time out in an actual bar for many many months,
I enjoyed myself.
I saw many people I hadn't seen in several years,
and had a flashback to college years.
good people. good times.

I will say this-
I can not party like I used to.
Honestly, I have no idea what's happened to me.
I was, not too long ago, the first to call shots,
and the first to have too many.
And now, I can hardly finish one beer before calling it a night.
In some ways, it makes me sad.
Am I really that boring now? 

The thing is, I don't really want to be the crazy idiot I used to be.
I don't want to be the center of attention anymore-
usually in such a negative way, I wondered why anyone would ever want to hang out with me again.
I am content these days as the quiet, sober person.
who knows, this may change again in the years to come,
but for now, probably not.

I drove the fiance and I home to Sacramento at 2am,
woke up in my own bed,
not hungover.

The rest of my weekend was spent applying for jobs,
pinning too much on pinterest,
and watching secret life of an  american teenager- honestly one of the worst shows i've ever watched, but can't seem to stop.

How was your weekend?
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Thursday, November 1, 2012

i've been a very very bad blogger

I can't believe it's been almost 3 months since I last posted on this little blog of mine.
despite my absence, i think about blogging often.
and sometimes really really miss it.

there are several reasons why i've taken a step back-
the first, and probably most to blame, is laziness.
it's true.  
the past few months I have been shamefully lazy.
i love blogging, but sometimes, it really feels like work.
i missed the days when blogging was fun.

the second reason for my absence i'm a little embarrassed to admit-
the reason being: jealousy.
ridiculous, i know.  especially considering how truly blessed my life is.
but, i'm human, and sometimes jealously rears its ugly head.

if you've spent much time reading blogs, you probably know how many amazing bloggers are out there.
thousands upon thousands.
of all these amazing blogs and bloggers,
there are, more specifically, many fabulous mommy blogs.
and well, i'll just say it- 
I've had a really hard time watching all the lovely growing bellies out there.
not because there is anything wrong with being pregnant or having babies.
in fact, quite the opposite.
my problem is that I want to have my own bun in the oven,
and, well, things just haven't happened for me yet, and it's taking much longer than anticipated.

so, there it is,
jealousy and laziness.
two very ugly qualities that have kept me from such a beautiful and diverse network.
so, i'm going to try and be better.

besides, who am i kidding-
when the day comes for me to be a mother,
this space will, most certainly, become a reservoir for all our happy, sad, and poopy memories.

love me,
hate me,
it's all good.
i've admitted two areas of my self that need improvement,
and i feel pretty good about it.

In other news,
this blog is in desperate need of a makeover.
Anyone have any recommendations?
Also, anyone know of any fabulous photoshop tutorials online that are easy to follow for beginners.
I need some help.

That's all I have for today.
I hope each and every one of you are doing well,
despite the laziness and jealousy, I have missed you all!

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