Thursday, December 10, 2009

Easy Peasy Veggie-neasy Part Three: The "I Am Unmotivated" Recipe

"American consumers have no problem with carcinogens, but they will not purchase any product, including floor wax, that has fat in it."
- Dave Barry

There was about a month after I graduated from culinary school that I was totally unmotivated to cook. I think I went through my own mini cooking dark ages. So, instead of being super creative and coming up with my own magic in the kitchen, I started to rip off dishes I had in restaurants. There was one dish in particular that I feel I did a particularly good job jocking their style :)

Thank you Cafe Gratitude for giving me the inspiration it took to not be creative at all. Now I will share my ripped-off easy peasy healthy recipe with you!

"I Am Unmotivated" or Kale & Quinoa Pilaf with Garlic-Tahini Sauce
Cook Time: 25 minutes

Garnish (Optional):
3/4 cup Almonds
3 Tablespoons Tamari

1 Tablespoon Olive or Coconut Oil (preferrable Coconut because it is better to saute with, but Olive will do in a pinch)
1 onion, chopped
1 cup Quinoa
1 cup Veggie Stock or Water
3 cups kale, stems removed and roughly chopped

3 Tablespoons Tahini (You should be able to find this in any Whole Foods or middle eastern grocery by the nut butters)
1 clove Garlic, minced
2 teaspoons Tamari (soy sauce)
1 teaspoon Lemon Juice
Salt to taste

1. (Optional) Heat a sautee pan to med-high and add almonds. Constantly stir almonds until slightly toasted. Turn heat up to high, add tamari, and stir until tamari is completely evaporated. Set aside.
2. Heat olive oil in a sauce pan over medium-low until water slightly sizzles when dripped into the pan. Toss in onions and saute for 5 minutes (Or longer if you are feeling extra special motivated).
3. Add Quinoa and stock and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to a simmer, cover, and cook for 18 minutes.
4. Add Kale on top of the quinoa and cover. Cook for 2 minutes until kale is bright green and the quinoa is chewy, but not mushy.
5. Meanwhile, throw all of the sauce ingredients into a blender, food processor, or bowl and mix until combined. Taste, and add salt if necessary (Don't worry if the sauce is a bit salty because the quinoa will balance the flavor out. You want your sauce to be strong)
6. Fluff Quinoa and Kale, drizzle with sauce, garnish with almonds, and enjoy!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Easy Peasy Veggie-neasy Part Two: Quick Meal Tips

"The devil came to me last night and asked what I wanted in exchange for my soul. I still can't believe I said pizza. Friggin' cravings."
- Marc Ostroff

When I started on my path to better eating, it became very clear very quickly that I would have to do a lot of my own cooking. Though many restaurants with many delicious meals exist, the options are not among the healthiest choices for food. Not to mention the fact that I am not independently wealthy and able to dine out all the time (I wish!).
I quickly found that many of the healthy recipes I found took FOREVER to make and were way too complicated. So, I needed ways to make delic
ious meals that didn’t take 4 hours to make. Here are my insights in the world of healthy fast food:

Bamboo Steamer: I CAN’T SAY ENOUGH ABOUT THIS! Who hasn’t experienced boiled vegetables that evoke the inner child yelling “No, get these gross, mushy things away from me!” Well, what if I told you there was a device that cooked you food quickly while keeping texture, flavor and and nutritional value intact? You’re in luck! That is EXACTLY what I am telling you.

How to use a Bamboo Steamer:
- Fill a sautee pan or a wok with an inch or so of water
- Turn the heat to med-high, and put your bamboo steamer in (make sure the water covers the bottom edge of the steamer)
- Steam veggies until just tender to fork

The steam lightly cooks the veggies in very little time and doesn’t leech out the nutritional benefits. The best part is that you can buy steamers with 3 trays…meaning you can cook three different veggies at the same time with no added mess or hassle! GENIUS! Toss your veggies with a little salt, pepper, olive oil, and spices of your choosing and you’ve got yourself a delicious meal! For information about buying bamboo steamers, check out this link:

Quinoa: A cheap, easy, and tasty grain that has a great health profile! Sub this stuff for pasta or other grains and have a delicious meal. It is also a gluten-free g
rain, which is great for us because our diets are chock full of way too much wheat.

How to cook Quinoa:
- Thrown 1 cup of quinoa and one cup of water or veggie stock in a pan.
- Bring to a boil, turn down to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes until it is al dente.

Since this grain only takes 20 minutes to cook, so you can turn it on whilst your veggies are steaming. Or, you could cook a big pot of it on a Sunday and heat it up in a sautee pan with a little veggie stock or water when you want to serve it. For more information about how great quinoa is for you, look at this link:

Mix Up Those Veggies
: If you buy in season, you save money-bottom line! So buy those veggies that are in season and they will most likely be deliciously ripe and ready to go. This m
eans that they should be good enough to steam, lightly salt and pepper, and eat.

Also, if you are an easily bored type person like me, you get a ton of variety (read all kinds of different vitamins and minerals) in your diet. You’ll be surprised at how good veggies tastes when they aren’t boiled within an inch of their lives. For a listing on what foods are in season in your area, look at this link:

Easy Peasy Veggie-neasy Part One: Stress and Your Body

Reality is the leading cause of stress for those in touch with it."
- Jane Wagner

So, I’ve been hearing some rumblings from the peanut gallery. Basically, most of them have been going like this: “Sarah, your recipes look SO GOOD (you guys are too kind!), but tempeh? What IS that? Do they all have to have 234,743,903 ingredients? The cook time on this recipe looks to be about 2 hours…come on!”

Duly noted and completely understood! This holiday season is stressful as it is and going home to make a 4-hour long recipe is not what most people need. So, today’s subject will be a three-part-er: stress and your body, tips for fast and healthy cooking, and an easy peasy recipe!

Stress and the Body

So, most people have heard about stress affecting your health. From personal experience, it can be hard to reduce stress in your life when there are plenty of things that HAVE to be accomplished. Part of our culture is to ignore what your body is telling you in order to get through whatever is stressing you. Unfortunately, not addressing the stress and tension in your life can lead to all kinds of physiological responses and adverse affects that are not fun at all. The one that most of us are familiar with is cardiac disease. Serious stuff, right?

Well, instead of telling you to RELAX ALREADY, I would like to suggest something that you can do from the (dis)comfort of your own desk. Everyone needs a little time for himself or herself, and you can affect your health in a good way by taking it when you can! Try this little breathing exercise on for size…

Breathe deeply into the bottom of your stomach (diaphragm), watching as your belly expands like a balloon. Your shoulders might even crack as new air replaces the old. Then breathe out slowly. Repeat this process for at least one minute. Close your eyes if you can, and try to take deeper, slower and longer breaths every time. Don't hold your breath, but keep it moving as you relax your body and let the tension slip away.

For more information about stress and your body, look at this search from the American Holistic Health Association