Pineapple-Cashew-Quinoa Stir-Fry.

This is Part 23 of the “31 Days of Healthy Living” series.

I don’t know about you, but I get a little nauseous whenever I think of diet books.

But when a family friend recently told me about this increasingly popular book “Eat To Live” (and then let me borrow it,) I decided to read it with an open (albeit critical) mind.

My thoughts…

First, I really like the principles behind Fuhrman’s diet plan.  It’s closely tied to Michael Pollan’s idea of eating lots (and I do mean LOTS and LOTS) of fresh fruits and vegetables instead of worrying about the nitty gritty details of portion sizes, calorie counting or what have you.

Vegetables, vegetables, vegetables.  That’s the book in a nutshell.

Along with fruit, they’re the main part of the diet plan, with the scientific backup of having the power to decrease cancer risks, heart disease, osteoporosis, etc.  When nutrient dense foods increase, our health and mood improve, and it leaves less room for other junky stuff.

The principles make sense and they are strongly backed up by science, which is important for any reliable diet plan.

That being said, I don’t think the book would be a good choice for obsessive or restrictive type personalities.  Nor do I think the diet plan is necessarily realistic for everyone.  And while I liked the points that he made throughout the book, I don’t like the idea of following a diet plan, per say.  It just takes the fun out of food!  

But the points he makes are good ones, and I think most of us could benefit from the guidelines that he so strongly encourages.

And.  Well.  I wasn’t planning on having tonight’s dinner meet so many of the “Fuhrman” standards, but it just so happened that it did.

Pineapple.

Cashews.

Red bell peppers.

“Diet plan” or not, there’s nothing nauseous about that. 😉

Pineapple Cashew Quinoa Stir Fry—slightly modified from the original Veganomicon recipe

Don’t let the length of this recipe scare you!  The quinoa can be made ahead of time and there really isn’t much chopping work involved.

I like to serve this with a dish of sauteed greens on the side, like swiss chard with grated carrots and raisins.   It makes for a very satisfying dinner or lunch the following day.  Enjoy! 😀

Quinoa:
1 cup quinoa, well rinsed and drained
1 cup pineapple juice
1 cup cold water
1/4 teaspoon soy sauce

Stir-fry:
4 ounces cashews, raw and unsalted
1 tablespoons olive oil
2 scallions, sliced thinly
1 hot red chile, sliced into very thin rounds
1/2 inch piece ginger, peeled and minced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
1 cup frozen, cooked edamame (or peas)
1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, rolled and sliced in thin shreds
2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh mint
10 ounces fresh pineapple, cut into bite sized chunks
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons vegetable stock

PREPARE THE QUINOA FIRST:

  1. Combine the quinoa, juice, water, and soy sauce in a medium-sized pot.
  2. Cover, place over high heat,and bring to a boil.
  3. Stir a few times, lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and cook for 12 to 14 minutes, until all the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa appears plumped and slightly translucent.
  4. Uncover, fluff, and let cool.
  5. For best results,place the quinoa in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight.  If you’re in a hurry, chill the covered quinoa for at least an hour.

PREPARE THE STIR-FRY

  1. Use the largest nonstick skillet you have (at least 11 inches in diameter) or a wok.  Have ALL of your ingredients chopped and easily within reach.
  2. Place the cashews in the dry pan and heat over low heat, stirring them, until lightly toasted, about 4 minutes.
  3. Remove the cashews from the pan, raise the heat to medium, and add the peanut oil, scallions, and garlic.  When the garlic starts to sizzle, add the sliced chile pepper and ginger.  Stir-fry for about 2 minutes, then add the red bell pepper and edamame.  Stir-fry for about 3 minutes, until the bell pepper is softened and edamame is bright green.
  4. Add the basil and mint, and stir for another minute before adding the pineapple and quinoa.
  5. In a measuring cup, combine the soy sauce and vegetable stock.  Pour over the quinoa mixture.  Stir to incorporate completely and coat the quinoa.  Continue to stir-fry for 10 to 14 minutes, until the quinoa is very hot (it helps to use two spoons/ spatulas to scoop the quinoa around).

QUESTION: Have you read Eat To Live (or another popular “diet” book)?  Thoughts?  

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stuff a squash.

This is Part X IX of the “31 Days of Healthy Living Series.”

I went to Whole Foods.

I searched through the produce department.

I bypassed the spaghetti squash.

I overlooked the butternut.

And then.

I bought myself a kabocha squash.

source

One cup of kabocha squash, also known as “Japanese Pumpkin”, offers you 70% of your daily vitamin A intake, a good dose of potassium and plenty of fiber (with or without the peel, which is edible and delicious!)  It’s very similar in taste to a butternut squash…only sweeter.  

And the texture is equally nice, with a dense, firm bite (think sweet potato meets pumpkin!), making it the perfect option for soups and sautes.

Or.

Really.

You could just stuff it.

Tonight, I pulled some lentil taco filling out of the freezer, rewarmed it, stuffed it right into half of a roasted squash, tossed up a side salad, and called it dinner.

Such a ridiculously convenient dinner to throw together, while I ran around putting the groceries away.

Oh.  And it’s vegan.  And gluten free.  And deeply nutritious.

My new go-to convenience food.

Stuffed Kabocha Squash
(serves 2)

You don’t need to stuff this with the lentil taco filling.  Try leftover chili with a bit of cheese melted on top.  Or yesterday’s stir fry.  Or anything really.  Have fun it!

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Place kabocha squash cut side down on baking pan that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour, completely depending on size of squash (mine took 30 minutes, as it was “personal sized.”)  Squash is ready when knife slides easily into skin.
  3. Remove from oven and stuff it silly…ENJOY! 😀

QUESTION: What is your favorite squash?

new beginnings.

I’m obsessed with new beginnings.

New days.  New months.  New years.

I pull out my olive green planner, make a list of goals and sigh with content as I cross one item off after the other.  It’s like a grand, beautiful, very exciting to-do list.  And each new day, new month, new year begins the process all over again.

One of December’s goals is to try at least one completely new vegetable a week.

Like acorn squash.

Which (you may find this hard to believe) I’ve only ever cooked with once (maybe twice) in my lifetime.  Crazy, right?

So even while it’s not a completely NEW vegetable, it still kind of is.  Sort of.

Anyways.  It’s a great starting point.

Acorn squash are terrific when roasted with some maple syrup (attempt #1) and served over a bed of greens with barley and earthy mushrooms as accents.

Or.

When they’re stuffed silly with a tasty pilaf.

I’m afraid you may end up experiencing a lot of roasted versions of these “new” vegetables for the month of December.  I’m hopelessly obsessed.

But.

If I know you guys like I think I do, then this will be more than okay.

New days.

New months.

New years.

I’m obsessed with new beginnings.

Stuffed Silly Acorn Squash

For quick and easy preparation, make the filling ahead of time.  The squash can also be baked ahead of time, stuffed and placed in the fridge until eating time.  These will reheat well!

Feel free to tweak the filling.  Acorn squash are terrific serving vessels to anything you can dream up. 😀

  • 2 acorn squash, cut in half, seeds removed
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cup vegetable broth
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 green pepper, chopped
  • 1 package tempeh, sliced into 8 sections and steamed (see note at bottom)
  • 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
  • 1 can diced tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic, liquid drained (or plain)
  • 2 Tbsp. fresh dill
  • 1 tsp. allspice
  • salt and pepper
  • parmesan cheese (optional)
  • spaghetti sauce (optional)
  1. Heat oven to 400.  Place acorn squash cut side down on baking sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake for 25 minutes or until knife enters squash easily.
  2. Meanwhile, cook quinoa according to package directions, using vegetable broth in place of water.  Add 1/2 cup raisins after it is cooked and set aside.
  3. Heat oil over medium high heat in nonstick pan.  Add onion and pepper.  Cook until soft and tender.  Spread to the sides and add tempeh to the middle of the pan, adding more oil if needed.  Crush the tempeh, using a spoon, until bite size pieces are formed.  Add balsamic vinegar and continue cooking until tempeh is browned.
  4. Add diced tomatoes, dill, allspice, and salt and pepper to taste.  Add quinoa mixture and stir to combine, turning off the heat.
  5. Once the squash are ready, fill the middles with the stuffing mixture, sprinkle with parmesan cheese and bake for 5-8 minutes, until cheese has melted slightly.  Top with heated spaghetti sauce if desired.  ENJOY!

QUESTION: Do you make goals for each new month of the year?

Too Much Snow and a Bowl of Soup.

What in the…???

I don’t think anyone saw this one coming.

But this is New England.

Anything can happen.

And I suppose I shouldn’t complain or make a fuss, as some people in Colorado are experiencing over a foot of snow (a FOOT!  Before Thanksgiving!?!?)  As far as I’m concerned, trick or treaters aren’t supposed to have to wear down jackets over their costumes.

Aside from being a sour puss about the whole ordeal, there’s nothing like waking up to a fresh new snowfall and bright blue skies.  The air feels so clean and fresh.

Okay, okay…I’ll admit it.  The weather, the snow, the early morning sun–it’s stunning.  This weather is making me feel more energetic than I have all week.  And, admittedly, I’m pretty excited to get outdoors and have some fun.

But I’m still not sure how I feel about there being a blizzard coming our way this weekend. 😉

Of course, if ever there needed to be an excuse to make a big pot of soup, this is it.

And if you don’t happen to have snow where you live (I heard it’s still 80 in Florida!), save this soup for that first chilly day you get.  It will make you fall in love with winter.  Am I exaggerating?  Okay.  Well.  Cozying up with a bowl of hot soup and a hunk of bread will at least make the chilly weather tolerable.  Promise.

I picked up this bunch of collards from a local farmers market, after running the 5k on Sunday.

Running can make me crave any one of the following: (a) fried eggs, (b) ice cream or (c) deeply nutritious and warm, soulful foods.  Lately, I’ve been craving the latter.  And much like kale, collard greens are nutrition powerhouses.  They offer a nice touch of peppery flavor to soups, and they wilt down nicely after some cooking time.

See?  All wilted.

Collard greens remind me of the more innocent dinosaur kale, which is soft, tender and smooth.  Not rough and boisterous (albeit tasty!) like its relative, the curly kale.

Served with a couple hunks of warmed cranberry pecan bread.

(to warm and refresh day-old bread: preheat the oven to 375 and place a couple slices in foil for 5-7 minutes to warm it up while getting the crust all crispy)

Anyhow.

This snow is a little ridiculous.

But it sure does make a good excuse for welcoming home a big ol’ pot of soup.

Bean Soup with Collard Greens

(Serves about 6)

  •  2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 Tbsp. dried basil
  • 2 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 3 15-oz. cans of a variety of beans (garbanzo, kidney, pinto, etc.)
  • 2 15-oz. cans of diced tomatoes
  • 1 bunch collard greens, chopped into bite sized pieces
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 Tbsp. rice vinegar
  1. In a large soup pot, saute garlic and onion in olive oil for about 5 minutes over medium heat.  Add spices and stir.  Add beans, tomatoes, collard greens and broth.  Bring to a boil, add rice vinegar.  Add more water as needed, if soup seems too thick.  Cover, reduce heat to simmer and cook for 45 minutes.  Enjoy!

QUESTION: Is it snowing where you live?  In your opinion, is that a GOOD thing or a BAD thing?

Roasted Tofu with Vegetables.

Sometimes life gets kind of complicated.

Sometimes I like easy.

Step 1: Add 10 cloves garlic and 2 blocks of cubed tofu to pan.

Step 2: Add 1# green beans.

Step 3: Add 1# quartered brussel sprouts.

Step 4: Add 10 oz. halved mushrooms and 1 chopped onion.

Step 5: Drizzle with 3 T. olive oil + 1/4 cup lite soy sauce + a heavy hand of all-purpose seasoning.

Step 6: Bake until crispy and golden.

Step 7: Devour.

Yes.

Sometimes I like easy.

Roasted Tofu with Vegetables (recipe has been modified from the original version seen in Clean Food)

It doesn’t get much more simple than this one pot dinner.  The hardest part is waiting for everything to cook. 😉

On the side, I roasted some squash by simply cubing a peeled medium butternut squash, drizzling it with about 1 Tbsp. olive oil and 1 Tbsp. maple syrup.  A pinch of nutmeg finished it off, and I roasted it in the oven on the lowest setting (underneath the roasting tofu.)  It takes about 20-30 minutes for the squash so pop it in after dinner has been cooking for half of its time.  Enjoy!

  • 10 garlic cloves, peels removed
  • 2 pounds extra firm tofu, pressed (freeze it and then dethaw if you want it to have a “meatier” texture)
  • 1 pound green beans, ends removed
  • 1 pound brussel sprouts, quartered
  • 10 oz. baby bella mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • all-purpose seasoning (I used Mrs. Dash Original)
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Spray 9×11 inch cooking pan with spray.  Add garlic, tofu, green beans, brussel sprouts, mushrooms, and onion.
  3. Drizzle with oil and soy sauce.  Sprinkle liberally with seasoning.  Toss to combine.
  4. Bake for 1 hr, stirring every 20 minutes, or until vegetables and tofu are browned and crispy.  Serve and enjoy!

a bowl of rice for breakfast.

Being a poor college student/intern has absolutely nothing—nothing—to do with it.  My habits of scrounging and using up every last bit of leftovers goes beyond any subtleties of economic reasoning.  Well beyond.

I don’t even know when it first started.  Or why.  All I know is that it practically breaks my heart to have to throw out an overripe pear.  Or to see a dish of leftover pasta with lentils and kale be dumped, dumped, dumped.

Or rice, being scraped clean from a bowl and into the trash.  *Sigh.*

Before you start patting me on the back, telling me that everything will be okay, that there is help for this kind of thing, let me share with you my latest rice obsession.  Whether you’re obsessed with not letting any food go to waste or you simply want a quick and easy breakfast, I think you’ll appreciate this hot breakfast.  Yes.  Rice.  For breakfast!

Rice itself is not very high in protein or fiber, no matter whether you purchase the brown or the white.  The brown rice does have some extra vitamins and minerals that are worth having over white rice.  But if you’re looking for a way to stay full longer, I recommend this rice from Trader Joe’s.  It’s got 5g Fiber and 6g Protein per serving.  Filling power!

(or, you could just amp up the protein and fiber in other ways, through food based add-ins!)

It’s a favorite in my house.

I always double the portions that are cooked, just so that I can use up any last bit of leftovers for breakfast.  Rice takes on this whole new complexity when it’s mixed with milk and heated to a creamy consistency.  Delicious.  I always add some extra texture in the form of walnuts or granola or whatever might suit my fancy at the moment.

This breakfast is perfect for the poor college student/intern, the person who is obsessed with not wasting anything, the gluten free guy/girl who misses his/her oatmeal, the busy parent, or the too-tired-to-function early morning riser.

So you see?  There’s really nothing wrong with being a scrounger around the kitchen.  It’s economical, useful and tasty.  Enjoy!

Creamy Breakfast Rice with Trail Mix Topping

  • 1 cup cooked brown rice (or a mix as the one seen above!)
  • 1 banana, sliced or mashed
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
  • 2 Tbsp. walnuts, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp. craisins or raisins
  • 2 Tbsp. granola
  1. In a medium sized, microwave safe bowl, mix rice with banana, milk and spices.  Place in microwave for 3-5 minutes, or until everything has thickened and is piping hot.
  2. Top with walnuts, craisins and granola.  Enjoy! 😀
QUESTION: What are some of your favorite leftovers to have in your refrigerator and how do you reuse them?

K is for Kale. L is for Love.

This may come across as a little awry.  A little off.  But.  Well.  It simply must be said.

I think, maybe, I might possibly–who knows?–be in love with kale.

The idea came to me as I sat on my porch, feeling the warmth of summer creep up by the hour.  Any last chills from the morning quickly dissipated, as the sun rose higher and higher.  Humidity turned into a comfortably dry warmth, and only the lingering shady spots underneath the trees told the tale of a former rain storm.

And there I sat.  On the porch, basking in the sun.  Alone and completely at home, with a bowl of raw kale salad sitting in my lap.

I used to be of the opinion that kale was best served with something saucy, as to cover any unwelcome bitter flavors.  But my tastebuds changed their mind, as they often do, and now I am in love with kale.  It was bound to happen, really.  You don’t spend that much time with something unless there’s a bright, flavorful future there.  Right?

There is no sauce to this recipe.  Nor bitter flavors either, for that matter.  Only a creamy rubbing of avocado with a spritz of fresh lemon.  And some walnuts and tomatoes and sweet vidalia.

If I am not alone—if you too love kale—then you will simply love this recipe.  If you’ve never (ever) before tried kale, or if you have tried kale and thought it to be the most boring vegetable in the world, then wait until next week and I’ll share with you your first go-to recipe, so that you can introduce this forgiving green into your life.

I do have to warn you though.  Love happens.

Raw Kale Salad

(Serves 2)

This recipe is raw, vegan and gluten free.  It’s also delicious.  Feel free to add sauteed tofu, chicken, or your other favorite protein source to make it a more well rounded, satisfying meal.  I ate mine on the side of some baked beans.  No need for fancy when you’re striving for delicious. 😉

  • 1 head of kale, rinsed and patted dry
  • 1/2 avocado
  • 1/2-1 tomato, diced
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 1/4 vidalia or other sweet onion, diced
  • spritz of lemon (about 1/4 of a fresh)
  • 1/4 cup walnuts (optional)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a large bowl, use your hands to smush and smash avocado together with the kale.  Add tomato, carrot, onions, lemon juice, salt and pepper.  Stir well.  Toss in walnuts if using.
  2. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed.  Refrigerate for 1 or more hours and serve.  OR, if you are impatient like me, enjoy immediately.

QUESTION: What is your favorite GREEN vegetable?