Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Collard and Quinoa Wraps

If you’re like me, always looking for ways to sneak greens into your diet, here a great way to do it that at the same time helps to reduce the amount of bread/starch/gluten you may be eating.  It substitutes large collard leaves as wraps for just about anything you would put into a wrap.  Think grilled vegetables and hummus, egg salad or chicken with avocado and tomatoes, beans and rice with salsa or any combination you can come up with. 

The other day, after making a red quinoa with onions and beets, I decided to try it as a filling for collard wraps.  To make it more “sticky” so that it wouldn’t spill out while eating it, I combined it with roasted, mashed butternut squash and avocado.  The combination was unexpectedly great and the best part was that I was able to prepare a few the night before a trip and they made a great late breakfast the next morning.  I simply wrapped them in wax paper, put them in a sealable bag and packed them in my backpack.

This wrap combines a complete source of protein, fiber, a nice variety of carotenoids from the colorful vegetables, and a healthy source of fat.   To give them a bit of a kick, add some Tabasco, a splash of chili sauce.  Give them a try. 

Collard and Quinoa Wraps

Several Collard Leaves
Roasted butternut squash
Mashed or sliced avocado
Tabasco or Chili sauce (optional)

Wash and briefly steam the collard leaves.  Tip:  To save time and having to wash an extra pan, if you’re preparing a grain or bean mixture in a large frying pan/Dutch oven, place the leaves on top and cover the pan for a few minutes.  Any leftover steamed leaves can be placed in an airtight container in the fridge for filling later. 

Allow the leaves to cool and remove the tough bottom stems.  Working with one at a time, place the leaf down sideways on a working surface.  Place a small serving of squash on the center of the leaf, leaving plenty of room around all the edges.  

Spoon a tablespoon of quinoa on top of the squash, pressing it down a bit.  

Add a slice of avocado onto the mixture and a splash of the sauce if desired. 

Fold the top and bottom of the leaves in toward the center, then fold up one side and roll towards the free end to seal the wrap.  Enjoy immediately, or if packing for lunch, wrap a few tightly in wax paper and place in a ziploc bag, or place in a sealable container.  Refrigerate until ready to eat.  

"Red" Quinoa

Over the last several years, quinoa has become one of the few grains that I eat.  Maybe because I like the way it fills me up without making me feel like I’m “full”, like I feel sometimes after eating a plate of pasta.  I love the simplicity of this dish and the combination of the bright green and  deep red from the beets.  And it incorporates some Autumn vegetables while still maintaining a light, citrusy taste from Summer.   

If you make a large batch of plain quinoa ahead of time, it’s much easier to whip up a few different dishes throughout the week relatively quickly.  I made this one in under 20 minutes.  Because quinoa is a complete protein, this can easily be served as a satisfying lunch or dinner.  I also used it as a delicious filling to wraps, the recipe for which I’ll be posting next…

1 T grapeseed oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
1 medium beet, peeled and chopped
2 c cooked quinoa
2 c chopped kale
sea salt and black pepper to taste
juice of ½ lemon

Add the oil to a heated Dutch oven then add the onion and beet and sautee for several minutes, until the onion is tender. 

Add the salt and pepper and kale.  Then add the quinoa and and a few tablespoons of water and cover the pan to let the quinoa heat through and the kale wilt.  Squeeze the lemon juice over the mixture and stir well.  Serve warm or cold.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Kale, Apple, and Beet Salad

Autumn is on its way.  The mornings and evenings are cooler, the leaves are already turning colors, and the pumpkins are everywhere!  I love the colors of this season and the foods.  We’ll see how many dishes I’ll be making this year with pumpkin : )  

The cooler weather doesn’t mean that I’m giving up salads for a while, though.  On the contrary, there are so many great seasonal ingredients that will make a delicious salad until Spring. 

The other day, I combined kale with apples and beets for a hearty salad full of color and flavor.  I loved it so much that I’ve already made it twice and I know I’ll be making this a lot in the coming months.   

If you’ve avoided eating kale raw because of its tough texture, this can be remedied by massaging it with spices or liquids, which helps to tenderize it.  In this salad, I massage some Himalayan salt and olive oil into the kale, and the result is fantastic.

Kale, Apple, and Beet Salad

1 bunch kale, washed, destemmed, dried, and cut or ripped into small pieces
Himalayan or sea salt
olive oil
1 - 2 apples, washed, cored, and cut into small chunks
juice from ½ -1 lime
1 small red onion, chopped small
1 medium raw beet, peeled and shredded
a handful of seeds (sunflower, pumpkin, etc., optional)
maple syrup
balsamic vinegar
avocado chunks (optional)

To begin, place the kale in a large bowl.  Sprinkle it with ~1/2 - 1 tsp of salt and a drizzle of olive oil.  With your clean hands, work the oil into the kale by massaging it for a couple of minutes.  

Sprinkle the apple pieces with the lime juice and add them to the bowl, then add the onion, shredded beet, seeds if using, and pepper.   Toss the salad, then drizzle with a bit more olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and maple syrup.  Toss again until the dressing is well distributed.  Chill if desired and serve with avocado chunks.

This went perfect with a quick warm black bean salad pictured.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

A Quick Red Lentil Soup

A few weeks ago, we had an unseasonably cool day or two and I could immediately feel my body wanting a warming, hearty soup.  Luckily I had some red lentils on hand that I used to make the quick recipe below.   By soaking them for a few hours in the morning, it helped to begin the digestive process, neutralize toxins, and boost the number of nutrients.  Not to mention, soaking them cuts down on the cooking time, and these tend to cook quickly!

Although this soup didn’t need it, I used strips of raw zucchini chopped into small pieces as a thickener.  I put them in at the very end of the cooking and they were tender in no time. 

Lentils are a great source of protein and fiber and according to Dr. Susan Brown and Larry Trivieri, Jr., The Acid Alkaline Food Guide, are actually one of the more alkaline-forming foods in the beans/legumes category, which is unusual with high-protein foods.  If you’d like to see what else you’re feeding your body with lentils, you can check here.

Red Lentil Soup

1 cup red lentils, soaked for several hours and rinsed
1 T grapeseed oil
1 medium onion, chopped small
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced thin
1 stalk celery, trimmed and sliced thin
½ cup dried mushrooms (any combination), rinsed and soaked in hot water
vegetable broth (low salt, heated)
dried thyme, oregano, basil, and black pepper to taste
sea salt to taste (if using low salt broth)
1 medium zucchini, peeled and shaved to make thin strips

Heat a medium saucepan on medium and add the grapeseed oil.  Add the onions and celery and sauté for a few minutes, then add the carrots and cook an additional 3 minutes. 

Drain the lentils and add them to the pan, then add in enough vegetable broth to cover the lentils by about two inches.  Chop the mushrooms and add them to the pot along with the soaking liquid.

Add the seasonings and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and cover lightly until the lentils are cooked, ~10 minutes.  Add the zucchini and cook 2 minutes more, or until tender.  Serve hot.