Spiced Quinoa with Nectarines and Honey

10 Sep

Well, folks. I’m still kickin’ … Although I’m pretty sure my legs are getting tired. I’m now in my second year (that’s half way done) with my grad program, I’m in my internship almost full time, and have a full load of classes. Not only that, but my clients are people who are mandated to see me thanks to CPS, Drug Court, or any other recovery-related means. It is hard to keep up with my own pace sometimes. And yet, it is more rewarding than I had ever imagined.

Needless to say, I don’t have much time to post, much less cook. I do, however, once in a long while, find myself wishing I had something of comfort from my kitchen. This little dish made me quite happy. I forced myself to take a seat at the table with the sun shining and enjoy every last bite.

It’s good.

This time of year is always a little odd to me as far as seasons go, and seasonal eating. I want it so badly to be cold and overcast with leaves falling so that I can enjoy my pumpkin-everything appropriately. But, no. It is still in the 90s here … Still summer. So this dish is a mix of fall-flavored quinoa with toppings reminiscent of summer. Go figure.


Here we go:

1/2 c uncooked quinoa (I used truRoots organic quinoa, which I found at my local Costco)

1 c apple cider (I used Simply Apple)

1/2 tsp each: ground ginger, ground nutmeg, ground allspice, ground clove (I use McCormick spices, always)

2 fresh nectarines of any variety, cubed

Fresh honey, to taste

Slivered almonds, optional

To throw it together:

Combine the quinoa, spices, and apple cider in a small pot on the stove. Cook the quinoa as directed, which usually means boil it for a few minutes and let it simmer for about 15 minutes. Fluff with fork. (Check the packaging for direct instructions on how to cook it.) While it is cooking, cube the nectarines. Sounds weird, but if you can have easy access to shoveling the goodness into your mouth, then hey.

When the quinoa is fully cooked, top with nectarines, drizzle with honey (I used a ton), and sprinkle with slivered almonds if it strokes your fancy. This may not seem like much, but since quinoa is a complete protein it will leave you feelings full and satisfied.




Homemade Fries

10 Jun

Baked, not fried, baby. The healthy journey continues here in our household. The other night we had delicious chipotle turkey burgers and I couldn’t enjoy it without fries. So, I made some. No oil needed.

I used:

2 giant russet potatoes, skin on and cut into 1/4-inch sticks

Canola oil spray (or nonstick spray)

Salt-free seasoning of your choice – I used McCormick’s Garlic & Herb Seasoning, which I can’t get enough of

Bowl of ice water

Here we go:

1. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.

2. Cut your potatoes into whatever shape you’d like, but be sure to submerge them in ice cold water to keep them from oxidizing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA3. When you are ready to bake them, lay them out on paper towels to dry them off. I actually rolled the towels up around them to squish any excess water off.

4. Spread them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet, spray with oil, and season.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA5. Bake for roughly 30 minutes, or until crisped and golden. Feel free to sample a few along the way to make sure they are done.

6. Pull them out and serve with your favorite meal or dipping sauce! We enjoyed them with our burgers and chipotle mayo.

turkey burger and homemade fries 6 5 13

Chipotle Mayo

8 Jun

Saying this is chipotle mayo is sort of a misnomer, as was calling the burger it goes on a turkey burger when it also had chicken. Whatever. The point is that it is delicious. And uses chipotle peppers and mayo … and a secret ingredient.

Greek yogurt.

Greek yogurt was a mystery to me until recently. It is pretty good for you, is low-cal, and is filling. So, why not use more of it. I’ve used it to make dressings, pizza crust, and now this.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOkay, so the pic isn’t that good, but it TASTES good and that is all that matters.

I used:

1/3 c Greek yogurt (I used Fage 0% fat)

1/3 c mayo (I used Kraft olive oil mayo)

2 chipotle peppers, diced (I used La Costena)

1/2 tsp each: garlic powder, garlic salt, and McCormick’s Garlic & Herb Seasoning 

1/2 c chopped cilantro

Stir to combine, chill for a bit before serving, and enjoy!

We enjoyed this on our chipotle turkey burgers, and with fries on the side.

Chipotle Turkey Burgers!

6 Jun

First things first: this is the 100th post! There were some times where I didn’t think I’d make it, but I did! Whew. 🙂

Next up: I made turkey burgers. I’ll be honest – I never thought I would. Why? Mostly because I love a good beef burger, and I’m not usually a fan of turkey in general. However, it had to happen.

As I mentioned the last post (and the one before that I think), my hub is on an Herbalife nutrition program and is on a quest for healthier foods to eat. So, the food around here has been getting a makeover, for sure.

The last few days I’ve been craving greasy, delicious, and cheesy burgers. Why? Who knows. However, the hub and I made a compromise – turkey burgers. I have to admit I was not that excited at first, but then I figured I could challenge myself to make it tasty. And I won the challenge!

turkey burger and homemade fries 6 5 13

I used an Udi’s Gluten Free Classic Hamburger Bun, and my hub used lettuce to minimize the carb intake. Either way they turned out pretty delicious! We topped them with chiptole mayo, and served them up with homemade french fries.

I used:

1 lb ground chicken breast (you could use all turkey as well)

1.25 lbs ground turkey (93% lean)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp each: onion powder, garlic powder, McCormick’s Garlic & Herb Seasoning 

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

3 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, diced (I used La Costena)

1 c chopped cilantro

Here we go:

1. Combine ingredients in a bowl, and mix thoroughly with your hands (I always wear gloves). It’ll look a little ugly, but don’t worry – it tastes good.


2. Separate meat combo into eight (8) portions. Although I made roughly eight (8) 4-oz. patties, you can make them whatever size you’d like. I used pieces of parchment to keep them separated and uniform.


3. Let them hang out in the fridge until you are ready to cook them.

4. Grill them until they are 165 degrees F all the way through. Remember, these aren’t juicy beef burgers that can be eaten nearly raw. They have to be cooked. I wasn’t paying much attention to the timing of them (sorry, folks, I was multitasking), but just keep an eye on them.

5. Serve them up with the toppings of your choice and enjoy!

My Pantry

1 Jun

This may very well turn into a permanent page on the site, but I thought it was important to share some of the gluten free products I have in my kitchen. I have been asked quite a bit lately about where to start, what products taste good, and where to find inexpensive gf products (the bill can add up fast). So, here are some of my favorites. If you have any that I haven’t included, PLEASE shoot me an email or comment so that other folks can benefit.


Pamela’s Gluten Free Bread Mix is one of my absolute favorite mixes. It tastes like a homemade wheat bread fresh from my grandma’s oven. Pamela’s also has all kinds of baking mixes, bread mixes, cookies, and snacks.

Bob’s Red Mill products include bread mix, biscuit mix, baking mix, and so on. They have a blend or mix or flour for virtually every gluten free need you may have. They also have gluten free oats, which can be tricky to find.

Udi’s Gluten Free has all kinds of products as well, but I lived off of their pizza crusts for quite a while on my journey. I have since learned to make my own delicious pizza crust using my flat bread recipe  or french bread recipe, but their product is a great go-to. Udi’s also carries bagels, breads, rolls, muffins, cookies, tortillas, granola bars, and granola. And, they have just announced that their products are available at Walmart!


Blue Diamond Nut Thins are great and come in different flavors

Glutino has crackers, crisps, pretzels, pizza crusts, cookies, mixes, and so on. I LOVE their pretzels. In fact, my gluten-eating friends love them too!


Bob’s Red Mill products, like I mentioned, include everything under the sun. I use their flours for everything and am always pleased with the end product. Some staples in my pantry: white rice flour, sorghum flour, garbanzo flour, tapioca flour, brown rice flour, xanthan gum, and any number of cookie or bread mixes.

Betty Crocker carries more gluten free products every time I go to the store! It is great. My staples are the gluten free brownie mix, cookie mix, white cake mix, and chocolate cake mix. So delicious. I’ve also stocked up on the Gluten Free Bisquick (that’s right), and it is perfect for a quick meal.

Pamela’s baking products are ALWAYS good as well. Their mixes include cake, brownies, cookies, frostings, scones, and biscuit mix.


Kikkoman carries a gluten free soy sauce that is delicious.

San-J also carries a line of tamari and soy sauces in addition to their salad dressings, stir fry sauces, and crackers. Their products are AWESOME. I love the variety and I can usually find them in any grocery store I go to.

Little Soya soy packets are SO cute and shaped like little fish. These little packets are perfect for lunches, throwing in your purse for dinner outings, or for school. They are also resealable! That is a HUGE plus. I use these little guys for lunch on the go all the time.


– Kraft has a bunch of gluten free dressings, but be sure to check the label.

– San-J (mentioned above) carries Asian-inspired dressings.

Newman’s Own has gluten free products as well, but be sure to check the label.


– Glutino pretzels are my favorite!

– Nut Thins, as mentioned above

– Pamela’s cookies and biscotti


– Welch’s fruit snacks

Mariani’s Honeybars


Amy’s  products are a life-saver. Products include Mexican-inspired meals, Thai-inspired meals, burritos, rice bowls, soups, beans and veggies, and yes, even MACARONI AND CHEESE! It is delicious. They also have gluten free lasagna which is just like my mom used to make. So good. Check them out in the freezer section of most stores.



Brown Rice with Chicken and Spinach

31 May

As I mentioned in my last post, there have been all kinds of lifestyle changes going on in our house. Our diets have always been different, but things are really improving. I can’t have gluten, my dad has all kinds of health problems that restrict his diet, and my hub is allergic to fresh fruit. Getting the proper nutrition has always been a challenge due to budget issues and the differences in diets and schedules.

But alas, we are pulling it together.

My husband has started a new Herbalife nutrition program, consisting of meal replacement shakes, bars, and a revamped diet full of protein, veggies, and good carbs. Now, this is all new to me, and although it caught me by surprise, it has proven to be really helpful for him. Although I don’t usually plug products or things, he IS my husband, so check out his website for more info on his journey.

Products aside, I’m really enjoying the dietary changes going on around here! There has been an increase in brown rice, veggies (of all kinds), different meats, and fruit. I couldn’t be happier with that! No complaints, for sure. In the midst of all this newfound dietary glory I’ve also been whipping up more quick and healthy recipes. I love my funnel cake, french bread, and cinnamon rolls – I still enjoy those – but I also enjoy stuff like brown rice with chicken and spinach!

Chicken and Spinach with Brown RiceYou’ll need:

3 c cooked brown rice (I cooked mine in chicken stock and used Minute Rice)

Olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, sliced

2 tsp red pepper flakes

1 Tbl white wine

1/2 tsp fennel seeds (I love the McCormick brand)

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

2 tsp soy sauce (I use Kikkoman GF soy sauce or San-J GF Reduced Sodium Tamari)

1.5 c cooked chicken, diced or chopped

1 9-oz box of frozen spinach, thawed (sometimes I like shortcuts – I use Green Giant frozen spinach)


Here we go:

1. In a large saute pan drizzle olive oil. Add garlic, pepper flakes, fennel, salt, and pepper. Saute for a few minutes until it is fragrant.

2. Add the spinach, white wine, and soy sauce. Saute for a few minutes and break up the spinach.

3. Add the chicken and heat through.

4. When the chicken is hot, and the flavors in the pan have worked their magic, toss in the cooked rice and stir to combine. You can either serve it immediately or saute a few minutes more to further combine the flavors.

5. Enjoy!



Quinoa with Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Spinach

22 May

The food in our household has taken a turn for the better the past few weeks. It is quite a relief! The other day I was hungry and realized we had freshly-stocked fruits and veggies on hand so I whipped up some quinoa, sauteed some sweet potatoes and chopped up some spinach. I drizzled it with balsamic vinegar and it was just what the doctor ordered. It was delicious!


There is a lot of confusion around sweet potatoes and yams, and I am just as confused as anyone. However, the sweet potatoes I bought were lighter in color and looked more like potatoes that what we think of for the holidays. They’re delicious.

So, you’ll need:

Olive oil for sauteing

1 small sweet potato, skinned and diced

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced (you can use less or none, or dice it, or chop it, or smash it)

2 tsp red pepper flakes (I like it hot)

1 c cooked quinoa

1 c fresh spinach, julienned or chopped

1/2 c basil, julienned or torn

Chicken stock as needed

Balsamic to drizzle

To whip it up:

1. Drizzle a bit of alive oil into a large saute pan. When it heats up a bit, add the diced sweet potatoes and garlic. Note: I added a bit of chicken stock to the pan as the potatoes were cooking to help the process along, but you don’t have to.

2. Add the red pepper flakes, and brown the potatoes.

3. Add the basil and spinach when the potatoes are cooked through and saute a few seconds more.


4. Add the cooked quinoa to the pan, stir to mix it all up, and add a bit of stock if you’d like some added texture.

5. Plate however you’d like, and drizzle a bit of balsamic over it and enjoy!


9 May

It has literally been months since I have posted something. Each time it gets longer and longer between posts, but hey. I’m still here. Life is just getting busier and busier. I’ve had a few accomplishments (like finding an awesome trainee site for my M.F.T. hours, and redoing my wet bar cabinets) and a few setbacks (pink eye a few times, allergies, and so on).

I haven’t stopped cooking. Luckily. I just run out of hours and never get to the posting part!

Here is a very late recipe I made: waffles! Why is it so exciting? I haven’t made waffles for about two years now … Well, none that came out right, anyway. These are perfect. They are crisp on the outside, light and chewy on the inside, and have a wonderful nutty taste (thanks to the bean flours in the mix).



You’ll need

1.5 c Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour – believe this: I just got an 80 oz. bag at COSTCO! That’s right.

1/2 c Bob’s Red Mill Golden Flaxseed Meal – also found at Costco!

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

4 eggs, separated

1.5 c milk (I used fat-free lactose-free milk)

1 Tbl oil

1 Tbl honey

1 tsp vanilla

Here we go:

1. In a large bowl combine flour, flax meal, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.

2. In a measuring cup (I used a 2-cup), combine egg YOLKS, milk, oil, honey, and vanilla.

3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and mix (I used a whisk).



4. In yet another bowl, beat the egg WHITES with an electric mixer until peaks form. I know there is a specific name for this, but I can’t remember it. So, it should look like this:



5. Next, pour the egg whites into the batter. Using a spatula, gently FOLD the whites into the batter.



6. I stopped folding when it seemed to be combined and it looked like this:



7. To make the waffles, follow the instructions for your specific waffle maker. The waffle maker I have looks like this:



My mom taught me that waffles are done with the steam coming from the waffles starts to decrease. So, when the steam slowed, I pulled my waffles out and the first batch looked like this:



So, I added butter and syrup and enjoyed them thoroughly!


Crock-pot Chicken Tostadas

21 Mar

Between changing work schedules, increased school work, and prepping for my internship placement I have even less time than I had before. I should know by now that whenever I feel like I have no time, it can always be less.

I have started taking time for myself during all of this, though. I started running (okay, so I walk and my friend runs), and riding my bike with my husband. I have also tried to cut down on cooking time without sacrificing flavor or nutrition.

I have also embraced one of the best kitchen inventions ever: my crock-pot. I try now and then to make something in it, put it away, and forget about it. It should just live on my kitchen counter. This week I made spicy chicken in the crock-pot that we enjoyed all week. Monday was tostadas, Tuesday was nachos, Wednesday was a burrito bowl, and today I’ll take the remainder for lunch. Easy.

Crockpot chicken tostada 3 18 13

Here is what you’ll need:

1 onion, sliced thickly

4 chicken breasts (I tossed mine in frozen)

2 7-oz. cans of Herdez Salsa Ranchera (which I can only find at my local Save Mart Supermarket)

2 c chicken stock

1 14-oz. can corn kernels

1 14-oz. can black olives (my husband can’t do without)

1/4 – 1/2 c taco seasoning (I use McCormick’s blend)

1 Tbl garlic salt (also McCormick’s – the California Style Garlic Salt)

Here we go:

In the morning, place the slices of onion on the bottom of the crock-pot. Add the chicken, 1 (ONE) can of salsa ranchera, and stock. 1/4 c taco seasoning, and garlic salt. Set to high and walk away.

When you’re just about ready to eat (or get home), the chicken should be falling apart. Shred the chicken (I scooped mine onto a cutting board for this), and pour the liquid into a fat separator. Throw the shredded chicken back into the crock-pot, add some liquid back (to your liking), add the corn and olives, and a bit more taco seasoning to taste. Also add the SECOND can of salsa ranchera to taste. Note: I used HALF of the SECOND can at this point, and used the other half to add to some rice I had made.

Serve however you like! Next time I think I’ll make my flour tortillas to go alongside. Mmm.

Flu Blaster Smoothie

1 Mar

It has been almost a month since my last post, I know. Spring semester started, my jobs changed, and time escapes me all too easily.

And now … I’m sick. I made it almost all the way through cold season without any major illness, but it would appear that it has finally found me. I’ve missed classes, skipped volunteering, and have had to cancel plans. I am not a fan.

Ironically, now I have a bit of time – time to sleep, time to catch up on homework, and time to post. Ah, how bittersweet.

In my sickened state, I find that I am craving something cold and refreshing. I tried Coca-Cola (which I haven’t had in over two years for fear of being glutened) to whet my whistle since water seemed too bland. How silly. I should have known soda would not do the trick.

What I found to be the perfect remedy for my need for something cold and refreshing was a tart smoothie.

This quick and refreshing smoothie has fresh ginger, POM pomegranate juice, and fresh fruit. It is just what I needed.

Flu Blaster Smoothie 3 1 13


You’ll need:

1 or 2 c frozen mixed fruit (I used Walmart’s Great Value frozen fruit blend with pineapple, peaches, mangoes, and strawberries)

1 c frozen blueberries

2 tsp fresh ginger (Note: I keep ginger root in my freezer, then pull it out to use as needed)

1 to 2 c POM pomegranate juice

Optional: spinach, greens, other fruit of your liking, or sriracha for a healthy dose of heat

I used my beloved Vitamix for this job. It couldn’t have been easier. I put all of the ingredients in the blender, put the lid on, and turned it on. I left the intensity setting on low (as opposed to high), but turned the speed to about 6. Blend until smooth. Add more liquid as needed.

I’m hoping this delicious concoction will help me on my way to wellness. At the very least, it is delicious!