Quinoa for Breakfast!

Quinoa Breakfast

I first tasted quinoa when I was travelling throughout Peru in 2011 and learned that it was a staple to the Peruvian diet.  While I was in Peru, I really enjoyed quinoa in a variety of culinary ways, from hearty soups to delicious desserts.  In fact, my favourite memory of eating quinoa was having it as a scrumptious strawberry quinoa pudding for dessert after dinner on top of a mountain, as we settle in for the night, eagerly awaiting to see Machu Picchu at sunrise the next day. 🙂

Fast forward 2 years later, quinoa seems to be the new health buzz word in North America.  Everywhere I go, it is on restaurants’ menus and in grocery stores.  It is even included in all the health books and magazines I’m hungrily reading to learn more about healthy food and diet.

To sum it up: Quinoa is a seed (many people assume it is a grain, but it isn’t!!) that comes in white, red or black.  It is a superfood because it is a good source of protein, fibre, complex carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorous, iron and vitamins B and E.  It is also gluten-free!  Therefore, it is perfect for vegetarians, vegans and people with gluten sensitivity or celiacs.

As I’m now gluten-free and also trying to cut down on my meat consumption, quinoa is another great alternative I can turn to for protein, and substitute for rice or pasta.  I am by no means an expert in cooking quinoa, and have been reading books and websites to learn how to cook it well, and getting some more recipe ideas.

Anyways, I got really excited when I was chatting with my vegetarian friend Mythili and she mentioned she eats quinoa for breakfast!  I thought what a wonderful way to start off the day with energy and happiness!!

I will now share with you a recipe Mythili passed on to me, and I tweaked it a bit with whatever I found in my kitchen, and as you know, I like to experiment with some of the ingredients in recipes.  After all, creativity in the kitchen is so much fun!! 😀

 

Makes: 1 serving

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Total TIme: about 25 minutes

 

Special notes:

-Turmeric- has health and beauty properties, mostly anti-inflammatory effects and helps increase blood circulation thus contributing to healthier and radiant looking skin!

Milk- you can replace the unsweetened almond milk with any other type of non-dairy milk you like!  For example, Mythili used rice milk for this recipe.

-Spice- instead of turmeric, you can replace it with cinnamon if you prefer a more flavourful tang, as turmeric is slightly bitter to taste

-Fruit toppings- you can put any fruits you like on top!  Mythili put blueberries in hers.

 

Ingredients:

1/2 cup quinoa

1/2 cup unsweetend almond milk

1/2 cup filtered water

1 tsp ground turmeric

1 banana, sliced

handful of sliced strawberries

 

Instructions:

  1. Mix the quinoa, almond milk, water and ground turmeric into a pan at medium heat.
  2. Mix contents once in a while.
  3. Add sliced banana into the pan.  When the quinoa is cooked, take the pan off the stove.
  4. Plate the food and add a handful of strawberries.
  5. Enjoy! 🙂

 

Resources I used on learning about and how to cook quinoa:

The Power of Food: 100 Essential Recipes for Abundant Health and Happiness by Adam Hart, page 111

http://www.thekitchn.com/how-to-cook-quinoa-63344

http://lowfatveganchef.com/how-to-cook-quinoa-perfectly-every-time/

http://www.eatingwell.com/healthy_cooking/healthy_cooking_101/kitchen_tips_techniques/how_to_cook_quinoa

http://www.queenofquinoa.me/get-to-know-quinoa/

Spicy & Sweet Purple Potato Fries

I have a confession to make, and I guess if you know me very well you know that, I’m obsessed with the colour PURPLE!!  As long as something is purple, I love it!  Therefore, it’s no surprise that even when it comes to food, I get excited about purple too. 😛  I’m totally in love with purple sweet potatoes!

Here are some healthy facts I found out about this beautiful and sweet vegetable that may entice you to love it as well! 🙂  They…

-are a good source of calcium, iron, manganese, copper, vitamins, fibre, antioxidants and complex carbohydrates (this is the kind of carbohydrates that are recommended for us to include a lot of to be healthy and have sustained energy throughout the day)

-have anti-aging properties; makes skin glowing and radiant!

-have anti-cancer properties; the purple pigment (anthocyanin) is an antioxidant that reduces the risk of cancer and actually the antioxidant level of a purple sweet potato is 150% more than blueberries!

-help protect against cardiovascular problems and inflammation-related health issues

-are diabetic friendly as they are low in sugar; help maintain and regulate stable blood sugar level

-are low in fat and sodium

 

Now that you know the nutritional benefits of eating purple sweet potatoes, why don’t you try making the following easy, quick and healthy recipe?

If you’re craving for something spicy and sweet at the same time, this recipe can satisfy both too. 🙂

These baked purple sweet potato fries are perfect for a snack or appetizer!  They are not burnt at all; the purple colour of the sweet potatoes makes the baked fries dark.

These baked purple sweet potato fries are perfect for a snack or appetizer! They are not burnt at all; the purple colour of the sweet potatoes makes the baked fries dark.

Makes: 1 serving

Preparation Time: 10 minutes

Baking Time: 12-15 minutes

Total TIme: about 25 minutes

 

Special notes:

-Purple Sweet Potatoes- they have a natural sweetness already 🙂

-Nutritional Yeast- it is gluten-free and a great substitute for cheese (it tastes cheesy!); plus 3 tablespoons of it supply 9 grams of complete protein (has the 18 amino acids); because it is rich in B-complex vitamins, and along with the protein, it keeps the hair strong, shiny and healthy!

-Cinnamon- regulates blood sugar, improves colon health and protects against heart disease (see under “Resources” section for links if you want to know more health benefits)

-Sea Salt- helps with digestion, builds a strong immune system, prevents cardiovascular-related health problems, and helps maintain consistent sugar level (see below in “Resources” section to learn more)

-Olive Oil- builds a strong immune system, and fights against disease such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, arthritis etc.

 

Ingredients:

2 large purple sweet potatoes, peeled

3 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon ground black pepper

1.5 teaspoons sea salt

olive oil

 

Instructions:

1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Slice sweet potatoes into thin pieces like french fries.

3. Mix nutritional yeast, cinnamon, black pepper and sea salt in a big bowl.

4. Add the sweet potatoes and mix using a spoon or spatula, until all the pieces are well coated, and place them on baking tray.

5. Drizzle fries with olive oil on baking tray.

6. Bake in oven for 12-15 minutes or until sweet potatoes are cooked.

7. Enjoy! 😀

 

Resources on Purple Sweet Potatoes, Nutritional Yeast, Cinnamon, Sea Salt and Olive Oil:

http://cancer.vg/en/ipomoea-batatas-purple-sweet-potato

http://www.downtoearth.org/health/nutrition/okinawan-sweet-potato-purple-powerhouse-nutrition

http://www.livestrong.com/article/286212-purple-sweet-potato-nutrition/

http://herbalacup.blogspot.ca/2013/05/purple-sweet-potato-eating-can-increase.html

The Beauty Detox Foods: Discover the Top 50 Beauty Foods that Will Transform Your Body and Reveal a More Beautiful You by Kimberly Snyder, pages 117-118 on Nutritional Yeast

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/10-surprising-health-benefits-of-cinnamon.html?page=1

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=68

http://www.seasalthealth.com/2012/04/11/health-benefits-of-sea-salt/

http://readynutrition.com/resources/10-health-benefits-of-sea-salt_15092011/

http://www.oliveoiltimes.com/olive-oil-health-benefits

http://www.naturalnews.com/041521_olive_oil_heart_health_skin_and_hair.html

Korean Cuisine: Homemade Healthy Bibimbap

When I was teaching English in South Korea a few summers ago, I fell in love with the Korean culture especially its food.  I found the food delectable, diverse and healthy.  I learned that Hansik (Korean cuisine) is known for its healthy and well-balanced meal, using fresh and natural ingredients.  For example, the vegetables are almost always lightly blanched which means they have retained most of their natural nutrients.  Hansik uses less meat than most cultural cuisines.  Also, the meats are usually boiled or steamed which indicate they are low in fat and calorie.  Fermented foods are a large part of Hansik, and as research demonstrates, fermented foods benefit our health and digestion, because they are rich in probiotics (friendly bacteria), enzymes and minerals.  Kimchi, the most well-known Korean side dish and the staple of the Koreans (aside from boiled rice), is an example of fermented food.  In fact, it is considered one of the world’s top 5 health foods. ( http://www.health.com/health/article/0,,20410299,00.html)

According to Han Bok-ryeo, the Director of the Institute of Korean Royal Cuisine: “Korean food is a great source of energy, and for Koreans, energy goes beyond physical strength, it pertains to strength of the mind and soul.”  Also, Korean traditional wisdom states that “food and medicine are grown from the same root,” and therefore “there is no better medicine than food.” (taken from Korean Cuisine: Refresh Your Senses by Korea Tourism Organization, December 2009)  This philosophy demonstrates that food is very important to the Koreans, and it is made with care and thought into the overall well-being and health of its people.

After discovering I am gluten sensitive, my naturopathic doctor said that I can still have rice, because it has no gluten.  Thank goodness I can still eat rice, since rice is a staple of Korean food, and I especially love its signature dish: Bibimbap!

The direct translation of Bibimbap is “mixed rice”.  It is steamed/boiled rice mixed with a variety of vegetables and/or meat and Korean chili paste (a.k.a hot pepper paste).  I find the taste so delicious, nutritious and healthy for my body, mind and soul.  It’s like comfort food. 😀

This weekend I decided to give it a try, making homemade Bibimbap, as I’m discovering I enjoy cooking more and more, and this version is so much healthier than eating out!

The following recipe is taught and given to me by my dearest Korean friend Chris.

 

Serves: 4-6 people

Preparation Time: 40 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

 

Special Notes:

-I decided to make this bibimbap vegetarian; you can add a bit of ground meat (beef/chicken/pork); sautéed first if you like to have your meat. 🙂

Vegetables: You can substitute the vegetables in this recipe with any veggies you like.  The idea is to make it as colourful as possible so the bibimbap looks beautiful and eating a rainbow of vegetables is good for you!!

Rice: Make water less than normal in the rice cooker/pot so the rice is not as soft as usual, since after you still need to cook it in a big pan.

Spicy level: You can adjust the spiciness of the chili/hot pepper paste to your preference by either decreasing or increasing the tablespoons used for flavouring.

Egg: You can cook it sunny-side up if you like.

Optional: Roasted seaweed.  I personally like putting it in the bibimbap because it gives that extra crunch and flavour!

 

Ingredients for Bibimbap: 

All the vegetables needed for the bibimbap.  Only spinach is missing.

All the vegetables needed for the bibimbap. Only spinach is missing.

1 white radish, peeled and sliced into small, thin strips about 5 cm long

1 package of soy bean sprouts, washed and drained

1 big carrot, peeled and sliced into small, thin strips about 5 cm long

2 big zucchinis, peeled and sliced (see photo above)

1 big eggplant, washed and sliced (see photo above)

1 box/bag enoki mushrooms, washed and drained

1 bunch/bag spinach, washed and drained

4 tablespoons sesame oil (this is an approximate, but it is up to you to decide how much sesame oil you want to drizzle on top of the vegetables)

2 1/2 cups cooked white rice

a dash of salt

4-6 eggs

2-4 big sheets of roasted seaweed

 

Ingredients for Hot Pepper Sauce:

You can get this from any Korean supermarket and my friend recommended buying a big tub, since it can be refrigerated and lasts for 6 months!

You can get this from any Korean supermarket and my friend recommended buying a big tub, since it can be refrigerated and lasts for 6 months!

2 tablespoons hot pepper paste

1 tablespoon vinegar

1/2 tablespoon sugar

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon sesame seeds

 

Unlike the bibimbap I'm used to eating in Korean restaurants, where the vegetables are on top of the cooked rice in a bowl (and I need to mix everything), this bibimbap's toppings are already mixed in while cooking!

Unlike the bibimbap I’m used to eating in Korean restaurants, where the vegetables are on top of the cooked rice in a bowl (and I need to mix everything), this bibimbap’s toppings are already mixed in while cooking!

 

Instructions:

1. Lightly blanch (about 30 seconds, and for the carrots, a bit longer like approximately 60 seconds or less) each vegetable in boiling water, and drain.

2. Put all vegetables in a big pan.

3. Pour sesame oil all around the vegetables, but not too much.

4. Put rice into pan with vegetables and start mixing on medium heat.

5. Slowly add salt to the mix for seasoning.

6. Add hot pepper sauce all around and start mixing until evenly distributed and cooked.  Set aside and it’s best to cover the bibimbap in the pan with a lid so when you serve it, it’s still hot.

7. Fry eggs in a frying pan.  One egg per person/bowl.

8. Cut seaweed into strips or squares.

9. Place bibimbap into bowls, sprinkle some seaweed and put an egg on top of each bowl.

10. Masissge Deseuyo!! ^^ (Korean for Bon Appetit!)

 

One simple hot bowl of nutritious, delicious meal for yourself, family and/or friends! :)

One simple hearty hot bowl of nutritious and delicious meal for yourself, family and/or friends! 🙂

 

*If you want to find out more bibimbap (and get another recipe) and its history, check out this site: http://english.visitkorea.or.kr/enu/FO/FO_EN_6_5_2_3.jsp