Cinnamon Raisin Quinoa Concoction

Quinoa? For brunch? I know, it’s not exactly your first thought when you think of you what will make for breakfast with your friends. You think of pancakes, quiche, eggs, fruit, toast but, for some reason, quinoa never comes to mind, yet it’s such a versatile ingredient! The fact that it has a plain taste makes it really easy to cook something original with it.

I personally adore going out for brunch, but I always find it frustrating when people make little to no effort to serve something different. Granted, if someone came to me with frog’s legs toast served with cinnamon ketchup hollandaise sauce and blood pudding flavored scrambled eggs, I would be a little skeptical to try it. That being, said, jumping out of your comfort zone is not that bad once in a while.

If you love that cinnamon raisin smell in the morning, this recipe is right up your alley. En plus, it’s healthy! Quinoa is a wonderful ingredient; high in protein, gluten-free, filled with riboflavin (helps reduce migraines) and low in calories, who could ask for anything more!

I was inspired by a few recipes I found on Yummly. If you don’t know this website, you really should. You enter an ingredient or a food and it gives you tons of different recipes to choose from! It’s like a culinary Pinterest, but it’s better!

The aromas in the kitchen are bewitching. You’ll want to make this every weekend, trust me.

Personally, I would serve this dish as a side dish to eggs because it brings a sweet taste to a savoury meal…but that’s just my humble opinion.

For a large portion to bring to brunch, you will need:

1 cup dry quinoa

1 ½  cups water

½ cup unsweetened applesauce

2 tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup raisins

1 tsp cinnamon

¼ cup pecans

1 red apple, chopped

Combine the water, quinoa, cinnamon and vanilla in a saucepan and let it boil. Reduce your heat to simmer and let it cook for 15 minutes, or until quinoa seems fluffy.

            Put the cooked quinoa in a bowl and stir in the applesauce, pecans, raisins, and apple. Sprinkle the top with some cinnamon and let sit for 30 minutes.  Enjoy! Your guests will either love it for its originality and taste, or hate the idea, but in the end, even they will love it too.

Curry in a Hurry

Everybody enjoys a good Thai curry once in a while; even the ones who haven’t tasted it love it, they just don’t know it yet. It’s as comforting as a bowl of soup and it has that lovely little Asian kick to it. It is simply delicious; voilà tout.

You’re probably thinking that it must be really hard to make and that if you ever tried to cook a curry, it would taste like liquid soap. Wrong again my friend! This curry recipe is really quite simple, even though the ingredient list is a little long. None of these ingredients are the kind you can only find in Asian grocery stores; I bought mine at a very Western grocery store. Make sure to make enough to have leftovers! It makes a delightful packed lunch for the next day.

There’s a big debate on whether or not coconut milk is good for you or not. The truth is that it has TONS of saturated fat , which is not for your health. That being said, millions of people in the world swear by it, so there definitely are benefits to using it. If you can find light coconut milk, it will make this dish healthier. If not, just don’t make it everyday. That being said, I still consider it as being healthy, so don’t worry too much about it.

Quick tip: if you’re ever wondering what the health benefits of certain foods are, check out Livestrong. It’s a wonderful website that gives you tons of information of various nutrients and exercises! The best part is that there is a list of references at the end of each article, so you know that they’re not making this stuff up!

Thanks to the amazing Nigella Lawson and her cookbook, Nigella Express. She has tons of quick recipes for busy busy bees. It’s an excellent investment!

Ingredients

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 tsp. toasted sesame oil (you need this if you want it to taste amazing)

1 onion, chopped

1 ½ tbsp. red Thai curry paste

½ 400 ml can of coconut milk

250 ml chicken broth

2 tsp. fish sauce

2 sweet potatoes, chopped in cubes

1 cup butternut squash chopped in cubes

1 package of frozen uncooked shrimp

1 tsp. lime juice

¾ cup diced mango

Before you can make the sauce, you must let your shrimp unthaw a little if you bought the kind with shells. Here’s how: place your shrimp in a large bowl and fill the bowl with cold water. Let them sit there for 15 to 30 minutes. Afterwards, get ready to have cold hands. Take each shrimp out of the bowl and remove the shell, and then put the shrimp back in the bowl. Yes, it will hurt.

            Heat your oils in a deep frying pan, and fry the onion for a minute. Add curry paste. Next, mix in the coconut milk, chicken stock, and fish sauce. Bring to a boil (wait until you see lots of bubbles); add butternut squash and sweet potato and simmer over the heat for 15 minutes. Make sure the pan is partially covered.

            Drain your freezing cold shrimp, pat them dry and add them in the pan. Now let the sauce come back to a boil. When that time comes, add the lime juice and mango; cook for one minute or until the shrimp are cooked. It is very important not to overcook shrimp because if you do, they will taste like rubber, and your friends will stop coming over. You have been warned.

You have now mastered the art of Thai curry preparation. Place your feast in a bowl, serve with rice or anything that comes to mind, and enjoy!

Banana Chocolate Miracle Muffins

I don’t know about you guys, but I find that the combination of banana and chocolate is one of the best in the world. The two ingredients complement each other beautifully; they’re both sweet, but for some magical reason, they don’t overpower each other.

I also love muffins, but I get frustrated at how unhealthy muffins can be when they come from a café. They are either loaded with sugar, with fat, or with both. That doesn’t mean that they are not delicious (because they are), it just means that having one everyday could potentially harm your efforts to be healthier.

These bad boys are amazing and full of flavour. Why do I call them miracle muffins? The answer is simple: because of the way they taste. They’re too good to be true. When I bit into the first one, I thought to myself: “This is one the best muffins I have ever taste”. I almost didn’t believe they healthy…almost.

They’re sugar free and you can easily change the flour to make them gluten free. You can eat one a day until you are left with none without feeling guilty or bloated whatsoever! They’re great as a quick breakfast on the go or as an afternoon snack.

To make 12 large muffins (or 24 smaller ones), you will need:

3 bananas, ripe and mashed

1 cup flour

¾ cup almond butter (or any nut butter of your choice)

3 eggs

1 tbsp baking soda

2 tsp cinnamon

1 cup dark chocolate chips

Preheat oven at 350 degree F.

Line your muffin tins with paper cups.
Combine all of your dry ingredients in a bowl and mix.

Whisk the bananas and eggs together.  Add the almond butter.

Now, fold the banana mixture into the dry mixture and mix well.

Add the chocolate chips.

Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, depending on how mushy you like the inside to be.

Take them out of the oven and allow yourself to be intoxicated by the smell. Grab a hot one, pour yourself a glass of milk, bite into the muffin, and listen to the angels sing.

Bon appétit!

Beautiful Baked Eggplant

A few years ago, you couldn’t put me in the same room as an eggplant. I hated it. I thought it was the weirdest, most random vegetable in the world. Now, I can’t get enough of it. It is one of my favourite vegetables now, and that’s all thanks to a dear friend of mine who got me hooked. She’s my veggie junkie. I can’t thank her enough for introducing me to the wonderful and diverse world of veggies.

Now, let’s get serious.

They say that we can have as many vegetables in a day as we want because they’re just so darn good for you! We’re not talking about starchy vegetables, such as potatoes, corn or peas, we’re talking about all of those other ones: beets, carrots, turnips, celery, zucchini, cucumber, and of course, EGGPLANT.

This is one of my most treasured dishes, and I was inspired, both aesthetically and ingrediently (just made a word) by the fabulous British chef, Ottolenghi. He is simply amazing. He wrote an entire cookbook on how to cook vegetables. It’s called Plenty, and I consider it as my healthy Bible.

This recipe is wonderful as a side dish to chicken or lamb. I’m not telling you how to serve it; I am merely giving you suggestions.

For 4 servings, here is what you will need:

1 large eggplant

3 tbsp olive oil

Salt and pepper

Thyme leaves (any spice is good, so don’t cry if you don’t any thyme at home)

1/2 cup pomegranate seeds

For the sauce:

1 cup Plain 0% Greek Yogurt

1 crushed garlic clove

Preheat your oven to 400 F.

Cut your eggplant in half. Take a knife and cut diamond shapes in your eggplant, without cutting all the way through. You must to do this so that the olive oil will absorb itself better in the eggplant.

Place them on a cookie sheet and brush your olive oil on the eggplant halves. Make sure you brush it well! Think of it as a painting ; if you only press the brush a little on the canvas, we won’t see what you’re painting!

Add salt and pepper and bake for 35 minutes. By this time, your eggplant should be nice and browned.

Your kitchen will smell like heaven at this point. Take a moment to savour the smell!

Now I will tell you how to take the pomegranate seeds out without struggling for hours on end! I have no merit in unleashing this secret, it’s all Ottolenghi’s genius.

Take half of the pomegranate and hold it in your palm over a bowl. The cut side should be against your palm. Now, take a wooden spoon and gently but thoroughly massage the pomegranate skin. Do this for a few minutes and eventually, you will see the seeds coming out of your hand naturally! It’s amazing!

Now for your sauce, mix the yogurt with the garlic.

Serve your eggplant as is shown in my picture.

Fair warning: your guests might drool at the sight of this marvellous side dish.

Perfect Pasta with a Touch of Parmesan

What? A healthy blog posting about pasta?

Yes, that’s exactly what I’m doing. Like I have mentioned before, eating the food you love does not make you unhealthy: eating 6 bowls of does. A serving of pasta is about 1/2 cup, which is about the size of your fist. If you can’t possible imagine only eating 1/2 cup of pasta, that’s fine; just don’t eat too many starches before in the day (bread, rice, potatoes, cookies…). We need about 5 servings of starch per day. Yes! Five! For weight loss, that probably goes down to about 4 but no less! You need to eat enough in your day so that you don’t spend your days cranky and…well…starving. If you’re anything like me, you’re a total b**** when you’re hungry, and trust me: no one wants that.

Ideally, you would use whole wheat pasta, but if you’re like me and you still have tons of delicious white pasta lying around the house, you can use it without a problem.

Italians are genius. No really, I’m serious. What other culture do you know turned their most popular dish into everyone’s comfort food? Think long and hard before answering me. I’m sure you’re thinking “No my culture is better” or “Everyone loves Vietnamese, what are you talking about”; but do you really think you’ve beat me on this one? I didn’t think so.

The greatest thing about pasta is that you can have a really simple recipe that tastes like a million dollars. Here is an example: this dish is hands down one of the easiest recipes you will ever make, and if you don’t burn the house down, it is also one of the most delicious ones. It kind of tastes like spaghetti aglio e olio (oil and garlic) but without the oil! The broth gives it a subtle taste of heaven, I’m not joking.   I prepared my dish with shrimp, but the original recipe doesn’t call it; it just calls for lots and lots of pasta! Mamma Mia! (I couldn’t help myself).

Thanks to Martha Stewart and The Londoner for the inspiration!

For 2 starving beings or 4 moderately hungry beings, you will need:

6 oz spaghetti

1 cup chopped tomatoes (add a couple of orange ones to add some color!)

A few leaves of fresh basil

2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

Oregano

Salt

Pepper

2 cups of chicken broth (vegetable broth works fine for all the vegetarians out there)

1 tbsp olive oil

12 oz uncooked shrimps

For the shrimps:

I recommend grilling them. The flavour is a million times better. Either way, put your shrimp in a bowl, add the oil, salt and pepper, and toss until the shrimp are covered in oil.

Next, turn on your grill, wait for it to heat, and place your shrimps. You really must be careful with shrimp, because you don’t want to overcook them. If you do, they will taste like rubber. Start with 2 minutes on each side, but always check them! Make sure the tails becomes pink but the skin has to be only slightly pink. If they’re still grey, you need to cook them more. It’s hard, but I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it.

Put them in a bowl and set them aside for now.

For the pasta:

Put all of your ingredients in a skillet. Make sure you do not put everything in a pot, because the broth will not evaporate quickly enough. You’re looking for a saucepan in your mother’s kitchen, not a frying pan.

Next, pour the broth into your creation and turn your heat on high. Put the lid on and wait for the broth to boil. Once it is nice and boiling, turn your heat down to medium, stirring occasionally for about 5 to 10 minutes.

When your time is up, remove the top and keep stirring until your broth is completely evaporated. This may take a good 10 minutes, but don’t give up! The result is wonderful.

When your arm is too tired, that means that dinner is about to be served! Make sure to have some freshly grated Parmigiano on the table. Buon appetito!

“One cannot thi…

“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well”. Virginia Woolf

This is one of my favourite quotes, and it shouldn’t be any less true if someone wants to lead a healthier lifestyle! Cooking is an art, and eating is a moment of pure pleasure in my day. I chose to create this blog because I find that too many people think that being healthy means being boring and old and obsessed with the benefits of flaxseed. WRONG! I am young, creative, I don’t talk about flaxseed on a regular basis, and I am not boring at all (at least I hope I’m not…back me up on this one dear friends). Here’s to delicious meals, divine snacks, and delectable desserts galore! All these can be healthy, trust me! All you have to do is take a look at my blog, be inspired, have fun, and tell me if you like my ideas or not. Life is a gift; we should embrace it every day in every way we can. Next stop: the kitchen!

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