Archive for the ‘quinoa’ Category

Working on the weekends isn’t too bad when the days are mellow and the weather is mediocre (I swear I heard the phrase “June gloom” six hundred and fifty three times yesterday).  Having interesting patients helps too…

My shift flew by and as 7 pm approached I texted dinner plans to Kyle. 

me: Veggie Grill take-away tonight?

kyle: yes.  what do you want?

me: Baja Fiesta salad, add chik’n, dressing on the side


Done and done.

I got this same order last time so I knew it would hit the spot. 


This time I had my camera to take photos of my Baja Fiesta salad at home (as opposed to my cell phone for sub-par pics).


Chopped romaine, papaya, avocado, roasted corn salsa, quinoa, cucumber, cilantro, tortilla strips and a ginger-papaya vinaigrette (plus the chillin’ chickin’ I added on).

I love their ginger papaya vinaigrette, but I also squeezed some lime juice in for an acidic punch.  It complements the avocado.  :)  


I also dumped some extra quinoa on top because I like carbs


Obviously none of these tweaks were necessary, and getting the salad how it’s intended in the restaurant is perfectly delicious.  I’m just unable to leave anything be once it enters the kitchen.  Cookbook recipes included.  Anyone else have this problem?


Kyle got the All Hail Kale salad, which is one I’ve been eyeing for some time now.   I’m glad he got it so I could scope out how it looks. 


It has marinated kale and red cabbage, roasted corn salsa, agave-roasted walnuts with a ginger-papaya vinaigrette (you can add blackened chickin’ or tempeh for extra).  Kyle got it with blackened chickin’ and a side of sweetheart fries (aka sweet potato fries).


He said it was really good.  In fact, he was talking about it all night…so I’m not sure what he was expecting, but clearly it was way better than he was anticipating.  I don’t think I need to say how the fries were.  They were obviously outstanding. 

The Veggie Grill is definitely becoming a staple take-away in our lives.  It’s such an easy option – fast and fresh – plus I adore that they are bringing veg-friendly fast food to the masses.  I will support that.  They recently opened a new restaurant in The Grove, too.  Expand and dominate a la Starbucks!  Now if only they would open up their next location on the I-5. 


After dinner I had a lot lot lot of dessert.  I lost track of the number of rice cakes I had, but I know that the peanut butter jar was left feeling significantly ravaged. 


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Oh night shift, how you disrupt my sleep cycle.


How’s that for a cluttered night stand?!  The ear plugs are the latest addition to help with my daytime snoozing sitch. 

Ugh.  Again, I slept minimally after noche dos of nursing. 

Side note: I’m always hesitant to use that word when talking about night shift because I get weird google search terms…sorry to all the moms nursing their newborns all night long searching the internet for nursing related advice…only to click on my blog and not find anything helpful. 


My packed food was perfection.  I’m completely obsessed with this saladCaprese Caesar pasta salad has made up approximately 87.4% of my recent diet.  Yesterday Kyle had it for back to back meals.  After having it for lunch, he said he couldn’t stop thinking about it all day and knew there was no way he was having anything else for dinner.  That’s how I know it’s a winner.  It’s already gone now and I’m considering making it again in this very moment.


The rest of my packed up food was typical late night snack fare: apples, nuts, & dried fruit.

When I got home, Kyle wasn’t there…I managed to track him down and decided to meet up with him for a decaf coffee before heading back home to snooze.


Like I mentioned above, I wasn’t able to get much rest.  Around 11 am I got up to make breakfast. 

Two things I’m in love with at the moment: organic light soymilk and fresh apricots in my cereal


The first part of the raisin bran has a disproportionate(ly low) amount of raisins.  I find I have to dig to get them because they are all at the bottom.  Annoying, but worth it.  And like any cereal addict, I didn’t stop after my first bowl…but I did manage to limit myself to two of the above servings. 

Because breakfast was (a) more of a brunch, (b) rather generous, and (c) not followed by any activity whatsoever, I wasn’t hungry until way later in the afternoon.  I literally sat in my PJs on the couch for hours on end.  Marathon TV time.  Mega internet action.  I wasn’t even trying to fight it.  Eventually I am going to have to start some kind of training plan for this triathlon in July…and I’m still waiting for the motivation to start that plan.  Until then, pajama-rama!

Around five I started craving food again, so I tried to brainstorm some dinner possibilities.  What I really wanted was sushi, but I had zero interest in leaving the apartment, so I tried to see if anything on hand could mimic the flavors and satisfy my hankering. 


Let’s break it down now.  Sushi rolls are made of rice, veggies, and avocado.  Ditch the roll and you have this masterpiece…


Rice –> Quinoa

Fish –> Seitan

Avocado –> Extra avocado

Soy Sauce –> Bragg’s liquid aminos

I also threw in chopped carrots & cucumber and edamame and then drowned the whole thing in more Bragg’s. 


In other words, I made a deconstructed sushi plate…with some vegan alterations.  It was amazing.  Avocado was most certainly the star of the meal.  But the Bragg’s, seitan, and quinoa combo was a veryclose runner-up.  I’m going to have to make sushi out of the roll more often. 

And in the spirit of deconstructed things…

Old table.


Broken down.


New table.


Now we can have dinner parties…for four?


Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to honor my inner chocolate monster.


My salt tooth has rebounded in a major way and I am in the middle of intense sweet tooth marathon. 


Dark chocolate plus candied ginger are a hard-to-beat combo, but if there’s one thing that can trump the dynamic duo, it’s Annie’s chocolate grahams


Annie’s Bunny Grahams are superb on their own, but once you start dipping them in almond butter…


My friends, it’s indescribable. 


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One of the perks of being a food blogger is you get to try new things that you may not ordinarily try.  For free. 

While I was in Europe, I received a Tasting Box by Foodzie


It had all kinds of goodies including:

Dried Pineapple from Peeled Snacks – Brooklyn, NY
Traditional Alfajores from Sabores del Sur – San Francisco, CA
Lemon Poppyseed & Almond Biscotti from Biscotti Bari – Petaluma, CA
Pure Southern Iced Tea from Pluff Iced Tea – Bluffton, SC
Assorted Fresh Herb Sea Salts from Woody’s Gourmet – Campbell, CA
Classic Seaweed Snack from Sea Snax – Los Angeles, CA


The peeled snacks were the first to go.  For 12 hour shifts I’m always looking for easy on-the-go eats that are healthy and practical (meaning portable and not messy).  These caught my eye because they were both organic and pure.


See that ingredient list?  Just one thing, organic pineapple.

You see, when it comes to dried fruit, there’s often some additives involved (sulphur dioxide) and occasionally extra sugar sneaks in, too.  Dried pineapple rings used to be my favorite snack, but the out of control sugar content actually got to be too much for me.  In my opinion, fruit doesn’t need help in the sweetness department, it’s naturally perfect on it’s own.  And as far as preserving the fruit’s color (which is why other companies use sulpher dioxide), I actually prefer eating food that don’t look like it has been plucked from the Land of Oz.  No offense to the Lollipop Guild.


I was nervous the pineapple chunks were going to be a bit tougher, given the natural state of the fruit, but I’m happy to report they were soft and flavorful.  I could easily see myself snacking on them all day (and night) long without breaking my jaw from chewing. 

Peeled snacks also offers mango, apricot, apple, banana, fig (!!!), and cherry flavors, which I’m pretty excited to try as well.


As for the rest of my work food…I was on night shift, so it was more snack heavy than my day shift eats are.  I had roasted almonds, candied ginger, Hersey’s special extra dark chocolate, dried apricots, two apples, and a big salad.

My salad was bit of a beast actually.  It had spring greens, roasted butternut squash, bell peppers, edamame, carrots, and those crazy addictive sesame sticks.  I’m 100% certain I could put those sesame sticks in every meal and I’d love it.  Why is salt so good?

After I got home from my 12 hours, I failed at falling asleep right away, so instead I made oats.


I kept adding more and more ingredients to the oats…


Unmeasured amounts of:

  • almonds
  • shredded coconut
  • carob chips
  • diced apple
  • mashed banana
  • raisins
  • cinnamon
  • Sunbutter


Just throw it in the bag…uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh.  [Son I’m from Brooklyn, what it look like!?]

Anyone else thinks of Fabolous when adding multiple ingredients to a pot?  No?  Just me?


FYI, I don’t cut corners when it comes to nutbutters. 


Normally I’m not an advocate of food induced comas, but after all-nighters, you gotta do what you gotta do.  And this girl needed to zonk out. 

This bowl (followed by a second one) helped me get into the very necessary sleep state. 


Because you can’t do a second night shift when you’ve only slept two hours.  Oh wait.  Yes you can.  [It sucks, but it’s doable]

Sadly, I woke back up before noon and had no success napping the rest of the day.  And then back to night shift I went…


I’m not even sure what meal I’d call this since timing is irrelevant in zombie-night-shift-land.  This combo is a staple for me – carrots, seitan, quinoa, and Bragg’s liquid aminos.  I rarely take pics of it anymore because it’s such a basic meal, but I love it immensely. 


I also love these caramel dark chocolate almond clusters immensely.  And since they cost FAR too much for the rate I’m downing them (is a box not a single serving?), I’m going to have to learn to make them myself.


I don’t think it’s overly complicated.  I don’t know if you can mess up chocolate and nuts.  And even if you do, the “mess up” will probably be delicious too. 

Super random question: When you buy a new product, what do you think is the most important thing that determines if you purchase it or not?  Does the cute package catch your eye?  Do you put the nutritional info first?  Are you more likely to buy from recognizable brands (that you’ve gotten other items from) before other lesser known ones?

I used to think that the cuter the package, the more likely I was to buy something.  But nowadays it’s an item’s price and ingredients that dictate what goes in my cart.

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You probably do this too – make odd food pairings when your fridge is depleted beyond hope. 

Since I’m heading to Nor Cal this morning, it’s no wonder the last few days have been extremely random in the meal department.  I’m trying desperately to use up all the fresh produce, which means I’m throwing blueberries in my salads (not as bad as you’d think) and pounding asparagus by the second (stinky urine much).


My friend dropped off this crate two days ago and since Kyle hates asparagus, I’m single handedly attempting to not waste the beauts.  It’s been quite the ex-spear-ience.  Get it?  Ha.


They are really fat guys…forcing me to steam them in small sessions.


And then add them to every random meal.  I still have 3 bunches to go…any readers in Santa Monica want extra asparagus?


In case you were wondering, the flavors of blueberries and green bell peppers don’t marry quite as well as I’d hoped they would.  My fruit obsession had to end somewhere right?


The dried cherries actually rescued the entire salad, but the next night I still opted to nix the blueberries. 


Of course there was still asparagus, though. 


Whoever suggested I store my tropical fruit powerballs in the freezer was brilliant by the way.  They are insanely good this way – almost like cookie dough. 


Plus they require slower consumption due to the temperature (helps keep me in tune with what I’m really craving). 


Now.  What would you say if I told you I made a breakfast yogurt bowl but used quinoa instead of a more traditional grain (ie oats or cereal). 


Blueberries, strawberries, Stonyfield Oikos greek yogurt, quinoa and almond milk. 


How cool is it that there’s a note from Gary (Stonyfield’s CE-Yo) on the inside of the yogurt lid and that I’ve met him?


Basically it’s like oatmeal with quinoa instead of oats.  We all know I love quinoa and adore greek yogurt, so the combination was a huge success.  Delish. 

How would you like to try it yourself?  Stonyfield is offering to give one lucky HHH reader a nice little package, including:

-        2 free coupons for Oikos Organic Super Fruits Greek Yogurt
-        Weleda All Natural Pomegranate Firming Day Cream and Pomegranate Firming Serum
-        2 free coupons for Crofters Organic Fruit Spreads
-        Organic Pomegranate lip balm, made by Eco Lips
-        2 samples of Numi Organic Berry Black Tea (featuring organic raspberry and raspberry leaf)
-        Simply Be Well Organic Pomegranate Moisturizing Body Bar
-        RW Knudsen Family 32oz. Organic Just Pomegranate juice and coupons (will be sent to winner directly from RW Knudsen Family)


Pretty sweet huh?  To enter simply leave a comment telling me your favorite (but also most unique) greek yogurt combinations. 

I will announce the random winner this Sunday (5/8/11) evening.  Ready set go!

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I’m currently in our hotel room in Palo Alto watching Kyle nap.  It’s not as creepy as it sounds.  We woke up crazy early to get to Stanford for a weekend thing, and since I snoozed for 45 minutes on the way, he is getting his own beauty rest now so we are on level playing fields (sleep-wise).

After doing Jillian Michaels’ yoga at 4:30 am I guzzled a Starbucks soy misto on the road.  My on-the-go breakfast consisted of an apple and Larabar.  Which explains why we were ready to grub when we finally arrived at our destination.

First we had to swing by this small company to say hi to our friend Mark. 


Have you heard of him?  [kidding]  A friend was meeting another friend here so after we dropped him off at facebook, Kyle and I skedaddled off to lunch.


Knowing my food preferences, a friend recommended Sprout Cafe to me and I was in love as soon as I saw the place.  It is conveniently located block from our hotel (and in a very cute part of town I might add – reminded me of a union of Santa Monica and Santa Barbara). 


Busy much?  Apparently everyone else feels the same way about this place. 

The concept is simple – salads and other cafe fare made quickly to order.  In other words, fast food that’s not “fast food.” 


They have a long station for salad assembly, similar to many places I’ve been ton in NYC.  Unlike NYC (or other chopped-style restaurants), the ingredients are exceptional.  I’m talking toasted pumpkin seeds, dried currants, mango, roasted butternut squash, brussel sprouts, fresh buffalo mozzarella, etc.  The list of ingredients goes on and on…and that’s just salads. 

They also have Mighty Leaf tea (love) and natural beverages aplenty.


I stuck to the (free) cucumber water, while Kyle went with the fresh lemonade.



After debating between 5 different salads on the menu (they all looked so good!), I finally decided to make my own.


I’ve never been so excited about so many ingredients for a salad.  This was like the Whole Foods hot bar on crack.  It was veg lovers paradise. 


In the end, I made a beautiful creation with:

  • baby spinach lettuce
  • bean sprouts (you have to get sprouts at a place called Sprout Cafe)
  • quinoa
  • grapes
  • carrots
  • red bell peppers
  • jicama
  • dried cranberries
  • roasted butternut squash
  • avocado
  • furikake crusted tofu
  • balsamic vinaigrette

*I highlighted my favorites, although they were all absolutely perfect when combined together. 


Seriously, this salad was SO good. 


The crust on the tofu was divine, while the sweet grapes and savory roasted squash added some textural variation.  Naturally, the quinoa and avocado packed a hearty and lasting kick to hold my appetite over. 


The fresh sourdough bread was also super soft, and in the end the only thing I would have done is ask for more dressing (this is my own fault though since I ordered “light” dressing).  For future Sprout Cafe diners, don’t worry that your salad will arrive doused in dressing if you order the normal amount. 


Kyle got the Hunter salad with grilled marinated tri-tip steak, red onions, roasted bell peppers, avocado, aged sharp white cheddar cheese and bleu cheese dressing.  He adored it as well.

And now we are off – I’m the (self designated) official cheerleader for Kyle’s basketball team!

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Some days of work just rock.  Plain and simple.  I leave the hospital feeling like I’m so lucky to have found a job that I not only enjoy, but that allows me to help people.  What’s that saying?  ”Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”  [Confucius] 

Yesterday was a great day.  There wasn’t anything extraordinary about it.  In terms of my patient load, it was pretty average.  And yet, I left the hospital feeling so completely content with the 12 hours I had just finished. 

The fact that my day went so well was especially remarkable since I was functioning on 2 1/2 hours of sleep.  Let me back up a bit…


This is how I started the day.  My alarm went off at 4:25 am and I groggily dragged my butt out of bed.  It felt like I had JUST gone to sleep (because I had).  Sadly, I’m prone to insomnia from time to time, and on Monday night, it reared it’s ugly head, completely ruining any chances of getting a restful night of sleep.  I tossed and turned into the wee morning hours (the last time I remember looking at the clock was at 2 am).  So it’s understandable why I didn’t jump out of bed with a hop in my step. 

I decided to wake up with yoga (as opposed to Jillian’s Shred), which proved to be an amazing choice.  20 minutes into it I was feeling totally energized and awake, so I kept going for another 20 minutes.  Fabulous way to greet the day.

“It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop.” [Confucius]


After I showered I munched on the latest Bob’s Red Mill product, Natural "No Fat Added" Granola.  It’s new.  And it’s good.  There’s nothing overly imaginative about coffee and granola, but what can I say?

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”  [Confucius]


Here are the nutritional stats for those who care.  I like that it’s sweetened with mixed fruit concentrate (pineapples, pears and peaches oh my!).  I also like the ratio of crunchy granola to crispy rice pieces.  It was good, but still not as good as this one, this one, or this one.  Those are my top three.

Since we haven’t been grocery shopping in several weeks, here’s what I brought to work for my second breakfast.


Dr. McDougall’s Organic Maple 4 Grain with real maple blends organic oats, wheat, rye, triticale, and barley.  Holy whole grains!  These milled flakes offer mega dietary fiber with a fluffy but grainy texture.  Plus, it’s sweetened with real maple sugar (channeling that hearty Vermont flavor).  Vegan.  Organic grains.  No dairy.  High-fiber.  Bomb.

For pantry items, Dr. McDougall’s products are so pure and wholesome I really don’t think of them as processed foods!  Impressive.  Really impressive. 


Dr. McDougall doesn’t just talk the talk.  He is fully devoted to the vegetarian lifestyle (and built an entire program that emphasizes maintaining one’s health through a proper diet).  If you want to know more about the McDougall philosophy, you can read so here.  As I’ve mentioned time and time again, I love when MDs focus on the role of nutrition in health and wellness.  For this reason, I am a huge fan of Dr. McDougall’s products.  He has been studying, writing and speaking out about the effects of nutrition on disease for over 30 years – talk about ahead of the curve!  I’m glad to help spread the word.  :)  So far I’ve tried the soups and hot cereals and liked them both.  There are lots more of Dr. McDougall’s products in my pantry too, so I’m looking forward to tackling them bite by bite.  🙂

I have no photos of lunch because it was not worth documenting.  I had more fruit than anything else, including 2 apples, 3 oranges, and a pear.  And those were just my snacks!  It was a colorful day of food to say the least. 

“Everything has its beauty but not everyone sees it.” [Confucius]

Kyle and I carpooled home and decided to go out for dinner. 


The Veggie Grill!!!! We had a coupon for a free meal from Kyle’s birthday (join the Veggie Grill Birthday Club to get in on this sweet deal).

“He who will not economize will have to agonize.” [Confucius]

His and hers. 


Kyle got the Santa Fe Crispy Chickin’ with crispy fried chillin’ chickin’, lettuce, tomato, red onion, avocado, southwestern spiced vegan mayo and a side of Vegan Mac-n-Cheese with quinoa pasta, VG-cheese, and toasted garlic bread crumbs.


I got the Baja Fiesta salad with chopped romaine, papaya, avocado, roasted corn salsa, quinoa, cucumber, cilantro, tortilla strips and a ginger-papaya vinaigrette.  Also, I added chillin’ chickin’ to it. 


They make really mouth watering faux blackened meats, but it was the combo of the avo and papaya that really wowed my taste buds.  So so so good.  I’m probably going to order this every single time we return because this was so yummy. 

After dinner we stopped at Whole Foods for much needed groceries.  There was very little in our cart that wasn’t organic or vegan.  Kyle is going balls to the wall with decreasing the animal products in his diet and I’m trying to be as supportive and helpful as possible.  Lead by example right?

“Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.” [Confucius]

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If you’re a regular reader, you know my parents are foodies and when they visit me, we tend to go big.

They’ve treated us to some of my finest meals – from Del Posto and Hearth to many other dining faves.

This visit was only a short one, but we still packed in a good time – strolling on the beach and soaking up the sun’s rays.  Before heading to dinner, we enjoyed drinks at The Penthouse.  Happy hour at the The Huntley Hotel in Santa Monica is worth the pricey drinks because of the view alone…but for the record, the drinks are really good, too.


Seating along the windows is prime real estate, so it was a good thing we arrived by 6:30 pm.  The Penthouse is (as you’d expect) on the top floor of the hotel, which is located on 2nd and California, offering amazing 360 degree views of the Westside, from the coast to the Valley.


The ambiance was Hollywood chic with the casual mellow feel of Santa Monica.


There were even sunroofs to let in views of the bright blue sky!


As we took in the breathtaking views, we browsed the cocktail menu.  SO many good choices!


Clockwise from the left, mom’s Bubbles & Kiwi, dad’s Spicy Hot Margarita, Kyle’s Rooftop Manhattan, and my Thyme & Cucumber Amnesia.

I tried my mom’s, but not my dad’s (me and tequila don’t mix at all).

Her Bubbles & Kiwi had Muddled Kiwis, Plymouth Gin, St Germain Elderflower Liqueur, Lemon Juice and a dry burst of Perrier-Jouet Brut Champagne.


I liked it but it was very sweet, so one sip was enough.  I love kiwi though, so the muddled fruit was a perk.

My drink was recommended by the waitress, and I’m so glad I went with it.  Despite the odd sounding pairing of thyme and cucumber, I just went with it.


In addition to Muddled Cucumber and Thyme, it had Cranberry Juice and fresh Lemon Juice and Gin. It was light and refreshing, and the flavor was subtle but definitely present.  It’s the kind of drink you could sip all night.  Plus, how cute is the floating cucumber island with the sprig of thyme popping out of it!

Kyle’s drink was potent smelling, so I didn’t try it, but in case you were wondering, he was the first one to finish.


The Penthouse’s Rooftop Manhattan has Maker’s Mark Bourbon Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth, a Dash of Angostura Bitters and a Maraschino Cherry.

The people watching in this place was hilarious.  Nearly everyone surrounding us was on a mobile device.  I was trying to take a picture of it, while Kyle mocked the neighboring crowd.


He calls this look “TCB” (taking care of business).  Please note the guy in the background doing the same.  🙂



As the sun went down, we took photos and eventually headed to dinner.


You better believe we will be returning to the Huntley again.  If the drinks were that good, I want to try their food menu too.

Dinner was only a short walk away…


Top Chef Masters turned me and Kyle on to the genius of Chef Susan Feniger who competed in Season 2, and apparently co-owner Chef Mary Sue Milliken will soon be competing in Season 3 (premiering this week!).

Needless to say Border Grill has been on the to-visit list for a while now, so this meal was long overdue.


Aren’t my parents cute!


After we were seated they brought us chips and salsa and we ordered drinks.  The cocktails were what you’d expect in a Mexican restaurant, but I still managed to find a non-tequila, non-wine drink.


Sangria!  Yum.  There was so much chopped fruit in the drink I couldn’t really taste the alcohol.  But I didn’t really care since I had to work the next morning.

For our entrees, my mom and dad both got the same dish.


Chicken Poblano Enchiladas ~ slow roasted chicken • handmade corn tortillas • poblano crema grilled corn • wild mushrooms • roasted poblano chiles

Kyle got the special, probably because the name of the dish, Chilequile, was his nickname when he studied abroad in Spain.  FYI, chilequiles are kinda like deconstructed enchiladas, or nachos with fried tortillas underneath a bunch of toppings.


Chicken Chilequiles


I got the Border Vegetables ~ sweet creamed corn • green chick peas • braised fennel • quinoa salad • sautéed mushrooms black beans • seasonal farmers market vegetables


I couldn’t figure out what the braised fennel was the entire time I was eating it, but it was only so-so.  The green chickpeas on the other hand were AWESOME.  Where do you buy green chickpeas anyway?  The quinoa was really acidic, almost like the tabbouleh I got from Tender Greens, but I liked it.  When I mixed the black beans with the quinoa and the rest of the seasonal veggies it was great.

All in all, a great night.  I left way too full, but the walk back home helped.

Dessert was a treat of a different kind.

Remember that mystery suitcase from this post??  One reader actually guessed correctly, and identified it as an accordion.


Back in the day, Kyle’s grandpa was a member of a musical group called the Polka Dots.  And lucky me, he left his accordion to Kyle.  Hmmmm…I don’t remember anything about learning musical instruments in our wedding vows.

Who plays (or used to play) an instrument?

I played the french horn.  <—Band geek 😉

Tomorrow I’m announcing the Tropical Traditions coconut peanut butter winner so get your last minute entries in asap.

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