Quinoa is a seed that’s been around forever, though with the popularity it’s gained in recent years, you’d think it was a new invention. Quinoa has an amazing nutritional profile. This seed is gluten free, high in protein and rich in health-supportive fats.
Quinoa is full of vitamins, fiber and antioxidants. It can lower your cholesterol, and it’s easy to digest.
Easy to eat, easy to cook and easy to digest, there’s much to love about quinoa.
There is a debate in the nutrition world about whether quinoa is Paleo, and I say that if it doesn’t cause you any discomfort, you go ahead and eat it. Do keep in mind, though, that though quinoa is a more nutritious option than a lot of foods, it is carb heavy, so practice good portion control.
Shop for organic, fair-trade quinoa so you know that farmers in South America are getting a fair price for their crop.
Now, it’s time for your Trick:
You can find quinoa in beige, orange, purple, green and almost every color in between. Beige is the tastiest; red is the healthiest!
Always rinse your quinoa before cooking it. Quinoa has a bitter coating that must be rinsed off before you prepare it. Otherwise, it won’t taste very good. (You should also remember to drain your quinoa after cooking and let it rest for a few minutes.)
And your Recipe:
Oven Chicken Meatballs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix together the first 11 ingredients (ground chicken through the egg). With a small scoop, scoop out the mixture onto a parchment lined sheet pan.
Bake the meatballs in the oven for 15 minutes. Then pour over the tomato sauce and sprinkle over the Parmesan cheese. Return the meatballs to the oven and bake for 5-7 minutes more, or until the meatballs are cooked through and the sauce is bubbling.
Remove from the oven and let rest at least 5 minutes before serving.
Today’s Focus is on LYCHEE
Lychee (pronounced lie-chee or lee-chee) fruits have been cultivated by the Chinese since 1700 BC (or thereabouts). They were actually quite revered back in those days. Poems have been written about these little fruits! Let’s see why.
Generally round in shape, lychees are about the size of a walnut shell with a textured skin. Lychee fruits are reddish-brown or pink in color. When the skin is removed, lychee flesh is rather like a pearl-colored jelly. It has quite a sweet, delicate taste.
Lychee fruits are high in fiber, Vitamin C, potassium, calcium and phosphorous.
Try lychee just out of the skin. Bite off the top, squeeze the fruit in your mouth and discard the seed found in the center of the gelatinous orb. Lychees can also be enjoyed in stir fries for a sweet punch, or sliced onto a salad (don’t forget to remove the stone first!).
You can also try removing the stone, wrapping the lychee in bacon and popping it in the oven like you would bacon-wrapped scallops. Mmm.
Now it’s time for your Trick:
Look for lychee with a stem still attached. The skin should be fresh and firm looking.
And your Tip:
Lychee fruits should be refrigerated in a container and used within 7 days.
And your Recipe:
Chicken Drumsticks with Sticky Lychee Glaze
Preheat oven to 400 F. Saturate drumsticks with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place chicken, on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast, about 45 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and skin is crispy.
While chicken is cooking, prepare Glaze. Combine remaining ingredients (lychee through ginger) in a food processor, and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Brush glaze over drumsticks during the last 5 minutes of cooking. Then brush some more on when chicken is removed from oven, and serve with cilantro and pepper slices for garnish!
Have you ever looked at the vibrant pink dragon fruit in the produce aisle and wondered what in the world you would do with it?
Dragon fruit is the fruit of a night-blooming cactus. It is grown in Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia and South America. Aside from that bright pinkish red color, dragon fruit can also be yellow. The fruit may be either white or pink inside, and it’s always speckled with tiny black seeds. The interior of the fruit is entirely edible. You can enjoy dragon fruit raw, cooked or dried.
The texture of dragon fruit is similar to kiwi because of those seeds, but the taste is a little like a melon. It is difficult to describe dragon fruit to those who haven’t tried it because it is so unique.
You can eat dragon fruit just out of hand as a unique snack (after removing the inedible skin!) or you can slice it into a salad, put it in your juicer or use it as a spread.
Dragon fruit has a good deal of fiber per serving and contains a ton of micronutrients, including:
• Vitamin A
• Vitamin C
Dragon fruit is also rather high in antioxidants. This strange looking fruit also has health benefits attributed to preventing cancer, reducing memory loss, lowering blood pressure and evening out blood sugar levels. Dragon fruit is good for your skin, teeth, eyes and bones.
It also looks pretty awesome on a fruit plate!
Now it’s time for your Trick:
Look for dragon fruit with bright color. Avoid fruits with a brittle and brown bottom stem which is a signal that the fruit is over-ripe. When you press a dragon fruit with your thumb, it should have a little bit of give to it. If it’s very firm, leave it at room temperature for a couple of days.
To eat a dragon fruit, slice it open, lengthwise (it cuts very easily) and separate the fruit from the skin. Enjoy!
And your Recipe:
Curried Dragonfruit and Chicken Salad
Toss all ingredients for salad (dragon fruit through cashews) in a large bowl.
In a medium bowl, whisk together ingredients for dressing (coconut milk through pepper). Seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
Pour dressing over salad, toss, and serve!
Today’s Focus is on VANILLA BEANS
How often do you twist open the cover on a bottle of vanilla extract? Oh, it smells so good!
If you’re a fan of the flavor and/or scent of vanilla, I highly recommend you get your hands on some vanilla beans and see how much more intense your love can be.
You may be surprised to know that vanilla comes from beans, and contains quite a few (unscientifically documented or researched) medicinal properties. If you’re feeling anxious, take a whiff of vanilla and you’ll see how calming it can be!
The vanilla bean comes from the vanilla planifolia orchid. Since medieval times, healers have used vanilla bean pods as medicine— only bakers and chefs have used it for enhancing the taste of foods.
Ever wonder why real vanilla is so expensive? Well, the vanilla planifolia orchid has to be pollinated by hand and the pod itself has to be picked by hand, too. It then takes months for the seed pod to cure after it’s been harvested.Did you know you can make your own pure vanilla extract on the cheap?
It’s SO easy, and it’s fun to watch the magic happen.
What do you need?
• A beautiful bottle with a tight fitting lid (you can use a mason jar but a bottle is nice for pouring)
• Good quality vodka
• Vanilla beans
You can work with the amount of ingredients you have. I would recommend a ratio of three vanilla beans to each cup of vodka.
What do you do?
Split the vanilla beans down the center lengthwise, keeping the bottom end in tact. Put the vanilla beans in the bottle and cover completely with vodka. Store it in a cool dark place for at least two months, shaking it every few days. After that time, as you use it, you can top it up with more vodka.
It will last for years!
Now it’s time for your Trick:
If you discover that your vanilla beans have dried out on you, save them for stirring into a hot cup of tea! That will help release the flavor.
And your Tip:
When shopping for vanilla beans, look for very dark pods that are oily to the touch. They should be pliable so they can bend slightly without breaking. Store your beans in an airtight container in a cool place, but not the fridge where they can harden and lose their flavor.
And your Recipe:
Mexican Hot Chocolate
Combine first 6 ingredients (cocoa through vanilla bean) in a medium saucepan.
Add half the marshmallows, the cayenne, milk, and half and half.
Heat until chocolate is melted and mixture is simmering.
Remove vanilla bean and cinnamon sticks before serving.
Garnish with remaining miniature marshmallows.
There is a topic that keeps coming across my radar, both on Facebook, my email inbox, and even at the market when my fellow shoppers wonder what I’m doing with all of that kale (when my own crop has been harvested for the season, of course!): kale chips.
And, today, we’re going to talk kale chips with a trick, a tip, and a new kale chip recipe to try.
Kale, as you know, is a super food, and many people are jumping on the kale bandwagon (yay!). Kale chips are an easy-to-make snack food that is delicious and super good for you.
Be sure to buy organic curly kale. Kale is on the Dirty Dozen list and is one of those vegetables that should only be eaten when you can find it organic. (Curly is my preferred variety for kale chips—feel free to buy other varieties for other kale recipes!)
Now, it’s time for your Trick!
The secret to the best, crunchiest kale chips is to get them as dry as possible. So, after you soak your kale in a big bowl of water to remove the dirt and any bugs that might be lurking in there, spin the heck out of it. Any moisture on those kale leaves is going to lead to soggy chips. (And you don’t want that.)
Cook a batch of kale chips before you start your dinner prep and offer them to the kids as a snack. This is a great way to get the veggies into them in a manner that might appeal to them! You don’t even have to tell them that the kale chips were part of their dinner 😉
And your Kale Chip Recipe:
Garlic Chili Kale Chips
Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
In a large bowl toss all the ingredients well.
Pour kale mixture onto a large baking sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes, until kale is crispy.
Most of us aren’t getting enough veggies into us in the run of a day, and while kale chips are a great start, you can probably be doing more. We developed our Just Juiced Veggies to help you get in all a great dose of green veggies in one easy shot. Check it out here!
Oh cinnamon. How recognizable is this spice, seriously? I would expect that every kitchen in North America has a tin of cinnamon in the cupboard. But how well do we really know it?
Once upon a time, cinnamon was very, very valuable. In Roman times, you would have paid 15 times more for cinnamon than you would for silver! Ancient Egyptians used cinnamon as an embalming agent. In the 17th century, the demand for cinnamon sparked a war between the Portuguese and the Dutch over the island of Ceylon where a great deal of cinnamon is grown.
What a sordid past this spice has! But there’s still more to know about cinnamon.
Ground cinnamon comes from cinnamon sticks (also known as quills), which are actually the dried bark from evergreen trees of the genus Cinnamomum.
There are two main types of cinnamon and they are Cassia and Ceylon. Cassia is the variety that we’re most familiar with and it is indigenous to China, Vietnam and Indonesia. The Ceylon cinnamon that sparked that war is native to Sri Lanka and it has a much sweeter taste.
Cinnamon adds a pleasant sweet spice to baked goods, pancakes, stews and other savory dishes. A sprinkle of cinnamon is a must when it comes to homemade applesauce. And a pinch of it on a few raw apple slices makes a wonderful mid-day snack.
There’s not a lot of nutrition in cinnamon itself, but one teaspoon does contain almost a gram and a half of fiber and a bit of iron and calcium. Cinnamon may also reduce blood sugar levels.
And there you have it! Do we all have a little more respect for this pungent brown spice, now?
Well then, it’s time for your Trick!
Put a couple tablespoons of cinnamon in a pot of simmering water on the stove for a wonderful warm and chemical-free way of scenting your home.
And your Tip
Ground cinnamon only has a shelf life of about 6 months. If the scent is not pungent or if the flavor isn’t quite as strong as it should be, use it as an air freshener, buy some more and call it a day! (This would be a good time to replace that cinnamon with an organic variety, by the way!)
And your Recipe
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet with a tight-fitting lid over medium-high heat.
Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper; add to the skillet and brown on both sides.
Add wine (or broth) and water to the skillet and sprinkle the chicken with cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg.
Reduce skillet heat, cover and simmer 5 to 6 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
Serve chicken topped with pan sauce.