Tag Archives: whole grain

Quinoa Chili with Red Peppers

I ran into a neighbor the other day who was out walking with her three kids.  The youngest is a new baby, just about the same age that my new baby was when I decided that something had to give and we’d just have to eat scrambled eggs for the rest of time.  (I’d like to be able to say that I gave up on cleaning as well as cooking at that time, but, to be honest, cleaning was never really my thing.)

I offered to bring dinner by, of course.  I probably should have offered to come over and do eight loads of laundry instead, but I imagined that my casual acquaintance wouldn’t take me up on that offer.  (Or maybe I’m just telling myself that because I’d rather cook than do laundry any day.  If someone near and dear to you has a baby, though–especially a third baby–you should TOTALLY offer to do their laundry.  They need all the help they can get.)

I’m not necessarily recommending this chili as the ideal food for new parents.  It has everything some nursing moms try to avoid: spice, garlic, beans, onions.  Some might prefer a soothing lentil soup, or those quinoa cakes, or a tofu enchilada casserole.  But this chili is quick to cook and makes plenty to share.  And my neighbor was game.

It’s a recipe from the the “red” section of the Ripe cookbook (also the source of that Dal with Curried Red Onion Jam).  And when I read the headnote I knew that this recipe and I were meant to be.  Because it says that Ripe author Cheryl Sternman Rule adapted the recipe from one that she developed for Eating Well magazine way back when–and you know that she has GOT to be talking about my favorite wheat berry chili.  Except that quinoa cooks in 15 minutes instead of an hour and 15 minutes.  A brilliant idea for a busy mom on a busy day.  I kept my favorite elements of each recipe, of course, cooking the quinoa longer for more chew than crunch, happily piling in the red pepper, replacing red beans with homemade black beans, and squeezing in a few limes at the end. Continue reading Quinoa Chili with Red Peppers (click for recipe)

Farro Bowl with Toasted Kale and Coconut and Curry-Roasted Tofu

This is a good bowl of food.  Savory, crunchy, a little sweet from the coconut, a little spicy from the curry paste.  Whole grains, crispy-chewy kale and coconut, bouncy roasted tofu.  I used farro because I happened to come across it while I was thinking about this recipe, but brown rice would be a perfectly acceptable substitute.  And if you have ever made kale chips, you have some idea of the magic that’s going to happen here.This combination is based on the kale salad in Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day, but with a bit more kale, less oil, and with tofu added to make it a more complete meal.  It sounds a little complicated, but once the grains were cooking, the rest came together quickly.  The results were deeply flavorful.  This is one of those recipes where the final dish seems to exceed the sum of its parts. Continue reading Farro Bowl with Toasted Kale and Coconut and Curry-Roasted Tofu (click for recipe)

Brown Rice Pudding with Golden Raisins

The other day I came across this list of common cooking mistakes, several of which apply specifically to healthy cooking techniques.  Guess which ones I make?  I’ll give you a clue: most of them have to do with trying to speed through the cooking process when a bit of patience is warranted.  Like here.  See tip No. 7: overheating milk can cause it to curdle.  So take it slow when you make this rice pudding.  Or use cream.

And in another classic do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do move, I’m going to advise you to reheat any leftovers of this dish gently for breakfast, thinning with a little milk if necessary. But then I will admit to you that I couldn’t wait and just scooped a bowl cold from the fridge, and that wasn’t half bad either. Continue reading Brown Rice Pudding with Golden Raisins (click for recipe)

Quinoa Cakes with Cheese, Garlic, and Herbs

I think it’s getting to be a dated notion that a big chunk of meat is the most essential component of any meal.  But if you’re trying to eat vegetarian meals more often, sometimes it might feel like the “centerpiece” of the meal is missing.  I sometimes struggle with this although I’ve been mostly vegetarian for many years, and I always marvel at how effortlessly a meal comes together when I’m serving a piece of fish.  Of course it’s often fine not to have one food be the main attraction, but sometimes it’s nice to have a focal point of a vegetarian meal.

These quinoa cakes fit the bill nicely.  They’re high in protein, low in effort (especially if you have some leftover plain or seasoned cooked quinoa), and their tidy presentation looks great on a plate.  They could easily be served with a veggie side and/or salad for lunch or dinner.  I made them for breakfast with salsa and sliced avocado, although they would also have been great topped with a fried egg.  (Isn’t everything?)  They’re versatile, I’m telling you.  And tasty.

As usual, this is more of a template than a recipe.  You can find a recipe, the one that this dish is based on, in Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Every Day cookbook.  But I say wing it.  You could stuff these with veggies, make them gooey cheesy, or spice them up with hot pepper.  The essentials here are the quinoa, some eggs and breadcrumbs to hold it all together, alliums and herbs for flavoring, and some cheese (or salt!) for salt. Continue reading Quinoa Cakes with Cheese, Garlic, and Herbs (click for recipe)

Granola with Pistachios, Dried Apricots, and Cardamom

Today I had a now-rare opportunity to visit my old life.  A meeting on a high-up floor of a downtown law firm with views across the city.  A conference table, a catered lunch, a laptop open in front of me, moving through bullet points on an agenda.  I was there for a good cause, a volunteer gig for an organization I love, and with some right smart and good-hearted women, but still…I was glad to leave.  I miss a some things about working (adult conversation! feeling competent! having a secretary!), and I will be glad to do it again when the time is right.  But today I just wanted to get home, snuggle my family, and make granola.

The NY Times article that accompanied this recipe was the first I ever read about making granola with olive oil.  The article is dated 2009 so, yeah, I’ve been meaning to try it for a while.  I made another olive oil granola recently that I loved, and this one was great as well.  This is a sweet granola, and you can reduce the sugar a bit if you like, but I think it’s pretty great stirred into a bowl of yogurt as is. Continue reading Granola with Pistachios, Dried Apricots, and Cardamom (click for recipe)

Quinoa with Corn, Green Onions, and Feta

Quinoa has a great flavor and all kinds of nutritional benefits, sure, but that’s not why I love to cook with it. I love it because it cooks so quickly.  Bring it to a boil, simmer 15 minutes, let it steam off the heat for a few more, and it’s ready to go to the table.

Here the quinoa is dressed up a bit with a quick saute of scallions and corn that is ready to add to the pot by the time the quinoa’s 15-minute simmer is over, even if you start with whole ears of corn.  Which you should definitely do in summertime.  We often make this dish to serve as a warm or cold salad alongside a grilled summer dinner of fish and vegetables, but at this time of year using frozen sweet corn brings a bit of sunshine to the table.  Pair this quinoa with Black Beans with Cilantro and Lime for a delicious meal, perhaps topped with a bit of salsa, sour cream, and a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.  And once you taste this dish, you’ll probably find yourself making it often to serve as a side in place of bread or rice. Continue reading Quinoa with Corn, Green Onions, and Feta (click for recipe)

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars

First off, before we go any further, I want you to know that I do not delude myself into thinking that a sugar-filled, buttery, chocolate-laden cookie becomes health food when I make it with whole wheat flour.  And I will also tell you something else: these cookies are good.  The whole wheat flour gives them a nutty flavor and deep color.  The butter gives them a crispy edge.  And the chocolate chips anchor them firmly in the realm of kid-friendly cookies.

I had never made a bar cookie before tonight but I think they have won my heart.  No rolling, no cutting, no shaping, no scooping, no baking of multiple batches because I had to spread the cookies out on multiple cookie sheets.  This is pure, streamlined cookie production.  The only downside is that the bars in the middle of the pan don’t have a crisp edge, so if you are an edge person you may want to take that into consideration and shape cookies instead.

Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookie Bars: In a medium bowl, combine 3 c. whole wheat flour (I used Nash’s soft white whole wheat flour, but I have also used regular whole wheat flour, which comes out tasting a little whole-wheat-ier; I like both), 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder, 1 tsp. baking soda, and 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt.  In a mixer, combine 2 sticks cold butter cut into 1/2 inch pieces with 1 c. dark brown sugar and 3/4 c. granulated sugar* and mix on low speed for a minute or two to integrate the butter and sugar.  Mix in two eggs and 2 tsp. vanilla, then add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined.  Mix in a cup and a half of semisweet chocolate chips (or 8 oz. chopped bittersweet chocolate, see below).  Butter a large rimmed baking sheet (mine is 12×17) and spread the dough evenly across it.  Bake at 350 for 12-15 minutes until the center is just set.  Remove from oven and allow the tray to cool completely, then cut the cookies into bars.

*The original recipe, from Kim Boyce’s Good to the Grain cookbook, calls for 1 c. granulated sugar and bittersweet instead of semisweet chocolate.  I used what I had, but if you have bittersweet chocolate I think it would be great, and you might choose to use the larger measure of sugar with it.

If you prefer to have a few freshly-baked cookies at a time, I’ve had good luck rolling the dough into balls and freezing them on a tray, then moving them to a freezer bag once they are frozen solid.  Bake them without defrosting; it will take a minute or two longer than usual.