Quinoa and dates energy balls

Quinoa is one of those amazing food that is gluten-free, high in protein and is also one of the few plant foods that contain all nine essential amino acids. I normally cook a pot and use it as salad base.

Photo: quinoa with sugarsnap peas and garlic roasted courgettes in a light balsamic dressing.

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But last week, I decided to make energy balls with my red quinoa.

Ingredients:

1 cup cooked quinoa (cook according to packet instructions)
1 cup rolled oats
1/2 cup sliced almonds and 1/2 cup sunflower seeds
5 teaspoons honey
10 pitted dates
¼ cup almond butter
1 tablespoon virgin coconut oil
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
⅛ teaspoon sea salt
A handful of raisins
1 tablespoon chia seeds

Method:

Heat the oven to 350°. Mix together the quinoa, oats and sunflower seeds with the honey, coating them evenly. Pour into a baking tray lined with parchment paper and bake until brown and crunchy (around 20 minutes), stirring once or twice so that they brown all over.  Cool.

Toast the almonds.

Combine the dates, almond butter, coconut oil, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a blender and blend until smooth. Pour into a large bowl. Add the almonds, chia seeds, and toasted quinoa and oats. Mix well with your hands and shape into balls (this recipe makes about 24).

Store in an airtight container for up to one week.

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Note: they are also tasty as granola.

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Healthy alternative to instant noodles

I can be quite draconian and dictatorial when it comes to food for my family, and though we lived in Asia for several years, I never allowed my children to eat the ubiquitous instant noodles.  I even banned my Indonesian helpers from eating them, simply because they are so bad for you.

But we live in a world where convenience and speed are king. However, you don’t have to resort to chemical-laden fast food if you invest a little time into preparation whenever you have the time to spare.

(1) Always keep some stock handy in the freezer. Simply boil down chicken carcass (from roast diners!) or stock bones (available cheaply from your friendly butcher or fishmonger) with any surplus vegetables you have lying around.  Just be sure to include a bay leaf, peppercorns, onion, garlic and tomatoes.  The rest is up to you! Over the years, I have chucked weird things into my stockpot, such as apple core (with the pips removed), left over salad leaves, the hard part of broccoli and other greens I happen to have lying around.

(2) To make this Asian noodles, boil up the stock with a small piece of ginger.

(3) Cook spaghetti separately until soft.

(4) Add spaghetti to the piping hot soup. Garnish with chopped spring onions and red chillies, and season with salt, pepper, Braggs and sesame oil (optional).

Note: If you are making this with fish stock, boil for longer with more ginger.

Three Super-Fast, Super-Nutritious Food (in less than 10 minutes)

Contrary to popular belief, I do not spend that much time in the kitchen. What I do is I have sessions where I put my favourite music on loud and spend a couple of hours every few days stocking up my kitchen with the lovely basics that I can easily use to whip up super-fast, super-nutritious food on my lazy days (more time for the beach).

From my post a couple of days ago, Offerings From My Kitchen Today, I made the following ‘instant’ meals:

Instant noodles without the additives and preservatives

noodles

Apart from being nutritionally bankrupt, the much-loved instant noodles are actually very bad for you. Aside from its high sodium content, a typical packet is also full of acid regulators, flavour enhancers, thickeners, humectants, colours, stabilizers, anti-oxidants, emulsifiers, flour treatment agents, preservatives and anti-caking agents. Sure, they are convenient and tasty (addictive because of the flavourings), but do you really want to put all these chemicals into your body?

The soup of this version is made from the rich vegetable broth. If you are a non-vegetarian, bone broth would be an excellent base too. I made the broth a couple of days ago and stored it in the refrigerator until this afternoon.

To put this instant noodle dish together, I simply boiled spaghetti according to packet instruction. I used spaghetti instead of instant noodles, because instant noodles are coated with wax to prevent the noodles from sticking together. This can be seen when hot water is added to the noodles. After some time the wax can be seen floating in the water. It is just not worth it.

To serve, garnish the cooked spaghetti with tomatoes, lightly blanched veggies and sprouts (I used sprouted sunflower seeds and alfafa), and ladle the broth over. Shredded cooked chicken or slices of beef if you prefer not to go 100% vegetarian are good additions. Drizzle with sesame oil and Braggs for a more Asian taste. You get a lot of goodness from the broth, the veggies and the sprouted seeds, and it is as quick to prepare and tastes even better the unhealthy version.

 

Rainbow curry

curry and rice

From my tray of rainbow veggies, I made a Thai yellow curry using (OK, I cheated) curry paste. If you are buying curry paste, check the label and opt for the ones with the least evils. I bought mine from the market.

I served the curry with wild rice and topped it with chia seeds, flax seeds and toasted cashews. Wild rice is nutritionally superior to processed and polished white rice. It has up to 30 times more antioxidants than white rice, has a high fibre content and is a good source of vitamins and minerals. Topped with nuts and seeds, it is power-packed food!

 

Pasta with sun-dried tomatoes and roasted vegetables

pasta

I made the tomatoes in my dehydrator a couple of days ago. If you do not have a dehydrator, you could use a fan oven at its lowest setting. I then left the tomatoes on my balcony for the sun to dry them for a few hours – as I live near the sea in an unpolluted part of the island, these last few hours of au naturel drying gives the tomatoes a lovely, lightly salted taste. They can be stored in a sterile jar, covered in olive oil, in the refrigerator for weeks.

I made the red pesto sauce to mix this pasta in by blitzing together the following ingredients:

1 garlic clove

Pinch of sea salt

25g pine nuts

250g semi-dried tomatoes

1 red chilli, deseeded and roughly chopped

Handful fresh flat-leaf parsley

125ml extra-virgin olive oil

25g Parmesan, finely grated

I added lots of roasted veggies (courgette, aubergine, onion, capsicum) and fresh basil leaves to the pasta and stirred the pesto in. The key thing is to ensure that proportionally, there is less pasta than veggies.

The beauty of this dish is, it can either be served cold as a salad or baked with grated cheese as a hot dinner.

 

Trail Mix

trail mix

I bagged up the dried apple and pineapple slices that I put in the dehydrator and mixed those with a couple of handfuls of mixed nuts. This baggie delivers a punch of energy during break, and it is also my excuse to tell her that I love her, big smile.