Cooking

Shameless Product Placement of April: Ancient Harvest Quinoa Harmomy

Some say you can’t have your cake and eat it too. When it comes to quinoa, I beg to differ. Quinoa is the ‘moving on up’ of whole-freaking-grains so get ready to be amazed by what THR is about to throw at your noggin!

Whole grains are obviously a hot topic of discussion here on THR. This post isn’t about to stray far from that very subject today. Quinoa is one such example of a whole grain, despite it actually being a pseudo-cereal (we’re getting to that). And for those swearing off gluten, for medical or fad purposes, it also happens to be gluten-free!

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada MS, RD, LDN

Quinoa is a ‘pseudo-cereal’ meaning it’s a food similar to grains in how it’s cooked and eaten, as well as it’s nutrient profile. Having been harvested back nearly 4,000 years ago in the Andes region is what gives this seed its ‘ancient grain’ moniker. Us late-blooming Americans must be pretty late to the game because this protein-rich seed seems to be just now making its way into the forefront of the dietary world and current grain research. Such newbs. How late? Well, the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO) officially declared that the year 2013 be recognized as “The International Year of the Quinoa.” Yeah, that late. Sure America doesn’t make up the United Nations, but you get my point. 

Grains (and their look-a-like counterparts) are often thought of as mainly carbohydrate, but quinoa bucks the traditional views of the grain world with its high protein-to-carbohydrate ratio. Whole grains contain three parts: the bran, the germ and the endosperm. The bran and germ make up 25% of the grain’s protein content. Keeping that in mind, the germ of a quinoa seed takes up 60% of the grain’s real estate. To put this in perspective, the germ of a kernel of wheat makes up a measly 3% of the grain. Psh! What’s that wheat? I can’t hear you over quinoa’s awesomeness. 

Letmegeekoutforaminute. To dig a little deeper on this protein point for one hot second, those in the nutrition world look at protein in two categories: complete and incomplete. Sometimes it’s not just about quantity, but rather quality. The distinction between these two forms of protein lies in the number of essential amino acids the protein contains. Essential amino acids are deemed ‘essential’ because our stupid human bodies cannot make them, but are necessary for survival. Animal proteins are complete. Plant proteins? Not so much. But I’ll give you one guess as to which plant contains all nine essential amino acids. You guess it! I hope. Quinoa!

Now that you know why quinoa is so great, we are FINALLY to the Shameless Product Placement of April:

Ancient Harvest Quinoa Harmony Blend

Image from ancientharvest.com

Image from ancientharvest.com

Ancient Harvest Quinoa Harmony Blend is a combination of traditional, black and red quinoa. While I enjoy traditional quinoa, the blend is a fun way to jazz up salads, serve in place of rice or pasta and works well when manipulated into burger form. The blend retains the natural nutty flavor of traditional quinoa that pairs well with a variety of ingredients. Do not be afraid to experiment with this beautiful product.

One rule to keep in mind prior to preparing: rinse the quinoa. Yeah, I know it says it’s ‘pre washed’, but quinoa develops a natural bitter coating called saponin that fends off pests and helps it grow without the necessity of chemical pesticides. I agree with the Whole Grain Council on this one, the extra rinse may help remove any residue left on the grain. Hey, a little extra water aint’ never hurt nobody (my words, not theirs).

One quarter cup of this tri-blend quinoa (dry) contains 170 calories, 2.5 g fat, 30g carbohydrate, 5g of protein. Ancient Harvest Quinoa Harmony Blend is certified USDA Organic and is a non-GMO food, if you’re into that stuff. Sold in most natural foods stores, click this link to find your nearest retailer.

Come back next week for a Harmony Blend quinoa recipe!

Resources:
wholegrainscouncil.org
http://www.whfoods.com

Lentils Are The New Beans

I hope we all enjoyed the Mini Turkey Parmesan Meatloaves. I know you all made them over the past week. Don’t lie, it’s unbecoming. As Spring settles in and beach season approaches, if you’re like me, there’s one thing on that fine mind of yours: How can I eat more lentils? No? Oh that’s just me then. Let me put it to you this way, if lentils were ingestible self-tanner, I’d be Snooki.

Clearly lentils have nothing to do with beach season, but rather everything to do with finding an alternative, non-meat protein. I will not lie to you. I love a good piece of steak or salmon just as much as the next red-blooded American, but damn, can we ease up on the animal flesh? I don’t boast being a vegetarian, but I do try to limit animal proteins to one meal per day (excluding eggs, those things are absolutely delicious).

Lentils are one such example of a solid vegetarian protein source. They house themselves in the legume family along with their sister, beans. Little known fact, lentils are actually seeds originally harvested in central Asia. Grown in pods, you can find these little guys in either the whole or split variety. I prefer the whole lentils; I find them to be a bit meatier. Lentils are also available in a range of colors, but the green and brown varieties tend to hold their shape best during the cooking process. Readers take note: lentils can deteriorate under heat. Choosing the proper form and cooking technique are essential to avoid eating colored mush for dinner. Prepare as directed and trial and error are my two best recommendations when it comes to cooking lentils. Alas, I am not a cooking expert on everything.

20140416-065145.jpg

Lentils are an excellent source of B vitamins and iron. You menstruating or pregnant? You’re going to love these little suckers! Sorry boys. Lentils also carry a sizable fiber punch – one half cup serving contains 8 grams of dietary fiber. I’m talking the good stuff, the fiber that helps lower your cholesterol. Just dare me to take care of my heart! I’ll do it too, don’t test me dude! Lastly, as mentioned above, they are well endowed in the protein department with 9 grams (a little over 1 ounce) per half cup.

While lentils are loaded with nutrients, one to not ignore is their carbohydrate content. Lentils are what we dietitians call a ‘dual food’. Yes they pack the protein, but they also carry carbohydrate. Not a bad thing, but something to be conscious of nonetheless. If we return to the half cup portion example, lentils have about 20 grams of carb (equal to an average slice of bread). This doesn’t make them off-limits. Just don’t fool yourself eating them with a load of brown rice, a few potatoes and peas smothered in yellow curry sauce. Easy does it young grasshopper.

I have a few lentil tricks in my wheelhouse. Throw them onto salad or into a broth based soup. A favorite post-run snack of mine is lentils atop steamed broccoli and a little marinara. See below for picture-based knowledge.

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada

In closing, if you want to get a little fancier, I really enjoy lentils in vegetable marinara. Free (hidden) recipe alert! Oh wait, this is all free for you. For 4 people, I’ll sauté 1/2 cup chopped onion, 1 chopped yellow pepper, 8 ounces of chopped button mushrooms, a few minced cloves of garlic and some chopped fresh herbs. Stir in marinara and precooked lentils. Serve over some whole-wheat pasta, top with a little shaved Parmesan cheese and BAMB! You got a mighty tasty din-din at your fingertips.

Come back next week for my all-time favorite lentil recipe. Clue – they are delivered in patty form and incorporate cashews. Get so freaking excited. I mean it, right now!

Mid-Monday Pick Me Up

Good afternoon you back-on-your-daily-grind Monday minions. As a shout out to the growing efforts of The Healthy Revival (THR), I thought we’d throw it back to yesterday’s Instagram. Oh right, this little old blog is now on Instagram! See side bar to the right for you link to the account. Follow THR at ‘healthyrevival’ on Instagram for weekly posts on recipe previews from the test kitchen, what the dietitian behind the blog is eating and culinary adventures of a healthy foodie. Check it and follow!

For those of you already following THR on Instagram, you saw the glorious, yet simple brunch photo yesterday. I thought I would announce the launch of The Healthy Revival on Instagram by giving you this beauty’s recipe. Happy Monday people!

Photo Cred: Kimberly Sabada's iPhone

Photo Credit: Kimberly Sabada’s iPhone

 Goat Cheese Ricotta Bruschetta with Egg

Serves One:
1 slice whole wheat bread, toasted
2 Tablespoons fat-free ricotta cheese
1 Tablespoon goat cheese
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes
1 egg
Salt and pepper
Cooking Spray

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place whole cherry tomatoes in a small baking ramekin, coat tomatoes with non-stick cooking spray and season with salt and pepper. Bake tomatoes uncovered until bursting and juicy, about 30 minutes. Remove tomatoes from ramekin and give them a quick rough chop to help cool and release more juice. Set aside.

In a small bowl combine ricotta and goat cheese. Spread cheese mixture onto whole wheat toast, top with chopped roasted tomatoes. Cook the egg however you prefer, I cooking mine sunny side up! Plate and serve.

Note: This was a brunch idea would not be a horrible weeknight dinner idea for those of you on the go.

Come back later this week for a knockout dinner recipe that’s sure to please both children and adults!