Quinoa & Kale Pitas with Tahini Dressing

QuinoaKalePitasThese are packed with some of my favorite ingredients! Quinoa is loaded with protein and the kale is well . . . it’s kale! We all know kale is high in iron, calcium and several vitamins. Check out these 10 Health Benefits of this super green. I also threw in some pepitas, which are rich in vitamins, beta carotene, and protein. I made a pretty big batch so that I can nosh all week (especially post workouts), but feel free to halve the recipe if you’re fearful of getting quinoa’d out. (Inconceivable! ;-) )

INGREDIENTS

Filling

2 C tri-color quinoa
4 C vegetable broth or water
1 Tbs olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 C red onion, diced
3/4 C green onion, sliced
2 C mushrooms, diced
1 bunch kale, leaves removed and chopped (stems discarded)
3/4 C pepitas

Dressing

2 large cloves of garlic
1 Tbs tahini
2 Tbs yellow/light miso
1/4 C nutritional yeast
1/2 C unsweetened almond milk
1/2 C cold water
2 Tbs chia seesds
1/4 tsp black pepper

The rest

Pita pockets
Avocado slices

DIRECTIONS

I recommend making the dressing first. It’ll be a little runny, but letting it sit for 20 minutes or so, will allow the chia seeds to do their thing and thicken up the dressing. In a food processor or blender, combine all of the dressing ingredients and blend until smooth. Set aside.

DSC08213In a large soup pot, combine the broth (or water) with the quinoa. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover, and cook for about 20-25 minutes, or until all of the liquid has been absorbed.

DSC08214Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and garlic in a large skillet. Add the red and green onions. Saute until softened and a tiny bit browned. Add the kale and mushrooms and saute until the the kale is bright green, about 5 minutes.
onionskaleFold the veggies and pepitas into the cooked quinoa.
DSC08215I placed a little dressing inside the pita,  along with a slice or two of avocado, then added the filling, and topped with some more dressing. Enjoy!
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Quinoa & Veggies with a Tahini-Miso Dressing

Quinoa2Quinoa is such a fantastic lunch option. It’s packed with protein and it can be made so many different ways, that it’s pretty hard to get bored with it. I wanted a light dressing for this and came up with this tangy tahini-miso goodness. I also love adding nuts for a bit of crunch to these types of dishes, so I threw in some toasted almond slivers. Delish!

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INGREDIENTS:

1 C quinoa (I like this Rainbow Quinoa from Alter Eco)
2 C vegetable broth or water
1-1/2 to 2 C mushrooms, sliced
6 green onions, sliced
1 C cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 C slivered almonds, toasted

Dressing:

1 tsp tahini
1 Tbs yellow miso
1/8 C almond milk
2 Tbs nutritional yeast
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp garlic powder
pinch of salt

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DIRECTIONS:

Rinse the quinoa in fine mesh strainer with cold water. Combine it with the broth (or water) in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook until there is just a little bit of water left, about 12-15 minutes. Add the mushrooms and green onions, but don’t combine—cover and let the veggies steam 3-4 minutes. For the dressing, whisk all of the ingredients together until smooth.

DSC08038Once the mushrooms have softened, stir them into the quinoa. Add the tomatoes, nuts and dressing. I recommend adding a little dressing at a time in case you don’t want it all. I had a little left over.

DSC08041Gently fold and combine everything. Enjoy!

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Quinoa-Rice Salad with Tempeh and “Feta”

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We had a fabulous July 4th holiday feast with great friends and family. Our friends made these incredible grilled vegetable sandwiches and an outstanding gazpacho! (recipe soon to come, for sure).

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Cold quinoa and/or rice salads tend to be ideal for outdoor get togethers, plus, being vegan AND gluten-free, makes it so everyone can enjoy. Granted, there was a lot of prep work for this salad, but you can save yourself some time by making certain things ahead of time. I love the different flavors in this salad, as well as the crunch from the nuts. I made quite a big batch, so feel free to halve the recipe for a smaller crowd.

INGREDIENTS:

Salad:

2 C wild rice mix (cooked in 2-1/4 C vegetable broth)
1 C quinoa (cooked in 1-1/4 C vegetable broth)
1-1/2 C dried apricots, diced
1-1/2 C toasted nuts, chopped (I used walnuts and pecans, but I think pepitas and almond slivers would be great too)
1 C fresh parsley, chopped

Tempeh + marinade:
8-oz pkg. tempeh, cut into small cubes
1/4 C tamari
1 Tbs vegan Worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp brown sugar
1 garlic clove, minced

Tofu “feta”: (adapted)
1 14-oz pkg extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
1/4 C cashews
2 Tbs olive oil
1 tsp yellow or mellow miso
2 Tbs reserved marinade (below)

Marinade:
3 Tbs lemon juice
5 Tbs white wine vinegar
1-1/2 Tbs yellow or mellow miso
1 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, minced

Dressing:
1/2 C lime juice
4 Tbs red wine vinegar
4 Tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

I recommend making the feta and marinating the tempeh ahead of time, even a day or two ahead if you can. I didn’t, and I think the salad still turned out great, but it’ll bring out the flavors even more. We’ll start with the feta.

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Slice the tofu into 1/2″ slabs and place into a large dish. Whisk together the feta marinade and coat the tofu thoroughly. Cover and refrigerate for several hours, or preferably over a night or two. Next, blend the cashews, olive oil, miso, and reserved marinade. I used my blender, but I couldn’t get a smooth consistency, so I transferred the mixture to a mortar and pestle, to mash it up even more.

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Crumble up the tofu with your fingers, then add the cashew mixture; combine well. Keep refrigerated in an airtight container.

To make the tempeh, combine all of the marinade ingredients in a medium zip bag and add the tempeh. Let it marinade for several hours to overnight.

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When ready, heat a tiny bit of olive oil to a small skillet and add the tempeh. Saute over medium heat until the tempeh has crispy edges.

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Meanwhile, cook the rice and quinoa (separately) according to package instructions. I tend to use veggie broth for added flavor. I also used what quinoa I had: some red, some regular.

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Combine the two in a large bowl and refrigerate until cooled. (Be sure to place a hot pad or trivet underneath the bowl when placing directly onto a cold, glass refrigerator shelf.) Once cooled, fold in all of the ingredients: nuts, feta, parsley, tempeh, and apricots. Whisk together the dressing ingredients and pour over the salad; fold gently to incorporate everything. Enjoy!

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Quinoa with Dried Apricots and Black Beans

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The next time someone asks you, “Where do you get your protein?” you can (politely) point out this dish as one of numerous options. Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains all 9 amino acids essential to human health. It offers up roughly 8 grams of protein per cup and also passes along calcium, iron, folate, manganese, and other vitamins. Black beans also carry nearly 15 grams of protein per cup, so add some veggies and you have healthy lunch!

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 C red quinoa, rinsed and drained

1/2 C regular quinoa, rinsed and drained

1 tsp Better than Bouillon paste

1-1/2 C water

1 C fresh cilantro, chopped

1 C green onions, sliced

1 C dried apricots, chopped

1/3 C pepitas (toasted pumpkin seeds)

1 15 oz can black beans, rinsed and drained

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 tsp lime juice

2 Tbs red wine vinegar

2 Tbs olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium sauce pan, whisk together the bouillon and water; bring to a boil. Stir in the quinoa, cover and cook on low for 15-20 minutes. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine the cilantro, green onion, apricots, pepita seeds, salt, lime juice, red wine vinegar, and olive oil.

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Once the quinoa is finished, add it, along with the black beans to the bowl.

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Combine well and enjoy! (You can also chill it in a covered dish and serve cold).

Quinoa with Walnuts and Spinach

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I hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday! For the first time in many years, we had snow falling on Christmas Eve! You wouldn’t think that’d be such a rarity in Colorado, but a drought will do that to ya. It’s even snowing as I type! So I wasn’t sure what to call this dish because it has more than just walnuts and spinach it—it’s loaded with veggies. I served this warm, but I think it would be tasty cold as well.

INGREDIENTS:

1 C regular quinoa

1 C red quinoa

2 tsp Better Than Bouillon

3 C water

1 C spinach, chopped

4 green onions, sliced

4 mushrooms, chopped

1/3 C fresh parsley, chopped

2 Tbs chia seeds

1/2 C walnuts, chopped (and toasted, if you’d like)

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 Tbs lemon juice

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DIRECTIONS:

In a medium or large saucepan, whisk together the bouillon and water and then bring to a boil. Add the two quinoas (you can also use tri-colored quinoa if you’d like), stir, reduce heat, and cover. Cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes, or until just a little bit of liquid remains. Stir in the spinach, green onion, and mushrooms and let cook for a few minutes—just enough for the spinach to wilt and the mushrooms to cook down a little.

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Stir in the salt, pepper, chia seeds, and lemon juice. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley and walnuts. Enjoy!

 

Red Quinoa Pilaf with Kale and Corn

This is another excellent recipe from Vegan Holiday Kitchen. Kale and quinoa together?! Talk about a super, nutrient-packed salad. This was easy to make and served warm, it made an excellent side dish on Thanksgiving.

INGREDIENTS:

1-1/2 C red quinoa

3 C vegetable broth

1 bunch (8-oz) kale

2 Tbs olive oil

4-6 cloves garlic, minced

4 green onions (white and green parts) sliced thin

2 C fresh or frozen corn kernels

2 jarred roasted red peppers, chopped

2 Tbs lemon juice

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp cumin

1/2 tsp rosemary

Salt and pepper

DIRECTIONS:

Combine the quinoa and broth in a medium saucepan, bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. If the liquid isn’t fully absorbed by 20 minutes, but the quinoa is done, drain it using a fine mesh strainer. The recipe says to strip the kale leaves from the stem and slice the leaves into narrow strips. I found that to be difficult and time consuming, so I just chopped it. In the end, it doesn’t really matter anyway. In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and saute the garlic until it begins to brown. Add the kale . . .

 . . . and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes. Serve immediately. Enjoy!

Quinoa and Rice Stir-fry with Cashews & White Beans

 

When I want to create a quick and filling dinner, I usually reach for quinoa or rice. Mixed with veggies and nuts, it always makes a great meal and very handy leftovers. I threw in some white beans, too and ended up with a flavorful, protein-filled dish that is nearly gluten-free. The rice mix I used contained wheat, but you can sub in another variety to make it gluten-free.

 

INGREDIENTS:

1 C quinoa

1 box Long Grain Wild Mix

4 C vegetable stock, divided

2 C mushrooms, chopped

6 green onion, sliced

1 C cashews

1 15-oz can white beans, drained and rinsed

1 Tbs olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 C white wine

1 C fresh parsley, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Start by getting the rice and quinoa going. In a medium saucepan, bring 1-3/4 C of the stock to a boil. Add the rice mix and seasoning packet, reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 25 minutes.

Start the quinoa about 15 minutes before the rice mix is done. In another medium saucepan, bring the remaining 2-1/4 C stock to a boil and stir in the quinoa. Reduce heat to low, cover and cook for 12-15 minutes. In a large skillet, toast the cashews over medium heat until they begin to brown; transfer to a boil and set aside. In the same skillet,  heat the olive oil and garlic. Add the mushrooms, green onion, and white beans, and saute 5-7 minutes.

 

Stir in the rice, quinoa, and white wine; saute 3 minutes.

Stir in the parsley and cashews and season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Quinoa and Black Bean Burgers with Guacamole

 

Quinoa and black beans are two proteins that are just meant to be together. The original recipe for the burgers is from Vegetarian Times, but I made a few alterations. I also added a slice of Daiya cheese (Havarti style wedge) and I made some guac to top it off. The recipe also calls for steak seasoning, and as a vegan, I don’t typically stock up on that stuff, so I went with a blend of Old Bay and a Garlic and Wine seasoning. And don’t expect a dry consistency with these burgers—they’re crispy on the outside and soft and moist inside. These can be made ahead, and even frozen, so they make a great lunch as well when you don’t have a lot of time.

 

INGREDIENTS:

Burgers:

1/2 C quinoa (I used a blend of red, wheat, and black quinoa which I found in the bulk section of the store)

1 C onion, chopped fine

6 oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped fine

1 15-oz can black beans, drained, rinsed, and divided

2 cloves garlic, crushed or minced

1 tsp Old Bay seasoning

1 tsp Garlic & Wine seasoning

1/4 C flax seed

5-6 hamburger buns

Guacamole:

2 ripe avocados, peeled and seeded

1/2 C diced tomatoes

2 Tbs red onion, diced

1 Tbs lime juice

1/4 C cilantro, optional

2 tsp Mt. Elbert All Purpose Seasoning from  Savory

 

DIRECTIONS:

In a small saucepan, combine 1-1/2 cups of water with the quinoa and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and cook for 20 minutes.

 

Meanwhile, in a skillet, combine the onion and sun-dried tomatoes. The oil left on the tomatoes will be plenty of oil for sauteeing. Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until the onion softens. Add 3/4 cup of the black beans, garlic, seasoning, and 1-1/2 cup of water. Simmer for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid is absorbed.

 

Transfer the bean mixture to a food processor, along with 3/4 cup of the quinoa and process until smooth.

Transfer to a bowl and add the rest of the black beans and quinoa. I also added some flax seed to the mix. Season with salt and pepper.

(Yes, I know, it looks really unappetizing right now…)

I made these earlier in the day, so I covered the mixture and let it cool in the fridge for about an hour. When you’re ready to make the patties, preheat the oven to 350. Spray a pan with cooking spray and set aside. Make 5-8 patties (depending on how large you make them) and place onto the pan.

Bake for 20-22 minutes, then flip and bake another 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, to make the guac, mash the avocados with a pastry blender. Add the other ingredients and combine thoroughly.

If using Daiya cheese, throw a slice or two onto the burgers during the last minute of baking—it’ll melt quickly.

Enjoy!

Quinoa-Mandarin Stuffed Peppers

The Seventh-Grader was nice enough to share his cold with me. I can’t remember the last time I was out of commission with a cold, and I don’t plan to let this one win. So far, I’ve kept it somewhat at bay with lots of juiced veggies and kale. Never under estimate the healing powers of vegetables. That may be why I was drawn to making these. Bell peppers, particularly orange and yellow ones, are packed with vitamins C, A, and B6. (Although the heating process will deplete them a bit). But I’m certain they still retain many of their healthy benefits. These also have mushrooms which are a great source of B vitamins, selenium, vitamin D, and potassium. Now on to the zucchini…these guys have tons of vitamin C and A which are actually anti-inflammatory agents. Zucchinis are also high in fiber—an added bonus! And let’s not forget that quinoa is an ideal source of protein, too! Let the healing begin!

Oh, and remember Operation Save Basil from October?

I’m happy to report that it has bounced back beautifully. It looks like there’s room to add another basil plant, but for now, I’m thrilled the basil’s back, baby!

INGREDIENTS:

3 large bell peppers (preferably orange, red, or yellow) sliced in half and innards cleaned out

1 C quinoa

1-15oz can mandarin oranges (look for no sugar added), juice reserved

1 C water

1 tsp tamari

1 Tbs olive oil

2 tsp garlic, minced

1/2 C slivered almonds

1 C mushrooms, sliced

1 small zucchini, sliced then quartered

1/2 C fresh basil, chopped

Salt and pepper, to taste

Sauce:

1 C almond milk

2 Tbs arrowroot

2 Tbs nutritional yeast

2 Tbs yellow miso

dash of nutmeg

dash of garlic salt

DIRECTIONS:

Begin with the quinoa: Combine the quinoa, reserved Mandarin orange juice, water, and tamari in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Let simmer for 12-15 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 375. While the quinoa is cooking, heat the olive oil and garlic in a skillet. Add the slivered almonds and cook them for 5-7 minutes, stirring often.

Add the zucchini, mushrooms, salt, and pepper; cook another 6-8 minutes on medium heat.

Once the veggies are tender, remove from the heat and stir in the oranges and basil.

Stir in the cooked quinoa and evenly fill the pepper halves.

Sometimes I pour about 2 cups of water in the bottom of the pan before covering with foil. This will help soften the peppers without overcooking the filling. I think this is especially important when using cheese or fake meats in the filling. Bake 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. In a small saucepan, whisk together the sauce ingredients over high heat, stirring constantly. After a few minutes, reduce heat to medium-low and let it simmer. Stir frequently so it doesn’t burn. Don’t worry about getting the sauce thickened; it’s meant to seep and ooze into the filling. :-)

Ladle the sauce over the peppers and enjoy!

Gluten-Free Tetrazzini-Stuffed Peppers

The Seventh Grader wanted spaghetti for dinner; I wanted stuffed peppers. We compromised, which turned out to be a very delicious compromise! You’ll only need 4-5 ounces of spaghetti to fill 6 halves of peppers, but I used 8 ounces and had some leftover tetrazzini for a future lunch. Otherwise, I find 3 ounces of dry pasta, useless. I made these gluten-free by using quinoa pasta, and rice flour, but feel free to use any variety you’d like.

INGREDIENTS:

8-oz quinoa spaghetti

3 bell peppers, cut in half, stems removed and cleaned out

1 Tbs olive oil

2 tsp garlic, minced

1 medium zucchini, diced

1/4 C onion, diced

1/3 C rice flour

2 C almond milk

1/4 C nutritional yeast

1 Tbs onion powder

1 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1/4 C panko

Daiya cheese, optional

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 375. Break the spaghetti into thirds and cook according to package instructions. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil and garlic. Add the onion and zucchini; cook until softened.

In a blender, combine the rice flour, half of the almond milk, nutritional yeast, and seasonings. Blend until smooth. Add the sauce to the veggies and over low to medium heat, stir, adding the rest of the almond milk. This should only take a few minutes.

I used kitchen scissors to cut the drained spaghetti a bit more, then added it to the sauce. Combine well.

If you’d like, sprinkle some Daiya cheese in the bottoms of the peppers, then stuff with the spaghetti mixture. Top with some panko, then cover with foil.

Bake for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy! 

Quinoa with Mushrooms and Spinach

Occasionally, there are nights I don’t cook dinner for the fam. Either we have lots of leftovers, or everyone is doing their own thing, so we fend for ourselves. Tonight was one such night. But when The Husband saw what I made, he kindly asked if I’d share. He said this was one of his favorites dishes—we both loved it. And so easy! Throw this together in 20 minutes and you have a healthy, protein-packed meal.

INGREDIENTS:

1 C quinoa

2 C water

1 vegan vegetable bouillon cube

3 C fresh spinach

3 C fresh mushrooms, sliced

Salt, pepper, and garlic powder, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium saucepan, bring the water with the bouillon cube to a boil. Stir it around so the cube dissolves completely. Stir in the quinoa, reduce heat to low, and cover for about 15 minutes. When the quinoa is almost done—just a tiny bit of water left—add the spinach, mushrooms and seasonings; combine well.

Turn the heat off, cover, and let the spinach and mushrooms steam a bit—5-7 minutes. You may need to drizzle with some water if there isn’t enough moisture left. Once the spinach is wilted and the mushrooms are tender, serve and enjoy!

Backpacking, Made (Vegan) Easy

I have so much vegan amazingness to bring you today! We just returned from a 3-day backpacking trip and I have lots to share, so hang in there with me, ok?

I recently picked up Another Fork in the Trail: Vegetarian & Vegan Recipes for the Backcountry by Laurie Ann March and I was anxious to give some of the recipes a try for the trip. You will need a food dehydrator for most of the recipes (which I don’t have yet) so I went with a few recipes that didn’t require one. I’ll be bringing you 3 recipes from the book:

  • Blueberry Hazelnut Quinoa (pg. 42)
  • Roasted Nut and Mango Energy Bars (pg. 137)
  • Lime and Black Pepper Roasted Chickpeas (pg. 132)

We also picked up organic, vegan freeze-dried meals from MaryJane’s Farm Outpost, so I’m including pictures and reviews of their products as well. The Husband also tried a new Backpacker’s Pantry vegan variety as well . . . the Katmandu Curry.

When we go hiking for the day, when all I have to lug is a bottle of water, I’m off. The Husband complains that I leave him and the Seventh Grader in the dust, but I can’t help it. Once I get going, I let the momentum carry me. The sure-fire way to slow me down is strap a 35-40 lbs pack on me . . . and give me a camera. I took almost 200 pictures. (Don’t worry, I won’t post them all here). But I do have to show you one of my favorite parts of the trail. A mile into the 4 mile hike, the trail meanders through a forest of aspen trees; it’s absolutely gorgeous.

My dad first brought me to this area in 2003. This was his favorite place to backpack, so it has a lot of special meaning to me. He passed away nearly five years ago, but we continue his legacy by returning here once or twice a year. The Seventh Grader got to experience it for the first time.

We arrived at camp around two in the afternoon and got things set up. As we took shelter from a brief rainstorm, we thoroughly enjoyed the (no bake) Roasted Nut and Mango Energy Bars I made the day before.

These were delicious and so easy to make. The recipe makes 10 bars, but I don’t recommend packing all of them–at least not one person packing them in, as they are kind of heavy. Individually, they’re fine.

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 C raw almonds and peanuts, coarsely chopped

1/3 C agave

1/4 C brown sugar

1/4 C peanut butter or almond butter (I used PB)

2 C strong cereal flakes, crushed (I used Special K with sliced almonds)

1/4 C dried mango, finely chopped

1/4 C carob chips (I used Ghirardelli Semi-Sweet chocolate chips–they’re vegan!)

DIRECTIONS:

Make sure you have all your ingredients chopped and ready to go before starting.

In a small skillet, dry toast the almonds and peanuts until fragrant and browned. Let them cool. In a medium to large saucepan, heat the agave and brown sugar and let simmer for 1 minute–just don’t boil it. Remove from the heat and add the peanut butter; stir with a whisk until smooth. Add the crushed cereal, nuts, mango and chocolate chips; combine well.

Coat the bottom and sides of an 8″ baking dish with vegetable oil. Scoop the mixture into the pan and press down so that it is even.

Place in the freezer for 30 minutes. The recipe then says to transfer the pan contents to a cutting board. Well good luck getting those contents out of the pan right away. I had to let it thaw on the counter for about 20-30 minutes, before loosening the edges with a knife and using a metal spatula on one side to get it out. No big deal, just don’t expect the bars to pop right out.

Cut into 10 bars:

Wrap each one in waxed paper and store in a ziplock bag. They’ll also keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Source: Another Fork in the Trail

Yes, that’s snow. This lake is about 8500 feet in elevation, so there are lots of places where there is snow year round. And you may be wondering why the trees are gray. That’s not a usual Colorado thing. Unfortunately, that’s the result of the pine beetle. They’re killing lodgepole pines throughout the United States and Canada. It’s incredibly sad to see.

But there’s still much beauty to be had:

That’s Mount Ethel. Ain’t she a beaut at nearly 12,000 feet?

MaryJane’s Farm Outpost Organic Freeze-Dried Meals

(note…the Red Pesto Pasta is vegetarian, not vegan)

For the first night, I chose the Ginger Sesame Pasta ($8) The Husband had had this one before on a earlier trip, so he recommended it.  Unlike most freeze-dried meals, this one serves one, not two. So, tear off the top of the package . . .

 . . . and pour in 1 cup of boiling water. Stir it really, really well. I noticed I didn’t do a very good job because later, there was some unmixed seasonings on the bottom of the bag. Fold down the top and let sit for 8-10 minutes.

It really tasted great. I’m not a huge fan of black beans, but I didn’t mind them at all in this. It was also just the right amount of food for one person. You’d never know this meal was freeze-dried. After a long day of hiking, this was ideal.

Ingredients: Organic Instant Durum Semolina Pasta, Organic Black Bean Flakes, Organic Powdered Soybean Miso, Organic Red Bell Peppers, Organic Sucanat® (dehydrated cane juice), Organic Sesame Seeds, Organic Orange Peel and Organic Herbs & Spices.

For the second night, I had the Wild Forest Mushroom Couscous ($8.75) This was even more delicious than the sesame pasta. LOVED it!!

Add 1-1/2 cups of boiling water, stir really well, then seal it up. Let sit for 5 minutes, then stir again.

Ingredients: Organic Couscous, Organic Powdered Soybean Miso, Organic Pine Nuts, Organic Oyster Mushrooms, Shiitake Mushrooms, Organic Garlic and Lovage.

For the first night, the hegans went vegetarian with Mountain House Pasta Primavera ($6.50). Each pouch serves two, but they’re guys and they eat a lot; no need to split one. The second night, The Husband went with Backpacker’s Pantry Katmandu Curry ($6).

This one definitely serves two–he couldn’t finish it all. Plus, it had a bit of kick, so beware if you’re not into spicy food. It also took longer than most–about 20 minutes. It also requires 2-3/4 cups of boiling water. He thought it was very good, but we’ll just have to keep in mind that it easily serves two people.

Ingredients: lentils, precooked parboiled long grain brown rice, potatoes, carrots, peas, sauce (salt, garlic, turmeric, coriander seed, cumin seed, ginger, nutmeg, pepper, cayenne pepper, parsley, bay leaves, cinnamon, cloves, dill weed, fennel seed).

Enjoying their freeze-dried delicacies

During some hikes the second day, we discovered this amazing waterfall and another small lake at the base of it.

It was so incredible! The day was gorgeous and I spent much of it exploring and carrying around my portable, fold-up seat, a notebook, pencil and a book.

The book that I wanted to bring, The Ledge, is a hardback–not a good choice for backpacking–but an excellent read! One of the authors, Jim Davidson, is a fellow NCW member and his story is amazing. I settled for The Red Tent.

So far, it’s all right. The first 60-some pages are pretty much all about childbirth and it got old. Fortunately, it’s picking up . . .but I plan on finishing The Ledge first. I also have to show off my New Belgium coin purse, made pf recycled bicycle tubes:

It’s perfect for stashing my ID, ipod and of course money. (You never know where a Starbucks will pop up next–could be at mile 3)

For a snack, I made some Lime and Black Pepper Roasted Chickpeas the day before we left.

These were great to snack on and had lots of flavor. I had always wanted to roast chickpeas, but never found the time. I also doubled the recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

4 C canned chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed and drained

4 tsp olive oil

1/2 – 1 tsp black pepper

3 Tbs lime juice

2 tsp fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1 tsp salt

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 425. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the olive oil, pepper, lime juice, and cilantro. The recipe says to line the pan with the chickpeas (removing any loose skins from them) and pour the sauce over them. I opted instead to pour the chickpeas into the bowl with the sauce and combine them that way.

I then poured them onto the pan. Bake for 35-50 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.

They should come out crispy and dried through. Sprinkle with the salt. These were light enough to pack and offer some much-needed carbs after all of the hiking.

Source: Another Fork in the Trail

Breakfast

When I saw this recipe in Another Fork in the Trail, I knew I needed to make it for this trip. It calls for hazelnuts, but the store (a major grocery chain) apparently only carries them during the holidays and I didn’t have time to hit another store, so I went with pecans. No problem. This easy to make, light-weight cereal was one of my favorites meals. Loaded with protein, it kept me going all morning.

INGREDIENTS: (doubled)

1 C quinoa

1/4 tsp salt

2 Tbs sugar

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 C dried blueberries

1/4 C hazelnuts (or pecans)

Brown sugar, to taste

Powdered soy milk (enough to make 1-1/2 cups)

DIRECTIONS:

At home, rinse the quinoa under cold water for at least 3 minutes. Drain and toast in a dry nonstick skillet until the quinoa begins to pop. Let it cool and place it in a large ziplock bag. Add the salt, sugar, cinnamon, and blueberries. Toast the pecans until browned and fragrant. Place the cooled nuts and brown sugar in a snack-sized ziplock bag. Place it into the larger bag and in another small bag, add the powdered soy milk. At camp, I placed about a 1-1/2 cups of the quinoa mixture in the pot with about 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water. Let it simmer for about 10 minutes, stirring often.

In a small cup, I mixed some soy milk powder with water and served with quinoa with the milk, and topped it off with the brown sugar and nuts. Outstanding. I would make this at home, not just when we’re camping. It’s quite good. Source: Another Fork in the Trail

For lunches, I found these heat and serve options that also happen to be vegan:

Bombay Potatoes from Tasty Bite. One bag made 4 small servings. Just pour into a pan and heat. Tasty, indeed! If you’re going for ultra light backpacking, these are a bit on the heavy side, but for a quick lunch at home or camping, they’re ideal.

Again, this heat and serve product is great for camping and backpacking. Eat with a tortilla or by itself—a great protein and carb option while backpacking.

One day, we even went with good old Ramen. Because the spice packets aren’t vegan, we just used the noodles and seasoned them with salt and pepper.

You may be sick of Ramen from your college days, but they’re incredibly lightweight and cheap, making them ideal for backpacking. Besides, everything tastes good when you’re camping.

When we go camping/backpacking we always stock up on Larabars. They’re vegan, gluten-free and have 3-9 ingredients.

Wow . . . am I finally done? Thanks for sticking with me on this journey—I know it was a lot!

Quinoa with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Zucchini

This recipe comes from Whole Foods and originally had broccoli in it. The broccoli in my fridge had seen better days, so I decided to use zucchini. The recipe also says to not use sun-dried tomatoes packed with oil, but that was all I had, so I went ahead and used them. I think it came out delicious and I served it with open-faced TVP burgers—an ideal (and protein-packed) combo!

INGREDIENTS:

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil–your choice)

1-1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, divided

1 cup finely chopped red onion

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped

3/4 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 cup uncooked quino

1 small zucchini, sliced, then quartered

1/2 cup roasted cashew pieces

2-4 green onions, thinly sliced

DIRECTIONS:

If using (dried) sun-dried tomatoes, soak them in hot water for 15 minutes, then chop them once they soften. Bring 1/2 cup of the vegetable broth to a simmer. Add the onion and garlic; cook for 5 minutes. Add the chopped sun-dried tomatoes, the remaining 1 cup of the broth, white wine, and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Stir in the quinoa. Reduce heat to a low and simmer, covered for 20 minutes. Add the zucchini to the top and cover; simmer another 10 minutes.

Once the zucchini is softened and the liquid has been absorbed, toss well to combine. Serve garnished with the cashews and green onions. Enjoy!

Quinoa Wraps

My favorite vegan restaurant, Tasty Harmony, makes the best quinoa wraps and I wanted to duplicate it at home. I think I did a pretty good job, but theirs are just plain awesome and hard to totally copy.  You can serve these warm or cold and ordinarily I would use whole wheat wraps, but I didn’t have any. I served these with a spinach salad and it made a quick and healthy meal (especially after all those cupcakes)! They are also ideal to pack for a picnic–don’t forget, quinoa is a great source of protein!

INGREDIENTS:

1 C quinoa

1 avocado, diced

1/2 pkg baked tofu, such as from Westsoy, diced

1 plum tomato, diced

Sandwich wraps

Caesar dressing:

1 Tbs Vegenaise

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1 Tbs lemon juice

1/2 tsp vegan Worchestershire sauce

1/4 C olive oil

1 Tbs nutritional yeast

Salt and pepper, to taste

DIRECTIONS:

Add quinoa to 2 cups of boiling water. Stir, cover, and reduce heat to low for 20 minutes. If you want a cold wrap, make this earlier and keep refrigerated. If you’re in a rush, place pan of quinoa in a sink of cold water. To make dressing: Whisk together all ingredients. Pile on the quinoa, avocado, baked tofu, and tomato onto a wrap and drizzle with the dressing. Enjoy!

Quinoa with Shallots and Pine Nuts

This is one of those easy side dishes that is not only versatile, but hard to screw up. Quinoa is such a great source of protein and inexpensive. I decided to just throw together different ingredients and came up with this uncomplicated accompaniment to any main dish.

INGREDIENTS:

1 C quinoa

2 C vegetable broth

2 shallots, chopped

1 tsp salt

1/4 C fresh chopped parsley

1 tsp truffle oil

1 Tbs olive oil

1/2 C pine nuts

DIRECTIONS:

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil, then add the shallots. Saute them a about 5 minutes until they soften. Add the quinoa and toast it for a couple of minutes until they begin to pop and brown. Add broth and salt and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer covered for about 10 minutes.

In the meantime, in a small saute pan, heat the truffle oil. Add the pine nuts and toast them until they begin to brown. Stir in the parsley and pine nuts into the quinoa and serve. Enjoy!

Sweet Chili Lime Tofu

This recipe is tofu-licious! Even though the recipe has a long list of ingredients and you’ll need 3 pans and a bowl, it was extremely easy and it was done in about 25 minutes. I recommend doubling the sauce. As it is, it makes a great glaze for the tofu, but I would have liked it a little more saucy. It made about 5 servings and as I was eating the final pieces of tofu, I was thinking that these would be great toothpicked (minus quinoa and kale) and served as a hot appetizer. Yum!

INGREDIENTS:

Quinoa:

3/4 C quinoa, rubbed/rinsed, drained

Zest from one lime, divided in half and slice lime for garnish (use 1/2 the zest)

2 bruised cardamon pods (optional–I used a dash or two of dried cardamon)

1/4 tsp salt

1 tiny cinnamon stick (optional)

1-1/3 C water

Sweet Chili Lime Sauce:

3 Tbs sugar

3 Tbs tamari

1-3/4 Tbs lime juice

1/2 zest of the lime

1/2 tsp red chili flakes (I didn’t have this, so I used 1/2 tsp of Ancho chili pepper)

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp salt

4 mint leaves, sliced thinly

The Greens:

1 bunch collard greens, washed with middle veins removed (I used kale)

2-3 Tbs water

1 tsp lime juice

1 pinch salt

The rest:

14-oz extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed

Lime slices for a garnish (optional)

Mint leaves for a garnish (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

Combine the quinoa, 1/2 the lime zest, cardamon, cinnamon stick, salt, and water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, then remove from heat and don’t remove the lid. Let steam for 10 minutes.

Sweet chili lime sauce: Whisk together the sugar, tamari, lime juice, lime zest, red chili flakes, garlic,  salt, and mint until the sugar and salt and dissolved. Set aside.

Tofu: Slice the tofu into 7-8 rectangles:

Then cut each rectangle in half to make two squares, and then each square into four triangles:

I sauteed the tofu in a dry skillet for about 10 minutes on each side. The recipe says to add it a “well-seasoned” skillet.  Add the chili lime sauce and stir to coat the tofu. Turn off the heat.  The sauce will bubble up, reduce, and form a glaze.

While this is happening, slice up the kale. In a wok (which I didn’t have, so I used a small skillet) add water, lime juice, and salt. Cover with a lid and steam  until tender. (The other thing to do, is just add the greens to the quinoa and steam them that way).

To serve, layer plate with  a scoop of quinoa, kale, then tofu. Garnish with lime slices and mint. Enjoy!

Recipe source: Vegan Yum Yum

Quinoa Pilaf with Cranberries and Almonds

This is one of my favorite side dishes.

Quinoa is not a grain, but actually a seed, but certainly looks, cooks and tastes like a grain. It’s even called a “supergrain” because of it’s many benefits and easy digestibility. Quinoa is packed full of protein, magnesium, and fiber. Research has also found that eating this fabulous seed…can help prevent breast cancer, diabetes and insulin resistance. So dig in!

INGREDIENTS:

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

1 small red onion, chopped

1 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained

2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1/2 teaspoon salt

2/3 cup dried cranberries

2/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted

DIRECTIONS:

Heat oil in a medium pot over medium high heat. Add onions and cook, stirring often, until just softened, 2 to 3 minutes. Add quinoa and toast, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Stir in broth and salt and bring to a boil then reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in cranberries, cover again and continue to cook until liquid is completely absorbed and quinoa is tender, 8 to 10 minutes more. Toss with almonds. Enjoy!

Recipe source: Whole Foods

Quinoa-Couscous Cereal with Dried Fruit

This may take a bit longer to make than regular old oatmeal, but it is so worth it!  Not only is it good for you, but is quite filling–perfect to keep you going all morning!

INGREDIENTS

1 1/2 C unsweetened apple juice
1 C water
1/2 C quinoa
2 Tbs dried cranberries
2 Tbs dried apricots, chopped
2 Tbs dried blueberries
2 Tbs raisins (I like the golden variety)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 C couscous
1/2 cup soy, rice or almond milk

DIRECTIONS

In a medium saucepan, combine apple juice and water. Bring to a boil and in the meantime, rinse and drain quinoa (or use an already rinse kind) and put into a small saute pan and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly until grains begin to pop, about 2-3 mins. Add the quinoa, dried fruit and spices to the liquid in the sauce pan, stirring occasionally for about 12 minutes. Stir in couscous. Remove pan from heat and cover with a lid. Let stand for 5 mins until liquid has been absorbed.  Stir and serve with soy milk. Enjoy!

Serves 6

Recipe source: Shape Magazine, 2006

Pineapple-Cashew-Quinoa Stir-Fry

This was so flavorful and delicious!

It helps to have all the ingredients ready and chopped up before your start and the recipe calls for chilling the quinoa once it’s done, but I didn’t have time for that, so I filled the sink with cold water and placed the pan of quinoa in the sink–it worked beautifully. I also made some other changes to the recipe, but I’ll list the original and my alterations.

INGREDIENTS:

Quinoa:

1 C quinoa, well rinsed and drained (I like Ancient Harvest brand–already rinsed)

1 C pineapple juice (I used a cup from the canned pineapple you’ll need for the stir-fry)

1 C cold water

1/4 tsp soy sauce

Stir-fry:

4 oz cashews, raw and unsalted

3 Tbs peanut oil (I used olive oil)

2 scallions, sliced thinly

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 hot red chile, sliced into very thin rounds (When I started this, I realized I didn’t have one…oops)

1/2″ piece ginger, peeled and minced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced (I also added one diced yellow bell pepper)

1 C frozen green peas or cooked edamame (I used the edamame)

1/2 C fresh basil leaves, rolled and sliced thin shreds

2 Tbs chopped fresh mint

10-oz fresh pineapple, cut into bite sized pieces (about 2 C–I used canned)

3 Tbs soy sauce

3 Tbs vegetable stock

1 Tbs mirin

Lime wedges for garnish (I drizzled jarred lime juice on top)

DIRECTIONS:

Prepare the quinoa first: Combine the quinoa, juice, water and soy sauce in a medium-sized pot. Cover, place over high heat, and bring to a boil. Stir a few times, lower heat to medium-low, cover and cook for 12-14 mins until all the liquid has been absorbed and the quinoa appears plump and slightly translucent. Uncover, fluff and let cool. For best results, place the quinoa in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight, or chill for 1 hour. Like I said, I cooled it in a sink of cold water.

To prepare the stir-fry: Use a very large skillet–at least 11 inches. Place the cashews in the dry pan and heat over medium heat, stirring them, until lightly toasted, 4-5 mins. Remove the cashews from the pan, raise the heat to medium and add the oil, scallions, and garlic. When the garlic starts to sizzle, add the sliced chile pepper and ginger. Stir-fry for about 2 mins then add the bell pepper(s) and peas (or edamame).

(Such a colorful dish)!

Stir-fry for another 3-4 mins, until the bell pepper is softened. Add the basil and mint and stir for another minute before adding the pineapple and quinoa.

In a measuring cup, combine the soy sauce, vegetable stock and mirin. Pour over the quinoa mixture. Stir to incorporate completely and coat the quinoa. Continue to stir-fry 10-14 mins, until the quinoa is very hot.

(I see why the recipe called for a very large skillet)

The recipe didn’t say anything else about the cashews, so I added them the last 5 mins of stir-frying.  Serve with lime wedges and additional soy sauce to season individual servings to taste. Serves 5-6.  Enjoy!

Recipe source: Veganomicon