One of my many informal New Year’s resolutions is to slow down and take pleasure in even the little things. I have a horrible tendency to rush everything. I often just want to hurry up and get to the end of things (ahem, school) and don’t think to enjoy the process. Well, by January 2nd I had already forgotten about this particular resolution. That morning, I rushed to the grocery store to quickly grab what I needed and sprint back home. After unloading my groceries into the trunk of my car, I started running with the cart to put it back, hit a bump in the concrete, and went tumbling to the ground, but not before flipping over the cart first. The result was a bruised shin and hands, but, more painfully, a bruised ego. Like any bumbling fool, I jumped to my feet to look around and see if anyone else had witnessed my embarrassing fall, and then I scrambled to get my cart upright so that I could run back to my car and hide my shame. Because I bruise like a peach, I still have a purple lump on my shin that serves as a constant reminder of the importance of this resolution.
This morning when I woke up, the sun was shining and I felt refreshed after a long night of good sleep. This time when I went to get groceries, I took my time and enjoyed the experience; when I’m not trying to rush things, grocery shopping (like cooking) is a truly relaxing and therapeutic experience for me. It actually calms me down. Not to mention, when I take my time, I usually stumble upon amazing foods that I’ve never tried before. For example, I recently bought golden beets for the first time and instantly fell in love
I could NEVER go without breakfast. Completely skipping a meal just isn’t an option for me because whenever I do my body simply shuts down. I’m pretty uncoordinated so simple functions like walking and talking (especially at the same time) are hard for me anyway, but when I don’t have anything for breakfast, I become catatonic. Usually it doesn’t matter what I eat in order to snap myself out of the stupor, just so long as I eat something.
But because breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, I like for that something to be special. Unfortunately, with the crazy school/work schedule I’ve got going on right now, I rarely have time to make my wonderful big breakfasts in the morning. In fact, I don’t even have time to properly dress myself. Just between you and me, there have been a couple of instances recently when I’ve put my clothes on backwards or inside-out–because I often dress in the dark so as not to wake the hubs–and end up realizing it, undressing, and fixing my mistake in the car. Don’t worry, the corrections are made at stop lights or in parking lots At the time, I just pray that those around me aren’t taking pictures of the half-dressed crazy lady (me) in the car next to them.
So since I’m obviously a big mess in the morning, I decided to prepare a yummy, healthy, and portable breakfast that I can simply grab from the fridge to take with me on those hectic mornings. That’s how these Healthy Oat Bars were born.
Just in case you haven’t formally met, let me introduce you to quinoa’s equally delicious cousin: Millet
Like its cousin quinoa, millet is a gluten-free grain-like seed that is considered a grain in the culinary world because it is cooked much the same way as rice and other grains. Millet has been grown for centuries in Africa, India, Asia, and Europe and has been used in everything from couscous to bread. In fact, there is even mention in the Bible of using millet to make bread! Because of millet’s amazingly mild, somewhat nutty flavor, it’s a versatile “grain” to use in almost any dish.
Besides the great flavor, there are also many health benefits associated with eating millet:
~Alkalizing in the body
~Is abundant in lignans, a phytonutrient that protects against heart disease
~Has been shown to substantially lower risk for Type 2 diabetes
~Contains niacin, which can help lower cholesterol
~Considered a whole grain and whole grains have been shown to protect against breast cancer
~Contains many wonderful nutrients, including magnesium, calcium, manganese, tryptophan, fiber, B vitamins, and antioxidants
Now that you and millet have become better acquainted, let me also introduce you to one of my all-time favorite dishes: Millet Salad with Roasted Tomatoes and Basil
This dish is so easy to throw together and it’s amazingly good. I’ll make up a huge serving of this dish and eat it for lunch and dinner for days to come and it never gets old. For those who do eat meat, you could easily toss in some shredded grilled chicken or serve the Millet Salad alongside some grilled or steamed fish.
This is the perfect light Summer salad that will fill you up and keep you feeling healthy and energized. I know I probably shouldn’t say that it’s one of my absolute favorite dishes (because they all are, right?), but it really is! I hope you enjoy, too!
Serves: Approx. 2 large main dishes, or 6 smaller side dishes
⅔ cup millet, soaked for at least 8 hours, rinsed and drained
1½ cups water
3 roma tomatoes
⅓ cup cucumber, chopped
¼ cup sweet onion, chopped
3 Tbs. kalamata olives, sliced
¼ cup basil leaves, sliced in to thin strips
½ Tbs. olive oil
½ lemon, juiced
⅛-1/4 tsp. powdered stevia (or sweetener of choice)
sea salt and pepper, to taste
To roast the tomatoes, heat the oven to 375 degrees F. Slice the tomatoes in half and place them on a sheet pan, cut side up. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and place the pan in the oven for 45 minutes, or until the tomatoes are tender and their skins are beginning to brown.
While the tomatoes are cooking, also cook the millet. Bring the water to a boil in a small to medium-sized sauce pan. Once the water begins to boil, turn the heat down to low and add the millet. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. I know it’s hard but try not to peek. Check after 15 minutes to see if the water has been absorbed. Once it has, fluff the millet with a fork or spoon, re-cover the pan and remove from heat. It’s best to let the millet sit for at least 5 minutes to allow it to really fluff.
While the tomatoes and the millet are cooking, prepare the cucumber, onion, and olives, tossing them into a large bowl as you go.
In a smaller bowl, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and stevia and set aside.
When the tomatoes are done and have been allowed to cool, pour the delicious juice from the tomatoes into the big bowl with the veggies. Then, roughly chop the tomatoes into large chunks and toss them into the bowl, too.
Add the millet to the large bowl once it has cooled to room temperature. Top with the olive oil mixture and stir everything together until fully combined.
Serve and top with the sliced basil leaves. Enjoy!
I’m usually pretty excited to get into the kitchen and create yummy dishes and try new recipes, but every so often I just get lazy. Then there are times when I’m uninspired or when my fridge is so bare that I don’t have enough ingredients to complete a recipe. Thankfully, I’m usually prepared for just such situations and I know that I can rustle up something. This is typically when the Kitchen Sink Quinoa recipe steps in–aptly named because you can throw in almost anything but the kitchen sink and you’re guaranteed to have a winner.
You may have heard of quinoa recently. Perhaps you’ve even had the pleasure of enjoying the extremely versatile little grain-like seeds. Quinoa certainly deserves all the buzz it’s been generating. Not only is it naturally gluten-free, but it’s also a wonderful source of protein, iron and potassium, making it an excellent post-workout snack or a good base for a big, filling meal.
In anticipation of my occasional laziness, I usually cook up a big batch of quinoa to keep in the fridge. Quinoa is a simple dish to prepare and cooks much like other grains and legumes. It’s important to rinse (or soak) quinoa before cooking in order to remove its’ bitter-tasting coating, called saponin. I personally prefer to soak the quinoa for at least 8 hours before I intend to cook it. This kind of preparation might sound like a pain, but it’s actually quite simple. I’ll usually place the quinoa in a container, cover it with water, and put it in the fridge before I go to bed/work. Then when I get up in the morning/come home from work, I just rinse the quinoa in a strainer and it’s good to go–that easy!
Because this is more of a throw-in-what-you’ve-got kinda thing than an actual recipe, the ingredient amounts are estimates and the ingredients can be easily modified to accommodate your preferences and what’s in your fridge. In fact, I substituted millet (another delicious gluten-free grain-like seed) for quinoa in the picture below and it turned out great!
1 Tbs. coconut oil (olive and grapeseed oil will also work)
½ cup onion, chopped
¼ cup red bell pepper, chopped
¼ cup zucchini, chopped
½ cup mushrooms, sliced thin
pinch of salt and pepper
2 Tbs. Bragg’s Liquid Aminos or gluten-free Tamari soy sauce
To cook the quinoa, bring the water to a boil in a small to medium-sized sauce pan. Once the water begins to boil, turn the heat down to low and add the quinoa. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes. I know it’s hard but try not to peek. Check after 15 minutes to see if the water has been absorbed. Once it has, re-cover the pan and remove from heat. It’s best to let the quinoa sit for at least 5 minutes to allow it to really fluff.
While the quinoa is cooking, chop up your veggies.
Heat the cooking oil in a large skillet over medium-low to medium heat. Add the onions first and saute for about 5 minutes. Next, add the rest of your vegetables and the salt and pepper and saute until the veggies begin to soften. Add the mushrooms last and saute until soft, a few minutes more. *Please remember to constantly stir the veggies.
Once the quinoa is done, add it to the sauteed veggies along with the soy sauce. Stir everything together and serve immediately.
Experimenting with the ingredients is the fun part. There are so many possibilities! I’ve made this before using many different ingredients and combinations. Some of my favorite additions are quartered brussels sprouts, chopped tomatoes, chopped green onion, spinach, and much more! Just make sure to add spinach to the pan at the very end to avoid wilting. Also, tomatoes and green onions are best when added after everything has been removed from the heat. I also like to sprinkle nutritional yeast on top at the end for a nice cheesy-like flavor.