Quinoa Tortillas and a Southwestern Sweet Potato Wrap

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As much as I love to cook and truly relish my time in the kitchen, there are also times when I want a meal that’s fast and easy, but just as delicious as something that I might have slaved over for hours. I also like meals that I can make for dinner, quickly pack up the leftovers, and take with me for lunch the next day.

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Almond-Macadamia-Flax Butter

20130419-091416.jpg TGIFriday! I don’t know about you, but I’m so thankful that it’s the weekend! I had two extremely important exams this week–one on Wednesday and one on Thursday–and I’m looking forward to having some time over the weekend to just relax and take my mind off of everything work- and school-related.

This past week though (really, the past few weeks), I’ve thought about nothing but those exams. I don’t know about you, but I’m a terrible test-taker, especially when the exams are timed. My anxiety always gets the better of me and I tend to get distracted easily and completely lose my concentration. The last long, timed test I took, I started to get hungry halfway through and I couldn’t think of anything but the crazy rumbling noises coming from my belly. Because I didn’t want to go through that again, I vowed to come up with a plan. I did a little research to find out what foods would give me enough energy to stay alert for up to 5 hours (the length of each exam) and power my brain! As it turns out, the body uses proteins to manufacture amino acids, which contribute to mental acuity and motivation. There are also studies that show that omega-3 fatty acids increase memory and reduce the rate of brain aging. With that in mind, I decided to make a big batch of Almond-Macadamia-Flax Butter.

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Roasted Kabocha Squash with Quinoa, Pico de Gallo, and Avocado

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I don’t know how I went so long in life without trying kabocha squash. I suppose I always thought it looked a bit knobby and unattractive sitting next to its fellow smooth-skinned squash brothers. Not to mention, the unknown can be daunting. Why would I try the funny-looking squash when there are so many other beautiful varieties that I already know are delicious? (Honestly, I should know better than to judge a book by its cover.) I’ll tell you why…

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Red Lentil Stew (Masoor Dal)

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I’ll be perfectly honest: It can be difficult at times to be a vegetarian, particularly when eating out at restaurants. Don’t get me wrong, I love salads. But in many restaurants, the salads are the only vegetarian dishes on the menu. If I’m looking for more options, I’ve found that my best bet is to convince my hubby to go to Thai, Chinese, or Indian restaurants (just to name a few). That’s because, while it’s common to eat meat with practically every meal in our culture, meat isn’t such a staple in many other cultures.

In an effort to broaden my horizons, I’ve been trying my hand at unfamiliar dishes–dishes that I typically only encounter at restaurants–at home. Novel idea, right? Why haven’t I tried this more often?!? I’ve been focusing on the more traditional foods (not the more recent, Westernized foods) that are staples in different countries. My focus this time around was on Indian food. Indian food commonly includes grains, legumes, veggies, and spices.  Dal (also spelled dahl or daal) is a traditional Indian stew prepared from dried split lentils, peas, or beans. It’s a pretty basic dish that can be adapted to accommodate nearly any preferences. And for those who consume little to no meat, daal provides a comparable protein content to meat. It’s also a great source of fiber, iron, and potassium–all with virtually no fat! Amazing, right?!
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