Sunday, August 17, 2014

Fruity (& nutty) Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

Morning!  Or afternoon for some of you.  Hope all is well in your world today.  :)

I'm talking about quinoa today!  Mmmm, quinnnnoaaaaaaa.....

Quinoa: the weird grain with a weird name, right?  Quinoa has become a staple in my kitchen because of so many reasons:  it's highly nutritious, it's easy & quick to cook, it's got a neat little nutty flavor, & it tops the chart on versatiility.  I loves me some quinoa!

Quinoa (pronounced "KEEN-wah") is a gluten-free whole grain that, in my opinion, acts a lot like rice (but way more nutritious & way quicker to cook).  High in the good plant-based kind of protein, quinoa also offers a good dose of fiber & iron, and it even provides the rare combination of all 9 amino acids essential for nutrition.  Quinoa is most definitely a superfood in my book!  Eating quinoa does a body good!  And then get this - not only are they uber healthy, they've made themselves even harder to resist by coming in a rainbow of colors!  Don't you just love that?  The most common colors I've seen are black, red, and white (really more of a cream color), and in my experience, they all cook up pretty much the same.  I, personally, usually use white quinoa.  I like the way the plain color of the white quinoa lets my other add-ins to the quinoa pop more & makes it all look more delish!

I've been having a lot of fun lately with quinoa.  Just this morning, I created this delicious, nutritious, colorful, hearty, 100% plant-based quinoa breakfast bowl in just 5 minutes.

I had some leftover quinoa from the other morning, which made this a breeze to whip up.  Even if you don't have leftover quinoa, a quick 15 minutes on the stove will get you fresh & piping hot quinoa.  (Deets later in the post on the quickest & best way to consistently cook great quinoa.)

I heated up the quinoa in the microwave (you can also use a stovetop) & then added bits of every kind of fruit I had in the house.  I ended up with a bowl of strawberries, blueberries, kiwi, and bananas.  I topped it off with sliced almonds & a healthy dose of chia seeds, both of which I always have in my ktichen.  Mmmm, chia seeds - another superfood!  I'll be doing a blog post later on chia seeds, but if you just can't wait (and really you shouldn't - go read about them!), this is a great article all about chia seeds & the bennies of adding them into your diet.

Ok, back to quinoa.

There you have it - the quinoa breakfast bowl, one of the easiest & most delicious ways I've found to get more quinoa in my diet.  This meal is completely 100% vegan & plant-based.

If you've not tried quinoa, do your body & yourself a favor by picking it up & trying it.  This sweet & nutty breakfast bowl is a great way to start (or keep!) eating quinoa, but quinoa is so super versatile, you can use it for a variety of meals.  Here are a few of my favorite savory recipes that use quinoa:

Crunchy Cashew Thai Quinoa Salad with Ginger Peanut Dressing from Ambitious Kitchen

100% vegan & gluten-free.  I make this ALL the time!  So delicious.

Spicy Quinoa Taco Bowl from One Ingredient Chef

A totally different (and more nutritious) take on taco bowls.  We Texans loooooove our taco bowls!  And 100% vegan to boot.

Slow Cooker Lentil Quinoa Tacos from Amuse Your Bouche

To find an easy 100% vegan recipe that slow cooks well is just heaven to my ears, and this one does just that.  I really like this recipe.  Good & hearty & oh so nutritious & delicious!

Easy instructions for cooking consistently good quinoa:

1 cup quinoa, rinsed
2 cups water
dash of salt (if desired - not necessary)

Bring water to a boil.
Add in the rinsed quinoa & salt (is using).
Stir & cover, simmering for about 15 minutes, or until most of the liquid is gone.

That's it.  Yes, it's that easy.

So all you out there not eating quinoa, stop whatever you're doing right now & go buy some!  Ok, so maaaaaybe not that.  But instead, right now maybe you just go put it on your grocery list to pick up next time you're shopping.  That & some fruit are really all you need for a different & nutritious kind of breakfast tomorrow.  Whatever kind of add-ins you do past that (chia seeds, hemp seeds, almond or other non-dairy milk, walnuts, almond slivers, you name it!) are all bonus increases to the nutritiousness & deliciousness of this 100% plant-based breakfast.

Whether you're toying with the idea of eating a more plant-based diet, or are already eating a plant-based diet but want to add in more whole grains & nutritiousness & maybe a new recipe of two, adding quinoa in all its versatility into your diet is something to consider.  Your heart (and your body) will thank you for it.

Until next time....
Peace, y'all.  And be kind to one another.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Life can suck it!

Ok, so I took a little unintented blog hiatus there for a couple of months.  Nothing I planned, but it was needed.  Life was being a big, giant a-hole, and I needed to put my focus on other things.  Thankfully, in the "this, too, shall pass" philosophy that shouts in my brain during times like that, life has indeed found someone else to be a big, giant a-hole with.  So I'm back to blogging & sharing with you whatever quirky, interesting, fun stuff comes up in this quirky, (sometimes) interesting, (usually) fun life I manage.  :)

The blog was never far from my mind, though.  Turns out that was a good thing!

I did some soul searching over the past couple of months to see if my not blogging was a sign that I'm just not into this blog thing anymore.  While I was "hiatus-ing," I thought about so many topics I wanted to write about & wondered why I wasn't blogging.  Life was being a jerkface, as I mentioned, but there were also a couple of other things in play:  1) those couple months were incredibly busy in our household(!), and 2) I hit a total lull with my vegan cooking.  Totes.

I've now been eating a plant-based diet for 8 months, and it seemed the excitement of the challenge of eating vegan got buried with life.  Hum drum, hum drum, same ol' stuff to eat, not really wanting to cook much, ate more processed vegan crap than I ever want to again (think boca burgers & the like), blah, blah, f''ing blah.  I must've said this to life, like, a billion times:

But then a couple of amazing things happened that has renewed my spark & creativity, and it's gotten me excited to continue sharing with you all the new things I'm cooking & the delicious stuff I'm eating.  First, I had a friend text me to say she made kale chips & followed this very first recipe I posted back in January, and she was thanking me & telling me how good they were.  SCORE!!  I love that!  That put a spring in my step for sure.  Then, Kellie's daughter emailed me saying she's interested in eating more healthful & asked if I would help her get started.  SCORE AGAIN!  I love that, too!  If there's one thing I love more than cooking (& eating) delicious vegan meals, it's watching Jeopardy!  No, not really.  (Yes, really!  I love that freakin' show!  They've got the Battle of the Decades going on right now.  Well, not right now.  At 4:00.  Ummm, information all my other total dorkrod friends will appreciate.)  Back to the topic....what I love even more is sharing what I've learned about the best ways to be healthy.  It's been fun to engage with her about that.

And then the other amazing thing that happened is that I found a very real nirvana.  Right here in Texas.  I kid you not.  I mean, this particular nirvana only lasted a weekend.  Really, only a Saturday.  But I found a paradise of sorts for someone like me.  And here's what it's called:  The Texas VegFest.  A celebration of all things vegan & vegetarian.  *cue the clouds opening & the "aaaaaaahhhhhhh" spiritual music*  My sister, who is also a new vegan (and a totally fantastic human being, bee tee dubs), made her way up from Houston so she could come to the festival with me.  And Oh. My. Godddd!  We were in heaven.  So many food tasting booths.  Coconut chips (oh so sugary & oh so not healthy), braised brussel sprouts with an amazing asian-ish dressing, tofurkey (good stuff - laugh all you want), honey made out of apples....and so many others.  Looooooots of local Austin businesses.  Austin just rocks!

My sister, the goofball

And these other non-food companies!  So many great ones I learned about, who care about their impact on the environment, care about health, & have way better thoughts than "I wonder how much more money could I make."  Spoke right to my soul.  And the t-shirts.  They were the bomb!  Such creativeness.  Best one I got:

Totally wearing that to the next lesbian thing we go to.  Righteous!

My sister & I had a great day together, & we had a full-on dose of kindred spirits all around us that day.  It filled my soul up to the brim!  Gotta do stuff like that more often.  Don't we all, though, really?  "Do what fills your soul up to the brim!"  I like that.  Good way to live life, I think.

So all of that to say I'm back!  Back doing the blogging thing.  Back to sharing what cool, new recipes I'm making & what cool, new things I'm learning about eating in a plant-based way.  Back to sharing whatever life brings my way.

Sometimes life can suck it!  Cheers to hanging in there.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Today is a new day

On my morning run today, I hit a major personal milestone, which should NOT have happened, considering I spent the entire day yesterday eating (gorging is more like it) on sugary indulgences, mostly from 7-11.

Yesterday was technically my first day of vacation - thus the free ride I ultimately gave myself to eat whatever sugary treats I wanted yesterday.  But that wasn't *exactly* the plan when I woke up.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

What the.....%$@&#!

Ever paid $150 for something with your debit card, only to have the company mistakenly take an extra $3,000 out of your account?  Doh!

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Another year for my personal March challenge

Hey everyone!  I'm so excited for March!  Wanna know why???!?
  • The weather is always so awesome during March in Austin, and so it marks the start of kayaking season for my wife Kellie and me.  I can't wait to get out on the boats again!
  • It's spring break, which means both Kellie and I have off for 9 days together.  Bring on the fun!
  • I get to spend a long weekend camping with three of my great friends from high school.  It seems we are making this a tradition, and I just can't WAIT for the great conversations & laughs we all have together!  It can't get here soon enough.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

A weekend of new a special happy birthday

Whoa!  What a weekend this was.  I didn't really plan it this way, but this weekend ended up being a whirlwind of several "firsts" for me.  I love trying out new things, so this has been a fuuuuun weekend!

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Making magic through food in Austin, TX

I live inside my head quite a bit.  And I'm pretty sure it's much, much (MUCH) more than other people do.

I process things, ask myself questions, get angry with things, get over hurts, celebrate little victories, come up with creative ideas, re-live moments of the past, wonder which celebrity will kick the bucket next, think of loved ones I miss, wonder what everyone is doing, plan my day, remodel my kitchen, cook extravagant dinners, climb Kilimanjaro, win both Showcase Showdowns on TPIR, cage fight in Nicaragua ( would be in Thailand).....and that's all before I break out the Magic Bullet & make my morning smoothie.  :)

photo courtesy of

Friday, February 14, 2014

Good wine. Great brownies.

Ahhh, love is in the air today. And it feels good. :) You can't turn your head anywhere today without seeing red hearts & roses everywhere. The grocery story today made me laugh, seeing all the men frantically getting flowers, chocolate, and the ingredients for their cooked-at-home dinner for their beloveds tonight. It was all so cute.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Spaghetti Squash & Black Bean Mexican Banana Wontons for dessert

You see the guy in this picture?

No, not the one in the colorful headpiece looking like a Hawaiian banana!  (Although keep bananas in mind.  A delicious banana dessert is coming up later.)  The one on the left.  That's my brother-in-law standing with my sister Aimee during their honeymoon in Hawaii.  Well, ex-brother-in-law now.  Let's call him Derrick.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The giraffe who was fed to the lions

It seems people are up in arms about a recent news story about a giraffe who was killed & fed to the lions at a zoo. The facts of the story, as shared by the media, are this. A completely healthy 18-month-old giraffe named Marius was purposely killed with a bolt gun to the head by a Danish zoo for reasons of avoiding inbreeding. The giraffe was then both autopsied & dismembered in front of a live audience of adults & children, and then the dismembered giraffe was fed to the lions, tigers, and leopards in the zoo.

Marius, 2 days before he was killed (photo courtesy of CNN)

Friday, February 7, 2014

What to do with salt & lime when you're out of tequila: crispy, refreshing jicama

If you're ever hankering to do something with leftover salt & lime in your cabinet & you just don't feel like running to the liquor store to get tequila, I've got the perfect solution for you: crispy, refreshing jicama.  :)

Monday, February 3, 2014

Easy Lemon Lentil Soup

One of the best gifts I've gotten from becoming vegan is that I have been (re)introduced to some of the most amazing tastes out there.  Being vegan is, for me, primarily about my health, so along with eating a plant-based diet, I have also given up the vast majority of processed foods.  Once I got away from eating processed foods, it's like my taste buds came alive.  Brussell sprouts?  Omg, delish.  Roasted.  Right out of the oven.  Lightly browned.  Tastes so nutty.  Perfection in a vegetable.  I can't believe I'm actually saying all that.  I have also fallen in love again with blackberries.  My brother, sister, and I used to go pick (and eat) those off the wild vines near my grandfather's house.  I'm "re-delighting" in them now as an adult, & it's been sweet.  :)

One other thing that has gotten my attention lately in the world of plant-based eating is lentils.  Oh, how I love lentils! 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Easy Mini Nacho Pizzas

So today begins February, a month of many celebrations.  Valentine's Day probably comes to mind the most.  Love, hearts, and all that commercial stuff.  I'm not a fan of this holiday (one day a year to show your love?  Nah.), but I can appreciate that other people are.  I do like how it (hopefully) reminds people to show their loved one(s) how much they love them, even if it is once a year.

How about Groundhog day?  Better yet, how about the movie, Groundhog Day?  I absolutely loooooove that movie!  Bill Murray is a riot, and his friend Ned kills me every time.  And Andie MacDowell is absolutely adorable in it.  I love the idea of the movie, that we get to live a day over and over and over again until we get it right.  Good feel good movie.  I need to pop that one in the DVD again soon.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Meal plan for the week.....and my 1988 muzak!

Good morning!

What a great day it is today.  It's only 9:15am on this beautiful Friday morning in Austin, and I have already meal planned for our upcoming week, been to both of my regular grocery stores, made a Target run, and now I'm at home blogging to you guys & listening to some jam from 1988.  It doesn't get much better than this.  :)

103.7 Bob FM is both mine & Kellie's favorite radio station, and my favorite thing they do every weekday morning is the "9 at 9."  They play the top 9 songs on this exact week during a particular year.  Today, they are playing one of my favorite years ever, from the year I graduated high school....1988.  Makes me think back & reminisce to where I was in life during this particular week back then.  Let's see, I was:

  • thoroughly enjoying my senior year in high school.  Go Rangers!
  • best friends with Lynette, Carole, and Jay.  These awesome gals were in the Sterling Stars (drill team) with me, and we all had been close friends throughout high school.  We're all still connected through facebook these days, and I really still enjoy them so much.
  • just finished up my last football season as a Sterling Star.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Vegan Thai Coconut Lime Soup.....& my Thailand adventures

A decade ago, I spent three weeks on a solo adventure traveling all around Thailand.  It was, it turns out, the vacation of a lifetime for me.  And to think that the reason I chose to go to Thailand was because I loooooove Thai food.

The conversation in my brain at the time went something like this:
"I have some extra time.  And some extra cash.  Where in the world shall I go next?  Let's see.  What kind of food do I adore?  Ooohhh, I love Thai food!  I mean, I'm getting Thai take-out at least once (sometimes 2-3 times) a week.  That Cha-am restaurant down the street in Berkeley is just to die for!  So Thailand it is!"
And off to Thailand I went 6 weeks later.

I had so many adventures and met so many interesting people!  I rode an elephant through the Thai jungle to get to the start of a whitewater rafting adventure (after mountain biking to even get to the elephants).

Starting the elephant adventure