Breakfast Quinoa
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Quinoa is a delicious whole grain that has been around since pretty much forever, but has become more popular over the past several years. It is gluten free, high in protein, high in fiber, and readily available at the grocery store. I actually prefer it to brown rice for quick weeknight meals because it cooks faster. But until recently I didn’t think that “breakfast quinoa” was a thing.

 

Over the past few days I had been craving a warm bowl of oatmeal for breakfast, but unfortunately oatmeal does not agree with me…Even gluten free oatmeal makes me feel like a giant ball of trapped gas. And I was out of buckwheat cereal. So I thought why not make quinoa for breakfast? I could use fruit and warm breakfasty spices to make it similar to oatmeal! So I went to work and made a batch adding whatever ingredients I could find. I was able to rustle up some gala apples and dried cranberries which went together perfectly with the quinoa and spices. It turned out great and I even had leftovers for the next morning! It kinda reminded me of the McDonald’s Oatmeal but with much less sugar.

Breakfast Quinoa

Because of the higher protein content than oatmeal, quinoa may even help you feel fuller for longer! I definitely will be making quinoa for breakfast again. I think I will play with the flavors and try different types of fruits/spices/milk in this recipe. You should too! Let me know in the comments what different flavors you tried…I want to know! I think next time I might try it with pears, pecans and almond milk. Or maybe a tropical fruit with coconut milk when the weather gets warmer…

 

Breakfast Quinoa with Apples and Cranberries

 

Ingredients

1 1/2 Cups Water

1/2 Cup Uncooked Quinoa

1/2 Teaspoon Allspice

1/2 Teaspoon Cinnamon

1 Medium Apple – Washed, Cored and Diced

2 Tablespoons Dried Cranberries

1 Teaspoon Brown Sugar

Milk of Choice (Optional for topping)

 

Directions

Bring water to a boil in a medium pot. Add quinoa, allspice and cinnamon to boiling water. Stir, cover, and reduce heat to simmer for 10 minutes. Add apples, cranberries and brown sugar. Stir, recover and all to simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve. Top with milk (skim, almond, rice, soy…) if desired.

 

Breakfast Quinoa

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Baked Brie is such an easy and delicious classic holiday appetizer, but the way you prepare it can really make a difference for your waistline and overall health. I know a lot of people like to prepare it by topping it with jelly and wrapping it in puff pastry, however this adds quite a few calories and refined carbohydrates, which is not great for someone that is trying to at least eat semi-healthy over the holidays. I like to prepare my brie with real ingredients like nuts and fruit so at least the extra calories I will be adding to the brie will come with nutrients such as vitamins, fiber and “good for you” fatty acids. Plus, I think my brie tastes better, but I may be a little biased.

Healthier Baked Brie

Baked Brie with Pecans and Pears

Ingredients
1 Wheel of Brie ~7 oz
Cooking Spray
1/3 Cup Chopped Pecans
1 Pear – Cored and Diced (about 1 cup)
1/2 Teaspoon Ground Cinnamon
1 Tablespoon Pure Maple Syrup

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray small sauté pan with cooking spray. Sauté pears and pecans in pan with cinnamon and maple syrup on medium heat, stirring continually for about 5 min, or until pears and pecans are warm and fragrant. Place Brie in a Brie baking dish (I love mine from Crate and Barrel:  http://www.crateandbarrel.com/brie-baking-dish/s672630), top with pear and pecan topping and cover with lid. Cook in oven for ~10-15 minutes.

Nutrient Analysis
7 Servings
Per Serving (1 oz cheese plus toppings)
152 Calories and 5.2 grams of Saturated Fat

For comparison, 1 serving of baked brie cooked with a Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry Sheet has 232 calories and 9 grams of saturated fat per serving.

Baked Brie
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Risotto is traditionally made with Arborio rice, which is a short grain white rice. Unfortunately, it is not a whole grain so it contains less dietary fiber and essential vitamins and minerals than brown rice. Whole grains have been linked to a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and some cancers as well as healthier body weights so I am always trying to sub in whole grains in recipes whenever possible.

I love risotto… so I had a goal to try and make it with brown rice. I scoured the internet for recipes for whole grain risotto and found very little so I tried making it the traditional way and just replaced the Arborio rice for short grain brown rice and used white wine and unsalted vegetable broth for the liquid. It took forever. I kept adding more and more and more vegetable broth and stirring and stirring and stirring and eventually after an hour gave up and ate it because I was starving and we had to be somewhere. I felt like I was on “Top Chef” with a recipe that was not working and running out of time. While the flavor wasn’t bad, my risotto tasted under cooked and was a little crunchy. It definitely was not worth the effort and I would have been eliminated had I been on “Top Chef.”.

So I thought about what I could do to make a whole grain risotto work. I thought that maybe if I cook the rice about half way first, it wouldn’t take as long and wouldn’t end up crunchy. I also decided to use some coconut almond milk instead of broth to help give it a little more creaminess and a different flavor. I’m so glad I tried to make a whole grain risotto a second time because it turned out great and I couldn’t even tell it was with brown rice when I was eating it!

 

Whole Grain Risotto with Butternut Squash

Ingredients
1 Cup Short Grain Brown Rice
1 Cup Water
1 Small Yellow Onion Chopped (~1 cup chopped)
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
2 Cloves Minced Garlic
1/2 Cup Dry White Wine
2 Cups Unsweetened Almond Coconut Milk Blend ( I used Almond Breeze )
1/2 Cup Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1/2 Tsp Ginger, Cumin and Coriander
1/4 Tsp Cinnamon, Allspice, Salt and Pepper
1/8 Tsp Cayenne (Optional)
2 Cups Bite Sized Chunks of Butternut Squash, Cooked

Directions
Add water and rice to medium sized pot and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to low simmer and cover. Cook until all the water is absorbed, ~15 minutes. After rice has been cooking for about 10 minutes, start heating olive oil to medium heat in a large saucepan with high sides. Add onions and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent. Add partially cooked rice and stir for about 1-2 minutes. Add dry white wine and stir until absorbed. Add ½ cup almond coconut milk and stir until absorbed. Keep adding almond coconut milk in ½ cup increments, stirring until absorbed after each addition until all the milk is used. After the last ½ cup of almond coconut milk is added and mostly absorbed, turn heat down to low. Add parmesan cheese and mix in. Add the ginger, cumin, coriander, cinnamon, allspice, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper. Stir in until evenly distributed. Add butternut squash and stir in gently. (If butternut squash is not warm, just heat in microwave until warm before adding.) Remove from heat and serve immediately. Pair with a fresh salad for a complete meal. 🙂

Butternut Squash Risotto

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