quinoa

Spinach Quinoa Feta Cakes & Cucumber Dill Yogurt Sauce

In my attempt to try and omit meat from our diets without the husband noticing, I made these and he had NO idea :) SCORE! Even my meat-loving 3 year old picky eater was saying "I want some more of these 'meat' cakes" haha

spinach cakes
spinach cakes

I'm always curious as to which foods are better eaten raw and which are better consumed cooked and for the longest time I thought spinach is best eaten raw, but did you know that it's actually better absorbed by the body COOKED? Cooking it actually increases its health benefits! Just like tomatoes!

Spinach has MANY health benefits, but my 3 favorites are:

1) Skin care - can relieve dry itchy skin if consumed on a regular bases. Need to get me a juicer. My birthday is coming up. Anyone? :)

2) Keeps you regular - its high fiber content, as well as water helps promote a healthy digestive tract. Yes, everybody poops!

So, here is a very delicious, nutritious & simple recipe to incorporate more spinach into your diet:

Ingredients:

Spinach Cakes

  • 1 medium onion (I like the sweet onions) finely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves,  finely chopped
  • 6 oz chopped baby spinach
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 1/4 cups of cooked quinoa
  • 8 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • 1 tbsp fresh chopped dill
  • 1/4 tsp grated lemon zest
  • 1/2 cups bread crumbs
  • himalayan salt & pepper to taste

Cucumber Dill Yogurt Sauce

  • 1 cup of plain TOTAL aka FULL FAT! Greek yogurt (FAGE is my FAVE!)
  • 1 medium size finely chopped cucumber
  • 2 tbsp of finely chopped scallions
  • 2 tsps of fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tsps of fresh chopped dill
  • Salt & pepper

Directions:

1. Cook your quinoa according to directions. Usually, it's bring to boil, then reduce and simmer until a ring forms around it, drain and cool

2. Sautee onion for 2 minutes, add garlic until softened and fragrant. Mmmm, love this smell!

3. Add spinach and cook until wilted, about 4-5 minutes. Transfer the mixture to a bowl

4. Add the eggs, cooked quinoa, dill, feta, lemon zest, salt & pepper. Mix well. Add bread crumbs and let the mixture sit for a bit to absorb the moisture

5. Form round patties in your hand and line them up on a cutting board so they are all ready to be cooked.

6. Heat you skillet on medium-high heat and place the patties, in batches ( I did about 4-5 patties per round)

7. Grill them until they are browned about 4-5 minutes per side.

8. Serve with the yogurt sauce

Yogurt Sauce Directions:

1. Whisk together the yogurt, scallions, lemon juice, dill and cucumbers in a small bowl, season with salt & pepper and refrigerate to allow the flavors to mend. If you don't have time for this step, no worries, it's good as is :)

Enjoy!

The 3 Grains You Need To Start Eating Now!

I know we’ve all heard about the basic grains like brown rice, oatmeal, wheat flour, but there other more exciting grains out there that pack more fiber and protein than your average grain. Warning – your taste buds will be challenged!

Let’s first talk about AMARANTH! I first heard about it on the Dr. Oz show, so decided to try it out for myself. It’s very different from anything I’ve ever tasted with a sweet, peppery flavor and a nice crunchy texture. It’s gluten free like many of the other grains and works well in baked goods or as a side.

  • Protein Punch: Amaranth contains 28 gram of high quality protein per cup! And what is protein? Pretty much a hand in every critical function of your body. The protein contained in amaranth is also complete containing a complete set of amino acids. Even though we only need a certain amount of protein in our bodies each day (46 grams for women & 56 grams for men), there are also other factors to consider. For example: after a work-out, you need the extra protein to help the body rebuild the muscles and sustain an optimal recovery

  • Calcium Galore: Amaranth packs almost 300 milligrams of calcium/cup compares with white rice of 52 milligrams

  • Lysine: An amino acid that helps your body absorb calcium, process protein, and convert fatty acids to energy. The body can't make its own lysine and so must obtain it from foods, such as amaranth.

  • Magnesium: Contains 519 grams of magnesium, while white rice only contains 46 grams. Magnesium relaxes blood vessels, improving blood flow and nutrient delivery while lowering blood pressure

  • Iron: Contains 15 milligrams of iron

  • Fiber: Contains 18 grams of fiber, which aids in digestion and contributes to lower cholesterol

  • Disease prevention: The oils, high in linolenic acid, in amaranth have been shown to help prevent and treat those with hypertension and heart disease. Regular consumption of amaranth can reduce cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure.

  • Grey Hair Prevention: This was a shocker to me as I’m sure it is to you, but apparently amaranth shows promise in prevention of premature greying of the hair.

Buckwheat is actually not even a grain, but a fruit seed related to rhubarb, but since it’s mostly confused with being a grain and it is super nutritious, I decided to include it. Buckwheat (Гречка in Russian) brings back a lot of childhood memories for me, because buckwheat is very widely used in Russia and its cooking.

  • Amino Acids: Contains all of the 8 amino acids which are essential to our health.

  • Disease Prevention: Buckwheat has a rich supply of flavonoids, which protect us against disease like high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

  • Disease Management: Buckwheat is beneficial for managing diabetes, because it lowers glucose levels.

  • Fiber: High in insoluble fiber, which can help you avoid gallstones

  • Weight Loss Management: Buckwheat fills you up faster and suppresses your appetite, a great tool for weight loss.

  • High Levels of Potassium: Potassium helps to maintain the water and acid balance in blood and tissue cells.

  • High Levels of Zinc: Zinc helps to bolster the immune system

Bottom line is incorporating buckwheat in your diet can help you stay fit, lively, and healthy.

Quinoa (pronounced KIN-WA)  is probably my favorite grain of all, not only due to its high nutritious content, but because it is so versatile. You can use it as a side to dinner, in salads, soups, breakfast, you name it! You can really get creative here!

  • Protein Power House: Packs 9 grams of protein/cup compared with a 6 gram for the egg.

  • Amino Acids: Contains all of the 8 amino acids making it a “complete” protein.

  • Fiber Heaven: Rich in fiber, it’s digested slowly and has a low glycemic index, which produces a gradual rise in blood glucose/sugar levels.

  • Gluten Free: There has been a debate whether a gluten-free diet is actually healthier for an average person, but it definitely is necessary for people with digestive disorders, like celiac disease.

  • Bone Builder: A fabulous non-dairy source of calcium, which builds and maintains bones and teeth, helps regulate the contraction of the heart, and facilitates nerve and muscle function. One cup contains 30 milligrams of calcium.

  • Brain Power: Great source of iron, which helps to deliver oxygen to the blood, boosting energy and brain power. Quinoa’s vitamin B content can help keep the mind sharp, maintain brain volume and stabilize mood.

These 3 grains will surely give you something new to play with in the kitchen, so go ahead and experiment :)

Quinoa Salad with Beans, Avocado & Lime-Cumin Dressing

This is one of my favorite and easiest salads to prepare. Not to mention powerhouse of nutritious ingredients. Quinoa is high in protein, includes all nine essential amino acids, which makes it a great choice for vegans.

Because quinoa is a very good source of manganese as well as a good source of magnesium, folate, and phosphorus, this "grain" may be especially valuable for persons with migraine headaches, diabetes and atherosclerosis.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup dry quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1 3/4 cup water
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 avocado, chopped into chunks
  • handful cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped into chunks
  • small handful cilantro, diced
  • 1 limes, juiced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tbsp olive oil
  • salt, to taste

Directions

  1. Warm the coconut oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Once it’s hot add the rinsed quinoa and toast for about 2-3 minutes until it starts smelling nutty and lovely. Add water, stir once, cover, and simmer with a lid on for 20 minutes.
  2. While the quinoa is cooking, prepare all other ingredients. Prepare the dressing by combining the lime juice, oil, cumin, and salt. Whisk it aggressively. Adjust seasoning as necessary.
  3. When the quinoa has finished cooking, remove it from heat and fluff with a fork. Add black beans and toss to warm them through.
  4. Let the quinoa cool for about five minutes and then add all the remaining ingredients, including the dressing, and mix. Adjust seasoning if necessary. Serve with tortilla chips and a refreshing, cold beer.