Tag Archives: quinoa

Eating as a Non-Vegetarian- Lime and Garlic Marinated Porkchops with Cilantro-Lime Quinoa

Ok, I admit it: I like meat.

I don’t eat it very much. In fact, I eat it pretty infrequently. I rarely purchase it.

But I like it. I like the way it tastes. And there are very few photos of piglets that will make me feel guilty about enjoying a slice of bacon.

However, what I can’t come to terms with is what happened to the meat before its arrival at my dinner table. It arrives after inhumane mammalian brutality, hundreds (if not thousands) of travel miles, and undocumented harm to food workers.

All because I wanted a slice of bacon.

Yeah…that’s not ok.

I’m reaching a point in my life where I can’t bear to purchase meat that’s been produced in ways I can’t stomach. I mean, my ancestors ate meat- but the meat they ate is not the meat I buy at my local grocery store.

As regular readers of this blog know, I can pontificate on this topic for pages and pages. But all I really need to say is that in order for me to eat meat, I need to be prepared to find meat that was harvested from animals who were raised humanely.

Yes, it will be expensive. But that’s the price of being an omnivore in the 21st century first world.

ANYWAY, since yesterday was the most beautiful day ever (seriously, anyone who wasn’t in the North Carolina triad yesterday missed out on a gorgeous Southern spring day), I decided to make my girlfriend a spring-y dinner of pork chops and quinoa.

So where does an ecologically conscious Winston-Salem resident go when they want fresh meat?

Whole Foods Market, of course.

Whole Foods has a remarkable devotion to the sale of sustainably produced food items AND (probably most importantly) to crafting and maintaining solid relationships with farmers and ranchers. Since the food chain from farmer to consumer grows with every congressional bill and ‘science innovation’, it is more important than ever for us to support companies who strive to cut out the millions of middle men who get in the way of Americans eating food which doesn’t go against the evolution of our bodies.

As far as meat sales go, Whole Foods adheres to the stringent guidelines of the Animal Welfare Rating Standards, which are produced by the Global Animal Partnership. Basically, they have a 5 step standards list which details the requirements for a livestock animal’s living conditions. It looks like this:

Step 1: No crowding
Step 2: Enriched environment
Step 4: Pasture centered
Step 5: Animal centered: No physical alterations
Step 5+: Animal Centered: Entire life on same farm

As you probably noticed, there’s no step 3 for cattle. There are separate charts for poultry and pigs. And at Whole Foods, all the meat options are labeled with the number which corresponds to this chart. It’s another way of letting you know where your food came from.

Since I was making pork chops, here are the five steps I looked at:

Step 1: No crates, stalls or cages
Step 2: Enriched environment
Step 3: Enhanced outdoor access
Step 4: Pasture centered
Step 5: Animal centered: No physical alterations
Step 5+: Animal Centered: Entire life on same farm

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I ended up buying some very pretty chops from a local farm with a 4 rating. There were other options, but the fact that the meat came from a nearby farm means that the journey from farm to table was very short, and it insures the freshest ingredients possible.

It does not, however, insure the cheapest price.

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But here’s the thing- I can’t pretend to not know what I know about factory farming. And if I want to eat meat in spite of that knowledge, I need to be prepared to pay the price.

Plus, the flavor of this finished dinner was more than worth the money. I’m not a huge fan of lime and/or cilantro, but both of those flavors keep popping up in my recipes recently. I’m blaming it on Chipotle– I mean, who doesn’t love their cilantro-lime rice? But instead of making rice, I decided to try out the same flavor combo with quinoa. I’d say it was a success- Kate basically licked her plate clean.

(Ok, so she didn’t lick it clean. But she probably wanted to lick it clean.)

Both of these recipes are unbelievably simple, and can be whipped up very quickly. They can be served together, or paired with other dishes. For example, substituting cilanto-lime quinoa in a homemade Chipotle burrito bowl is a healthier option than eating mounds of fluffy white rice.

(I mean, don’t get me wrong- I LOVE fluffy white rice. But quinoa is just as delicious, and packs an unbeatable nutritional punch.)

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Lime and Garlic Marinated Pork Chops

(Adapted from Gina’s Skinny Recipes)

Yield: 2-4 servings (depending upon size of pork chops)

Ingredients:

4 (6 oz) lean boneless pork chops ( for the record, I made this recipe using 2 super thick bone-in chops, and the proportions still worked perfectly)

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tsp cumin

1 tsp chili powder

1 tsp paprika

1/2 lime, juice of

lime zest

salt and fresh pepper

1. Trim off extra pork fat.

Basically, go from here:

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To Here:

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2. In a large bowl season pork with garlic, cumin, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Squeeze lime juice and some zest from the lime and let it marinade at least 20 minutes.

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I always recommend long marinade times, but if you need to make this in a hurry, 20 minutes should get the job done. I had to whip up this meal pretty quickly, and I think 20 minutes was long enough to get a good flavor infusion.


3. Line broiler pan with foil for easy clean up. Place pork chops on the broiler pan and broil about 4-6 minutes on each side or until nicely browned.

While that’s cooking…

Cilantro-Lime Quinoa

Yield: 4 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup dry quinoa

1 1/4 cup Water

1 lime, juice of

1 tsp olive oil

1 tsp salt

1. Follow my instructions for fool-proof quinoa.

2. While quinoa is cooking, combine chopped cilantro, lime juice, and remaining oil in a medium bowl and toss until completely mixed. When quinoa is finished cooking, add it to cilantro-lime mixture and toss until coated.

Bam, dinner is served.

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Yes, your eyes are not deceiving you: Kate and I also ate French fries with our dinner. But those French fries are extra special, and will be reviewed in a separate post. However, just for the record, they were absolutely delicious. Smile

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Quinoa- A Rice Addict’s Manna

I love rice. In fact, next to macaroni and cheese, it’s probably my favorite food (probably? I’d say DEFINITELY). I’ve never really understood why people are obsessed with foods like pizza and ice cream- rice is where it’s at. It’s ridiculously versatile, comes in dozens of varieties, and can be really inexpensive (it can also be really expensive, but I digress).

While I love pretty much every variety of rice, from perfectly al dente brown rice to gorgeous wild black jasmine, my favorite has got to be perfectly cooked white basmati rice. In fact, I’m going to write a tutorial about how to prepare perfect basmati rice later this week in honor of Ayyám-i-Há (more on that later).

However, just because I love to eat mounds of fluffy white rice doesn’t make it healthy. Sure, you can eat a cup without seeing negative consequences- but who can stop at one cup? I need the whole pot, damnit!

This is where quinoa comes in. Quinoa is god’s gift to rice addicts- it looks like millet but tastes like rice. While the nutrition facts are not terribly different from rice, it is jam packed with nutrients and takes up less space than individual rice grains. Why is that relevant? Because you get more bang for your buck, that’s why. It is closely related to buckwheat and chia, and while it is commonly mistaken for a grain, it’s really a type of grass. Sounds thrilling, right?

Well, sometimes people are put off by quinoa because it’s not very pretty- the individual seeds always remind me of pellets. Also, it DOES NOT taste good al dente, and all too often it is cooked improperly. I’ve made quinoa several different ways with varying degrees of success and tasti-ness: here’s the cooking method that works best for me.

Jessamyn’s Fool-Proof Quinoa Recipe

Yield: 4 generous 1/2 cup servings

Ingredients:

1 cup dry quinoa (unrinsed or pre-rinsed, it doesn’t matter)

1 1/4 cup Water (Feel free to use whatever liquid best suits your dish- chicken broth, vegetable broth, cayenne infusion, whatever. Wait, let me clarify- don’t just use ANY liquid i.e- don’t blame me if your beer soaked quinoa tastes awful)

 

NOTE: There are three major issues which directly result in crunchy and unpleasant quinoa- poor rinsing, short soaking times, and too much/too little water.

First thing you should do?

1. Put your quinoa in a bowl, cover with about 2-4 inches of water, and let soak for at least 15 minutes. Personally, I prefer to let mine soak for at least 1 hour, but I don’t think this is absolutely necessary. Basically, like any soluble object, the longer you allow the quinoa to sit in the liquid, the more liquid it will absorb (resulting in chewy, puffy, delicious quinoa). In my experience, you can do a perfectly fine quinoa soak in 15 minutes. However, if you know you’re going to cook quinoa burgers for dinner, start your soak much earlier in the day. Soaking is really important for everything from grits to beans- if you want the perfect texture, do yourself a favor and schedule time for a decent soak.

2. RINSE YOUR FREAKING QUINOA. At least twice, but preferably three times. Who wants to eat a dinner that is covered with sediment? Certainly not this girl. So after you’ve let your quinoa have a proper soak, rinse it free of debris in a fine mesh strainer.

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Imagine this mesh strainer contains quinoa and not, you know…chick peas Smile

Ok, I know not everyone was lucky enough to come across a fine mesh strainer for the bargain basement price of only .25 during a routine yard sale crusade. However, a mesh strainer is pretty key for the rinsing of quinoa- I mean, unless you want to eat the quinoa out of your sink drain. I suppose you could line a regular colander with cheesecloth (actually, that’s a perfectly fine alternative), but you should really invest in a metal strainer. It’s a worthy investment, and it doubles as a sifter when you feel the need to bake vegan chocolate chip cookies in the middle of the night and can’t find an actual sifter (I mean, not like I’ve done that….)

By the way, I think it’s a good idea to rinse your quinoa even if it’s pre-rinsed. Maybe it’s just my inner dystopian farmer, but an extra rinse certainly won’t hurt your dish.

3. After rinsing your quinoa, place it in a medium saucepan and add your pre-measured 1 1/4 cup water. Bring the mixture to a rapid boil. Though I usually tend to be vague about proportions, the liquid:quinoa proportion is pretty important in this particular case. Most people say that you should use a standard 1:2 ratio when cooking quinoa and liquid- I think it’s better to use less liquid, but cook longer and slower. This way, your quinoa doesn’t turn out gummy and mushy. Therefore, the 1:1 1/4 ratio works best for me. Others may disagree, but this is the method I will endorse. Depending upon the kind of liquid you use and the strength of your heat source, you may need to add a couple of tablespoons of extra liquid. However, this method is fairly foolproof if you use water.

4. After your quinoa reaches a rolling boil, reduce the heat to low, cover the pot and cook for about 30 minutes.

5. Turn off heat, fluff with a fork, and eat greedily.

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Like I said, quinoa is really versatile. I have made fried “rice”, quinoa burgers, stir-fry, and many, many other dishes- just like rice, quinoa can be one of your culinary best friends. It can also be purchased in bulk, a great option if you shop at/live near a store which sells bulk items.

I hope this recipe clears up any confusion about the proper way to cook quinoa. There are dozens of methods, but this works best for me. Maybe the next time you have a craving for rice, you’ll give quinoa a try.

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Jessamyn Tests: The Rhodey Girl’s Baked Falafel

I absolutely love falafel. The problem? No matter how you turn it, deep fried chickpeas don’t become healthier by nature of being legume based. Therefore, deep fried chickpea goodness is still deep fried.

That being said, you can imagine my glee when Sabrina (the “Rhodey Girl”) posted a baked version of her uncle’s top secret falafel recipe. I’ve been trying to find the time to try out her recipe, and I finally was able to make (and photograph) my adventures in falafel land.

(By the way, the Rhodey Girl didn’t just post a recipe- she made a great video recipe post as well. Check the link below to get a more in depth falafel tutorial.)

I pretty much followed Sabrina’s recipe to the letter, but I didn’t have any parsley (she says to use about 1 cup) on hand so I left it out. In the future I think I will haul my ass down the street to Compare Foods for some fresh parsley, because I think the bright flavor from parsley will cut through some of the smokiness and heat from the other flavors.

Baked Falafel

(Oh, you want The Rhodey Girl’s Original Recipe?)

Yield: Roughly 4 servings of 5-6 falafel

Ingredients:

1 15 oz. can of drained, rinsed chick peas
1/2 red onion
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbs whole wheat flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tbs cumin
1/4 tbs coriander
pinch of cayenne pepper
1/2 tbs kosher salt
1/4 tbs black pepper
Parchment paper (Sabrina used cooking spray, but I am a firm believer in the power of parchment)

1. Mix all your ingredients in a food processor until it reaches a medium chunky consistency.

Basically,

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2. Put the batter in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth for 30 minutes in a warm place until the batter has risen a bit. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.

(I made my batter before class, and came back after about two hours. I don’t think this created a different taste.)


3. Using two spoons or an ice cream scoop, drop small flattened balls of batter onto a cooking sheet covered with parchment paper

(The size of the falafel balls are of the utmost importance. If you make them too large- you know, like the fried balls of deliciousness served at your local Middle Eastern restaurant- they will not cook properly. Baking is very different from frying, and size matters.)

4. Bake for 30 minutes, flipping halfway through.

5. Pull out of the oven, burn your mouth because you are too eager, and eat greedily while watching reruns of The Office. Or Parks and Rec. Or Big Love. But probably The Office.

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I paired my falafel with a side of quinoa dotted with dried cranberries. Oh, and a generous 2 tbsp of plain Greek yogurt.

Verdict? Well, while they were pretty delicious, I think the addition of parsley is pretty necessary. The flavor of baked falafel is pretty delicious, but don’t be fooled- they don’t taste the same as fried falafel. While they are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, there is a flavor created by submerging items in liquid fat that is difficult to replicate.

That being said, if you are looking for a low fat take on a surprisingly not-that-healthy food, then go forth and conquer this recipe.

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Oats and Quinoa and Grocery Stores: OH MY!

As I write this entry, I’m sitting in the deli/mini grocery/coffeeshop my girlfriend works in, and I’m reminded of how lucky I am to have a store so close to my apartment which sells bulk spices and grains.

Wait a minute, let me back up and give a little free publicity: the store of which I’m speaking is called Washington Perk , and it’s fulfilling a serious grocery shortage in the Winston-Salem, NC area.

Ok, I’ll be more specific- yes, there are tons of grocery stores in W-S. Harris Teeter and Food Lion pretty much dominate the grocery options, though many people also utilize other big name chains (Costco, Wal-Mart, etc.) In my immediate neighborhood, we have a very substantial Spanish-speaking population and are lucky enough to have a Compare Foods Supermarket. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Compare Foods specializes in items which are specific to Latin cuisine. There’s a great Spanish bakery, vast crates of bulk beans, as well as an extensive butcher and deli. There’s also a multitude of options in food categories which are typically sparse or bare in your typical “American” grocer- where else can you find ten different kinds of Mexican hot chocolate? Also, on the scale of “expensive grocery stores”, CF ranks on the very low end of the spectrum.

However, Compare Foods is not a great source for organic produce (or any other organic item), and it can be cost in-effective to shop for items which are not prominent ingredients in Latin food culture. For example, though cheese is used in different types of dishes, traditional cheese (cheddar, etc.) produced “for” American cookery is EXTREMELY expensive. This is very similar to Super G Mart, a store in my hometown of Greensboro, NC, which specializes in Asian cookery. Super G Mart’s produce and meat selections are an unbeatable price/quality equation. However, I’ve seen packages of cheese costing nearly $7.

Of the available stores, there are very few which are locally owned. There are also very few which offer a large selection of local and/or organic products. And in my actual neighborhood, there are absolutely no coffee shops, and very few restaurants. This is where Washington Perk comes in. The Perk is locally owned, and features fair trade coffee, a small (but growing!) selection of locally produced dairy and produce, as well as a number of organic grocery options. There’s also a fairly inexpensive deli, and the aforementioned bulk spices and grains.

These are all very important features because one of the only other organic grocers in town is Whole Foods Market, and it’s not near my apartment AT ALL (though, for the record, I’m a fan of Whole Foods and everything for which they stand.)

Wow. Um, ok. Shall we get back to the point of this entry? 🙂

Anyway, there are a number of foods which I want to endeavor to make part of my regular diet during the next few months. Several of these foods hold nutrients and vitamins which I’m definitely not getting enough of, and I think they will help provoke my urge to create new recipes and meal ideas. Here are three with which I can’t wait to get more familiar:

(Photo Credit: Stacey Boyer)

Steel cut oats

My father has sworn by steel cut oats for a number of years, but I’ve always been turned off by how long it takes for them to become soft and chewy, as opposed to tough chunks which get stuck in your teeth leading to a morning of being called ‘oatmeal mouth’. I’m also turned off by the price, but most foods which are actually good for the human body tend to fall outside of my budget. I’m coming to the conclusion that instead of choosing unhealthy options because of the price, I need to re-work my entire food budget.

Danica of Danica’s Daily has a great recipe featuring steel cut oats which I am extremely psyched to try.

(Photo Credit: Stephanie of Noshtopia)

Quinoa

Quinoa is the new love of my epicureal life. I can’t believe I’ve let my food discrimination keep me away from this delicious delicacy for so long! The texture is an excellent substitute for rice or couscous, and it is unbelievably versatile. It can be savory, sweet, salty, or all three and more!

(All these exclamation points are making me feel like Billy Mays. (!))

(Photo Credit: Benefits of Spirulina)

Spirulina

I’ve been reading a lot about the positive health benefits of adding spirulina into one’s diet. Spirulina is a complete protein, and contains all essential amino acids. It’s stronger than the average plant protein, and it’s rich in a host of vitamins and minerals. Of course, the color and flavor can both be rather off-putting, but I get the impression that spirulina powder can be painlessly added to food and drinks.

What about you? What foods/recipes are you excited to try out this year?

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