Vegan Butternut Squash & Black Bean Chili (Crockpot)

I hope, my wonderful, tolerant readers, you do not feel used and abused.

It has, once again, been ages since my last post. So much has happened…. Work has somehow gotten busier and I began grad school. (Because I had soooo much free time to begin with…) The days when I began this blog, days when I had hours each day to spend playing in the kitchen and exploring new ingredients, are gone. Now, I am lucky if dinner involves more than steam vegetables and lentils and top them with salsa and, if I’m feeling particularly sassy, a little Daiya dairy-free cheese.

Today, however, was the day of the biggest football game in America, and I felt an overwhelming desire to prepare a football worthy feast. I made a small bowl of Guacamole, a delicious vegan crockpot chili, and a batch of gluten free corn muffins, and it was off to the races! …er…. football game.

I like my chili a bit on the soup-y side, so feel free to reduce the amount of vegetable broth to make yours thicker. Other than that, this recipe is a fairly straightforward crockpot dish that will leave your house smelling delicious!

Vegan Butternut Squash & Black Bean Chili

(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Vegan)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 Tblsp Olive Oil
  • 5 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 1 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Curry Powder
  • 1 tsp Ginger Powder
  • 1 tsp Cinnamon
  • 2 Carrots, chopped
  • 2 ribs Celery, chopped
  • 1 Zucchini, chopped
  • 1 small-medium Butternut Squash, peeled and chopped
  • 2 green Bell Peppers, cored and chopped
  • 2 Jalapeno Peppers, minced
  • Herbamare (or sea salt) and Black Pepper, to taste
  • 2.5 cups Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
  • 28 oz can Fire Roasted Diced Tomatoes
  • 2 tsp Rice Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Tblsp Agave Nectar
  • 1 Tblsp Lime Juice, about 1/2 a small lime
  • Zest of 1/2 a lime

Directions:

  1. Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of your crock pot. Add garlic, onion, and spices and stir to combine.
  2. Add al remaining ingredients except the lime juice and zest and stir to combine.
  3. Place the lid on your crock pot and set to low.
  4. Cool on low for 6 hours.
  5. Taste and adjust salt, pepper, agave ratio, as needed.
  6. Garnish with lime juice and zest before serving.

Siracha Honey Lime Chicken & Black Bean Pasta with Creamy Cilantro Avocado Sauce

Confession time….

I am writing this post just so I won’t forget this recipe. There are no frills and no pictures, and I’m okay with that. Whew! I’m glad I got that all out on the table. Now we can move on without pretense. 😉

A few days ago, I was given a few varieties of pastas to try made by Tolerant Foods. What makes their products unique is that their pastas are made from one ingredient, beans or legumes! Rich in protein and fiber, these appeared to be an excellent substitute for gluten and carbohydrate laden traditional pastas. Tolerant Foods pastas are also free of all of the major allergens, non-GMO, and organic. It all looked good on paper, but the proof would be in the taste and texture.

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First, I decided to try the Black Bean Rotini. Instead of approaching this rotini like I would a more traditional pasta, I decided to focus on what flavors were inherent compliments to black beans. After all, this rotini only had one ingredient, black beans. It was highly unlikely that it would taste like something else. So, what goes with black beans? How about lime, chicken, and Siracha? Yes, yes, and yes, please!

Packed with intense, rich flavor and staggering nutritional value, this recipe is one I plan on duplicating again and again. Winner!

Siracha Honey Lime Chicken & Black Bean Pasta with Creamy Cilantro Avocado Sauce

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pounds boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts, cubed
  • 4 Tblsp Bragg’s Liquid Aminos (or GF Soy Sauce)
  • 2 Tblsp Honey
  • 4 tsp Coconut Oil, melted, divided
  • 1/4 tsp Garlic Powder
  • 2 tsp Siracha
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 Tblsp chopped, fresh Cilantro, divided
  • 1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • 3 Limes
  • 1/2 yellow Onion, sliced
  • 1 small Green Bell Pepper, sliced
  • 1 large leaf Green Kale, chopped
  • 2 Tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 small Avocado
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • 1/3 cup warm Water
  • 6 oz Tolerant Foods Black Bean Rotini

Directions:

  1. Place chicken in a shallow dish with a lid.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the Bragg’s, Honey, 1 Tblsp Coconut Oil, 2 Tblsp chopped Cilantro, Siracha, Red Pepper Flakes, and Garlic Powder. Pour evenly over the chicken.
  3. Squeeze the juice of two limes over the chicken. Cover and marinate in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.
  4. Once chicken has marinated, begin by boiling water and preparing the pasta according to package instructions.
  5. Meanwhile, melt 1 tsp Coconut Oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Saute’ the onions, peppers, and kale until onions are translucent and kale is wilted. Scoop into a bowl and set aside.
  6. Return the skillet to high heat and add the Chicken and Marinade. Bring to a low boil and cook, turning the chicken occasionally, until cooked through. After marinade is reduced by about half, add half of a chopped tomato.
  7. Once chicken is cooked through, remove to a dish and set aside.
  8. Return the skillet to medium heat and add the remaining chopped tomatoes. Cook until the tomatoes begin to breakdown.
  9. While the tomatoes are cooking, make the creamy cilantro avocado sauce by placing 1/4 cup Cilantro, 1 Avocado (pitted), Salt & Pepper, and the juice of 1/2 a lime in a food processor. Process until roughly chopped. Slowly add 1/4 to 1/3 cup hot water until sauce is thick and smooth.
  10. Add roughly 1/2 of the Cilantro Avocado Sauce to the tomatoes in the skillet and cook until heated through.
  11. To serve, separate the cooked black bean pasta into two bowls and top with sauteed vegetables, chicken, and the warmed mixture of tomatoes and creamy Cilantro Avocado sauce. Bon Appetit!

Filet Mignon with Dairy-Free Garlic Herb Butter

The Tony Awards were last night.

For those of you who don’t know, the Tony’s are basically the Super Bowl of the theater world. GF Guy and I were so excited! We invited a few friends over, and I prepared a dinner worthy of the occasion. I made steak!

I don’ know why I decided that dinner just HAD to be steak. I’ve never actually cooked it before, and really only eat it once a year. But, steak it was, and AMAZING steak it turned out to be! Ready in under 15 minutes, this recipe is a decadent winner. GF Guy was sure pleased. Though, I’m making him eat lentils tonight….. So, there’s that…..

Filet Mignon with Dairy Free Garlic Herb Butter

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 stick (8 Tblsp) Earth Balance Buttery Sticks (divided)
  • 2 cloves Garlic
  • 1 Tblsp fresh Italian Parsley
  • 1 Tblsp fresh Basil
  • 4, 8oz Grass-Fed Filet Mignon Steaks
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Make Dairy-Free Garlic Herb Butter by combining 1/2 stick (4 Tblsp) softened Earth Balance Buttery Sticks, garlic, parsley, & basil in a food processor. Pulse until well combined and smooth.
  2. Turn dairy-free butter onto a sheet of plastic wrap and form into a log shape. Wrap in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until ready to cook the steaks.
  3. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. (425 degrees F if at high altitude)
  4. Heat a large oven-safe skillet over high heat.
  5. Melt remaining 1/2 stick (4 Tblsp) Earth Balance Buttery Stick and Olive Oil in the pan.
  6. Meanwhile, generously season the filets on both sides with salt & pepper. Don’t be shy. Seasoning is your friend!
  7. Once Earth Balance has melted in the pan, sear the steaks 2 1/2 to 3 minutes per side. While steak is searing, use a spoon to bathe filets with the melted Earth Balance in the pan.
  8. Place the entire skillet in the oven and cook for 7 minutes.
  9. While filets are in the oven, remove Dairy-Free Garlic Herb Butter from the refrigerator, and slice into 1/4″ thick rounds.
  10. After 7 minutes, remove the pan from the oven and top each filet with one round of Dairy-Free Garlic Herb Butter.
  11. Return the pan to the oven for 1 minute.
  12. Remove filets from the pan immediately and allow to rest a few minutes before serving.

 

 

Arroz con Pollo (take 2)

This past weekend was full of family and fun!

My baby brother graduated from college, making me officially old. At least my little sister is still under 14 years old. She will keep me “hip with the kids”!

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PS – Check out my dad’s epic photo-bomb in the background of this picture!

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Then, I flew home to spend 24 hours with my husband, GF Guy. In honor of his visit home, I made a second attempt at creating his family’s famous Arroz con Pollo. In sticking with my convictions to avoid processed foods, I skipped the usual yellow rice mix, and made the recipe completely from scratch. My first attempt, a few months ago, was just okay. The recipe was very complex, but, it was missing something.

I think this version is much closer to where it should be. Both GF Guy and I loved it and went back for seconds. And, the chicken to rice ratio was spot on perfect. In our house, that is probably the most import thing when making chicken and yellow rice. There are few things more annoying than ending up with a giant pot of leftover yellow rice and no more chicken.

This version will be a keeper in our house!

Arroz con Pollo

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

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Ingredients:

  • 1.5 lbs Organic, Chicken Thighs (bone-in, skin on)
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 1 Green Bell Pepper, julienned
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • about 2 Tblsp White Wine
  • 1.5 tsp Cumin
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  • pinch Saffron threads
  • 1 tsp dried Oregano
  • 1 Tblsp Tomato Paste
  • 1.5 cups Paella Rice (short grain)
  • 3.5 cups Low Sodium Chicken Stock
  • 1 cup frozen Green Peas
  • Sea Salt and Black Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add 1 bay leaf and chicken thighs to the pot of boiling water and poach 15 minutes.
  2. Remove from heat, drain, and season chicken with salt and pepper. Set seasoned chicken aside.
  3. Place large pot back on the stove over medium high heat. Drizzle olive oil in the bottom of the pot and saute’ onions and bell pepper until soft. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  4. Quickly, so as not to burn the garlic, deglaze the pan with white wine.
  5. Add the tomato paste and rice.
  6. Add the spices and bay leaf and stir to thoroughly coat all ingredients.
  7. Pour chicken stock into the pot.
  8. Nestle the seasoned chicken thighs in the pot. They should be mostly submerged in the cooking liquid.
  9. Top chicken with the peas, season with salt and pepper, and bring to a boil. Drizzle with a small amount of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
  10. Reduce the heat to low, cover pot with a lid, and cook 20-30 minutes, or until all water is absorbed and rice is fluffy.
  11. Adjust seasonings and serve.
  12. Serve with fresh Cilantro, chopped tomato, baby spinach, and sliced avocado, if desired.

Ole’ Lentil Budget Bowl

This year is turning out to be the year of the “quinoa bowl meal”, and with good reason.

These meals are versatile, delicious, and SUPER CHEAP!!!!

We have all heard the complaint that it is simply too expensive to eat healthily and/or to eat gluten free. I would like to challenge any persons who says that to a cook off! At one point, my husband and I were both unemployed. Yet, we still managed to eat a plethora of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. I made my own almond milk, baked my own gluten free bread, and we ate like kings on less than $150 a month.  It is possible. You just have to want to do it and put forth the effort.

Okay… I will step off my soap box now.

It is currently snowing sideways, wet, and nasty outside. I knew that dinner needed to be something spicy that would warm me from the inside out. Out came the hot sauce, cumin, and salsa, and I was on my way!

PS – Guess who finally remembered to charge her camera battery? This kid!

Ole’ Lentil Budget Bowl

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 of a Yellow Onion, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Broccoli, chopped
  • 3 Tblsp frozen Peas
  • 1/2 tsp Cumin
  • 1/8 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 cup Beet Greens, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Green Lentils, cooked
  • 1/4 cup Quinoa, cooked
  • 3-4 Tblsp Salsa
  • Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
  • dash of Hot Sauce

Directions:

  1. Melt oil in a saute pan over medium heat.
  2. Saute’ onion until translucent. Add Broccoli and cook until tender.
  3. Next, in go the frozen peas, and cook until defrosted.
  4. Sprinkle in cumin and chili powder, and add greens, cooking until just wilted.
  5. Add remaining ingredients and cook until heated through.

Pesto Quinoa & Lentils

As a continuation of yesterday’s post, we are moving on to the delicious smorgasbord that could be seen below the steamed beets!

I know you were all waiting with baited breath….

I noticed that I rarely use a plate. Every meal seems to be some sort of a bowl meal. What does that say about me? Hmm….

Anyway…. A delicious recipe made from leftover components of meals from the last week is the star of today’s post. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Pesto Quinoa & Lentils

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 of a Yellow Onion, sliced
  • 1 Carrot, chopped
  • 1/3 cup Broccoli, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Beet Greens
  • 1-2 tsp Beet Green Pesto (recipe here)
  • 1/4 cup Green Lentils, cooked
  • 1/4 cup Qunioa, cooked
  • 2 tsp good quality Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tblsp Nutritional Yeast Flakes
  • Salt & Black Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Melt oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Saute onion until translucent. Add carrot & broccoli and saute until tender.
  3. Add beet greens & pesto and cook until just wilted.
  4. Add remaining ingredients and cook until heated through.
  5. Top with Steamed Beets (Recipe Here)

Quinoa with Beet Greens & Lemon

Ahhhh…..  I just got back from this week’s work trip, and am thoroughly enjoying sitting on my couch watching Glee.

Not that my trip was awful. Quite the contrary! I got to spend a delightful evening cooking and taking in the sunset with my lovely sister in-law.

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And come on, you can’t beat a view like this one….

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But, it is ALWAYS good to be home and cooking in my little kitchen.

If you can’t tell from my last post, I am a little obsessed with soft-boiled eggs right now.

What’s not to love about them? You get a rich, creamy yolk without the mess of it sticking to a skillet! It’s genius, I tell you! GENIUS! …I also get overly excited about Jeopardy, so I’m not the most creditable judge….

Anyway, this recipe is definitely one for the vaults. The punch of acidity coupled with the earthy flavor of the beet greens and the creamy richness of the egg yolk creates sheer perfection in a bowl!

For those of you who are not egg lovers, this recipe would be equally delicious sans l’oeuf.

 

Quinoa with Beet Greens & Lemon

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

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Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup Quinoa
  • 1/2 cup Water
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • zest of 1 Lemon
  • 1 cup Beet Greens, chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 a Lemon
  • 1/4 cup frozen Green Peas, defrosted
  • 1 Tblsp Nutritional Yeast Flakes
  • 1 tsp fresh Basil, minced
  • 1 large, Organic Egg
  • Salt & Black Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Place quinoa and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 12 minutes.
  2. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add the egg, and boil for 5 minutes. Remove promptly and cool slightly before gently removing the shell.
  3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add the garlic and lemon zest and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the beet greens and lemon juice and saute until wilted. Add peas, nutritional yeast, fresh basil, salt & pepper, and cook until heated through.
  4. To serve, place the quinoa in a bowl, and top with the soft boiled egg.

Warm Golden Beet Salad with Beet Green Pesto

I love beets, like really LOVE them.

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I also have an unexplainable fear of cooking them. (I also have a strange fear of artichokes, but that is another post entirely…) Maybe it is the chance that they will bleed their red dye all over my counter tops, hands, outfit… you get the picture. Maybe, I’m just scared of the unknown. Either way, I took another step toward conquering my “beet fear” once and for all with the creation of this dish.

Organic beets were on sale at my local grocery store this week. What better time to experiment?! I slung two bunches into my basket and strutted determinedly to the register. Once I got home, however, I wasn’t feeling quite so stoic. What in heavens name was I going to make? I settled on an easy, steamed beet. Wanting to incorporate the beet greens into my recipe (waste not, want not), I used them to make a garlic-y pesto & a warm salad.

For the sauce, I soft boiled an egg, which, once broken, lent a rich, creamy texture & flavor to the dish that beautifully tied in all of the sweet and savory notes of the other components.

Warm Golden Beet Salad with Beet Green Pesto

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

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Ingredients:

  • 2 small Golden Beets
  • 2-3 Tblsp Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth
  • 1 tsp Coconut Oil
  • 3 Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 Yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 cups Beet Greens, chopped
  • 2 Tblsp dry White Wine
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • 1 large, Organic Egg

Pesto Ingredients:

  • 1 clove Garlic
  • 1/2 cup Beet Greens
  • 3 Tblsp fresh Basil
  • 1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 Tblsp Nutritional Yeast Flakes
  • 1/4 tsp Lemon Juice
  • Low-Sodium Vegetable Stock
  • Salt & Black Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Scrub beets and place in a foil lined square baking dish. Top with 2-3 Tblsp Vegetable broth and tightly cover with another piece of foil. Place in preheated oven and cook until fork tender, about 1 hour.
  2. Heat coconut oil in a saute pan over medium heat.
  3. Add sliced mushrooms and cook until they begin to sweat. Add onions, and saute until translucent.
  4. Toss in the chopped beet greens, and cook until wilted., deglazing the pan with the white wine, if needed.
  5. Meanwhile, make a soft boiled egg. Bring a pot of water to a boil. Add the egg and boil for five minutes. Remove promptly and allow to cool slightly before gently removing the shell.
  6. Pesto: Place garlic, greens, basil, oil, nutritional yeast, and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse to combine. Slowly drizzle in vegetable stock until desired smoothness and consistency is reached. Taste, and adjust seasoning.
  7. To serve, place sauteed beet greens and mushrooms in a bowl. Top with sliced golden beets, soft boiled egg, and a drizzle of beet green pesto.

Vegan Cheezy Quinoa

For weeks on end, I have lacked inspiration in the kitchen.

I have fallen into the dangerously boring trap of tossing random vegetables & legumes in a skillet or steamer, topping with marinara sauce or Braggs, and calling it a day. It’s partly because I have no one to cook for, and partly because I have found an inspiring career into which I now pour the energy that I used to pour into my food.

Well, these last few weeks, I began to find a balance between my work and caring for myself. I started Pure Barre classes and recommitted myself to daily workouts & HIIT. I started taking a little more time to prepare meals and listening to what my body needed.

My pictures leave something to be desired. (I kept forgetting to charge my camera battery…..) The recipes, though, are another story. Delicious, nourishing, and comforting… Enjoy!

Vegan Cheezy Quinoa

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

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Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup Quinoa
  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened, Plain Almond Milk
  • 1/3 cup Nutritional Yeast Flakes
  • 1.5 tsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 small clove Garlic, minced
  • 1.5 Tblsp Cornstarch
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/4 tsp dry Mustard
  • 1/4 tsp Paprika
  • 1/4 tsp Turmeric
  • 1 tsp Creamy Peanut Butter
  • Black Pepper, to taste
  • frozen Green Peas, defrosted
  • 2 Tblsp Sundried Tomatoes
  • 1 Tblsp fresh Basil, minced

Directions:

  1. Place quinoa, water, & bay leaf in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, cover with a lid, reduce heat to low, and simmer for 12-15 minutes, until all liquid is absorbed. Remove the bay leaf, fluff with a fork, and set aside.
  2. Make vegan cheeze sauce by placing almond milk, nutritional yeast, garlic, cornstarch, salt, dry mustard, paprika, turmeric, peanut butter, & black pepper in a blender and processing until smooth.
  3. Pour cheeze sauce over the quinoa in the saucepan and return to medium-low heat. Cook until sauce has thickened to desired consistency.
  4. Stir in the peas, sundried tomatoes, & fresh basil. Cook until heated through.

Mushroom Quinoa-sotto

Work was particularly stressful on Friday. Then, it started snowing an hour before I left the office. My 45 minute commute turned into almost 2 hours. By the time I arrived home, all I was planning on eating cereal for dinner.

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That’s what I was planning, but that’s not what happened…

As I stood in front of my open refrigerator door, I realized that a bowl of cereal was not quite the soul-nourishing meal I needed. I needed something that would warm me from the inside out. I needed to stand in front of a bubbling pot, methodically stirring away the days’ stresses. I needed risotto.

My long time readers know that I rarely make a traditional risotto. To be honest, it is because I am a complete dunce when it comes to cooking rice! It always comes out over done or under done, and just isn’t worth the hassle. Instead, I turn to my favorite “grain”, Quinoa. Quinoa is better for you than rice, and makes a delicious faux risotto.

Since I will be heading out of town again on Sunday, I did not want to open any new ingredients. Instead, I emptied my produce drawer, grabbed the only open carton of stock in the refrigerator, which turned out to be beef stock, and set to work.

I chopped and stirred for the better part of an hour. By the time I sat down to eat, my mind was calm, my body was relaxed, and my soul had been fed. Who needs a shrink when you have a stove?

Mushroom Quinoa-sotto

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, sliced
  • 1/2 cup sliced Crimini Mushrooms
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp dried Thyme
  • Sea Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • 3/4 cup Quinoa
  • 1/4 cup dry White Wine
  • 2 cups Beef Stock, warmed
  • 1/4 cup Smoked, Sundried Tomatoes
  • 1/4 cup frozen Green Peas, defrosted
  • 2-3 handfuls Baby Spinach, plus move for serving, if desired
  • 1/3 cup Lentils, cooked
  • 1/4 cup Nutritional Yeast Flakes

Directions:

  1. In a large sauce pan, or small pot, heat oil over medium heat.
  2. Add onions and saute until translucent.
  3. Add mushrooms and cook until they begin to sweat.
  4. Add minced garlic, thyme, salt & pepper, and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  5. Next goes in the quinoa, gently toast for 30 seconds.
  6. Deglaze the pan with white wine, and stir until absorbed.
  7. Stirring continuously to keep liquid from coming to a boil, add warm beef stock, 1/3 cup at a time. Wait until all liquid is absorbed before adding the next 1/3 cup stock.
  8. Continue until you only have 1/3 cup stock remaining to add to the pot. At this time, add the remaining ingredients, along with the remaining beef stock.
  9. Stir until all liquid is absorbed.
  10. Adjust seasonings and serve immediately on a bed of fresh baby spinach.