Product Review: Qrunch Burgers

You many have noticed, my faithful readers, that I have been on a blogging hiatus. Time has not been something I have had an excess of, and, as a result, my blogging time was pushed to the back burner.

It is during times like these that products that help build quick, healthy meals are the most valuable. Enter, Qrunch Burgers!

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I was given the opportunity to sample Qrunch Burgers made out of the high protein grain, quinoa, and boy was I impressed. These delicious and versatile patties are gluten free, dairy free, egg free, wheat free, corn free, nut free, low in sodium,  soy free, AND Non-GMO Project verified! Basically, they meet almost every dietary need. 20111015030444-589e94e00000a53

Qrunch Burgers come in a variety of flavors, including Sweet Curry and Spicy Italian, and I had a hard time deciding which flavor to try. Ultimately, GF Guy and I chose to start with the Original flavor in order to get the best idea of what the product was all about.

I heated the Original Qrunch Burgers in the oven, according to the package instructions, and served them along side sauteed spinach and baked sweet potato fries.

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The first bite was not what I was expecting. Qrunch Burgers are not heavily seasoned or processed tasting, like most of their vegan burger counterparts. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised to find I could actually taste the ingredients! The mild, nutty flavor of quinoa, lightly seasoned with spices was a perfect complement to our meal, especially once topped with Mango Salsa!

To make our experience even better, clean up was a snap! I will definitely purchase Qrunch Burgers again for a quick, week night meal. Next up will be the Curry flavor!

You can find Qrunch Burgers in your local natural food store, Whole Foods, King Soopers, and even Safeway!

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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.

Vegan BBQ Stuffed Acorn Squash

Hello strangers!

It has been over a month since I last updated this blog. I seem to have reached the point where I feel like most of my dinners are variations on already posted recipes. I suppose that is bound to happen when you have close to 600 recipes posted, but it still makes me feel utterly unimaginative.

The holidays were filled with travel and family. I was able to spend an entire week with GF Guy and Dickens! It was beyond heavenly!

Here is a little peek into the last month….

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THEN it was back to reality. Work has been wonderful and busy. I have been jetting back and forth between San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland each week and planning my travels well into March. To tell the truth, I love my busy, jet set life! I am a transient person, by nature. Traveling for work keeps my wanderlust in check. It’s hard to believe I have been living in the same city for a year and a half. My how time flies!

In other news, I have been vegan for almost an entire month. (minus 1 evening where my options were gluten or fish…. obviously, I chose the fish…) I work for a company that sells both gluten-free and vegan products. In an effort to educate everyone at the company on a vegan diet, and in an exercise to develop empathy for what those with dietary restrictions  must face on a daily basis, we have all adopted a vegan diet for the month of January. At first, I thought I would have a difficult time forgoing meat, fish, and honey. However, I am happy to report that I have had no problems! I have felt energized and focused this entire month. So much, in fact, that I am considering adopting a vegan lifestyle. I can’t promise anything. I’m already difficult to feed when I go visit friends and relatives, but we shall see….

For now, I will be vegan until February 1st. My focus during this month’s vegan challenge has been on eating whole foods. No processed meat alternatives for this girl! My diet has consisted heavily of fresh produce, beans, quinoa, and brown rice. In my humble opinion, this is the best way to approach a vegan diet. Food as nature intended is the recipe for a healthy diet. The below recipe is just that. Enjoy!

Vegan BBQ Stuffed Acorn Squash

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

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Ingredients:

  • 1 small-medium Acorn Squash
  • 1 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1/4 cup Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup Yellow Onion, diced
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Water
  • 5-6 Grape Tomatoes, halved
  • 2 cups Green Kale, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Great Northern White Beans, cooked
  • 3 Tblsp Gluten Free, Vegan BBQ Sauce
  • 1/4 cup Daiya Vegan Cheddar Style Cheese Shreds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Cut Acorn Squash in half, lengthwise. Using a spoon remove and discard the seeds and strings.
  3. Place squash in a baking dish, cut side down. Pour water around the squash until about 1/4 inch deep.
  4. Place squash in the oven and cook 35-40 minutes, until soft to the touch.
  5. Remove squash from the oven, and place face up on a plate to cool slightly. Discard the cooking water.
  6. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a large saute pan over medium heat.
  7. Saute the mushrooms in the olive oil until they begin to sweat. Add the onion and saute 2-3 minutes, until translucent.
  8. Add the minced garlic and saute until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  9. Deglaze the pan with 1 tsp water.
  10. Add the chopped tomatoes and kale to the pan, and saute until kale begins to wilt.
  11. Next add the cooked beans and BBQ sauce and cook until heated through.
  12. Remove the kale mixture from the heat and spoon evenly into the cooked acorn squash halves.
  13. Top each squash half with 1/8 cup of Daiya Vegan Cheddar Cheese Shreds.
  14. Place squash in the oven under the broiler and cook 3-4 minutes until the Daiya Vegan Cheese begins to melt.
  15. Enjoy!

Smoked Pumpkin Risotto

This afternoon, it was 50 degrees and sunny. Tonight, it is 21 degrees and snowing.

WHAT ARE YOU TRYING TO DO TO ME COLORADO?!!!

Not that I mind. In fact, it worked out beautifully. I was able to run all of my errands which included:

  1. Having 2 tires patched due to slow leaks caused by running over nails. (I don’t know how that happened….)
  2. Shipping a Christmas gift to my Aunt & Uncle.
  3. Grocery shopping.
  4. Picking up packages that were delivered while I was out of town.
  5. Stopping by the office to tie up some loose ends from the week.
  6. ………

You get the idea. I accomplished everything on my list, practiced my Spanish for 2 hours (I’m trying to teach myself), and still had time to experiment with a new recipe. By the time the snow started, I was curled up on my couch with a piping hot bowl of risotto and a glass of red wine. A lovely reward for a productive day.

I started by roasting rustic Shiitake mushrooms with fresh rosemary and thyme and finished with a sprinkling of Daiya Vegan Mozzarella Cheese. Perfection!

Smoked Pumpkin Risotto

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

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Ingredients:

  • 2.5 oz sliced Shiitake Musthrooms
  • 2 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 sprigs fresh Thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh Rosemary, chopped
  • 2 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, diced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Smoked Sundried Tomatoes, julienned
  • 1 cup Arborio Rice
  • 3 sprigs fresh Thyme
  • 1 sprig fresh Rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh Sage, chopped
  • 1/3 cup dry White Wine
  • 3 cups Chicken Stock, warmed
  • 1/2 cup Pumpkin Puree
  • 2 large handfuls Baby Kale
  • Black Pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tblsp Nutritional Yeast Flakes
  • 2 Tblsp Daiya Vegan Mozzarella Shreds

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl, combine the first five ingredients. Gently toss until evenly coated. Place in an even layer on a baking sheet and roast in 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set aside.
  3. Drizzle 1 tsp EVOO in a large saucepan and heat over medium low heat.
  4. Saute onion until translucent. Add garlic and sundried tomatoes and saute until fragrant.
  5. Pour the rice into the saucepan and toast for 1 minutes.
  6. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and cook until absorbed.
  7. Add the fresh herbs.
  8. Add 1/3 cup warm chicken stock and stir until absorbed. Continue adding stock 1/3 cup at a time, stirring until absorbed before adding another 1/3 cup stock. Repeat until rice is cooked and broth is absorbed.
  9. Stir in the pumpkin puree and stir until smooth.
  10. Stir in the baby kale and cook until wilted.
  11. Remove from heat and stir in the nutritional yeast and Daiya. Stir until evenly combined.
  12. Serve immediately.

Savory Gluten-Free Oatmeal

Confession: I haven’t been blogging, and I’m okay with it….

Life is fantastic out here in the Rockies! Work is challenging, the weather is beautiful, and fall-themed outings with friends have provided weekends full of laughter and cheer.

“Pumpkin Posing”

 

I have been cooking, but felt no desire to measure ingredients and take pictures. I have spent the last few weeks cooking instinctively, playing with flavors, textures, and aromas. It has been soul-feeding cooking, and I highly recommend you give it a go. Last night, I started dipping my toes back into blogging. I snapped a quick photo and took mental note of the ingredients and amounts I used in my meal preparation.

I have been cooking more “rustic”, humble meals, of late. Comfort food, I choose to call it. Last night’s comfort food involved a little BFD (Breakfast for Dinner). I took a stab at creating a bowl of savory oats, which I topped with a scrambled egg. Delicious, simple, and filling. Bon Appetit!

Savory Oatmeal

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup certified Gluten Free, Old-Fashioned Oats (Bob’s Red Mill)
  • 2/3 cup Water
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 1/2 tsp dried Thyme
  • 1 1/2 tsp Nutritional Yeasts Flakes
  • 2 Tbsp Salsa (I used a Southwestern Black Bean & Corn Salsa)
  • 1 cup Power Greens (combination of Spinach, Swiss Chard, Kale)
  • 1/2 tsp Earth Balance Coconut Spread
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 2-3 dashes Hot Sauce
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. In a small saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add gluten free oats and reduce heat to a simmer.
  2. Add bay leaf, thyme, and a bit of salt and pepper to the oats. Simmer 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until desired doneness.
  3. Meanwhile, melt coconut spread in a small skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Saute garlic in coconut oil until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add greens in 2 batches to the skillet and saute until wilted.
  5. Season greens with hot sauce, salt, & pepper.
  6. Add sauteed greens, salsa, and nutritional yeast to the oats. Cook until heated through.

I topped my savory oats with scrambled eggs comprised of 1 whole egg and 2 egg whites and a little more nutritional yeast.

Shaved Brussels Sprouts & Fennel

I am, as much as this pains me to admit, sick….

A fever, chills, sore throat… The Trifecta.

Had you seen my shopping basket at Whole Foods a few hours ago, you would have steered clear! Wellness Blend, Sambuca, Vitamin C, Cold Season Tea….

I was like a walking germ alert. Kids, this is what happens when you move clear across the country from your family, your husband is traveling, and you get sick. You are left to fend for yourself. It’s not pretty. It’s not glamorous. This is, straight up, life, my friends! Currently, I have some sort of concoction of chicken broth and vegetables simmering in the crock pot. Not so sure how it will turn out, but at least I won’t have to think about making dinner later.

Before being slammed in the face by “the sickness”, I had a chance to play in the kitchen with one of my favorite ingredients, Brussel Sprouts! Since my head is about to explode, and I need another cup of tea, I am going to cut to the chase, and let you all get on to the recipe. Bon Appetit!

Shaved Brussel Sprouts & Fennel

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp Coconut Oil
  • 7-8 Brussel Sprouts, thinly sliced/shaved
  • 1/4 tsp Red Pepper Flakes
  • Sea Salt, to taste
  • Black Pepper, to taste
  • 2 Fennel Fronds, thinly sliced
  • 1 large clove Garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup dry White Wine

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. Add brussel sprouts, red pepper flakes, season with salt and pepper, and saute 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add the fennel to the pan and cook 2 minutes more.
  4. Add the garlic and cook just until fragrant, about 1 minutes.
  5. Deglaze the pan with the wine, reduce the heat to medium-low and allow to reduce, 5-7 minutes.

Simple Veggie Saute’ for One

….because sometimes simple is better.

Do you ever crave a plain-jane meal? No bells and whistles…. Just good, simple, straight forward flavors?

I sure do. Sometimes all my body wants are vegetables, pure and simple. I could just have a salad, but that’s not always the ticket around here. Last night, I was in a just such a veggie mood. I opened the crisper drawer, hauled out every last scrap of produce I could find, and set to work. I chopped and sauteed my little heart out (for all of 10 minutes) before sitting down to a heaping bowl of veggie goodness.

Naturally, I topped my bowl with mashed avocado for some heart healthy fats. I’ve noticed my clothes are getting a little loose lately. Time to amp up the fats in my diet again! For those of you who don’t know, I tend to lose weight fairly easily, especially when I’m not working out consistently (backwards sounding, I know…) I have to make sure to include a good amount of healthy fat in my diet to keep at a consistent weight.

My favorite fat sources are:

  • Walnuts
  • Avocado
  • Salmon
  • Chia Seeds/Flax Seeds
  • Coconut Oil
  • Coconut Milk (Ice cream anyone?!)

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What about you? What are your favorite healthy fats?

Simple Veggie Saute’ for One

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 tsp Coconut Oil
  • 1/4 Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 5 large Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Zucchini, chopped
  • 1 Roma Tomato, chopped
  • Sea Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • 1/4 Avocado, mashed

Directions:

  1. Melt oil in a saute’ pan over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the onion and saute’ about 5 minutes, until translucent.
  3. Add mushrooms and cook 3 minutes, until they begin to sweat.
  4. Add zucchini and cook about 3-4 minutes more.
  5. Add garlic and saute’ 1 minute, until fragrant.
  6. Quickly add the chopped tomato to keep the garlic from burning.
  7. Cook until tomato begins to break down.
  8. Season with salt and pepper.
  9. Serve topped with mashed avocado.

BBQ White Bean & Kale Sweet Potato Pocket

Thursday already? This week is flying by!

Recently (and by recently I mean yesterday), I came to a big conclusion. I am a small fry.

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What brought this revelation about, you ask? Well, these last 2 days I have been a part of some pretty big meetings at work. I would sit there all prim and proper listening to those around me discussing quarter objectives and ACVs and wondering how the heck I managed to get asked to participate in these meetings! I mean seriously! I must have been the youngest person in the room by at least 10 years (with 2 exceptions). The breadth of knowledge and experience of everyone was down right intimidating and more than a little inspiring. Long story short…. I came to the realization that I am completely content in the position that I am in, for the time being. I need to focus and pay attention to what is going on around me. I need to be challenged to learn and grow by my peers.

For now, I am a small fry. BUT, soon I will grow to be a medium fry, and eventually to a pretty sizable fry. I’m only 27. I’ve got all the time in the world. I’m okay with that…. for now! 😉

Now, the food!

Today’s recipe is a quick, week night supper that uses pre-made salsa and BBQ sauce for a cheaters version of baked beans. I may love to cook, but not after crazy long work day. I have my limits!

BBQ White Bean & Kale Sweet Potato Pocket

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Vegan)

Ingredients:

  • 3 Sweet Potatoes
  • 1/4 tsp Coconut Oil
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 1 large clove Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup Crimini Mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bunch Green Curly Kale, chopped
  • 1/2 cup Cannelini Beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1/3 cup Salsa
  • 3 Tbsp BBQ Sauce
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Wrap sweet potatoes in foil and bake in oven about 1 hour, until soft.
  3. When potatoes are almost done begin making the stuffing.
  4. Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until melted and skillet is hot.
  5. Saute onions about 5 minutes, until translucent.
  6. Add mushrooms and continue to cook 3-5 minutes until the mushrooms begin to “sweat”. (Watch the heat. You may need to reduce it to medium.)
  7. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute before adding the kale in 3 batches, sauteing until wilted before adding another. If needed, add 1-2 Tbsp water to help the kale cook.
  8. Add remaining ingredients cooking until heated through.
  9. Unwrap cooked sweet potatoes and slice lengthwise down the center.
  10. Stuff kale and white bean filling in each sweet potato.
  11. Top with sliced avocado to serve, optional.

Sauteed Chard with Scrambled Eggs

I CAN’T WAIT TO SLEEP!!!!!!!!!!!!!

In all honesty, I am pretty proud of myself for making it through the day on 3 hours of sleep.

I know you are probably all wondering what happened to rob me of my blissful slumber. ….Well…. I’m going to tell you anyway! 😉

This past weekend was pretty much amazing! My little brother and his friend drove down from South Dakona on Saturday to go to the Tim McGraw/Kenny Chesney concert and invited me to tag along. While not a huge country music fan, I am a HUGE fan of Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, who just so happened to be their opening act. Do yourself a favor and get their album. It totally channels those fab rocker chicks. Totally raw and amazing! I LOVE IT!

Anyway…. The following morning we went out to breakfast and overall had a grand time.

I LOVE my baby brother!

Sunday, I went on a “date” with a friend to see Jersey Boys.

Again, a fab evening. The music, the acting, the cute old man dancing in his seat next to me…. I could go on and on. All that fun, however, caused me to stay awake until close to midnight when I had to wake up at 3AM the following morning to catch a flight for work.

I am now exhausted, cough-y, and completely unapologetic! It was totally worth the lack of sleep! 

Now for the food. I ate the following meal twice this weekend. Quick, simple, healthy, and delicious. I win.

Sauteed Chard with Scrambled Eggs

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 tsp Earth Balance Vegan Buttery Spread
  • 1/4 Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 1/4 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 1/2 Tomato, chopped
  • 2 large handfuls Swiss Chard
  • Sea Salt & Black Pepper, to taste
  • 1 large Egg, plus 2 Egg Whites, beaten until frothy

Directions:

  1. Melt Earth Balance in a medium skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add onion and saute until translucent.
  3. Add bell pepper and cook 4 minutes more.
  4. Add tomato and chard and season with salt and pepper.
  5. Cook until chard is wilted.
  6. Remove vegetables from heat and place onto a plate.
  7. Use the same pan to cook your eggs.
  8. Season beaten eggs with salt and pepper and pour into the skillet.
  9. Cook over medium-low heat, constantly moving the eggs until cooked to desired doneness.

 

Miniature Spinach Souffle

The strangest thing just happened…

I accidentally made a mini souffle!

I really don’t know how it happened. I just started layering random ingredients, like I always do, and voila, a souffle! I used a jumbo muffin tin to make 2 individual sized souffles, though I consider two of them to be one serving. It’s another simple, healthy meal I will be happy to add to my arsenal. It will also be fun to play with the flavors to make different varieties.

What ingredients would you add to your dream souffle?

Individual Spinach Souffles

(Gluten Free, Dairy Free)

Ingredients:

  • 1 large Egg plus 2 Egg Whites
  • 1/4 cup Unsweetened, Original Almond Milk
  • 1 Tbsp Vegan Gourmet Non-Dairy Sour Cream
  • Herbamare (or Sea Salt) and Black Pepper, to taste
  • 5 oz frozen, chopped Spinach, thawed and drained, divided
  • 2 slices Tomato, each about 1/2 inch thick
  • 2 tsp Nutritional Yeast Flakes, divided

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. (400 for high altitude)
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, almond milk, vegan sour cream, herbamare, and pepper until smooth and frothy.
  3. Now it is time to assemble the two souffles. Using a Jumbo Muffin Tin, spray two muffin cups with non-stick cooking spray.
  4. Place one tomato slice in the bottom of each jumbo muffin cup.
  5. Top each tomato slice with half of the spinach.
  6. Pour half of the egg mixture into each of the muffin cups.
  7. Sprinkle 1 tsp of nutritional yeast over each of the souffles.
  8. Bake in preheated oven until puffed, golden, and eggs are set, about 30-40 minutes.
  9. Run a knife around the edge of each souffle to release them from the pan.