The Chosen One & Quinoa 3 Ways

img_3180Earlier this month I received a most flattering email from Chosen Foods. You may recall  the brand for the avocado oil featured in my funfetti zucchini bread. Chosen Foods promotes a healthy, conscious and happy lifestyle and feels Good Grief Cook fits in with the company’s philosophy. How could I resist a collaboration with a brand I already love and one so kind to seek me out with such nourishing words:
“We love sharing our products with inspiring influencers (like you!) in the health and wellness space.” Well, Chosen Foods you inspire me to get in the kitchen.


This first recipe is for my brother, Louis. He is a huge Rutger’s University football fan and spends quite a bit of time tailgating. It’s unfortunate that we have a genetic predisposition to high cholesterol and heart disease, so I thought he could benefit from a new and improved heart healthy artichoke dip that he could share with all the Big Red fans.

Artichokes, shallots and jalapeño get a quick roast in avocado oil and then bathed in a creamy avocado oil mayo dressing including the usual parmesan and fresh lemon plus a crispy topping of toasted nutty quinoa instead of heavy butter drenched bread crumbs. BTW-the avocado oil mayo mixed with a little fresh lime juice is also perfect in your favorite Mexican elote corn recipes.


A Better Roasted Artichoke Dip

1 (12 oz.) package frozen artichoke hearts

¼ cup sliced shallots

2 jalapeno peppers, seeded and sliced

1 tablespoon Chosen Foods Avocado Oil

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup Chosen Foods Avocado Oil Mayo

¼ cup mascarpone cheese or low fat cream cheese

1-tablespoon fresh lemon juice

½ cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese

2 tablespoons toasted Chosen Foods 100% Organic Royal White Quinoa*

Heat oven 450F. Line a small baking sheet with foil. Toss artichoke hearts, shallots and jalapenos with avocado oil and spread out on baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt. Roast for 25 minutes; cool slightly. Transfer mixture to food processor and pulse 6 or 7 times to chop artichokes. Reduce oven temperature to 375F. Meanwhile, in a bowl whisk mayo, mascarpone and lemon juice. Stir in ½ cup parmesan and artichoke mixture; spoon into a small ready to serve baking dish smoothing the top.

Bake for 15 minutes. Mix remaining 2 tablespoons of parmesan cheese with toasted quinoa and sprinkle evenly over top of dip. Return to oven and bake 10 minutes more or until artichoke dip is bubbly. Cool slightly before serving with whole grain crackers.

*To toast quinoa: Heat oven to 375F. Toss 1 cup of quinoa with 1 tablespoon of avocado oil; spread out on a baking sheet. Bake for 5 to 8 minutes or until quinoa is golden brown. Cool and store in a jar in the refrigerator.


Up next is a recipe inspired by my nephew, Cole. Cole runs cross-country and loves quinoa. Quinoa is an energy packed, high protein seed that is the perfect food for the athlete in all of us. Simmered or toasted it can be used in everything from appetizer to dessert. Cole is also known to like a bit of heat, so Chosen Foods Spicy Sesame Oil is just what this salad needed. I am a huge fan of ordering salad dressing on the side. Nothing worse than an over-dressed soggy salad, so since I don’t know how you like your salad I advise following the recipe as written and then add more of the dressing to your taste.


Quinoa Fruit Salad with Miso Honey Vinaigrette

Miso Honey Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon white miso paste

tablespoons grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar

tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

2 tablespoons Chosen Foods Avocado Oil

1/2 teaspoon Chosen Foods Spicy Sesame Oil

freshly ground black pepper

Quinoa Salad

 cup Chosen Foods 100% Organic Royal White Quinoa

1 tablespoon Chosen Foods Avocado Oil

1 ½ cups water

plumcot (hybrid fruit of plum and apricot) or nectarine pitted and diced

cup dried tart Montmorency cherries or dried sweetened cranberries

4 scallions, thinly sliced

 cup honey sesame cashews (I buy at Trader Joe’s)

In a small bowl, whisk together honey and miso until smooth and blended. Add vinegar, lime juice, and ginger. Drizzle in 2 tablespoons avocado oil and spicy sesame oil, whisking until well combined. Season with pepper. Set aside. Stir quinoa and 1 tablespoon of avocado oil in a large skillet over medium heat until golden and nutty. Add water; bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, or until liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork. In a large bowl toss quinoa with pluot, dried cherries and green onions and half of the vinaigrette. Top with cashews. Pass remaining vinaigrette./recipe]


Okay, here is where I get a little crazy with what I think is a genius gluten-free tiramisu breakfast cup. With the flavor of bittersweet espresso, a creamy layer of mascarpone and a sprinkle of “super food” extra dark chocolate it is the perfect pick-me-up. Next time I might top it with a few fresh berries to round out the food groups. Add a little “spirit”coffee liqueur or marsala to the mix and this could easily become dessert instead of breakfast. All you gluten-free, tiramisu loving folks you are welcome!

Quinoa Tiramisu Breakfast Cup

2/3 cup water

1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

1/4 cup Chosen Foods 100% Organic Royal White Quinoa

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 tablespoon raw agave or honey

2 tablespoons mascarpone cheese

2 tablespoons plain Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon shaved dark chocolate

In small saucepan, stir water, instant espresso, quinoa and vanilla until espresso is dissolved. Bring mixture to a gentle simmer. Cook, covered, for 20 minutes or just until liquid is absorbed and quinoa is tender and moist. Remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Add 2 to 3 teaspoons of agave (sweeten to your taste) and fluff with a fork. In small bow, mix mascarpone, yogurt and 1 to 2 teaspoons of agave until blended. Layer half the quinoa in serving glass. Top with half the cheese-yogurt and half the chocolate. Repeat layers.


Thank you Chosen Foods for sharing your goodness with me. Can’t wait to try those chia seeds and cooking sprays, but until then let me remind you all that avocado oil has that fabulously high smoke point which is best for roasting the end of summer harvest.


The Grief Marathon & Quinoa

quinoa for breakfast

quinoa for breakfast

A New Year’s resolution… Have you made any? How about running a marathon? A number of my friends and family are runners and it impresses me to no end. It seems like a lonely endeavor, but day after day they persevere no matter how cold the weather or painful the perspiration in their eyes. They have a goal and they see a finish line. In some ways, Grief is much like running a marathon.

my cheerleaders

my cheerleaders

Remember the first day of exercise? The body, a little overwhelmed by the assault, rewards you with soreness. For some, the pain that follows is excruciating and requires a bit of medication. But you are determined and this pain, while undeniable, will not keep you from going forward. In time each workout gets you a little stronger and you go a little faster. There are sunny days when the run is actually quite enjoyable. Yes, there are sunny days and even an occasional rainbow.

there will always be better days

there will always be better days

It’s a race and along the way there are supporters. They hand you some water or a tissue to wipe that burning water from your eyes. They cheer you on and hold you up when it seems there is no strength to put another foot forward. It’s an exhausting long run, but you can do it. I know WE can because along the way no one is cheering as loud as the person we have loved and lost. In our hearts, they go wherever we go. They do whatever we do. They are running the race and some day we will see them at the finish line.

He is cheering me on

He is cheering me on

Ok, so if you are going to run a marathon you must eat healthy. Have you tried quinoa? Pronounced “keen-wha”, it is an ancient grain first discovered in South America. Packed with protein, B vitamins, iron and fiber it is a powerhouse of nutrition and the perfect food for those who want to reduce meat consumption or go vegetarian. Versatile and gluten-free it makes a great substitute for other grains. Quinoa is often used as a side dish or in stuffing recipes, but today’s recipe is a warm and nourishing breakfast pudding. It will keep you energized and running all day. Feel free to substitute any fruit and nut toppings you like. Happy 2015!

bittersweet jewels that burst in your mouth

bittersweet jewels that burst in your mouth

Toasted Almond & Pomegranate Quinoa Breakfast Pudding

1-cup quinoa (pre-washed)

1¾ cups skim milk or almond milk

4 tablespoons honey or agave syrup

¼-teaspoon almond extract or vanilla

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

½ cup plain Greek yogurt

¼ cup pomegranate seeds

¼ cup chopped roasted almonds

Over medium heat, toast quinoa in a dry skillet for a few minutes or until quinoa begins to darken. In a 2-quart saucepan, combine toasted quinoa, milk, 2 tablespoons honey or agave, almond extract and salt. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover leaving lid slightly ajar and simmer for 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and white spiral-like threads appear around the grains. Turn off heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Divide quinoa among 4 serving bowls. Top with yogurt and a drizzle of honey or agave. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and almonds.