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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Quinoa Fruit Salad with Miso Honey Vinaigrette

Miso Honey Vinaigrette

2 tablespoons honey

1 tablespoon white miso paste

1/2 
tablespoons grated fresh ginger

2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar

2 
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

1
 cup Chosen Foods 100% Organic Royal White Quinoa

1 tablespoon Chosen Foods Avocado Oil

1 ½ cups water

1 
plumcot (hybrid fruit of plum and apricot) or nectarine pitted and diced

1/2 
cup dried tart Montmorency cherries or dried sweetened cranberries

4 scallions, thinly sliced

1/2
 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]

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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.

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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.

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The Power of a “Pick Me Up”

decadent without the guilt

decadent without the guilt

Just a simple poem to end 2014 and ring in the new year. I read it whenever I need a little “pick me up”. Thank you, Susan for thinking of Will when you first read this poem and for sharing it with me. It’s perfect. Peace and hope for 2015.

“The Biography”

Do not judge a biography by its length

Nor by the number of pages in it

Judge it by the richness of its contents

Sometimes those unfinished are among the most poignant…

Do not judge a song by its duration

Nor by the number of its notes

Judge it by the way it touches and lifts the soul

Sometimes those unfinished are among the most beautiful…

And when something has enriched your life

And when its melody lingers on within your heart

Is it unfinished?

Or is it endless?

~author unknown

Matino family rallied before William went to Afghanistan

Matino family rallied before William went to Afghanistan

And now for another “pick me up” better known as tiramisu. Countless variations on tiramisu exists. This recipe of mine always gets rave reviews and is SO easy to make. No one will believe it is low in fat. Beware: This is an adult dessert with a bit of a savory edge from the bitter-sweet espresso syrup. I find the soft lady fingers at Trader Joe’s. They fit perfectly in an 8-inch square pan. The Greek yogurt pudding mix is new to me and I love it. I found it in the regular grocery store right next to all the other pudding/jello mixes.

luscious layers

luscious layers

No Fat, No Fuss, No Foolin' Tiramisu

Espresso Syrup1-1/4 cups hot water

2-1/2 Tbsp instant espresso coffee

1/4 cup sugar

2 Tbsp orange flavored liqueur or orange juice

use regular vanilla if you can't find this

use regular vanilla if you can’t find this

Filling

1 (4 serving) package instant Greek Yogurt vanilla pudding mix

1½ cups skim milk (fat-free)

12 ounces (1 ½ packages) Neufchatel or fat-free cream cheese, softened

½ cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt (use Fage brand)

1 (8 oz) container frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed

1 (4.75 oz) soft lady fingers (or use angel food cake)

1 tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder

1-pint fresh strawberries, sliced

torpedo shaped strawberries from Florida-super sweet

torpedo shaped strawberries from Florida-super sweet

To prepare espresso syrup: combine all ingredients, stirring, until sugar is dissolved; set aside.

To prepare filling, in medium bowl, beat pudding mix and milk for 2 minutes; let set 5 minutes. In large bowl, using same beaters, beat cream cheese and yogurt until smooth. Add pudding mixture and whipped topping; blend well.

Using half of the lady fingers, one at a time, quickly dip into espresso syrup. Place in a single layer over the bottom of an 8-inch square serving dish. Pour half the filling mixture over the top smoothing with a spatula. Evenly dust top with 1/2 tablespoon of cocoa. Slice strawberries and arrange in a single layer on top of cocoa.

Repeat layers using remaining lady fingers, espresso, filling and cocoa.

Cover and chill. In small saucepan, over medium heat, reduce remaining espresso mixture by half—it will be syrupy and quite bitter-sweet. To serve, drizzle a small amount of the espresso syrup on serving plate. Top with a portion of tiramisu. Garnish with additional fresh berries.

lady fingers