Category Archives: Lunch

quinoa for days

raw quinoaQuinoa, the ever popular super grain. This splendid grain is popular for a reason (actually many!)- it has the highest nutritional profile and cooks the fastest of all grains. It is also a complete protein, contains more calcium than milk, is high in B vitamins, iron, zinc, and Vitamin E, is gluten-free, strengthens the kidneys, heart, and lungs, and is ideal for endurance and energy. This mother grain is also very easy to digest and is a warming food. Phew! These little colorful beads really are so full of ancient wisdom and nutritional power. Quinoa has been grown and consumed for about 8,000 years on the high plains of the Andes Mountains in South America. And now today, it has become a popular grain of choice with many uses.

Just one cup of quinoa cooked in two cups water yields four servings. I like to make a bunch and use it throughout the week, especially if I am super busy and don’t have a lot of time to cook. You can find white, red, and black quinoa but there is also a rainbow variety that I like to buy. Pretty much anything that has the word rainbow in front of it (rainbow chard, beets, carrots, etc.) I am a sucker for.

cooked quinoa

spicesCook extra quinoa to use for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Here are some examples of ways to use quinoa and make it last you at least a few days. And make use of your spices! Depending on what you like, they can add warmth, zest, or a kick to your dishes.

For dinner, I like to cook quinoa and pair it with brussels sprouts roasted with maple syrup or avocado, black beans, sweet potatoes, corn, and hot sauce. Quinoa pairs perfectly with so many different veggies and proteins so go crazy! I like to add turmeric, paprika, cumin, or curry powder to my savory quinoa dishes.

After dinner, I store my extra quinoa in an air-tight container in the fridge. Then the next morning, I combine it in a pot with oat milk (or any plant-based milk) and leave it on the stove just enough to warm it up. Then I add whatever I am in the mood for: nuts, seeds, maple syrup, almond butter, raw honey, raisins, cinnamon, ground ginger, nutmeg, cardamon. Quinoa is a higher protein subsitute for oats, so add whatever you usually like in your oatmeal.

For lunch, you can take some more leftover quinoa and make a warming soup. Combine water, miso paste, basil, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, onion, garlic, sprouts, and seaweed in a pot and simmer over low heat for 20-25 minutes. Add the already cooked quinoa and cook for another minute or two. Enjoy!

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Market Things & Gluten-Free Pizza

marketthingsThe outdoor market is one of the highlights of my week. It’s my chance to pick up some plump Medjool dates, pick out bunches of fresh veggies, and get my hands on some amazing Italian cheese. It’s also a great chance to practice Italian with the local merchants. Today is that much brighter after buying fresh flowers, carrots, spring garlic, spring onions, and fennel.

carrot IMG_4418

To be honest, I had only eaten fennel a handful of times before coming to Italy, and boy, was I missing out. Fennel is a staple in Italian cooking and I am so grateful for the different versions I have been exposed to. I adore fennel’s slight liquorice flavor and its wonderful versatility. It is great raw or cooked, added to salads for some crunch, or baked in the oven with some cheese, breadcrumbs, and fresh herbs. Fennel sauteed with coconut oil, raisins, and pine nuts is heavenly. Fennel is anti-inflammatory, aids in digestion, and contains vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc.

I am also discovering the magic of fennel seeds, which add delicious depth and flavor to sauces and soups. Sometimes I even nibble on them to freshen my breath. I recently made this recipe from Green Kitchen Stories and wooooah baby was it packed with amazing flavor!

fennel spring garliccoatedfennel

I left the market feeling some powerful fennel inspiration and so I decided to make this gluten-free pizza with caramelized fennel and goat cheese for my host family. I joked to my host mother that I must be breaking some sort of Italian law with this gluten-free crust but it turns out they loved it! I mean, can you really go wrong with sweet caramelized fennel and goat cheese?

GFpizza

Gluten-Free Fennel & Goat Cheese Pizza

Inspired by My New Roots’ recipe

Makes one medium-sized pizza

Ingredients for topping:

1 large fennel bulb

1 large tomato [optional]

1/2 cup soft goat cheese

olive or coconut oil

2-3 tbsp. fennel seeds

2 tbsp. balsamic glaze [can also use honey or maple syrup]

sea salt

bunch of arugula

Gluten-free crust:

1 small head cauliflower

1 egg

3/4-1 cup shredded mozzarella

sea salt

2 tsp. herbs of choice [I used oregano and garlic]

Directions for crust:

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and grease with olive or coconut oil.

2. Wash and dry the head of cauliflower and then cut off the florets. Place the florets in a food processor and process until cauliflower resembles rice. Place in a bowl and microwave for 5-6 minutes.

3. While cauliflower is cooking, mix the egg, cheese, salt and herbs in a separate bowl until combined. Drain cooked cauliflower in a sieve, pressing with a spoon to drain as much water from the cauliflower as possible. Add the cooked cauliflower to the egg & cheese mixture and mix well.

4. Spread mixture onto the covered baking sheet and spread until your preferred thickness [I like mine to resemble more of a flatbread]. Bake for 15 minutes and let cool.

Directions for topping:

1. While crust is cooking, prepare the topping. Wash fennel and remove fronds. Cut vertically into thin slices.

2. Heat coconut or olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Place fennel on the pan, making sure the pieces are flat and not overlapping. Sprinkle with sea salt.

3. Wait for the fennel to become golden-brown on the underside and then flip the pieces over. Let the other side become golden-brown.

4. Add the fennel seeds and balsamic glaze to the pan and toss to coat. Cook fennel for another minute and remove from pan.

Assembly:

1. Once the crust has cooled, drizzle with olive oil. Lay the fennel pieces on top [and slices of tomato if using] then place pieces of goat cheese evenly over the top.

2. Bake in the oven for another 3-5 minutes or until the goat cheese has slightly browned. Remove from oven and dress with fresh arugula.

Enjoy lovelies,

Sarah D.

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Ginger me up

IMG_3773Sometimes a girl needs a break from bread. And bread. And more bread. Needless to say, I have been eating a lot of bread while in Italy. Don’t get me wrong, I love me a slice [or two] of warm, soft baguette. I even joked to my boyfriend that I am turning into a loaf of pane. But sometimes, white just ain’t right.

This past weekend I took a trip to Sestriere, a ski village just miles from the border of France. While my host family skied I set out on a walk, which turned into a three hour trek in the snow. It was quite a workout, to say the least. But more importantly, it was a glorious adventure. I spent those hours marveling at how I could be snowshoeing on three feet of snow and at the same time sweating in a tank top. I took a cat nap in the snow, in awe of how close I was to the shining sun, how grateful I am to have seen this part of the world.  And I was savoring. Savoring the majestic mountains around me with all their pristine and profound silence.

IMG_3804My days have been filled with a language I find incredibly beautiful but still hard to understand. There have been moments of frustration, when the language barrier makes it difficult to express myself exactly how I would like. Luckily, these moments are few. Most moments involve me sitting back and happily listening to those double r’s and rolling words.

But that walk was just what I needed. Alone in the snowy mountains, 7000 feet high, I was able to connect back to a language that is so clear to me, a language that wraps me in that wonderful balance of feeling so small yet part of something so grand and divine. This language reminds me of the connection to myself, to a space where my own beauty and light are realized and celebrated. Oh, the beautiful language of silence. I am reminded in times like these, surrounded by nature and all of its mysteriousness, that silence is truly a gift.

I came back from the mountains feeling reinvigorated and inspired, which usually means my brain is dancing with yoga poses and food ideas. I also came back more in touch with my body, with its needs and its language. My body was asking me for nourishment and groundedness. I listened. The result? A luscious morning yoga practice, a walk along the lake, and a craving for ginger.

I start my mornings with ginger and lemon tea. Simply cut up some ginger and drop into a tea cup, squeeze lemon juice over it, and add boiling water. Voilà. A simple way to flush out your digestive system, stimulate the livers and kidneys, and alkalize the body. Drink before your morning coffee and breakfast for best detoxifying benefits.

IMG_4138Ginger is soothing for the stomach, anti-inflammatory, immune boosting, contains anti-cancer properties, and has been found to relieve pain and muscle aches. Ginger contains loads of antioxidants, which are especially great as summer rolls around [YAY!] because they help prevent free radical damage caused by sun exposure. Plus the zesty nature of ginger will give you that ZING! you’re looking for in the morning. Feeling gingery yet?

Flavor profile: aromatic, spicy, pungent, zingy, invigorating.

IMG_3889And then lunch rolls around with a grand appearance by farro, an old Italian favorite. I love farro for its nourishing and comforting nature. Farro has been used in Italy since Roman times and is mostly grown in Lazio, Umbria, and Abruzzo. A cup of farro contains about 8 grams of fiber and 12 grams of protein, vegetarians rejoice! Farro also contains magnesium, which relieves tension and menstrual cramps. It is a complex carb which means it breaks down slowly, keeping your energy levels stable. This versatile grain can be used to make a cheesy risotto, sprinkled over salads, tossed with grilled veggies, used in desserts, or made into a breakfast porridge [which is what I did with my leftover farro].

Flavor profile: slightly nutty, toothsome, earthy, undertones of oats, versatile.

And from ginger and farro was born this flavorful, hearty, nourishing lunch. Just what the doctor ordered.

IMG_3912

Farro with a Gingered Vegetable Medley

Ingredients:

1/2 cup farro

1 1/4 cup water

eggplant & zucchini, cut into cubes (however much you desire)

4-6 cherry tomatoes, halved

sliced avocado for topping

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/4 cup raisins

2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1-2 tablespoons ginger, finely chopped

1 tablespoon curry powder

1 tsp paprika

3 tbsp. olive oil for marinating

Directions:

1. Coat eggplant and zucchini in olive oil and toss with curry powder and paprika. Set in the fridge and let marinate for at least one hour.

2. Rinse farro. Combine farro and water in a pot and set on high. When it starts to boil turn to low heat, add a pinch of salt, and simmer for 15-20 minutes. If you like your farro on the chewier side, simmer for around 15 minutes. If you like it more tender, simmer for longer until you achieve your desired texture.

3. Set a pan over medium heat. Coat with 1 tbsp. olive oil or coconut oil and add the marinated eggplant and zucchini. Cook until soft (mine took about 5-7 minutes) then add the tomatoes, pine nuts, raisins, garlic and ginger. Cook for another 2-3 minutes and stir occasionally so the garlic and ginger don’t burn.

4. Spoon the veggie medley over a bowl of farro and top with sliced avocado. Enjoy!

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