black bean and quinoa salad **updated

my first attempt to re-create the delicious quinoa salad i had from whole foods last week.  my second attempt at quinoa from home.

it was mostly a success.  a great dish that i think many would enjoy but i personally will continue the quest for variations that make this dish perfect (for me).  variations such as green onions instead of red onions, cilantro instead of parsley and next time, i'll eliminate the tomatoes.

if you like parsley and the heat from red onions than i think this is a great version for you but, if you want to go ahead and try my anticipated variations as mentioned above then please, do.

**after another visit to whole foods and another delicious taste of their version, i've decided they puree fire roasted tomatoes with the oil and vinegar for the sauce.  they also use flat leaf parsley and there are not any green onions in their version (red only).  fyi for anyone thinking of trying this dish.  i like their version much better.

1 1/2 cups of quinoa (ancient harvest brand is pre-soaked)
2 1/4 cups of water
1 1/2 cups of black beans (low sodium), drained and rinsed
1 1/2 cups cooked corn (i used frozen corn, microwaved and drained with beans)
1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
1/2 cup red onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup parsley, chopped
2 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
1/3 cup lime juice

add quinoa to water in a medium-large sauce pan.  bring to a boil.  reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes.  fluff with a fork and transfer to a bowl to cool.

while quinoa is cooking, combine olive oil, red wine vinegar and lime juice.  salt and pepper to taste (i used about 1/4 tsp of sea salt and ground pepper).

mix all ingredients with cooled quinoa.  drizzle oil/vinegar mix over everything and toss gently.

umm ... yum

this makes about 8 - 1 1/2 cup servings.  i'll bet it's delicious as a leftover straight out of the fridge.  i'll find out tomorrow.

look at all those beautiful green boxes ... SUPER good for you!!

Food DescriptionCaloriesFatSat. FatTrans. FatCholesterolSodiumCarbsFiberSugarsProteinVitamin AVitamin CCalciumiron
black bean and quinoa salad take one
1 serving
Percentage of Calories







Typical Percentages: Fat 20-35%, Carbohydrates 45-65%, Protein 10-35%, and Saturated Fats less than 9%


leek and sweet potato au gratin

another recipe from here.

some crazy(er) part of me feels like moving towards eliminating animal products from my diet.  another less crazy part of me is too afraid to learn how to eat another way.  i'm not going to lie, i like me some meat and dairy every now and then!

still though, i've been taking baby steps because i think baby steps are the best kind of steps to take when you're trying to learn something new or change.

so here is my take on leek and sweet potato au gratin served up steaming with a nice cut of grilled sirloin (baby steps).

now, this was my first time eating leeks.  one thing i learned is that although they look like green onions, they are not like green onions.  the recipe calls for "three medium leeks" and i only bought one thinking they were in bunches just like green onions.  wrong.  the result was not enough leeks so i halved the recipe which wasn't a big deal.  there's was another casserole dish of homemade mac n' cheese bubbling in the oven for the chillin's and husband.

in the end, i was pleased with this dish and think that anyone who likes sweet potatoes would really like it.   the only thing i would change is again, too much oil.  this is the fourth recipe i've followed from this site and every single one had too much oil, imo.  we also had the lentil soup (which was great less the lentils, lol) and, the orzo salad which would have been great less the olive oil.  i threw away the whole bowl, too much oil.

leek and sweet potato au gratin

1.5 tbsp olive oil (i will use 1 tbsp max next time)
6 cups chopped leeks, approx 3 medium leeks (white & light green parts only)
3 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbsp chopped fresh rosemary (i used 2 tbsp of rosemary from my pantry, not fresh)
2 lbs sweet potatoes peeled and sliced 1/8" thick
1/3 cup low sodium vegetable broth
3 tbsp seasoned dry bread crumbs (i only had unseasoned so i mixed in some onion powder, garlic powder and pepper)

1. preheat oven to 450 degrees.  coat 10" round pan with cooking spray.

2. heat 1 tbsp oil in nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  add leeks, garlic and  1 1/2 tbsp of rosemary; saute 8 minutes or until softened.  season with salt and pepper.

3.  arrange 1/3 of sweet potato slices over bottom of prepared pan, overlapping slightly.  spread 1/2 of leek mixture on tip.  arrange the other 1/3 of sweet potato slices over leeks; tops with remaining leeks, followed by remaining sweet potatoes.  drizzle broth over dish.  cover pan with foil and bake 35 minutes.

4. stir together breadcrumbs and a tiny bit of oil with remaining rosemary in small bowl. remove foil from gratin and sprinkle with breadcrumb mixture.  bake, uncovered, 15 minutes or until breadcrumbs are brown and crisp.

serves 8

Nutrition Facts
leek and sweet potato au gratin
Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat2.7g
      Saturated Fat0.4g
      Trans Fat0g
      Dietary Fiber2.2g
Vitamin A 176%Vitamin C 18%
Calcium    3%Iron 5%


vegetable chow mein

recipe from here.

i made this for jake and i a couple of nights ago.  it was good and would have been even better if i hadn't burned the onions (i really need a wok, anyone have two?).  i'm looking forward to making it again someday.  it's on my non-existent "recommended" now, especially if you have a wok.  i think the kids would have eaten without complaining too much.  maybe?

so, here's the recipe directly from the site.  when i make it again, i will use a lot less oil.  it was a little too oily for my taste.  and, this time around, i omitted the oyster sauce because i do not like a "fishy" taste.

vegetable chow mein

1/2 lb whole wheat angel hair
5 tbsp canola oil (i would cut this to 3 tbsp)
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce (lite)
2 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
1 red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced
1/4 lb shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and stems thinly sliced
1 cup snow peas, thinly sliced
1 zucchini, trimmed and cut matchsticks
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger (i used 1 tbsp ground ginger)
2 cloves garlic, minced

parboil the noodles:  bring a large pot of water to a boil over high heat. add the noodles and boil for 2 minutes. drain the noodles in a colander and rinse well with cold running water. place in a bowl, add 1 tbsp. of the canola oil and toss to coat evenly.
in a small bowl, combine 3 tbsp. water, the oyster sauce, soy sauce, vinegar, and sesame oil and stir.
stir-fry the vegetables: (the thinner you cut the vegetables the better.) heat a wok or large fry pan over high heat until very hot and add 2 tbsp. of the oil. add the onion and bell pepper and stir-fry just until tender, about 3 minutes. add the mushrooms, peas, and zucchini and continue to stir-fry until golden brown, about 2 minutes. using a slotted spoon, transfer the vegetables to a bowl.
stir-fry the noodles: return the pan to high heat and add the remaining 2 tbsp. oil. add the ginger and garlic and stir-fry until fragrant, about 5 seconds. add the noodles and cook until heated through, about 5 minutes. return the vegetables to the pan, add the sauce, and continue to stir and toss until all the ingredients are well combined and heated through, about 1 minute. transfer to a platter and serve immediately.

yields 6

one serving (with 3 tbsp canola, light soy sauce and eliminate oyster sauce):

Nutrition Facts
vegetable chow mein
Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat10.4g
      Saturated Fat0.9g
      Trans Fat0g
      Dietary Fiber5.5g
Vitamin A 25%Vitamin C 84%
Calcium    3%Iron 10%


whole foods and good earth

today i decided to make the long trip to whole foods and good earth. it was an enjoyable time. so enjoyable in fact, i was twenty minutes late picking the kids up from school (double oops!).

i was in search of a few key ingredients i've been unable to find at the grocery store. specifically, white whole wheat flour, whole wheat couscous and whole wheat orzo.

my trip was a success, i left with all i went in for and some, including the most delicious quinoa and black bean salad made fresh at the deli which i enjoyed for lunch. now i am on a quest to make this salad on my own. it included roasted red tomatoes, red bell pepper, parsley, garlic, black beans, red wine vinegar, olive oil and corn (off the top of my head). oh, it was so yummy!

speaking of quinoa, i learned today that i've been pronouncing the word horribly wrong for some time now. i asked the man behind the counter at the deli if i could sample some of the quinoa and black bean salad (kwuh-no-ah). horrible. he said "what?" so i pointed. yeah, well, it's pronounced keen-wah for those who don't already know. embarrassing.

anyway, slowly i learn.

but, take a look at the beauty that is in my fridge right now (less the hot dogs).

we've got some interesting items on the menu this week (insert child's moan and groan). tonight i tried my hand at vegetable low mein (another post altogether). it was good but, i realized after i charred the onions that i really need a wok. the skillet just doesn't cut it.  and, i'm still not a very good cook.

later this week we'll try leek and sweet potato au gratin, lentil soup and a super delicious looking orzo salad. say yum!

black bean and chicken chilaquiles

i'm a little behind on my food blogging.  snap.

but, i'm here now and i'm going to make up for the pause by sharing this delicious chicken chilaquiles recipe i borrowed from cooking light.

"A traditional Mexican breakfast favorite, chilaquiles (chee-lah-KEE-lays) is a sauté of day-old tortilla strips, fresh tomato sauce, cream, and cheese. This hearty version is baked."

now, i only made small changes such as using whole wheat tortilla's instead of corn and i couldn't find salsa de chile fresco so i used salsa de jalapeno fresco and it seemed to work great.  i also couldn't find for real queso blanco from our lame grocery store down the street so i bought a blend of mexican cheese that also seemed to work just fine but i do look forward to round two and going further into town for the real cheese.


  • Cooking spray
  • 1  cup  thinly sliced onion
  • 5  garlic cloves, minced
  • 2  cups  shredded cooked chicken breast
  • 1  (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1  cup  fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1  (7 3/4-ounce) can salsa de chile fresco (such as El Pato)
  • 15  (6-inch) corn tortillas, cut into 1-inch strips
  • 1  cup  shredded queso blanco (about 4 ounces)

  • Preparation
  • Preheat oven to 450°.

  • Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion; sauté 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add chicken; cook 30 seconds. Transfer mixture to a medium bowl; stir in beans. Add broth and salsa to pan; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Set aside.
Place half of tortilla strips in bottom of an 11 x 7-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Layer half of chicken mixture over tortillas; top with remaining tortillas and chicken mixture. Pour broth mixture evenly over chicken mixture. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake at 450° for 10 minutes or until tortillas are lightly browned and cheese is melted.

Nutritional Information (serves 6)

293 (15% from fat)
4.9g (sat 1.7g,mono 1.5g,poly 1.2g)


hawaiian chicken

last night i was on my own for dinner.  well, not completely but the kids were promised pizza and jake was away doing man stuff so i used my creativity to put together one of my mother's favorite dishes (right mom?).  i'll call it hawaiian chicken.  i don't know why.

house of tsang has a killer korean teriyaki sauce that you can find in the asian food isle.  a little bit goes a long way so i just spread a tad on the chicken, let it sit at room temperature for 10 - 15 minutes and then grill it about 6-7 minutes per side on low heat (remember, turning only once).  throw the pineapple on the grill for the last 5 minutes of cooking, turn once.  turn off the grill, put the pineapple on the chicken and a slice of baby swiss (thin slice).  drizzle teriyaki over the top.


i even had leftover rice from the night before.  perfection.

5 followers,  what's for dinner tonight?

we're trying black bean and chicken chilaquiles.  wish me luck.


lettuce wraps

my lettuce wraps are super easy, super quick and super delicious.  cayden said "this is my second favorite dinner."  when asked what is his first, he said "chicken with those noodle things."  i have no idea what he is talking about.

i've tried so many different variations of recipes that call for all sorts of ingredients to make the sauce.  i finally just gave up and bought a bottle of peanut sauce.  the family loves the taste and i love the simplicity of this dish.

1.25 - 1.5lb ground lean turkey
1 tbsp sesame oil
1/2 cup of peanut sauce (i usually use house of tsang or san-j)
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup of green onions, chopped
15 oz can water chestnuts, chopped
iceberg or butter lettuce, separated and rinsed

brown the turkey in 1/2 tbsp sesame oil.
drain turkey and add remaining 1/2 of sesame oil to the same pan.
sauté the green onions for approximately 2 minutes or until softened.
add garlic and sauté for approximately 1 minute.
add water chestnuts for another couple of minutes (until heated through).
add cooked turkey back to the pan and pour peanut sauce on top.
mix all ingredients together and turn heat down to a simmer for about 10 minutes.

we like a little rice on the side.  tonight is was basmati with a little bit of garlic cooked in and then topped with a tiny bit of butter and a few drops of light soy sauce.  yum!

turkey mixture nutritional info (does not include lettuce or rice):
1 serving (yields approx. 6 wraps); 210 calories, 11.9g fat (2g saturated fat), 60mg cholesterol, 390mg sodium, 9.4g carbohydrates, 1g fiber, 5.2g sugar, 14.8g protein.


italian beans & collard greens

saturday's are my long runs.  today we ran 12.5 miles and so i definitely wanted to make sure i treated my body to a nutritious dinner.  luckily for me, my cousin keeps a similar blog and posted this recipe that  i thought looked delicious.  i showed the picture to the husband and asked him if i dared and he said "let's give it a try."

it was so good people!

i've never tried collard greens, have you?  i felt proud buying them for the first time, like i was really moving up in the world of nutritious dishes.
here's the craziest part, my kids really liked it.  gavin fed himself and ate every bit.  i was a proud momma tonight (thanks gwen).

so, here you go.   first, check out gwen's site to see how to prepare the collard greens.  she also recommends spicy italian sausage but i went with sweet italian turkey sausage made by jennie-o.  i used three links and sliced them when cooked only because the husband was hogging the computer and i was trying to remember the recipe without having access to it.  this worked out because i was able to convince the kids they were eating sausage just by the look alone and  they love sausage.

the only other thing i would maybe try different next time is to use my already prepared beans. tonight they were still sitting comfortably in the freezer and there was not time to thaw them so we went with canned beans.  i think this added a little to the sodium content but still, it's very healthy.

we don't make homemade bread around here (this needs to change) so i bought a loaf of fresh whole grain bread from the bakery.  it was delish!

italian beans and collard greens
1 bunch collard greens prepared
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 15 oz cans canelinni beans
1 can tomato sauce
2 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
3 jenny-o turkey sweet italian sausage links
1 tbsp olive oil
prepare collard greens.
meanwhile, heat stock pot over med-high heat.
add oil.
cook sausage according to package directions.
remove sausage and throw onions in for 3-4 minutes (slice sausage while onions cook).

remove onions.

add collard greens and coat with oil in pan. stir occasionally while they cook down. about 10 minutes.

add sausage, onions, 

add beans, tomato sauce and broth.  turn heat down to medium-low, cover and cook another 15 minutes stirring occasionally.  (i actually brought everything to a simmer first and then turned the heat down because my chicken broth was cold when i added it).


i'll be trying the carrot zucchini muffins in the morning so check back later!

soup nutritional information
1 serving (yields 6); 235 calories, 9.8g fat (1.9g saturated fat), 32mg cholesterol, 919mg sodium, 23.1g carb, 7.2g fiber,  5.4g sugar, 16.8g protein.


teriyaki chicken

another favorite with a new twist.

i made this for dinner last night.  i forgot to take a photo of the final result but thankfully, there was enough remaining for leftovers tonight.

4 chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise
1/2 cup lite soy sauce (tamari)
1 cup of sprite
1 tbsp sesame oil
3 green onions (chopped)

marinate for at least four hours (overnight is best).

grill over low heat for 7-8 minutes per side, flipping only once.  let grilled chicken rest covered (off grill) for 5 minutes.

it looks a little dry re-heated but it wasn't at all.

my favorite new rice is short grain brown rice (lundberg brand available at harmons).  i have been trying to find a brown rice we all will like and this has become the favorite around here.  the kids gobble it up, especially with a little butter and light soy sauce drizzled over the top.  the rice has a perfectly chewy texture, it's sticky and has a nice flavor.  i cook it in my rice cooker because i can preset the cook time.  it takes a while (last night it took two hours!) so plan in advance.

we had steamed broccoli with our dinner but i didn't want to steam a bag just for myself tonight as the husband was working late and the kids wanted chicken nuggets and fries.  grapes hit the spot.

give it try and let me know what you think!

1 serving of chicken (yields 8 - 3oz portions); 163 calories, 3.9g fat (1g sat fat), 73mg cholesterol, 342mg sodium, 2.8g fiber,  2.7g sugar, 27.1g protein.

1 serving of rice (3/4 cup); 170 calories, 1.5g fat (0g sat fat), 0g cholesterol, 40g carbs, 3g fiber, 0g sugar, 3g protein.


korean bbq beef and coconut rice

this is by far one of my most favorite meals.  i know the family would agree because every time i make it, they gobble it down but i try to save it as a "treat" and only make it once a month or so because it is a bit higher in calories than i prefer for dinner and it's a little higher in saturated fat but it is worth it!

back in the summer of 06' we spent a week in california with my husband's side of the family and during our stay, his cousin made for all of us this most delicious marinated flank steak.   fast forward a few years later when we were vacationing again together in st. george and she added coconut rice to the dish making it a five star experience for all of us.  i love it so much. thanks sarah!!

korean bbq beef
1.5 - 2 lb lean beef flank steak (costco sells great, lean flank steak in packages of three)
1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
1/3 cup sliced green onions
1 - 2 tbsp sesame oil (i find 1 tbsp is enough to prevent the sugars from sticking to the grill.  otherwise, the oil is not necessary)
3 tbsp sugar (or honey)
3-4 cloves minced garlic

mix ingredients in a gallon size ziplock and marinate over night (preferably 24 hrs).  grill on low 8-10 min per side turning only once.  cover with tinfoil and let grilled meat sit for 5 - 10 minutes (off grill).

1 serving (yields 6); 400 calories, 16.4g fat (6.2g saturated fat), 94mg cholesterol, 470mg sodium, 4.9g carbs, .1g fiber, 4.6g sugar, 54.2g protein.

coconut basmati rice
2 cups dry basmati rice
3.5 cups lite coconut milk
1-5 tbsp olive oil
3 cloves minced garlic

boil over med-high heat until liquid is at rice level. reduce heat to low and simmer (covered) for 15 minutes.

1 serving (yields 8 - 1/2 cup servings); 224 calories, 7.3g fat (4.8g saturated fat), 17mg sodium, 35.7g carbs, .5g fiber, 1.1g sugar, 4.1g protein.

moist and healthy banana muffins

every sunday for the last two months i've tried different variations of muffin recipes.

my family loves muffins and i do too so i have been trying to find a recipe that results a balance of nutritious and delicious.  it's been hard.  considering i know very little about which ingredients serve which purpose in baking, substituting one thing for another has resulted in some really gross and sad muffins.  {if anyone can offer a lesson in baking, i'd love it!}

never fear!  i didn't give up and last week i turned out some pretty darn good tasting banana muffins. i threw some chopped walnuts in half of the batch (no one like nuts but me {don't laugh}) and served them up with my yummy fruit and yogurt mix.

anyway, i'm still looking for different muffin recipes that the family will like too.  i need to take another stab at some variation of pumpkin muffins and so far, all of the blueberry muffin recipes i've tried have been not-so-great by the time i substituted ingredients.  if you have any ideas that don't include chocolate and/or if you have a recipe for carrot pancakes that you've tried and liked, please send them my way!

4 ripe banana's (the browner the better, i keep a ziplock of super ripe banana's in the freezer)
1/4 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup brown sugar
1 tbsp agave nectar (i use light agave)
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup white-whole wheat flour (king arthur)
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 tbsp ground flax seed
chopped walnuts (optional)

pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  spray muffin cups with non-stick spray.
mash banana's with a fork.  add egg, sugar, applesauce, agave, vanilla and mix together.
in a seperate bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and ground flax.
add wet to dry ingredients.  mix until combined.

recipe should yield 21 muffins (each cup 2/3 full).  fill the remaining three cups with water (2/3 full) for even cooking.

bake for 25 minutes rotating the muffin pan 1/2 way through cook time.

1 muffin; 120 calories, .06g fat (0g sat fat), 148mg sodium, 27.2g carbs, 1.7g fiber, 14g sugar, 2.3g protein
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