Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Quinoa Veggie Burger

It's burger season here in Vancouver, and this one is absolutely divine. I adapted the recipe from Chatelaine without too much hassle or difficulty. It was more or less compliant off the bat, which I liked. They are crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and full of flavour.

I've been looking for a good vegetarian alternative to your standard meat burger. Though these can be made in standard burger size and served with a salad - you'll see in the directions how this is done - they would also make great mini burgers, dolled up for a cocktail party as finger food with a dab of sour cream and chives on top.

Quinoa Veggie Burger (adapted from Chatelaine)

  • 1/2 cup uncooked quinoa (about 2 cups cooked) 
  • 1 tsp olive oil, plus more for frying
  • 1/2 227 g pkg cremini mushrooms, coarsely grated (1 cup) 
  • 1 cup coarsely grated zucchini (about 3/4 of a zucchini)
  • 3/4 cup coarsely grated carrot (1-2 carrots)
  • 1 small shallot, minced 
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • small handful of parsley, minced  
  • 2 tbsp arrowroot starch 
  • pinch of coarse salt 

  1. Cook quinoa according to package directions, about 14 min. I buy my quinoa in bulk, and this is my method: rinse the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer. Bring 3/4 cup of water to a boil and then add the 1/2 cup quinoa (ratio is 1:1.5). Give it a good stir, put a lid on, drop the heat to low and let it simmer for 15 minutes. Turn the heat off and fluff with a fork. Let it cool with the lid off. 
  2. Grate your veggies. I have done this in with a hand grater and a food processor (with grater attachment). It works well, and if you aren't pressed for time, use the hand grater to save yourself some dishes. 
  3. Heat a large, wide non-stick frying pan over medium. Add oil, then mushrooms, zucchini, carrot, shallot and garlic. Cook until soft, about 5 min. 
  4. In a large bowl, mix egg, starch, salt and parsley. Add quinoa and mix thoroughly and then add veggies and mix.
  5. Heat the same non-stick frying pan over medium. Add a little more oil if the pan looks too dry. Firmly press quinoa mixture into a 1/2-cup measuring cup. Turn and release into pan. Gently press to shape into a patty about 4 in. wide. Repeat, cooking 2 patties at a time. Cook until golden and warmed through, about 4 min per side.

Monday, 27 June 2011

The Blood Type Diet for Travellers

Hello everyone!

As you may have noticed, I haven't been posting as regularly lately. This is because I have been away on vacation in Las Vegas with my friends for a birthday celebration. I love the hot, dry weather, the nightlife,  the shopping, and how Vegas is so unapologetically over the top.

While there, I tried my best to stick to the blood type diet as much as possible. For an AB who can't eat wheat or corn, that proved to be somewhat problematic, especially when grabbing food on the go. I'm of the opinion that in a city like Vegas, someone somewhere will have what you want, so we didn't do so badly. Sometimes too much choice and temptation can be problematic, of course ("It all looks so good! Can I have one of each?!").

In less diverse places, sticking to the diet can prove much more challenging due to lack of options. I did come up with some tips that I think would be helpful, and I hope you find them useful as well:
  • When eating out at a restaurant, go vegetarian. Most vegetables are acceptable to all types, and you will feel pretty light after your meal.
  • Bring some food with you. My friends and I flew out of Bellingham rather than YVR, so once we drove across the US border, we bought some snacks at a grocery store and brought them with us. This was a less expensive option than going out each time we wanted a snack, and helped me stay compliant. We didn't buy much: almonds, cranberries, oatmeal, banana chips (not for me) and carrots. The hotel gave us a fridge to keep everything fresh. I put them in my checked luggage, but they will also go into carry-on without a problem. 
  • Allow yourself one cheat day. I did this the day we ate at Thomas Keller's Bouchon for brunch, and it was awesome. It will also save your sanity.
Pastries at Bouchon? Yes, please!
  • If you find standard portion sizes too large, order an appetizer or two instead. This gives you some nice variety and won't make you feel over-stuffed. 
  • For breakfast, find a place that does omelets and get a custom one. You really can't go wrong with that, and it will fuel you up for the rest of the day. 
  • Cocktails are tempting, but just say no and order wine instead. The mixes and juices used in cocktails are usually packed with sugar or HFCS and other stuff you probably shouldn't be consuming. AB's can't touch hard liquor, but wine is A-OK, so just stick with a glass of wine or two and enjoy your meal. 
  • Drink lots of water!
  • Have at least a little discipline. If you're with a group of people who aren't familiar with the diet, just explain that you're on a restrictive diet and you need to be selective in your food choices. Most people will respect this.
I hope you find these tips helpful and useful in your upcoming travels!

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

More Nomato Sauce! Now with fresh herbs!

Folks, it's the last variation on a theme, I promise.

I changed my nomato sauce recipe to accommodate the lovely fresh herbs I have growing on my deck right now. I received some baby plants and a huge planter for my birthday at the end of May, and despite my east-facing deck and the constant rain we've been having all Spring, my plants are growing like, well, weeds.

The 2011 Garden of Doom has multiple varieties of parsley, basil, summer and winter savory, dill, red-veined sorel, thyme, oregano, and cilantro. It smells so! freaking! good! It took a couple of hours to plant everything and I water most of them every evening before bed, and fertilize once every two weeks. If you have a small patch of earth or even a planter on a deck, I recommend giving it a try.

Nomato Sauce Redux

Basic Sauce

6 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 beet, peeled and chopped
1 onion, peeled and chopped
1 celery stick, sliced
1 bay leaf, whole
1 1/2 cups of water

Flavour ingredients
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 onion, fine dice
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped
1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped
1/4 cup winter and/or summer savory, chopped (this really makes the sauce - don't skip it!)
1 tsp dried oregano (or 1/8 cup fresh... you get the idea)
2 tsp. olive oil
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 cup red wine (optional)
salt to taste
Place all ingredients of the basic sauce in a pot and boil, covered for 30 minutes, then puree with an immersion blender. Add water, if needed, until mixture has a tomato sauce texture.

Saute garlic and onion over low heat in olive oil with a little salt until soft, about10 minutes, then add herbs and saute for 5 minutes more.

Add basic sauce and bring to a boil, then add wine and lemon juice, if using. Cover and simmer for a few minutes. Add salt to taste.

Enjoy over pasta, pizza, or anything else you would make with tomato sauce.