Chick pea quinoa salad

I just love the blue-turquoise of this bowl! And, of course, the salad in it. This chick pea quinoa salad was inspired by a salad I ate years ago in Ontario on a road trip.

It’s vegan and gluten-free and technically grain-free, since quinoa is a member of the plant family (I only learned that this year!).

It’s also easy to prepare this salad, which is served cold – it really is low-maintenance! And it’s packed with protein, so it’s a solid contribution for potentially non-diet*-friendly potlucks.

Marisa-Baratta-chickpea-quinoa-salad

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 1 cup of chick peas (dried, soaked and cooked OR rinsed and drained from a BPA-free can)
  • 1 handful of dried cranberries
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp (or less) of maple syrup

Steps

  1. Cook the quinoa. There should be instructions on the bag, but normally it’s 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa.
  2. Drain the cooked quinoa and mix in a bowl with chick peas, cranberries, squeezed lemon and a dash of maple syrup.

Ready to serve!

*Please note that by diet, I am always referring to “the kinds of food a person eats.”

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KK Sushi review: high quality Japanese food in Mississauga!

Finally, I have located a high quality option for Japanese food in Mississauga! No more having to look elsewhere; KK Sushi is here! Located in the bustling restaurant neighbourhood on Dixie, leading up to the highway, KK Sushi is a superb option for a fine Japanese dining experience. The people are very nice too; I called several times asking about their menu and they were very helpful.

Vegetarian options 9/10

My meal: I ordered my usual favourites. The avocado rolls tasted particularly good. They’re not difficult to make—I have a recipe for avocado rolls here—but they tasted even better than ever at KK Sushi. The avocado salad tasted too strongly of onions but the vegetarian sushi pizza was heavenly. The peppery sauce is strong but with just the right kick and the vegetables are finely chopped into a tasteful, nutritious dish. Vegetarians will not find themselves without choice! (Even spring rolls are on the menu—yay!)

The Food

The avocado salad: Your typical dose of avocado, lettuce and onions with house dressing but a little strong on the onions.

Avocado rolls: More heavenly than ever!

Vegetarian sushi pizza: A strong, peppery sauce with freshly chopped vegetables that will leave you satisfied yet wanting more! Delicious.

Spring rolls: Simple; a little more fried dough than actual vegetable stuffing, but tasty.

Miso soup: A nice beginning.

Edamame: Good, as always.

Prices 8.5/10

Bonus: You can order all-you-can-eat or a la carte style. All you can eat costs $21 most days and $23 on weekends. The a la carte options are decently priced too—perfect when you’re looking to satisfy that craving!

It’s too bad vegetarians can’t eat a la carte while their partners order from the buffet menu (I doubt most vegetarian meals amount to more than the $28 you’ll pay for an all-you-can-eat option, with tax and tip).

Service 8.8/10

The servers were attentive to us and never left us waiting for more food or our bill. They checked on us to make sure we were doing well and were kind enough to let us know when something we had ordered was or was not included with the buffet menu (i.e., they let us know there would be an extra charge instead of surprising us later with the bad news). In fact, when we ordered jasmine tea, they offered us green tea (which was free).

Atmosphere 8.8/10

A delightful surprise! There are pictures on the website but the place looks even lovelier in person. I was struck by the polished white walls, nicely accentuated tables and chairs, and—most of all—the wall of mirrors, accentuated by overhanging leafy green plants. A Japanese bar, all decorated, lines the opposite wall. I went for a Saturday night dinner and the place was barely half full. The music is finely tuned to match a dinner atmosphere too (some Bryan Adams, that sort of thing).

Tip

Don’t order more than you can eat! One order of spring rolls is enough for two people. I recommend ordering a la carte if you’re not going to eat $22’s worth (do the math; the item-by-item prices are on the menu).

Would I go again?

Yes, this is a lovely place to bring your date, your friends or your family. I’m still thinking about those avocado rolls days later!

Pasta e Fagioli: my favourite dish! (even more than tacos?)

This is the one dish that can make me full. It takes 1.5 hours to make the beans and then 20 minutes to cook the pasta. Once the beans and pasta meet, your stomach will rumble. Once the beans and pasta meet your stomach, you’ll  be full!

A satisfying, complete protein that's bound to fill you up

Ingredients

  • 1 can Romano beans (540 mL) or 3/4 cup dried beans
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1/2 carrot, peeled
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 can of tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup of cavatelli pasta or a small whole grain pasta
  • salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste
  • 1 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)
  • chili flakes (optional)

Directions

  1. Before you do anything, note that if you are cooking with dried beans (the healthy choice!), they need to be soaked overnight and then cooked for 1 hour before you proceed with this recipe.
  2. Heat up pot with 1 teaspoon of olive oil (for one minute or so).
  3. Cut the onion in two. Chop one half into tiny pieces. Add onion and carrot to olive oil and cook for a few minutes.
  4. Meanwhile, pass tomatoes through a vegetable mill and set aside.
  5. When the onions seem to have started cooking,  add the tomato sauce to the pot and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes.
  6. Rinse the beans with water (the dried beans are already rinsed) and add beans to tomato sauce. Fill can with water and add water to pot.
  7. Cook beans for 1 to 1.5 hours, checking often.
  8. 45 minutes into the beans cooking, add salt and black pepper for taste.
  9. Once the beans are ready (taste test!), boil water and cook pasta.
  10. Serve beans and pasta in a bowl and add grated Parmesan cheese and chili flakes for flavour. Prepare to be satisfied!

Note: You may wish to double the recipe so you have leftovers for the next day. Yum! If you’re the only one consuming the above recipe, there is already enough for leftovers.

Serves 2

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Mexican Rice Salad: so delicious & bursting with veggies

Load up on fibre, protein and healthy vitamins! This Mexican rice salad  makes a savoury snack or side dish. Serve with refried beans and a side of salsa and Greek yogurt for snack, or with quesadillas to make a meal. You can personalize the rice salad to match any leftover vegetables lying about the house.


Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup rice, cooked (healthier to use brown rice)
  • 3 tbsp niblets (or corn kernels)
  • 2 stalks green onions, chopped
  • 2 small slices jalapeno pepper, diced
  • 1 sprig cilantro
  • 1 tsp taco seasoning
  • 1/2 cup refried beans
  • 1/4 cup salsa
  • 1/4 cup Greek yogurt

Directions

  1. Place rice in pot and fill with water. Boil until rice is cooked. Mix with niblets and heat for 5 minutes. Mix in taco seasoning.
  2. Place rice and niblets in bowl and add green onions, jalapeno pepper and cilantro. Mix.
  3. Place refried beans into a pan and heat with a touch of water.
  4. Serve refried beans, salsa and Greek yogurt alongside Mexican rice salad. Each spoonful bursts with a different taste!

A different angle of deliciousness.

Nutrition information:

Calories: 341
Fat: 1.4 g
Saturated fat: 0.1 g
Trans fat: 0 g
Cholesterol: 0
Sodium: 945 g (too much, try to find low-sodium beans)
Carbohydrates: 69.7 g
Fibre: 9.3 g (excellent! now imagine it with brown rice)
Sugar: 7.2 g
Protein: 18.2 g (incredible!)
Vitamin A: 14%
Vitamin C: 10%
Calcium: 12%
Iron: 24% (That’s 1/4 of your daily quota)

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    Creamy Avocado Taco: rich in good fats and fibre

    This take on tacos (my favourite food) lets the avocados shine. This recipe offers a great opportunity to finish off your supply of Yves veggie ground leftover from the vegetarian shepherd’s pie. It also covers up the Yves flavour, if that’s not your favourite. Enjoy the health benefits of avocados and deliciousness in one meal!

    Creamy avocado tacos (photo credit: iStock).

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup Yves veggie ground, cooked (recipe here)
    • 1/2 avocado
    • pico de gallo (follow this easy recipe)
    • 2 tbsp Greek yogurt
    • 3 tbsp salsa
    • 2 leaves lettuce, shredded
    • 1 large whole wheat tortilla

    Directions

    1. Cook the Yves veggie ground according to this recipe. (Very simply, you will place Yves and water in a pan and cook for a few minutes, adding taco seasoning if desired.) Then mix with this pick-me-up pico de gallo made of tomatoes and onions.
    2. Line the middle of the tortilla with the Greek yogurt. *Note: Greek yogurt is replacing sour cream. One full serving (175 g) of Greek yogurt contains 20 grams of protein, so it’s very healthy!
    3. Scoop the Yves veggie ground and pico de gallo mixture onto the Greek yogurt.
    4. Peel the avocado, place in a bowl and mash the avocado with a spoon or fork. You may choose to add lemon and garlic as in this guacamole recipe or keep it simple and leave as is.
    5. Scoop the avocado onto the Yves veggie ground, then add the salsa and lettuce.
    6. Fold the tortilla and eat immediately, or cut in half, store in a container and heat quickly at work. It makes a great packable lunch!

    Daily food group servings:
    Grain: 1
    Fruits&veg: 2
    Protein alt: 1
    Dairy: 1

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    Read more about the health benfits of avocados.

    Black Bean Burrito recipe: the best I’ve ever had

    I have officially achieved the perfect black bean burrito. I no longer have to buy a burrito because this one is amazing and oozes with fresh, healthy ingredients. OK, so I’ll still eat out for Mexican food now and then, but this black bean burrito is seriously amazing! Try it; it makes a great lunch at work.

    Most amazing black bean burrito ever. (Photo credit: iStock.)

    Ingredients

    • 1/4 cup black beans, cooked
    • 1/4 cup rice, cooked
    • 2 tbsp pico de gallo
    • 1 tbso Greek yogurt
    • 2 iceberg lettuce leaves, shredded
    • 2-3 tbsp salsa
    • 1 large whole grain tortilla
    • optional toppings: avocado, alfalfa sprouts and cheddar cheese

    Directions

    1. Place the beans in a pot and fill with water. Cover pot overnight. The next day, cook the beans in water for about 1.5-2 hours until cooked.
    2. Boil water with 1/4 cup rice and cook until rice is ready (usually 15 minutes for white rice and 30 minutes for brown). Optional: add salt for flavour.
    3. Line the middle of the tortilla with the Greek yogurt (it’s a protein-packed substitute for sour cream) to start off our bed of rice.
    4. Place a layer of rice on top of the Greek yogurt, followed by black beans, pico de gallo and lettuce. Top with salsa when ready to eat (to avoid sogginess).
    5. Fold the burrito carefully and package for work or eat immediately. Delish!

    I thought up this recipe last night, made it this morning, packed it up and brought it to work. Imagine my happy surprise when I took that first amazing bite and tasted success!

    Daily food group servings:
    Grain: 2
    Fruits&veg: 1
    Protein alt: 2
    Dairy: 1

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    Simple Pick-me-up Pico de Gallo Recipe

    I created this recipe to add a flavourful twist to my tacos. I ate vegetables all day yesterday so it was time for some protein (i.e., tacos for dinner). OK, let’s be honest, I was looking to reward myself with a taco dinner (which is protein-based, so there!). I created this recipe on the spot, based on my recollection of pico de gallo’s appearance. I knew it was made with tomatoes and onions and then I improvised the rest. My tacos tasted amazing and yours will too!

    Delicious pick-me-up for tacos and dip. (Photo credit: iStock.)

    Ingredients

    • 1 tomato, diced
    • 1/2 onion, diced
    • 1 tbsp water
    • 1 dash of taco seasoning
    • sprinkling of dried parsley bits

    Directions

    1. Dice the tomato and onion, then mix.
    2. Add a tablespoon of water and a dash of taco seasoning; be sure to stir the seasoning with the water, tomato and onion to make sure it dissolves.
    3. Sprinkle on dried parsley bits. Then scoop the pico de gallo into your taco (heavenly taco recipe here) and enjoy!

    Serves 4 tacos

    Daily food group servings
    Grain: 0
    Fruits&veg: 1
    Protein alt: 0
    Dairy: 0

    Nutritional information
    Calories: 34
    Fat: 0.2 g
    Cholesterol: 0
    Sodium: 2332 mg
    Carbohydrates: 7.7 g
    Sugars: 4 g
    Fibre: 1.7 g
    Protein: 1.2 g
    Vitamin A: 12%
    Vitamin C: 23%
    Calcium: 2%
    Iron: 2%

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