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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sprouted Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese, Peppers, and Olives

This is adapted from my lovely sister's fabulous pasta salad recipe. But even more nutritious because I've substituted quinoa for the pasta. Mind you, I don't really measure my ingredients, but here's the best estimate I've got:

1/2 cup quinoa (dry, unsprouted)
2 peppers
1/2 large log of goat cheese
kalamata olives
sundried tomatoes (can use dried or oil packed)
a few splashes of balsamic vinegar

First, you need to sprout your quinoa. To do this, put it in a mason jar and fill the jar to the top with water. Soak for 2-4 hours. Then, cover your mason jar opening with fine cheesecloth (not the cheap netted stuff you can get at the grocery store) or a clean piece of pantyhose and secure with a rubber band. This functions as your "colander," so to speak. Pour out your water through this mesh and the quinoa will stay in the jar. Rinse by pouring water into the jar and pouring out (I use the sprayer nozzle on my sink). Rinse every morning and every night, and in between rinses, keep the jar tilted with the opening down so the water can drain (I prop it up in a drinking glass). In 1-2 days your quinoa will sprout. Once it sprouts, I give it a final rinse and keep it upside down in the fridge until I use it.

Now cook your quinoa. I cooked mine in equal parts chicken broth, adding chicken broth when necessary. I stopped cooking when it looked and tasted like it was done (maybe 15 minutes)?

When still hot, dump the quinoa in a big bowl and mix with goat cheese and the rest of your ingredients. Mix well so the goat cheese melts a bit.


Sweet Potato and Caramelized Banana Pancake Recipe

Caramelized Bananas (make these first)

bananas caramelizing in pan

2 bananas, peeled and sliced
4 Tbsp butter
1/8 cup maple syrup
1/8 cup brown sugar

Melt butter in skillet over medium heat. When butter is melted, add maple syrup and brown sugar, and stir until melted and liquidy. Add sliced bananas in a single layer. Let the bananas cook and caramelize for 8-10 minutes. Flip, and cook on other side for about 5 minutes. I let them do their thing while I prepared the pancake batter, and didn't pay attention to time at all. I just let them get nice and soft and brown. Divide bananas. Save half of your bananas for a topping. The other half will go in your pancake batter.

caramelized banana topping


1 cup all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons brown sugar
Pinch of cinnamon
2 cups 2% milk
1/2 of the caramelized banana mixture from above, mashed
1/4 cup plain yogurt
5 teaspoons melted butter
2 eggs
1 sweet potato

Wash your sweet potato and pierce with fork. Microwave for 6 minutes or until soft, flipping it halfway through cooking. Let cool, then peel and mash with a potato masher or ricer.

In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients (all-purpose flour through cinnamon). In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients into your mashed sweet potato. Pour the liquid into the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. (I found I had to break up the pockets of flour that formed so I could mix it in).

Cook your pancakes over medium heat in a skillet, griddle, what have you.

pancakes cooking on griddle pan

Top with the caramelized bananas you saved, maple syrup, and voila:


Cranberry Lambic Bread Recipe

Or What To Do With Fruity Beer, adapted from Farmgirl Fare's recipe for Beyond Easy Beer Bread

3 cups all-purpose flour

1 Tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 cup dried cranberries (I used Craisins)
12 ounces Sam Adams Cranberry Lambic beer

Whisk dry ingredients in a large bowl, then add the cranberries and mix well.

Slowly stir in beer.

Mix until combined, then spread in greased baking pan.

Bake in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let it rest out of the oven for 10 minutes, then remove from pan.

A weekend of cooking

Sprouted Quinoa Salad with Goat Cheese, Peppers, and Olives; Sweet Potato and Caramelized Banana Pancakes; Cranberry Lambic Bread

After eating way too much bread and sugar the week of Thanksgiving, I decided I need to eat better: fresher, more whole foods, less bread, and less sugar. It's amazing what sugar can do. As soon as I started eating less bread and sugar, my digestive system immediately felt better (**cough--less gas--cough**). I re-discovered sprouting. Sprouting grains makes them more easily digested, and more nutritious as well. I discovered quinoa, which is basically a nutitional powerhouse and a complete protein.

I do try to budget with my grocery shopping, and yes, buying fresh foods can be a little more expensive. During the growing season I participate in a CSA (Community Sponsored Agriculture--I pay for a share in a farm, and in exchange, get a box of organic, fresh, local veggies every week). That comes out to about $17/week for vegetables, which is a steal for organic produce. But during the off season I tend to eat fewer veggies because they aren't in season, aren't local, or aren't cheap. This week, I bought a lot of my veggies at Costco. Certainly not local, but some are organic, and some are dirt cheap: a 1 lb box of organic lettuce for $3.99, a huge clamshell of blackberries for $3.99, a log of goat cheese for about $6, a giant tub of mushrooms... can't remember how much. You get the idea though.

I made some quinoa salad with goat cheese and fresh peppers, goat cheese and olive stuffed chicken with sauteed mushrooms, burgers with mushrooms in them and sauteed mushrooms on top, asian stir fry with asian flavors and lime squeezed on it, served over jasmine rice...

On Saturday morning, I was craving pancakes. Since I had bought several sweet potatoes when they were on sale the week before Thanksgiving, I still had 2 left, and needed something to do with them. Big T isn't a huge fan, so I had to incorporate something else. And banana pancakes are always delicious. I googled, and came up with 2 recipes for Sweet Potato and Banana Pancakes. The caramelized bananas from this recipe from That's Not What the Recipe Says were calling to me. But I wanted bananas IN my pancakes. The pancake recipe at Chi Town Cook had the right amount of sweet potato and banana that I wanted, but too many spices. And I didn't have ricotta cheese. So I adapted it to suit the ingredients I had on hand and came up with my own version.

On another note, I also have 3 fruity beers left in my fridge. We buy the sampler packs, and they always sneak fruity beers into those. Who actually drinks those? I love a good beer, but I draw the line at juice flavored beer. I've been wondering what on earth I can do with those, and thought about bread. I have some Sam Adams Cranberry Lambic, and I've made bread with beer before. What about a bread with the cranberry beer and some craisins? After some internet searching, I came to Farmgirl Fare. Wow. And yum. First of all, if you say "farm girl," I come running, since it's always been my secret wish to be one. So when I found her recipe for beer bread, I immediately began my worship and added her to my list of blogs I follow. And appropriated her recipe for beer bread.

Finally, I had been sprouting garbanzo beans for the past few days and put them to work this afternoon in a roasted sprouted garbanzo bean snack.

Click on the links below to view some of my recipes from the week:

Roasted Sprouted Garbanzo Bean Snack

Thursday, December 3, 2009


Never did I think that my boob loving little man would not love the boob. But we have hit a speedbump on the road of breastfeeding. My little man is having a love/hate relationship with the boob right now. I want to tell him, "Not now--there will be plenty of time for that love/hate stuff when you start having girlfriends" but he is growing up so fast. So he's starting early.

I have been away for a week or so for Thanksgiving. I had a great holiday visiting family. There is so much to be thankful for this year, having brought my beautiful son into the world. I have such a happy, healthy family. Baby T is able to be with his dad every day and doesn't have to be with strangers in daycare, his grandparents love him to pieces, and one set of grandparents lives close by. I really am very lucky.

But I am not thankful for the fact that babies can get sick! If only there was a rule that babies who can't talk or quite understand what is going on don't get sick. It is awful to watch your little one choking with mucus and unable to eat because he can't breathe. Even though I gave Baby T herbs before our Thanksgiving trip, he still got sick. Granted, it's not incredibly severe, but it is bad enough that he is--gasp--not nursing!

His favorite activity has been turned on its end either by me screwing with his routine, or by his being sick. It all started on our plane ride on Tuesday, on our way to my parents' house. He was starting to get cranky, and was so overtired, and we were about to land, so I figured he should nurse to avoid his ears getting clogged. I laid him down to nurse, and he screamed bloody murder! The poor people on the airplane. I have never seen Baby T cry so hard, even when he had a sitting mishap last week and fell over, bumping his head on the bedframe hard enough to get bruised and need ice. I thought maybe his ears hurt, and that nursing would definitely help, so I kept trying to put him onto the breast.

No dice. You would have thought I was hanging him by his toenails.

After that, the week progressed as normal, until Saturday morning. Again overtired and ready for a nap, I settled in the rocking chair in the dim room to nurse. FREAK OUT!! Baby T adamantly closed his lips and sharply drew away from the breast and proceeded to cry. For about 2 hours. Big T and I switched on and off bouncing, rocking, swadding, unswaddling, to no avail. Finally he calmed down after a bath, and starvingly reached for me as he said "mama" for the first time. Probably a coincindence, but I'll take it.

On the flight home that afternoon, Baby T nursed pretty well. He had a slight freak out but settled down quickly and nursed for the majority of the flight. Sunday went by without a hitch. Monday morning came, and when Baby T woke at 5:30, I really wanted to nurse him back to sleep. I was tired myself. I needed another hour. This was my first day back to work after a week off. Well, Baby T proceeded to scream until I pulled my shirt back down and got him into the living room. He had a doctor's appointment at 8:30, and I figured we'd try again after that. So come 10:30AM, Baby T is starving, but will. not. nurse. I ended up feeding him with a medicine dropper, with him starvingly opening his mouth for more. So he was hungry, but wouldn't suck. He had some issues with the bottle, too.

Phew, at least Mr. Gerber NUK is also feeling the rejection. Tougher than you could have imagined, huh, Mr. NUK? While little miss medicine dropper is happily rolling around in my baby's affection.

The past few days have been on and off with the nursing. When I get home from work, Baby T flings himself at me. The first day I came home from work, he buried his head in my chest immediately. It was so sweet. I carried him into the nursery while he pumped his fist in the sign for milk against my arm. (Not sure he knows what he is doing, but I am convinced he has finally picked up this sign, since I've been signing it every time he nurses since he was born). We sat down on our comfy chair, I lifted up my shirt, he bobbed at my breast, and proceeded to scream.

The rest of the evening involved a lot of toplessness, my wrap, the bath, Miss Medicine Dropper (damn you!) and milk all over my breasts. I assure you this is not as kinky as it sounds.

Eventually, dribbling milk on myself convinced Baby T to latch on, and he has nursed pretty well the past few days. But if he even catches sight of the medicine dropper out of the corner of his eye, he pulls off and tries to grab it and shove it in his mouth. So I have to be pretty stealth. Last night, when I came home from work, he practically sucked off my cheek and chin as soon as I picked him up. This morning, he didn't want any part of me or the medicine dropper (ha. take that.)

So it has been a long week. I have been so emotional. This is very draining. I love my cuddly quiet time with Baby T and always imagined that I could soothe him when sick by snuggling and nursing. But I'm only frustrating him half of the time, because he bobs at me and frantically pumps his fist, but then becomes upset when I offer him food. I am hoping he feels better soon and gets back to normal. I hear and read a lot of anecdotes where moms tell me that their babies weaned themselves at 5 months, 8 months, 10 months, etc: "I tried to nurse my baby one day and she just looked at me like, 'What on earth are you trying to do?'" But I don't believe that a baby under 12 months old would willingly try to wean himself. I have a feeling their baby wasn't feeling so hot and something was making nursing challenging. But then one of my friends said that I'll be laughing about this when I'm trying to wean him when he's 3. I sure hope so.
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