What is Quinoa?

IMG_2744 (2)The Day 1 Lunch recipe I made from The 22-Day Revolution is Quinoa Salad with Lentils. The ingredients are:

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 1 large carrot
  • spinach
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Dash ground pepper

I didn’t actually know what Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”) was before reading the book and doing a little research, though I had eaten it previously. Quinoa is the edible seeds of an ancient grain that originated in the Andean region of Peru, Bolivia, Ecuador and Columbia. It is high in protein—containing more protein per calorie than brown rice, potatoes, barley and millet. It has a low gluten content and is said to be well tolerated by people with celiac disease. The seeds are generally cooked like rice, and used in a wide variety of dishes.

I purchased both White Quinoa, grown in Bolivia, and a Tri-Color Blend, grown in the U.S. and containing white, brown, red and black seeds. I used the Tri-Color Blend in this salad. The recipe is enough for four and was very tasty.

 

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Porridge and Paris

IMG_2768 (2)The first recipe I made from The 22-Day Revolution was the Day 1 breakfast: Oatmeal with Banana and Blueberries. Porridge — as I fondly call it — is one of my “go to” breakfasts, which gives me energy until lunchtime. I always blend in some chopped-up fruit to sweeten it a bit. The easy recipe in the book contains:

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • ½ cup quick oats
  • 1 banana
  • ½ cup blueberries.

I made it with quick rolled oats (1-minute) and used only half a banana, which was plenty. A thumb-up on this recipe. Porridge power! And power to Paris…

My friends and all people in Paris, you have been on my mind constantly. You are in my heart. I dedicate my food preparation to you, my morning yoga, my picking up the leaves in the backyard, the sound of the wind chimes, all my happy thoughts and strength, my love. Enjoying life is a triumph over terrorism.

The 22-Day Revolution

IMG_3153 (2)I read The 22-Day Revolution, by exercise physiologist Marco Borges, while on vacation. I had been given the book a few months ago at an event where the author was speaking. The book contains the fundamentals for starting a plant-based diet & maintaining healthy habits; and a detailed 22-day meal plan. The book’s Forward, written by Beyonce, is about how and why she converted to a plant-based diet; and the Introduction, by Dean Ornish, M.D., touches on the benefits of eating whole plant foods for your health and the environment.

Borges’ program is based on the principle that it takes 21 days to make or break a habit, so his regimen is 22 days, just long-enough to kick some bad habits and adopt new, good ones. The first 100 pages are about the why and how to change your diet from animal-centered food to a completely plant-based, non-processed, whole-food regimen. It has lots of nutritional information and tips for how to set-up your kitchen, how to shop, etc. The next 100 pages are the actual regimen, broken down into Day 1 through Day 22. For each day, he provides an inspirational message and/or power-talk and a recipe for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The last section of the book contains more information on lifestyle, exercises and additional recipes.

What I like about the book is that the diet is for a defined and reasonable amount of time—less than a month–so it seems do-able. It makes sense that if you feel good at the end of the 22 days you will want to continue eating that way. That is what the point of the book is—it’s not only about losing weight (although you can use it for this) but about eating healthy to have a vibrant life. I also liked the beautiful color pictures of many of the recipes in the center of the book. Honestly, this is what first enticed me to delve into the book. I know I had to try some of them! So for the next few weeks, I’ll be making many of the recipes and sharing a corresponding picture and thoughts with you. Hope you let me know if you try any of them!

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

A Common Plant

IMG_3136(2)Do you recognize this leaf? It belongs to a common plant, grown in many people’s yards. It’s a Monstera Deliciosa, also known as Ceriman, Split-Leaf Philodendron or Swiss-Cheese Plant. I first wrote about Monstera last July when mine began to fill with fruit. What’s special about Ceriman is that it is one of few plants that flower and fruit in full shade. And most people don’t know that they can actually eat the fruit. Monstera can also be grown in a planter, and as a houseplant, though it is unlikely to produce fruit like this.

If you want to use the fruit, Monstera is best grown at temperatures of 20–30 °C (68–86 °F). It requires shade and likes high humidity.  The fruit begins to ripen when the hexagonal green scales start to lift off naturally. It takes about a week for all the scales to come off, so one piece of fruit is harvested over several days–not all at once. As the scales come off, you scrape off the moist flesh underneath, which is what you eat. With the piece of fruit in the picture it took 9 days for all the scales to fall off. Since I wasn’t going to use it right away, I scraped the flesh off into a container and froze it every few days, until the entire fruit was finished ripening. A warning is warranted here—don’t force the scales off! You need to let it ripen naturally to the point where the scales lift-off on their own. Then you can eat the flesh underneath. If you eat the flesh before it is fully ripe, it could cause severe irritation in your mouth and throat. If you do this once (as I did the first time I attempted to eat the fruit), you won’t do it again!

Monstera is high in potassium and vitamin C. It tastes like a blend of pineapple and banana. Here are some of my recommendations for how to eat the ripe fruit: mix it into a fruit salad, add it to smoothies, put it on granola or on top of oatmeal, sprinkle it on salads.

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Pumpkins

IMG_3122 (2)Pumpkins—they’re like sunflowers. I can’t help but smile when I look at them. And I love Halloween, now more than when I was a child.

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Kudos to Chef Allen

29 (2)Wow, what a fabulous meal we had last night at Chef Allen’s Farm-to-Table Dinner. This time I remembered to photograph each of the 5-courses before diving into them, thanks to my friends who kept reminding me every time a new dish was served! This was the second dinner event of the series I attended and it was completely different than the one I had enjoyed last Monday, and just as spectacular. The first appetizer we were served was Pan-Seared Fig with Garlic & Honey, on Wilted Spinach Crostini, with Indian Summer Melons. The pink sprouts on the top were a beautiful touch. This was followed by a Green Vegetable Nicoise: Haricot Verts, Cucumbers, Green Tomato and Frissee-Green Goddess. I particularly enjoyed the light cucumber-based dressing. The third course was an Oak Leaf Lettuce, Fennel & Rapini Salad, with Toasted Gremolata. This salad was very, very tasty.

Most of us were drinking wine with dinner: either a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend or a Chardonnay. The Cabernet blend was surprisingly light and it tasted good with all the vegetable dishes. One of my friends had the Chardonnay and was happy with that choice. The main course was Roasted Curry Carrots & Parsnips with Red Quinoa, served with Braised Leek Sauce. This was a nice combination of textures and tastes and was also topped with the beautiful pink sprouts. Lastly, came the dessert… which was out-of-this-world delicious. It was an Early Macintosh Apple Crumble with brown sugar Ginger Crust. It tasted like it just came out of the oven and wasn’t too sweet; so you could savor the subtle taste of the apples and delectable ginger crust.

We were sitting at little tables joined together in 2 long rows. The wait staff was attentive and friendly. Midway through the meal most everyone had made friends with at least the guests on either side of them; and by the time we had finished the dessert I heard many people talking about how they were going to come back for next Monday’s event. There is a different-themed vegetarian dinner every Monday at 6:30, accompanied by a farmers market, which starts at 4:00.  I’ll be back.

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Farm to Table

IMG_2740 (2)I recently had the pleasure of attending one of Chef Allen Susser’s Vegetarian Farm-To-Table Dinners at The Café at Books & Books, Adrienne Arsht Center, Miami. I was so entranced with the delicious food and lively conversation at the table—dinner is served “family-style” with everyone sitting together—that I almost forgot to take pictures. I only managed to get this one photo of one of the appetizers and I’m not sure what all the ingredients in it are… but it was VEEERRY TASTY! (Chef Allen, if you are reading this, please let me know what is in this delectable dish.)

The tables where set up in the plaza, in the middle of a small Farmers’ Market. We were served 5 courses–all made with locally-sourced, fresh ingredients–while listening to live music. And there was also free-flowing wine. After the meal, some of the folks from the Farmers’ Market talked about what they produce. Part of Chef Allen’s vision with these events is for people to learn where the food comes from and to meet/support the local farmers. The Farm-to-Table Dinners are every Monday night at 6:30 and the Farmers’ Market starts at 4. If you live in south Florida, I highly recommend coming to one of the Dinners and/or visiting the Farmers Market. I’ll be there this Monday, again, and I promise to take more pictures!

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Plant Flowers

IMG_1488 bar harbor(2)“But for one’s health as you say, it is very necessary to work in the garden and see the flowers growing.” 
― Vincent van Gogh

Photographed in Bar Harbor, Maine.

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Peace

IMG_1446 bar harbor(3)“If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.”
― Thích Nhất HạnhBeing Peace

Photographed in Bar Harbor, Maine.

 © 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Joy

La Rochelle,France (2)“People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.”
― Iris Murdoch

Photographed in beautiful La Rochelle, France.

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.