Red Quinoa Crock Pot Stew

A Big Mess of Slow Cooker Quinoa Deliciousness

Red Quinoa Crock Pot Stew

January is prime slow cooker season, as far as I’m concerned. The days are still pretty dark and pretty cold (okay, it was 70 and sunny here in Austin today, but that’s still kinda “cold” for us in Texas). When I get home it’s nice to have something hot and tasty waiting for me. (Besides my fiance. Haha. I’m fully of the jokes today.)

A lot of the popular slow cooker recipes out there are kinda unhealthy, but I’m still recovering from the massive infusion of sugar, butter, and booze I put my body through last month during the holidays, so I like to keep my January dinners fairly light. Luckily there are plenty of meals that are easy to throw in the crock pot, absolutely satisfying, AND good for you.

This red quinoa stew is one of those recipes. It’s so filling and flavorful that it seems like it should be worse for you, but it’s a paragon of good nutrition. Plenty of protein, fiber, and vegetables. This recipe makes 4-6 servings, so if you’re not feeding a big family you should have some nice leftovers for lunch the next day. The slow cooker truly is the gift that keeps on giving.

Red Quinoa Butternut Squash Stew

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Crunchy Chopped Thai Peanut Tofu Salad Vertical

Spring Salad Season: Crunchy Thai Tofu Salad

Crunchy Chopped Thai Peanut Tofu Salad Vertical

Spring is here, the nights are warmer and longer, and I’m in full-on SALAD MODE. Watch out, world.

This Crunchy Thai Tofu Salad is somewhat similar to some of my other recipes for sure. I throw together slaws and salads like this a lot, but the one I made tonight turned out especially well if I do say so myself. (I’m not alone, Rob also thought it was a step above my usual big salads.) What’s different? There’s no quinoa or grains here, just ALL CRUNCH, utilizing as many fresh vegetables as possible. I’ve added tofu for some more protein and texture, and incorporated yet more delicious, fiber-filled vegetables. Plus the addition of curry paste to my dressing really amped things up.

Crunchy Thai Peanut Tofu Salad

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Southwest Shredded Slow Cooker Chicken

Southwest Spiced Slow Cooker Chicken

Southwest Shredded Slow Cooker Chicken

Some of my friends and I are in a Bachelor fantasy league. Feel free to make fun of me, I don’t care. It’s awesome and a legit excuse to drink a questionable about of wine on a weeknight. It’s kind of like fantasy football, but we “draft” the hot messes from each season of the Bachelor franchise and then hate-watch and track whose players earn the most points (from achievements like “revealing a sob story,” “secretly has a kid,” “hot tub bonus make out” etc.).

We take turns hosting – whoever is on weekly host duty is also in charge of dinner. I hosted the premiere last week and needed to make a big batch of healthy food – and this southwest spiced chicken was perfect. I was able to prep everything the night before, throw the chicken in the slow cooker before work the morning of, and when I came home dinner was basically done.

Now that is worth some major bonus “hot tub make out” points. (If by “hot tub” we mean “slow cooker” and “make out” we mean “cooking.”)

Southwest Spiced Slow Cooker Chicken

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Thai Chicken Peanut Salad

Thai Peanut Chicken Salad

Thai Chicken Peanut Salad

So as I recently mentioned, like every other overly indulgent American, I’m ramping up my resolutions and getting back on the healthy track after a gluttonous holiday season. This means lots of salads, but as we know, I LOVE salads so this isn’t really a punishment for me.

This salad features all the aspects of Thai food that we know and love – it incorporates sour, sweet, tangy, spicy. You have tons of vegetables, protein from the chicken and nuts, but also a nice addition of… papaya! Try to get green papaya if you can, I thought I bought a green one but when I peeled it, it was definitely ripe and orange inside. How can you tell when a papaya is green versus ripe? This is something I should look into.

Thai Peanut Chicken Salad

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Organic India Moringa Tea

It's a Moringa Miracle!

Organic India Moringa Tea

Pomegranate, acai, chia… the list of trendy superfoods goes on and on. I”m a fan of anything that tastes good and is exceptionally good for you, but sometimes it can get a little old.

But I”d like to think I”m on the cutting edge of the next superfood/miracle ingredient, and I would like to introduce it to you before the big brands get ahold of it and you”re sick of hearing about it. I”m talking about Moringa.

I first discovered the existence of Moringa at my favorite juice/smoothie place, Juiceland, in the beginning of the year. (Um, also, Juiceland just opened a Brooklyn outpost, so all my NY readers/friends, go check them out! SO good.)

Anyway, a quick google search shows they debuted Morniga on their menu last fall. This is the sign that caught my eye. 17 times the calcium of milk, 15 times the potassium of bananas, 9 times the calcium of yogurt, 25 times the iron of spinach… what the F is this stuff?!

Well, according to the only news source most Americans (including myself) know how to use, Morniga is actually a tree native to Africa and Asia. Most of best online casino it is edible for humans, including its leaves. That”s where we”re getting all these nutrients from for the Moringa supplements.

Obviously I wanted to reap the benefits of Moringa and see if I immediately felt like a superhuman, so once I read about it, I got some in my smoothie. And have continued to throughout the year. I don”t know if I”m infinitely more healthy, but hey. Can”t hurt, right?

Not into smoothies or straight-up supplements? You can find Morniga in tea form now. Organic India recently sent me some Moringa tea to test out. I really like them! The tea is very calming. Maybe it”s kind of a mental thing, like I know I”m drinking something really good for me, so I feel peaceful and virtuous. I”m not sure, but I know that I like it.

Daily Greens Cold-Pressed Juice

The Juice is Loose… Cold-Pressed Juice, That is

Daily Greens Cold-Pressed Juice

We’ve all seen the hype around juicing, juice cleanses, juice fasts, etc. I feel like there’s an abundance of high-end cold-pressed juices at Whole Foods and whatnot… $7+ for a juice? Is it worth it? What makes some juices better than others? Is this really better for me than just eating some fruits and vegetables? What IS cold-pressed? So many questions, so few answers.

Serendipitously, Austin-based Daily Greens reached out to me at the beginning of the summer and offered me a sample box of their juices and I couldn’t say no. It was time to see what all the fuss was about. It was time to taste the rainbow.

So, what makes a cold-pressed juice superior to its classic counterparts? I’ll take it straight from the mouth of the Daily Greens website:

High Pressure Processing (“HPP”), otherwise known as pascalization, uses high pressure instead of heat to inhibit microflora growth in fresh food and therefore naturally extend its shelf life. Unlike pasteurization, pascalization is an external process; the raw product itself is never touched. Our pressurizing method uses evenly distributed pressure of cool water to destroy any harmful bacteria, such as Listeria, E. coli, Salmonella, lactic acid bacteria, yeast and mold, thereby making it safe for public consumption.

Because of the chilled temperature at which the juice is treated, alongside the minimal impact that pressure has on the structure of the components responsible for nutrition and flavor, the juice remains raw and the nutrients and taste remain the same.

My takeaway from all this: more nutrients! Closer to the structure of the original produce! Tons of greens and fruit! I can get behind that.

I think some people are weirded out by the idea of juicing vegetables. While I love most vegetables, there are certain things I can’t get behind. For example… I really, really, do not like celery. Does juiced celery taste any better? I mean, not by itself, no. But when combined with other, pleasurable flavors, it becomes a lot more palatable. As far as kale, spinach, and most other greens… those have a pretty mild flavor.

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Case in point about the taste of these cold-pressed wonders: my very favorite flavor of Daily Greens was their “Renew,” made with mint, spinach, cucumber, watermelon, dandelion (!), pineapple, celery, and lime. Yes, celery was in this one but it was still delicious and very refreshing! Of course if you put watermelon and pineapple in anything, I’m probably going to be a fan. (Other recommended flavors from yours truly? The “Elevate” and “Rejuvenate.”) Anyway, all of these green juices really did make me feel energized, fresh, and light – versus a glass of your average fruit juice, which is tasty but sugary and not at all filling. (I will always have a soft spot in my heart for POG but I know it’s really not great for me… sigh.)

Let’s get one thing straight, though: I won’t ever be one of those people who regularly goes on juice fasts. I think health juices are a great way to supplement your diet and get some extra nutrients in, and a couple times I had a Daily Greens for lunch when I was having a hectic day at work. But I think they’re best enjoyed as part of a rounded, healthy nutritional routine. And Daily Greens seems to agree – they do offer a juice cleanse program but it’s only for 3-4 days AND, most importantly, they also encourage eating as many raw fruits & vegetables during the detox so you still feel full. So I think I could manage that! They also make sure to say “We do not believe in “crash” juice cleanses in which only juice is consumed for days on end, as these types of diets can result in many negative side effects” – good for you, Daily Greens friends.

After my big taste test, I do think there IS a big benefit to cold-pressed juice. More nutrients, tons of flavor, super fresh… it might cost a bit more but I think the perks are worth it. I’m definitely going to try to add more green juices into my diet. Even some celery! When it’s mixed with watermelon, at least.

Red Quinoa Cabbage Kale Salad

Sweet and Spicy Triple Red Quinoa Salad

Let’s talk about cabbage. I love cole slaw—like, really love, it’s one of my favorite sides/snacks. Sometimes I will eat a big bowl of slaw for dinner. Is that weird? Probably. Other than cole slaw, though, I don’t really do much with cabbage. So I had to get a little creative with the huge head of crisp, red cabbage that came in our Johnson’s Backyard Garden CSA box last week.

Red Quinoa Cabbage Kale Salad

What’s my go-to when it comes to using up vegetables? Mixing them into some quinoa, of course. What’s my other go-to? Adding a runny egg to anything/everything. Using these two standby moves, I transformed a head of cabbage into a super flavorful, easy, and healthy dinner for the household. (Let me tell you, it’s fantastic living with a boyfriend and roommates who enjoy healthy cooking as much as I do.)

This warm salad is red on red on red on red! We’ve got red quinoa, red cabbage, and red onion mingling with kale, sour apple, rich tropical coconut oil, and sweet raisins. The addition of curry and red chile flakes kicks up the spice and keeps this combination from becoming too sugary. Make sure you don’t overcook your quinoa or produce—mushy quinoa is a bummer and you want to be able to savor the crispness of the cabbage, apples, and kale.

Sweet and Spicy Triple Red Quinoa Salad

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