Quinoa and Spinach Salad with Berries

June 1, 2011 § 3 Comments

My friend moved to Fort Collins, Colorado last year and I went to visit over the weekend. It was filled with fun and of course, delicious food. (I’ll go into more details later. For now, let’s focus on this salad.) Not only is quinoa delicious, it’s actually nutritious and easy to make.

Why it’s nutritious

“When NASA scientists were searching decades ago for an ideal food for long-term human space missions, they came across an Andean plant called quinoa. With an exceptional balance of amino acids, quinoa, they declared, is virtually unrivaled in the plant or animal kingdom for its life-sustaining nutrients.”New York Times (an article about the origins of quinoa and current dilemma in Bolivia)

Quinoa has a chewy texture with a nutty flavor. It’s often mistaken for a grain, but it’s actually related to beets and spinach. The textures and flavors worked well and it’s easy to adapt your favorite nuts and fruits to this dish.  We made it for dinner and savored every bite.

Give quinoa a try! You will be pleasantly surprised. 🙂

Serves 3-4


  • 1 cup of quinoa
  • 2 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 tbsp of olive oil
  • ~2 loose cups of chopped spinach
  • 1/4 cup of cranberries
  • 1/4 cup of currants
  • 1/4 cup of azuki beans (unsweetened)
  • 2 tbsp almond slices
  • 2 small garlic cloves
  • juice from 1/2 lemon (~2 tbsp)
  • 2 tsp of maple syrup or agave
  • 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper to taste

To Make:

Step 1: boil quinoa with vegetable broth (your package should come with instructions or follow this great video)

Step 2: in a bowl, add in all your ingredients in order listed and mix




18 Year Balsamic-Beyond the Olive & The Market

May 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Walking into The Market

A few days ago I introduced The Market at Santa Monica Place. Everything sounded so good on the website; I was excited to see what those gourmet vendors had to offer.

The Market is located in a strange place. It’s on the food court level of Santa Monica Place (an outdoor mall). When you arrive on the third floor, you find restaurants, an indoor food court and another indoor area for The Market. (There are too many choices! It unnecessarily caters to everyone. Because of this, business was not good for anyone.)

Walking into The Market, on the right, you’ll find an area where they feature different local vendors on a rotating basis. This week they had jams and spreads, middle eastern desserts and olive oils and vinegars.

From the permanent vendors, I had a $3.00 cookie from The Cookie Guru. It was fresh out of the oven and delicious, but too expensive. THREE DOLLARS! I also tried N’ice Cream’s Mango Lemon and Chocolate flavors. If I were to go for artisan ice cream, I’d rather have Carmela’s.

What I did enjoy was the aged balsamic from Beyond the Olive. It has a thick syrupy consistency with a sweet finish. It works well with salads, breads and desserts.

18 year balsamic vinegar

I bought the 375ml bottle for $20 and you can bring the bottle back for refills at a discounted price.

18 year balsamic with toasted bread & arugula

Though I enjoyed visiting The Market, I’m not sure how often I would visit. I wish they had more variety and incorporated the farmer’s market in that space.

the everything crouton

May 10, 2011 § 4 Comments

everything croutons with whole wheat bread

Croutons are crunchy, delicious and easy to make.

When you buy bread, there always seems to be some weird shaped pieces on the ends. There isn’t anything wrong with the end, but the only reason you would ever touch it is to get to the next slice. Unless you are desperate for bread, you’d probably throw it out. Here is a quick and easy way to make them into a great snack or topping.

How to make your odds and ends popular.


  • Day old bread, bread ends, bread you just don’t feel like eating anymore (I used whole wheat bread)
  • Olive Oil
  • Seasoning

Seasoning I used (use whatever flavors you enjoy)

  • Garlic powder
  • Dried basil
  • Trader Joe’s 21 seasoning salute
  • Sesame seeds
  • Chili flakes
  • Fresh ground pepper
  • Paprika
  • Touch of honey

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 350°F

Step 2: Cut bread into cubes and toss in a large bowl

Step 3: Drizzle olive oil and add your seasoning then toss

Step 4: Spread your seasoned cubes onto a sheet pan

Step 5: Bake for 15 minutes on the middle rack (toss around 7-8 minute mark)

Step 6: Let it cool for a few minutes then you’re ready to eat!


Honey-Lemon Brussels Sprout Salad

February 27, 2011 § Leave a comment

When I discovered brussels sprouts, I fell in love with them. I did not grow up eating them, so I didn’t have the pleasure of hating them before loving them. We’ve always had a beautiful relationship. This is my favorite salad. I hope you enjoy eating this as much as I do!

Serving size: 1 meal or 2 side salads


Brussels Sprout Salad

  • 1/2 pound of brussels sprouts (farmers market today $3/lb)
  • 1/4 cup blueberries (Trader Joe’s)
  • 3 tbsp toasted sliced almonds(farmers market today)
  • Manchego cheese (sprinkle/shave desired amount)

Honey-Lemon vinaigrette Dressing

  • 1 medium lemon juice (from my tree)
  • lemon zest (used 1/4 the lemon from above)
  • 2 tbsp cranberry sauce (Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil  (Trader Joe’s)
  • 2 tsp Apple Vinegar (Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 tbsp Orange Blossom Honey (farmers market)
  • Salt (to taste)
  • Pepper (to taste)

Comments: Use ingredients you have on hand. If you don’t have blueberries, use some dried fruit or strawberries. If you don’t have that cheese, I recommend using a bold flavored cheese.

Step 1

Wash sprouts, cut stems, remove outer layer of leaves (discard), continue peeling leaves and keep for salad

Step 2

Blanch leaves. Bring some water to a boil in a large saucepan.

Step 3

Toss in leaves for one minute.

Step 4

Drain immediately after and rinse with cold water. After running them through the cold water, drain leaves in colander. Leaves should look bright green.

Step 5

In a bowl, zest the lemon and mix in all the dressing ingredients

use a peeler or zester to remove zest (yellow part) and not the pith (white bitter part)

juice the whole lemon and use 1/4 lemon for zest

put in the rest of the dressing ingredients and mix

Step 6

In a large bowl, drizzle dressing over sprout leaves and toss lightly. Mix in the remaining salad ingredients (almonds, blueberries and cheese)


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