Garam Masala Quinoa

Quinoa.  I’d say it’s a great grain, but it’s not really a grain.  It’s a seed.  I learn new things all the time.  I used to think it was a grain.  Why wouldn’t I?  It look like a grain and you can use it like you would a grain.  But, it’s a seed.  A seed that is a complete protein.  It is high in folate, phosphorus, and iron.

Quinoa is coated with saponins which are bitter.  Some manufacturers process the quinoa to remove the saponins.  Some don’t.  I learned this after making this dish.  Chaz kept tasting something bitter.  I didn’t.  So, I rinse my quinoa to remove any potential saponins now.

When it comes to fixing quinoa, I tend to use other people’s recipes.  Or to fix it plain.  Several weeks ago, I decided to play around with it.

I knew I wanted to use mustard seeds and garam masala.  My imagination took me from there.

Garam Masala Quinoa

1-2 tablespoons coconut oil

1/2 onion chopped

1-2 tablespoons mustard seeds

2 teaspoons garam masala

1/2 – 1 cup carrots chopped

1 cup quinoa, uncooked (rinsed)

1 1/2 – 2 cups water

1-2 cups bell peppers, diced


Warm coconut oil in a large skillet.  Add onions, mustard seed, garam masala, and carrots.  Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently.  Add quinoa and water, stir.  Add peppers and salt.  Stir.  Cover and cook until water is absorbed.  Taste and adjust seasonings.

I Smell Peppers

Stuffed Bell Peppers

A friend asked me for my recipe for Stuffed Bell Peppers a couple of weeks ago.  I realized I had not made them since I did that post.  So, I decided I’d mix it up a little and try something different with  the recipe.  Instead of 2/3 cup of onion, I used an entire onion and reduced the amount of ground beef to 1/4 pound.  I added brown rice (1 cup dry cooked in 3 cups gluten-free beef broth) and traded the tomato for 1 cup of diced butternut squash.  I also used a bit less than 1/4 head of red cabbage.  The cabbage head I bought was pretty big.

I ended up with something I think is amazing.  It has a more robust flavor.   I would have thought others would smell the beef and seasonings, but when I took the leftovers into work last Friday and Saturday for lunch, my co-workers all kept saying, “I smell peppers.”  One of them even came into the break room while I was eating and said, “I smell fresh peppers,” and looked between me and the other co-worker eating their lunch.  I told him I had stuffed bell peppers.  He said, “Good to know my nose still works,” then walked right out of the room!  Gave me a little giggle.

The beginnings of soup

I had leftover filling and raw ingredients and decided I’d try to conjure up a soup with everything.  The recipe as I’m giving it is how I made it.  The next time I make it, I’m going to do it a little differently to help retain the brightness of the squash.

Butternut Squash Soup with Leftovers

1/2 onion, chopped

2 teaspoons grapeseed oil (or other oil choice)

4 cups butternut squash, chopped

fresh thyme sprigs

2 scant cups beef broth

1 pint coconut creamer

1 cup bell peppers, chopped (this was from the tops that I chopped off the peppers in order to stuff them)

2 cups shredded red cabbage

1 1/2 cups leftover bell pepper stuffing

1/2 cup dried black beans, soaked, drained, boiled, and drained again (drain WELL after cooking)



Heat a medium to large pot and then add grapeseed oil.  Add onions, some salt, and some pepper.  Saute the onions for about 3-5 minutes.  Add the butternut squash, thyme, and beef broth.  Let simmer for about 20 minutes.  The butternut squash should be fork tender.  Remove the thyme sprigs and use an immersion blender on low to puree the soup in the pot.  (Yes, I finally replaced the one I sacrificed in the name of homemade soap, finally.)  While pureeing the soup, slowly add the coconut creamer.  Once the soup is well blended, add the remaining ingredients, adjust your seasonings, and simmer for another 10-20 minutes, until the cabbage and bell peppers are tender (but not too soft).

Butternut Squash Soup with Leftovers

Make sure the beans are drained well.  I took this picture before I added the black beans and there was still a little water and it muddied the color a bit.

I was chopping up the squash and I kept thinking, this looks like cheese.  My husband came in several minutes later and thought it was cheese.  He thought it was an awful lot of cheese I was chopping!  When I added the leftovers to the soup, I thought, now this looks like queso.  I think cheese was really on the brain!

I asked my husband what he thought of the soup and he said, “It’s good.  It just looks weird.”  Indeed.

He ate it all up and didn’t even have to add salt!


*This post is linked to Seasonal Sunday at Real Sustenance.

Healthy Stuffed Bell Peppers

Green Peppers

I polled my followers on Facebook last week about what they do with ground beef.  I was looking for something different to do with the ground beef from our CSA other than my usual – taco salad, hamburgers, or chili.  My best friend reminded me about stuffed peppers.  I have made them since high school because they can be so time intensive.   We got bell peppers in our CSA pick-up last week and I took that as a sign to make them.   I also used whole tomatoes rather than tomato sauce and added some shredded red cabbage to boost the nutrient value.

Healthy Stuffed Bell Peppers  (serves 6)

1/2 cup uncooked brown rice

6 green peppers, tops cut off and insides removed

1 pound ground beef

2/3 cup minced onion

4 cloves garlic minced

1 tomato, diced

1/4 head red cabbage, shredded

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoons oregano

1 teaspoon sage

1 teaspoon thyme

salt & pepper to taste

Cook rice according to package directions on the stove or in a rice cooker.  Preheat oven to 350.  Heat a pan on the stove on medium.  Add the olive oil and swirl around.  Add onions and garlic, stir for 30 seconds and add salt and pepper to taste.  Cook 2 minutes and remove from the pan.  Add ground beef to the pan.  Salt and pepper to taste while browning the beef.  Add oregano, sage, and thyme.  Return the onions and garlic to the pan once the beef is browned, as well as the tomato and red cabbage.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Place in a large mixing bowl with the cooked rice and stir well to incorporate the ingredients.  Place bell peppers into a 13×9 baking pan.  Spoon mixture into the bell peppers.  Bake 40-50 minutes on the bottom rack.

Healthy Stuffed Bell Peppers

Tips: If you don’t want the top of the filling to brown, cover with the tops of the bell peppers while baking.  When I cook my brown rice, I always add extra water to give it the texture of white sticky rice.  If there is still water in the pan or rice cooker when it is done cooking, let it sit and it will absorb the extra water.  I drained the filling in a mesh colander before mixing it in with the rice.  The filling won’t stick together and if you want it to stick together, you can not drain it or mix tomato sauce in with it before placing it in the bell peppers.

Anyone want to come help me eat the leftovers?

This post is linked to Friday Foodie Fix at The WHOLE Gang.