Quinoa and Tomato Cheese Casserole

It’s been ages since I’ve posted a recipe, but Sunday night I made a meal for the week, and it ended up being a delicious qunioa casserole worth sharing. I like making them because they last the week and reheat well for lunches. Quinoa is also great because its healthy and full of protein. I didn’t have any other vegetables on hand so I made it with a can of diced tomatoes and it turned out great! I also used havarti cheese, which we had a lot of since we used it on a pizza last weekend. The cheese was hard to shred since it was so soft, but I managed it! I was surprised how much I liked it. This recipe was inspired by this spinach quinoa casserole, but I made some changes and left out a bunch of ingredients that I felt it didn’t really need, that I didn’t have on hand.

Quinoa & Tomato Cheese Casserole

Ingredients

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 tbsp ground pepper

1 tbsp olive oil

1 can diced tomatoes, no sodium

2.5 cups of vegetable broth

1.5 cups of quinoa

2 cups havarti cheese (or mozzarella), shredded

1/2 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

Instructions

Preheat oven to 375*.

Heat onion, garlic, pepper and olive oil in medium sauce pan for about 5 minutes. Pour in can of diced tomatoes and cook until mixture is simmering. Pour in vegetable broth and bring to boil. Add in the quinoa and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed and the quinoa is cooked.

Mix in havarti cheese until melted, and then add quinoa to a 9×13 baking dish. Top with cheddar. Bake for 25 minutes.

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DASH Juicer Review

Well, I’ve had my juicer for a few weeks now, so now would be as good a time as any to review it. I bought the Dash Juicer on sale at Macy’s after Christmas and I had a gift card so I didn’t spend much of my own money on this. I think it came to $50 after the gift card, which isn’t bad.

I did a bit of research a few days before I bought it, but not that much. I read a few reviews, some good, some bad. But this one had some of the better reviews. I wasn’t looking to make juice three times a day every day, but maybe three or four times a week, so I wanted something that’d hold up but I didn’t need a high end one.

Dash Juicer features:

  • Chrome base
  • 800 watt motor/ 120 volts
  • Suction feet on base to eliminate sliding
  • 2 Juicing Speeds
  • 3-inch feed tube

It also comes with a small brush for cleaning  the mesh around the blade, which I love.

At first I was really intimated by this thing when I took it out of the box. So many parts! It’s so big! But after reading the manual for a few minutes to see how to put it together, it was so simple to figure out. It does take up a lot of counter space, but now I use it more than my blender, so I put the blender aside and made room for the juicer.

Now, how does it work? I suppose you could throw whole vegetables in it, but I’m careful and I don’t want to burn out the motor, so I chop my whole carrots in half, peel and slice my orange in half first before putting them in. So far, so good. I also discovered that juicing greens first (like spinach and kale) produces way more juice than putting them in last (not sure why?) so I’ve started doing that.

The only minor flaw I’ve found is that sometimes it leaves whole chunks of fruit in the pulp container–wet pieces. Which means they could have potentially been juiced, but I think the blade shoots the chunks up to fast they just fly in..maybe there’s a way to prevent this that I’ll discover soon.

Another thing I must mention is the cleaning process. Some people say cleaning is pain. But as long as you clean the parts right after you juice, you’ll be fine. Sometimes they just need a rinse with soapy water and its good to go. It takes me less than 10 minutes to clean it after I make my juice. Even the instructions tell you to clean the juicer before you drink the juice, as a reward. I have time to make a juice before work and that’s saying something!

I’m 100% happy with my juicer! Many would say juicing is expensive–all that fresh produce. But, I want to eat healthy anyway, and buying healthy food is expensive. I’ve come to accept that and adjust my budget accordingly. I find cheaper produce at Trader Joe’s (organic whole carrots, bags of organic spinach and kale) cheaper anywhere then I’ve seen. These don’t need to be organic of course, but they were decently priced so I went with it.

Now, what to do with all that extra pulp? It has a lot of healthy fiber and nutrients, so I don’t like to let it go to waste. I made pulp crackers first, but they didn’t turn out how I’d like. Next, I tried “compost muffins”. After googling what to do with leftover pulp, I came across a recipe for muffins made with it. I was a bit skeptical at first. But if you know me, then you know if it’s healthy, I’ll try it. They actually came out great!

So there you have it. My first experience with a juicer! I’m happy. I see this thing in my future for a long time.

Green Breakfast Juice

Ingredients

1/2 bag of spinach
2 large handfuls of kale
5 whole carrots, ends removed
1 apple, sliced
1 orange, peeled and halved
5 large strawberries

Instructions

Put ingredients into juicer–and enjoy this fresh, healthy and delicious juice. And yes, it kept me full until my mid-morning snack!

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Green Juicing

Local readers: you still have time to enter the giveaway for tickets for the Girlnetic Fitness Expo on January 26th! There aren’t many entries so you have a good chance to win!

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On Wednesday, I finally stepped into the world of juicing! I had been wanting a juicer for a while, but I had no clue where to start. I decided to treat myself to a Christmas present and finally bought one! I found the Dash juicer on sale at Macy’s–and had a gift card, so I got an expensive juicer for relatively cheap. ..I only paid $50 for a $140 juicer.

I started with something simple. I washed all the parts and read the instructions. It wasn’t at all hard to figure out, but it looks extremely intimidating and takes up a lot of counter space. But…it was so much fun! Juicing  is a great way to jump start healthy habits for 2013.

Green Juice for Beginners

Ingredients

1 apple, cored and sliced

10 fresh strawberries, hulled

2  large slices of fresh mango (I buy the Trader Joe’s mango slices in the produce section)

1/2 bag of fresh spinach

large handful of fresh kale

1/2 bag of baby carrots

Instructions

Turn on juicer and throw in fruit and vegetables and juice away.

Make sure to CLEAN the juicer immediately after juicing.

These ingredients made enough for about a cup of juice. I used a small glass. It was delicious. The mango really added a nice sweetness. I know I’d need a lot more veggies, or use more watery fruits like pineapples or melon next time if I wanted a full pint of juice. I would use cucumber but I hate it so much I probably would have to choke it down. 😉

Now, since this juicer takes the juice from the fruit and veggies, it left a lot of vegetable pulp where all the healthy fiber resides. Instead of just throwing it away, I decided to make these Juice Pulp Crackers. They tasted great fresh out of the oven, but I didn’t bake them long enough so they didn’t get crunchy and ended up tasting weird the next day.

You can also compost the pulp, freeze it for use in the future, make stock with it, or just mix it into soup.

I can’t wait to try some new types of juices in the next few weeks!

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Tart Cherry Protein Smoothie

Saturday morning during my long run, I got really hungry around mile 7. Usually that doesn’t happen, but for some reason this time my stomach was growling! I was daydreaming about what to make when I got back from my run and this idea popped into my head! Why not use Cheribundi Tart Cherry Juice in my usual post-run smoothie? Best. Idea. Ever.

Ingredients

  • One bottle of Cheribundi
  • 1/2 banana, sliced & frozen
  • 5 large frozen strawberries
  • 1 scoop protein powder of your choice (I use brown rice protein)

Instructions

Throw all ingredients into blender and blend away! Makes one delicious smoothie!

It was perfect for some  post-run refuel…why didn’t I think of this sooner?

 

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Banana Soft Serve Obsession

The past few days have been HOT! I’ve surprised myself though, and got up earlier than normal to get my runs done in the AM when its not so hot out. 90+ degrees after work = no running for me. So morning running it was! (And I actually wasn’t planning on being so matchy with my outfit, I just really wanted to wear my new visor! Which I love by the way.)

I actually really love running in the morning, but sometimes just would rather stay in bed. I need to make this more of a habit so I can free my weeknights up for relaxation (or even more yoga! yippee!)

Total distance- 5.65 miles
Total time – 55:07
Average pace – 9:45

So, lately since its been so hot out, I’ve been obsessed with making “banana soft serve”. Its such a healthy and delicious treat disguised as ice cream. People have been asking for the recipe, so here it is!

Ingredients

  • 1 sliced banana, frozen
  • 2 tbsp of soy milk (or other non-dairy milk)
  • 1 tsp of vanilla

Instructions

Put ingredients in food processor (I suppose a blender would work, too!) and process until smooth–the consistency of ice cream. You may need to add more soy milk–I just guessed at the amount I put in.  I just add it as I go.

This soft serve is vegan friendly/dairy free.
This is seriously the easiest thing in the world to make! Sometimes I put some chocolate chips in too. Peanut butter would be great on top, also!

 

 

 

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