Tagged: quinoa

Energy Bites and Peppermint Tea

That’s what making me happy today. ūüôā

Energy bites and peppermint tea.

For those of you that know me you know that it’s exceedingly rare I ever go a day without a cup of tea…or four. But these days I do my very best to balance between the caffeinated¬†and decaffeinated¬†stuff. ¬†I usually start my day with a big cup of English Breakfast tea, throw some green tea in the afternoon, and I spend my evenings drinking peppermint herbal tea. I’m telling you, even when I’m in the sourest of moods I find it pretty tough to stay angry when I take a sip of tea. Johnny even says I have a tea face…I think it looks something like this.

Anywho

Heh. Get it…because it’s an owl…

Seriously though. When I drink tea I make that face.

Now – onto the energy bites!! I, personally, am a huge fan of Larabars. They’re all natural and come in so many delicious flavors (although Central PA still hasn’t gotten it’s hands on any Carrot Cake ¬†OR Blueberry Muffin ones *sigh*). I love the company as a whole and their dedication towards using all natural/organic/fair trade certified ingredients. HOWEVER – and I may or may not have mentioned this before – I’m poor and can’t justify spending money on them. At least where I shop they’re over $1/bar. Sooooooooo I’ve finally decided to take a crack at making a homemade version of them…with QUINOA!

When I made my Buffalo Chicken Quinoa and Cheese last week, I cooked up some extra quinoa that’s just been sitting around looking for a purpose. Why not throw some extra protein into these energy bites, right?! Right!¬†The dates¬†sweeten¬†everything¬†perfectly, the almonds are filled with protein and healthy fat, the cocoa powder will give you a dose of fiber and antioxidants, and the almond extract boosts the flavor to the next level. I adore these energy bites!

You need a food processor for this recipe and they’re a cinch to whip up! This recipe made 12 squares.

Chocolate Almond Quinoa Energy Bites

  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/4 cup raw almonds
  • 1/8 cup unsweetend cocoa powder
  • 4 medjool dates
  • 1/4 teaspoon almond extract

Place the dates into the food processor and pulse until they form a sticky ball. Add the remaining ingredients to the food¬†processor and let it wiz until everything is combined, scraping down the sides once or twice to make sure everything gets incorporated. Spread the mixture (which will be quite sticky- wet your fingers a bit to prevent it from sticking to you) onto a small pan to form an¬†approximately¬†5×7 inch ¬†rectangle about 1/2 an inch thick (I used the pan from my toaster oven). ¬†Place in the¬†refrigerator¬† to set – for at least an hour or two. Slice into squares and munch!!

Here’s what you start with…

the lineup

and here’s the finished product!

chocolate almond quinoa energy bites

Feeding My Addiction

Let me tell you a little something about myself. It’s something some of you may already know about me. Some of you may not. Some people think it’s an addiction, though many of you may even share this addiction and not even know it. I’ve known some folks that have it much worse than I do. I’ve known people who couldn’t even leave the house without having some sort of backup on hand.

I’m talking… about FRANKS RED HOT!!

Seriously…what else would I be talking about?

I LOVE this stuff. I’ll put it on eggs. I’ll put it on pizza. And I cannot say no to anything with “Buffalo Chicken” in the name!

Sadly, though, most “Buffalo Chicken” recipes – dips, pastas, and pizzas – are LOADED with fat and calories that my thighs and I just don’t feel like dealing with. Loads of butter and blue cheese (Note: I NEVER use blue cheese…or ranch…with my buffalo anything.¬† I want to experience the heat – I don’t want to tame it with yucky, fatty dressing. Also note…I hate blue cheese. It helps. ) or globs of ranch dressing just aren’t appealing to me.

So what’s a girl to do??

Healthify it! (Obviously.)

I recently stumbled across what appears to be a spectacularly popular food blog you may or may not have heard of – Iowa Girl Eats. Kristin’s philosophy is fantastic “Eat Well, Run Often, Travel Far.” That’s something I can totally relate to. I can also totally relate to her post – Buffalo Chicken Quinoa Mac and Cheese. And by relate to her post – I mean use it for inspiration and make my own deliciously, outstandingly, amazingly, life changing recipe you will find below.

Anyone out there never have quinoa before? It’s really quite delightful. Contrary to what some may say, quinoa is not “technically” a grain. It’s actually a seed! Whodathunkit?! It’s also the only “whole grain” that is a complete protein – which means it has all 9 essential amino acids the human body cannot produce but needs to function. *KNOWLEDGE* It has a subtle, nutty flavor when it’s plain but it’s super versatile! You can cook it up just like rice (if you’re like me that means really carefully while staring at the covered pot praying it doesn’t stick to the bottom…hopefully you’re not like me) and use it in recipes from breakfast, to salad, to THIS:

Buffalo Chicken Mac Quinoa and Cheese

¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 1 ¬Ĺ cups dry, uncooked quinoa
·         2 cups water or chicken stock
·         2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts ‚Äď cut into bite sized pieces
·         2 tablespoons flour (or gf flour of your choice)
·         2 tablespoons granulated garlic
·         Salt and Pepper to taste
·         4 tablespoons Franks Red Hot
¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬ľ cup nonfat milk
¬∑¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬ĺ cup shredded cheddar cheese
·         2-3 scallions, chopped
Rinse your quinoa in a fine mesh strainer.
(This is what ever other basic quinoa preparation recipes ¬†says ‚Äď I don‚Äôt have a fine mesh strainer, so I lined my pasta strainer with a few paper towels so the quinoa wouldn‚Äôt fall through and rinsed it that way. )
Add  1 teaspoon of olive oil to a small pot and add the quinoa. Sauté over medium heat for 2 or 3 minutes until the quinoa becomes fragrant.  Add your water or chicken stock. Stir to combine and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand about  10 minute with the lid on before fluffing with a fork.
While your quinoa is cooking, season your chicken with garlic, salt, and pepper. Toss with flour (or gf flour) to coat. Heat the remaining teaspoon of olive oil in a large skillet. Add the chicken and cook on medium high heat until the chicken is golden brown on all sides. ¬†Reduce the heat to low and add the hot sauce. Stir to coat and add the milk to the pan. Stir everything well to combine and bring the mixture to a gentle simmer. (If you boil the nonfat milk, it may start to separate. It may even look a little funky when you first add it to the pan but it‚Äôll all smooth out once you mix in the cheese.) Add ¬Ĺ cup shredded cheese and half of the scallions to the pan. Stir everything to combine. Add¬† the cooked quinoa and stir everything¬† until the quinoa is incorporated.
Transfer to a greased oven safe baking dish (or if you‚Äôre lucky like I am and have an oven safe skillet ignore that statement completely) top with remaining ¬ľ cup of shredded cheese and scallions. Pop the pan under the broiler until the cheese is melted and brown.
IN THEORY this recipe makes four substantial dinner portions‚Ķunless you‚Äôre like me and hover over the pan with a fork before it‚Äôs even cool enough to eat and shovel half of it down your throat immediately. (Note ‚Äď this will be hot and you will burn your mouth if you use this technique!)

Serve and rejoice in cheesy,  HEALTHY, buffalo chicken glory!

buffalo chicken quinoa