Meatless Monday – Cooking with Teen

Last week Teen’s senior class had a fundraiser with a local pizza place. They make a delicious deep dish spinach and mushroom pizza. And if you like, they’ll make it with whole wheat crust and vegan cheese. Yum!patxis-pizza

While I had been anticipating leftovers for dinner all day long, I returned home to find that Teen had shared my vegan pizza with his friends. My only consolation is that they ate it–and liked it! If they’d spit it out in disgust, well, then I would have been really upset.

Consequentially, Teen needed to prepare dinner for the family. He likes to cook, so this wasn’t punishment, just unusual.

He chose the menu. He invited (with permission) a cute girl to join us. I knew I’d need to play a supporting role in this endeavor, but I let him take the lead. All in the name of experience.

Teen brain + ADHD + limited experience = lots of room for learning!

He left prep for half-hour before we were supposed to eat. Dinner necessarily moved back by more than an hour.
He forgot to check for ingredients. He had to make a grocery run mid-process.
He couldn’t find ingredients in the store. He asked for help.

Now I’m thinking we need to do this more often. The meal turned out great–healthy, easy, delicious. The time together even better. The learning? Invaluable. Of course we have cooked together many times before but now, as we’re both increasingly aware that college is coming, we need to maximize both togetherness and tools for healthy eating.

He made Quinoa & Black Bean Salad (cute girl requested a quinoa salad). To round out the meal, I suggested he also make Tomato, Black Bean & Corn Soup. Because (sadly) TJ’s boxed Roasted Red Pepper & Tomato Soup, the base for aforementioned soup, contains milk and I’m off dairy, I also made Spicy Black Bean Soup.

While he shoveled tortilla chips with green salsa into his mouth, while I sipped chardonnay, we talked and laughed. He learned that zesting a lime before juicing adds so much yum to a vinaigrette. He already knew to roll the lime before cutting to extract all its juicy goodness. He learned to consider in advance which pots and pans will be necessary to cook which dishes. He learned to judge amounts by eyeing them, and that his shakes with dried spices tend to be more generous than mine. He learned to go slowly with spices, to taste test and adjust as necessary.

Healthy meal. Time well-spent. Cute girl impressed. An all-around good evening!

Meatless Monday – Quinoa Two Ways

Summertime is all about salad–cold, make-ahead, no fuss food. Which is why quinoa has become one of my fav’s. Quinoa is a grain and contains protein, making it crazy healthy. And it’s so versatile that it can be a side dish, a salad base, a salad topping, or an ingredient in another dish altogether. The first few times I tried it, it hurt my tummy; and then I discovered that rinsing it in cold water before boiling makes it easier to digest.

My favorite brand, of course, comes from Trader Joe’s. The three colors don’t change the flavor but they do make it more visually interesting.quinoa brand

Friends shared both of these recipes with me, and they have quickly become go-to happy family recipes that I am pleased to share with you!

First, prepare the quinoa. In a fine-mesh strainer, rinse 1 cup quinoa in cold water. Add to pot with 2 cups boiling water. Cover and reduce heat, then simmer for 10 to 15 minutes until the quinoa develops ‘tails’–you’ll know ’em when you see ’em. Drain any excess water and rinse quinoa again to cool. Set aside.

Can you see the 'tails'?

Can you see the ‘tails’?

Lemon-Mint Quinoa Salad

1 c quinoa, prepared according to package directions

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp lemon juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute (or other no-salt herb mix)
3 green onions, diced
3 Tbsp fresh mint leaves, chopped
1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/4 c almonds, chopped (optional)

While quinoa cooks, whisk oil, lemon juice, garlic and 21 Gun in a large bowl. Add other ingredients, including cooked quinoa. Chill for at least 30 minutes.

Note: I made a little more vinaigrette and lightly dressed some arugula, then served quinoa on top. I can also imagine this would be fantastic in whole wheat pita bread with hummus (Trader Joe’s Mediterranean hummus is our go-to).quinoa salad

Quinoa & Black Bean Salad

1 cup quinoa, prepared according to package directions

3 Tbsp olive oil
1/3 c fresh lime juice
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 c cilantro, chopped
1/4 tsp cumin
1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 1/2 c corn, fresh or frozen
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 green onions

While quinoa cooks, whisk oil, lime juice, garlic and spices in a large bowl. Add other ingredients, including cooked quinoa. Chill for at least 30 minutes.quinoa