Sunday, September 30, 2012

Spicy Asian Mango Quinoa with Chicken Wontons

 How to pronounce this grain-like seed: 

Many people don't know what quinoa is, or they're afraid to try it. Although the taste and texture might take some getting used to, quinoa can be prepared in tons of different ways, so if you don't like it upon first eat, don't give up.

The beauty of quinoa is that it's a complete protein, containing all the essential amino acids. That being said, when you mix quinoa with beans or chicken, you get a pretty filling meal. Quinoa is low in gluten and is filled with tons of other essential nutrients like iron, fiber, Vitamin B, potassium, magnesium and zinc. It's a low cholesterol complex carbohydrate that has twice the amount of calcium as whole wheat and less fat than a typical grain.

Isn't quinoa wonderful? I cook with quinoa a lot, so I'll be posting a lot of recipes, but my favorite ways to experiment with quinoa are by mixing it with a ton of chopped vegetables. It also tastes great with lemon or tomato sauce, and I've even made quinoa pizza bites before.

This is my first time trying this recipe, and it was really easy and filling! I think I would add garlic next time though, for a little bit more flavor. I decided to add mango since I had the frozen chopped Trader Joes kind already in my freezer. I thought it added a nice touch.

Spicy Asian Mango Quinoa With Chicken Wontons 


1/2 Cup Quinoa 

(I prepared a full cup but only used half. If you are cooking for more people other than yourself, use a full, or more).

A couple green onions, chopped

Chopped white or yellow onions

Chopped mushrooms (I used shiitake)

Chopped garlic (I used powder, but I think it's more flavorful with fresh)

Chopped mango

5 Chicken Wontons/Gyoza
(I used the frozen kind from Trader Joes.)


1. Cook the quinoa first. There should be directions on the box, but if not, use two cups of water for one cup of quinoa.

If you want more flavor, you can also cook with chicken stock or vegetable stock instead of water.

Combine both the quinoa and the water in a pot and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce to a simmer and cover, cooking for about 15 minutes.

(Although just as I don't measure, I don't really follow time. I just look to see if it looks ready. The water should be gone and the quinoa should be soft and fluffy).

2. Chop your vegetables while the quinoa is cooking.

3. Sauté the veggies in a pan. The white onions should be soft and translucent.

4. Heat up your wontons. The ones I used only take a minute and a half in the microwave.

5. Once the quinoa is ready, combine everything! I combined it in the pan, because it's big and some of the flavor sits at the bottom, but you can combine in a bowl as well.

6. Put on hot sauce, as desired. I liked mine spicy, and it actually went really well with the mango and gave the dish a good kick.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Best Groceries for Healthy Eating + A Mediterranean Breakfast Pizza

The Best Groceries for Healthy Eating and A Mediterranean Breakfast Pizza

Thanks for all the positive feedback on the blog! It makes me even more excited to keep writing when I know that you guys are enjoying it.

This week, I was talking to my friend from school, Emily, who was telling me that she wanted to get started with cooking, but she didn't know what ingredients to buy. This inspired me to write a post on what I consider essential ingredients to have at all times to make the most versatile, flavorful and healthful dishes.

My Essential Grocery List For Healthy Eating:


It's really important to include complex carbohydrates in your diet. Studies have shown that the Atkins Diet is actually bad for your heart, so buy some whole wheat/whole grain carbs, and enjoy them guiltlessly, just don't go overboard. However, I don't mean white, refined and processed grains. Those are an absolute no-no. White grains=sugar=fat=diseases! Only go for brown, whole grain or whole wheat products.
  • Brown Rice: Great to have around because you can throw anything in it, and you can put it in salads. Quinoa can also be used.
  • Whole wheat items: Whole wheat bread, whole wheat tortilla, whole wheat pasta (although I prefer brown-rice pasta, which is gluten-free for all you Celiacs).
  • Beans: My favorites, and most versatile, are black and garbanzo. And I love lentils. Beans are a great source of non-animal protein (they won't raise your cholesterol), a great source of fiber, and they are really cheap! They're only about $2 a can.

Vegetables are my favorite food group. They make any boring dish exciting, and they are also the healthiest (low calories, high vitamins and fiber). This means I can eat lots and lots of vegetables without ever worrying! For those of you with lachanophobia (fear of vegetables, new word!), it's probably because you haven't been preparing them right. You don't have to eat them plain to enjoy their benefits. Vegetables add a lot of flavor to food, and you have to eat them in order to be healthy, so you might as well make them tasty. 
  • Onions: I am extremely liberal with my onions. I use them in anything I can because they're so damn flavorful. Onions help ward off diseases like diabetes, osteoporosis and cancer. 
  • Tomatoes: Good for every style dish (Italian, Mediterranean, Mexican, Californian etc.). 
  • Greens: Kale, spinach, arugula, you name it! The darker the better (nutrition-wise, but taste-wise in my opinion also).
  • Lemon: Vitamin C! But also great to use as a flavoring for rice dishes, pasta, and salads. It keeps you from using fatty sauces or dressings.
  • Garlic: Adding garlic to anything immediately makes it taste better. Garlic also has tons of health benefits. It boosts your immune system, regulates blood sugar levels, lowers blood pressure... the list goes on.
  • Hot Sauce: This one's not for everyone, but I personally live for hot sauce, and I think it can add a lot of flavor to your food, even if you just add a splash!
  • Olive Oil: One of those good fats everyone is telling you to eat. I mainly cook with it, but it's also good for salads. Use it in moderate quantities to be heart healthy!
  • Eggs: I'm a strong advocate for eggs. There has been a lot of controversy about eggs and cholesterol, but the general scientific consensus is, if you have no cholesterol issues, an egg a day is extremely beneficial to your overall health. Eggs with Omega-3s will also boost your mood! Great source of protein, low in calories and really easy to switch up. I eat one almost every morning (or I'll sometimes have egg whites). 
  • Cheese: My guilty pleasure. I usually go for low-fat cheeses, or cheeses in small(ish) quantities. There have been studies done that people who ate small amounts of cheese lost more weigh than those on a same calorie diet with no cheese. 
  • Greek Yogurt: If you haven't had Greek Yogurt yet, START NOW. Although it is really tasty as a yogurt, especially with fruit, I rarely use it as just a yogurt. It works great as a substitute for heavy cream, mayos and sour cream. I'll add it to pasta sauce, use it in a Mexican dish, or make my own dressing, sauce or dip with it. Greek Yogurt is amazing!

I think that covers it. I could also add Oatmeal to the list. If you're not eating eggs for breakfast, then I would definitely suggest oatmeal. I have also recently fallen in love with savory oatmeal, and I have been using it as replacement for rice or pasta, but I'll do a separate post on that later!

Keep in mind, I consider all these foods the basics. Supplement your kitchen with other vegetables, mixed grains, healthy snacks like popcorn, and try to have chicken and fish once or twice a week.

Now onto the yummy stuff. This dish is one of my favorite easy breakfast recipes. If you are all out of healthy breakfast ideas, why not try a pizza! What is a healthy breakfast? For starters, it should have a good amount of protein and fiber to keep you full throughout the day. It should also be your biggest meal of the day, as you will burn the most calories after eating it, since you have the full day ahead.

The best part about this healthy breakfast is that it incorporates the healthiest diet--according to scientific research--the Mediterranean diet. And what is a Mediterranean diet? It's one that includes heavy intake of fruit, vegetables, whole grains, olive oil, and fish, with moderate intakes of cheese and other meats. 

Recipe of the Day! Mediterranean Breakfast Pizza
(inspired by my dear mother)


100% Whole Wheat Middle Eastern Flat Bread (Trader Joes)

A couple of grape tomatoes, cut up

Chopped Onions

A handful of kale

Mushrooms, cut up

Cheese (I used Trader Joes Low Fat 3 Cheese blend and Fat Free Feta)

1 Egg

1. I began by sprinkling the 3 cheese blend over the flat bread (I usually like to spread goat cheese on it instead, but I didn't have any this time.)

2. Then after the vegetables were all chopped, I put them on the flatbread and stuck it in the toaster oven. I usually put the kale down first and carefully place the rest on top.

I originally put it in at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, but I think you could go up to 375 or 400. I left it in for about 15 minutes, give or take 5 minutes depending on the strength of your oven.

I know it's ready when the kale is a little bit crispy, the onions are soft and the cheese is bubbling.

3. While the flatbread is baking, fry an egg!

4. Once the flatbread is ready, plop the egg on top, and you're all done! I like to keep the yolk runny, but of course you do as you like!

I like this dish because it keeps me full for awhile, and it's really balanced. You get protein from the egg and cheese, and the complex carbs and fiber from the flatbread keeps me full for much longer than if I eat just an egg dish. Plus, there are a ton of vegetables and greens on it for added fiber and vitamins, but the best part is, it tastes delicious!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012


Yes, I have started a food blog. I know everyone and their mother has one, and that it's super annoying when people document every ounce of food they put into their mouth. 

But this is because food is such an integral part of our lives. What people don’t realize is that food fuels not just our bodies, but our mental  state, our mood, our brain capacity, our energy, our overall well being. 

This isn't just a "here's what I ate and here's how I cooked it" kind of blog. I’ve recently become very interested in health and nutrition. Actually, not just interested, obsessed. I’ve always loved to cook, but when I got to college, it turned into a passion. I cook almost every single meal I eat, and by cook, I don’t mean heat up some pasta and throw some sauce over it. I chop vegetables, cook, steam, bake, grate. I put a lot of thought into every meal. Cooking is my therapy. It’s an art. I look at recipes, but mainly for ideas and guidance. I read every health and nutrition article I can get my hands on, and I love to share the information I find. 

Now that I’m a senior in college, and in the uncomfortable position of having to pick a path in life, I’ve found myself integrating my two favorite things: food and writing. I’m currently the Health Intern at Seventeen Magazine, and I am writing my honors journalism capstone on food and the brain. I thought it would be nice to complement my research and reporting, and my incessant cooking, with a blog where I’ll post what I cook and create, but also the latest health news and interesting facts about nutrition. 

A few disclaimers: I like to improvise. A lot. Which means I don’t really measure things, so I apologize in advance if I can’t specifically break down proportions for you, but generally that’s not really what’s important anyway. Toss in what you like, take out what you don’t, and I promise you it will still taste good. 

Not everything I make looks pretty or sounds good, especially because I use solely healthy ingredients (no butter, no white starches, no cream, etc.). But it’s pretty tasty. I’ve gotten really good at making healthy things taste delicious (ask my younger brother who LIVES for fast food but manages to eat everything I make for him). I’m a decent chef ;)

Last thing, I’m not a vegetarian, per say, but I generally cook vegetarian dishes because I’m a huge fan of grains, legumes and vegetables. I eat mostly a whole grain, plant based diet, with the occasional fish and chicken, mayyyybe pork on occasion. I don’t eat beef because it makes me feel sick, and this is the general diet I will be advocating (based on lots and lots of research on what’s healthiest for you). I just hope to inspire (and educate!) people to eat healthy but enjoy what they eat!

Anyway, I thought I’d end the post on a simple lunch I made today. I’ll call it:

End of Summer Salad

Non Fat Feta Cheese
Green Onions
Artichoke Hearts
Balsamic Vinegar (I used Rosemary Balsamic, yum!)
Olive Oil

Nothing too crazy. I just chopped it all up and tossed it in the oil and vinegar, but it was yummy and light, and really easy to make! Lentils are amazing, and they're really healthy for you (really high protein, dietary fiber, B vitamins, iron). Trader Joes (where I buy the majority of my food) has a really great package with precooked lentils that you can use hot or cold. 

Enjoy :)