Tag Archives: quinoa

December Cooking Club’s MUST Ingredient: Maple Syrup

3 Dec

2012-12-02_12-34-56_899Are you drooling over this spread?!  This photo depicts yesterday’s maple syrup-infused brunch gathering for our December iteration of cooking club.  This cooking club was a little different than past ones.  Lauren and Bryan, our fantastic hosts this month,  decided the format would be like Iron Chef.  Here were the rules bestowed upon the group.

Iron Chef Rules:

1.       All competition dishes must be “mostly homemade” and include the spotlight ingredient

a.       December spotlight ingredient: maple syrup

2.       Participants can enter up to two dishes in the competition

3.       Entries can be food or drink

4.       Dishes will be judged on a scale of 1-5 in each of the following categories: taste, presentation, and originality

5.       The winner will receive the coveted Iron Chef Champion trophy to be kept until the next competition

a.       The winner is responsible for adding at least one upgrade to the trophy before it gets awarded to the next champion

The result?  Candied maple bacon with assorted dipping sauces, pumpkin bread pudding, creamy maple polenta, baked maple french toast with praline topping, maple glazed potatoes, and my maple pecan coconut breakfast quinoa.  It was not simply bragging rights that were on the line here.  A gold plated gnome trophy you see sitting on the middle of the table taunted us all.  Claire and Grant ultimately won the competition with their fantastic bacon entry, but I don’t think anyone’s dish was short of tasty, presentable, and creative.  Here’s a picture of the winners and the gnome they get to don in their home for the next month:


A good nap on the couch happened that afternoon- that’s when you know you were well-fed!  Another successful edition of cooking club.  Next month we are looking at a ginger ingredient theme.  Ironically, I made this suggestion but am not too familiar with cooking with ginger.  Any suggestions out there for me?

A quick look at my contribution.  I followed this recipe for Maple Pecan Coconut Quinoa and added raisins within the quinoa as well as coconut flakes for a topping option.  It turned out great and I recommend it wholeheartedly for a balanced breakfast option.  You’ll get protein, fiber, and healthy fats out of this meal.  Further, it is dairy and gluten free so even those with dietary constraints can enjoy this.  I hope you’ll give it a try.  I can see it becoming an addition to my breakfast staples for sure! 

Serves 6
  • 1 cup quinoa, rinsed
  • 1 can light organic coconut milk
  • ¼ cup maple syrup
  • ½ cup pecan halves
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • coconut flakes, enough to sprinkle


  1. Pour coconut milk into medium saucepan and put over high heat. Add quinoa and heat until boiling. Once mixture is boiling, stir and lower to a simmer. Cook covered for 15 minutes or until all the liquid is absorbed.
  2. Fluff quinoa with a fork and add maple syrup as well as raisins. Stir.
  3. Serve with pecan halves and coconut flakes.2012-12-02_10-38-34_76

Protein Bar

9 Nov

Protein Bar, a quick/casual restaurant that offers healthy, high-protein  meals passed the test for me earlier this week.  Currently, there are eight locations in Chicago and one in DC with another on the way in the District and another still in the Ballston neighborhood of Arlington, VA (very close to my home base.)  The ambiance was pretty slick and chic and the customer service was top-notch.  Our cashier offered suggestions and allowed us to tweak our items to exactly our liking.  For an area like DC full of active and busy people, Protein Bar is a perfect fit.

So the idea of this place, the interior, and customer service is great.  What about the food, Carrie?!  Here’s a look at their menu offerings which, yes, are quite tasty!  I was craving some keen-wah (properly spelled quinoa-Who just learned how to say that word?) and a smoothie.

I decided on the Spinach & Pesto bowl which includes all-natural chicken, organic quinoa, spinach, basil pesto, and shredded parmesan cheese.  The nutritionals?  Here they are: 371 calories, 21 g fat, 0 g saturated fat, 805 mg sodium, 18 g carbohydrates, 3 g fiber, 6 g sugar, 35 g protein.

In addition to the bowl, they had a special, seasonal smoothie that called to my inner pumpkin obsession.  While a 12 oz was fairly pricey (about $5),  I really enjoyed the combination of pumpkin puree, organic quinoa, almond milk, vanilla protein, pumpkin spice,  and pepitas.  For the 12 oz Pump-Quinoa treat, you are taking in 210 calories, 3.5 g fat,  .5 g saturated fat, 85 mg sodium, 28 g carbohydrates, 2 g fiber, 20 g sugar, and 18 g protein.

I’ve never had quinoa in a smoothie before!  I really enjoyed it and all this quinoa in my meal makes me want to have it more often.  This whole meal yielded me 53 g protein.  I was satisfied for a number of hours after it and plan to try more Protein Bar items when the Ballston location opens up.  Go visit Protein Bar in Penn Quarter at corner of  7th & D soon!  Have a great weekend all.