Quinoa Tabbouli Salad

Tabbouli is my absolute favorite salad! If you have not tried it yet, you simply must! It is so fresh with the bold lemon and parsley flavors. The texture is delicate with tiny perfectly diced tomatoes, cucumbers, and bulgur. In this variation I boost the protein and filling factor by using quinoa instead of bulgur wheat. The quinoa (pronounced keen-WAH) is a tiny super grain food that is an excellent substitute for high sugar starchier carbs such as rice and wheat products such as pasta. Quinoa has a significant amount of protein, enough to serve as a protein source on its own. Quinoa is also rich in heart-healthy mono saturated fats (ALA-Omega 3), and is also concentrated in anti-inflammatory flavonoids. It is also an excellent source of fiber, magnesium, and iron. It cooks slowly and is very easy to prepare making it a wonderful pantry staple. The grain is perfectly small, round, and fluffy making it a perfect substitution to rice or bulgur as it is used in tabbouli salad. 

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Back to the tabbouli; this salad originates from the Middle-East, particularly Syria and Lebanon, and is a staple appetizer popular now all around the world. This salad is full of parsley, at least 1-2 bunches or 2 cups. It is finely chopped, and we typically use flat leaf as it offers a more favorable texture and scent. The curly parsley can sometime feel and taste too dry on the tongue. You will also need firm roma tomatoes, Persian or English cucumbers, green onion, and plenty of freshly squeezed lemon juice. The salad dressing recipe used here is my mother’s popular Arabic dressing and is the perfect dressing for almost any lemon based dressing, so gather round for the secret! It consists of FRESH lemon juice (do not used from a jar!), olive oil, sumac, garlic, oregano, salt, and pepper. My daughter is becoming a finicky eater, like most toddlers, but she absolutely LOVES this salad. She had 2 full servings, so I was a happy mother! 

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Preserve left over parsley stems (and other fresh herbs such as cilantro or mint) by steeping in a cup of water in your fridge; it will last at least a whole extra week!2014-03-07sugarandgarlic2014 2014-03-08sugarandgarlic2014-17 2014-03-08sugarandgarlic2014-20

 

Quinoa Tabbouli Salad
Serves 4
A fresh and nutritious salad full of protein rich quinoa and zesty lemon juice.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
15 min
Total Time
30 min
For the salad
  1. 2 cups of flat leaf parsley
  2. 1 tbsp fresh mint, chopped
  3. 3 firm roma tomatoes, about 1 cup diced
  4. 3 green onions, about 1/2 cup diced
  5. 1 cup diced cucumber
  6. 1/2 cup quinoa (uncooked)
For the dressing
  1. 1/2 c fresh squeezed lemon juice
  2. 1 tbsp of minced fresh garlic (2 large cloves)
  3. 1/3 c olive oil
  4. 1 tsp salt
  5. pinch pepper
  6. 1 tsp oregano
  7. 1 tsp sumac
Instructions
  1. First cook the quinoa according to directions. 1 cup gain cooks in 2 cups of liquid. So boil 1/2 cup quinoa with 1 cup of water. Add 1/2 tsp of salt and bring down to a simmer over low heat once it boils. Remove from heat as soon as all the water is absorbed (about 15 minutes) and toss into a bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and place into refrigerator to cool.
  2. Finely dice the tomato by slicing into thin circles, then crosswise and lengthwise to produce perfectly small cubes. Do the same with the cucumber.
  3. Chop the green onion into thin circles as well, and if it is a large diameter, cut those slices in half.
  4. Wash the parsley carefully, stem by stem (dirt and bugs typically hide in these leaves), then pull the leaves off and into a colander or napkins to remove excess water. Place the leaves into a food processor and pulse slowly until it is finely chopped. Be careful not to puree into pesto!
  5. Combine all chopped ingredients into a large bowl. Add the cooled quinoa.
  6. In a medium bowl, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, minced garlic, salt and other spices and stir well. Pour the dressing over the salad and gently toss with tongs or a large fork. Be careful not to smush the quinoa or tomatoes.
Notes
  1. Small grain wheat bulgur is traditionally used in this recipe in lieu of the quinoa.
Adapted from Mom
Adapted from Mom
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/
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Best Guacamole Ever

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This is my all time favorite snack! I became addicted when we lived in Miami and had avocados in abundance, and it was served in many dishes. I use guacamole as an appetizer when entertaining almost every time, as a snack for my kids, and as a snack or salad for myself! Avocados are excellent sources of healthy mono-saturated fats, which are essential for keeping healthy cholesterol levels, improving blood pressure, and preventing heart disease. Avocados are also rich in potassium, vitamin K, vitamin B, vitamin C, and folate. Avocados are also one of the few foods rich in both insoluble and soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is essential because it helps cleanse your body and will aid in the prevention of colo-rectal cancer as it flushes out and cleanses the colon quite well. Soluble fiber is great for your body because it remains in your body and make you feel fuller longer, preventing a person from eating more unnecessary calories and fats. Avocados have also been shown to significantly increase the body’s absorption of lycopene and beta carotene, so go ahead and add them to your salads and sandwiches!

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With all of that said, I could eat this guacamole every day. And its a good thing it is extremely easy to make! Please, don’t bother buying it from a store! Please! A fresh avocado tastes SO much better and you will be so happy to see how easy it is to prepare. Sometimes I make it with only tomato and lime if I am missing the other ingredients and it still tastes just as wonderful! My general flavoring ratio is 1 lime and 1/2 tomato  per avocado, and optionally, 1 tbsp of chopped onion per avocado. Any more onion or tomato and it will be too liquified and saucy, which still tastes great as a salsa or dip, but will lack that nice, thick, and creamy texture of guacamole. The cilantro just gives it that perfect kick and flavor, so I always make sure to add it if I have it! I usually omit or limit the jalapeño if I have the kids eating with me, because that can get quite spicy for them!

To pick an avocado, touch and press it gently, if it yields to your touch and is still firm, it is probably not ripe yet. And on the contrary if it is quite soft, has indentations, or is smushy it will be overly ripe or spoiled! You want it to be soft enough to give way a little bit under your fingers but still have firmness. You could also pull off the stump of the stem and check for a nice yellowish green color. Check out this useful post I pinned on Pinterest to help me pick avocados. 

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Guacamole
Serves 4
A delicious and healthy dip bursting with fresh flavor and nutrition!
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Prep Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 ripe avocados, sliced open, seed removed
  2. 1 clove of garlic, minced
  3. 1 tomato
  4. 1/2 c cilantro
  5. 2 limes, juiced
  6. 2 tbsp onion, chopped
  7. 1-2 tsp chopped jalapeño (optional)
  8. 1 tsp cumin
  9. 1/2 tsp paprika
  10. 1/2 tsp salt
  11. pinch of pepper
Instructions
  1. Scoop out the flesh of the avocado and combine all ingredients into a blender. Pulse gently until you reach desired consistency.
  2. Serve with chips, pita, tacos, quesadillas, or burritos!
Notes
  1. Depending on your blender or food processor, you might want to pulse the tomato and onion first so that it is chopped finely, before you add the already soft avocado. This way you can avoid making the dip too fine and liquified.
  2. * I love to add roasted corn if I have it on hand; just roast the corn on the cob over the grill or a fire and slice the kernels off.
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Passion Stars

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We really enjoyed pretending to be at a beach laying out and sipping our Tropical Paradise smoothies we went for it again. I got some lovely fragrant passion fruits from Whole Foods (they are ripe when starting to wrinkle) and juicy starfruit.  Passionfruit is a very nutrient rich tropical fruit. It is high in vitamin A (carotenoids), antioxidants, iron, fiber and protein. The flesh, seeds, and pulp of the passionfruit provides about 5 grams of protein and 24 grams of fiber! So I just scooped the entire fruit out of its skin and into the blender; no need to strain the juice as others may suggest. Star fruit is also very high in fiber, potassium, and vitamin C. If you can find an organic one, its great to just toss it in with its waxy peel which has many nutrients within it. Star fruit is believed to improve the flow of milk in nursing mothers and to suppress cough. In this concoction, I also add vitamin C packed oranges and use a ripe banana as the sweetener and a potassium and fiber boost. 

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Passion Stars
Serves 3
SO refreshing and packed with vitamin C and potassium, this starfruit and passionfruit combination will energize you and whisk you away to your tropical fantasies.
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 2 oranges (peeled)
  2. 2 passion fruits
  3. 1 star fruit
  4. 1 ripe banana
  5. 1/4 c water
  6. 1/2 c ice
Instructions
  1. slice a piece of the star fruit and the orange for garnish and reserve.
  2. Slice open the passion fruit and scoop out the flesh and seeds.
  3. Combine all ingredients into blender and blend on high for about 45 seconds.
  4. Garnish with a slice of fruit on your glass and enjoy!
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Tropical Paradise

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I always get the winter blues, but this winter is just brutal! I’ve been snowed in too many days to handle 2 small children in a not so spacious home. My daughter’s school has been cancelled enough times to make me lose my mind, and I just really want to feel some warm Sun. We whipped up a deliciously refreshing vitamin boosting smoothie to  help ward of the cold and other ailments spreading around. Sipping this ice cold refresher made us feel like we were sun bathing on a beach to help us get through these “rough” days.

This was actually my first time trying papaya, and it was not my favorite when I ate it on its own. I could only assume it is because the fruit was not in season nor very ripe. But in this smoothie with the banana and pineapple, it was heaven! The papaya is a tropical fruit rich in an enzyme called papain which helps digest proteins. Papain also provides anti-inflammatory effects shown to heal burns as well as reduce inflammation caused by trauma, asthma, osteoarthritis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Papaya fruits are also one of the most highly concentrated fruits in vitamin C,  providing more than the daily value, is very high in vitamin A, and is also rich in potassium, fiber, lycopene, and folate. The nutrients from the vitamins A and C help prevent heart disease as it prevents cholesterol from oxidizing and sticking and building up on blood vessel walls (read more here). Potassium is essential for maintaining a healthy heart beat, maintaing a normal blood pressure, and promoting health of the muscles. Papaya is also a source of the antioxidant lycopene which is essential to reducing the risk of cancer, macular degeneration (age-related loss of vision), and heart disease.

The wonderful thing about making smoothies is that you are allowing your body to consume a larger quantity of fruits and vegetables, increasing your intake of all of these wonderful nutrients. Including smoothies, purees and dips,  and soups of raw and whole produce into your daily diet is an excellent way of improving your health and intake of necessary vitamins and minerals! Just be sure to stay away from adding sugar and other unhealthy additives. I usually add a banana, dates, or a tablespoon of honey if added sweetness is necessary but in most cases the produce picked at season tastes fabulous on its own!

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Tropical Paradise
Serves 2
A refreshing blend of papaya, banana, and frozen pineapple giving a huge dose of vitamin C
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Prep Time
5 min
Prep Time
5 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 papaya, seeds removed
  2. 1 banana
  3. 1/4 c water
  4. 1/2 c frozen pineapple (or fresh, plus ice)
Instructions
  1. Slice the papaya in half and scoop the flesh out with a table spoon.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a blender and puree on high for 45 seconds.
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Date Smoothie

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It’s no secret in the Muslim world that dates are a superfood with numerous health benefits. It is no wonder that Muslims ritually start their fast and break their fasts with a date, as was the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) many centuries ago.  

But you do not need to be Muslim to know about the countless benefits of eating dates. Any nutritionist could attest to the nutritional value of this superfood. Dates are the fruit of the date palm tree, which grows in warm, dry regions such as the Middle East and parts of California. Dates are high in fiber, which helps reduce cholesterol, improves digestion, satiates the appetite, and fight heart disease and obesity. They are also high in Vitamin B, A, and K. B vitamins are the most prominent vitamin store in dates which include B6 and B9 (folic acid), which helps improve metabolism and produce new red blood cells. Dates are also very high in minerals including potassium, copper, calcium, iron, phosphate, magnesium, and manganese. Although dates are such a sweet treat and thought to be high in sugars, they actually have a high nutritional ratio to the calories as well as a low glycemic index so they absorb into the body much more slowly giving steady releases of energy and several other sustained benefits. Thus, in moderation dates are an excellent sweetener to use in place of cane sugar or other sweet desires. 

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This brings me to this deliciously satisfying and filling energy smoothie! This drink is a concoction of my father’s, which he whipped up one Ramadan long ago. During Ramadan, Muslims are fasting from sunrise to sundown, and dates are in high demand! The benefits of a smoothie are obvious as you can puree a lot more nutrition and whole foods into a fine consistency which makes it easy to consume a lot more in the easy and convenient gulp of a milkshake. I use organic milk, usually whole because I believe in all the benefits of drinking wholesome vitamin D milk in its natural state. However you could use coconut milk, almond milk, or some ice and water if you have other dietary preferences. 4-6 pitted dates, a whole ripe banana, and a couple of frozen strawberries or ice cubes make this a nice refreshing shake that will keep your appetite satisfied and body well nourished for hours! If you have a powerful blender like the Vitamix or Blendtec you will have no issues throwing the dates in whole. No need to soften or puree them first. I enjoy this after a workout or before I run out of the house for the day running errands. You other moms out there know what a hassle it is to find time to sit down and eat when running around with kids and carseats/strollers all day! 

Enjoy!

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Date Smoothie
Serves 2
A refreshing and energy boosting milkshake that will keep you full and energized thorough your day!
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Ingredients
  1. 3 cups cold milk
  2. 4-6 medjool dates, pits removed
  3. 1 ripe banana
  4. 4 frozen strawberries (optional) OR 1/2 cup ice cubes
Instructions
  1. Remove the pit from the dates by slicing down the center, vertically along the length of the date.
  2. Combine all the ingredients into a blender and pulse to chop and distribute, then increase to the highest speed for 1 minute until smooth and frothy.
  3. Enjoy!
Adapted from My father :)
Adapted from My father :)
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Citrus-C

You know when you feel that itch in your throat? Or your nose starts to twitch and you just feel the cold coming on? Don’t let your weak, exhausted body fall victim to those yucky viruses! Whenever I feel run down and am about to get a cold, I consume as much vitamin C and natural nutrition as possible! Making smoothies in my blender with whole produce is one of the best ways to do this!

For this smoothie, I combine everything! Start with a big chunk of pineapple (with the core- it has all the enzymes that are good for you), 2 oranges, juice of 1/2 lemon, 1 pink grapefruit, 3 tbsp of honey, 1/2 c of cantaloupe, 1/2 c frozen mango, 1/2 c frozen strawberries, an apple, and 1/4 c of yogurt. The yogurt is for the protein and helps keep me full. I add only 1/4 c of water and the rest is the natural fruit juices and whole fiber. The blender I use is a Vitamix, which from all the appliances I have tried is really the only one that is powerful enough to break up these tough whole food combos into smooth, liquified drinks. 

Next time you are feeling run down and need a boost, try this! I just drink this all day, which is a great way to detoxify, stay full off of healthy good fiber, and lose some weight if that is what you need to do (as I do!)

 

Disclaimer: I am not a nutritionist, dietitian, or physician. Smoothies should not serve as meal replacement!
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Blueberry Orange Oatmeal Muffins

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These muffins are full of fiber and bursting with orange and blueberry juiciness. I love to bake with seasonal produce. I have a bowl of zesty juicy oranges sitting on my counter and they were perfect for these muffins . This recipe originates from my aunt’s yummy orange cake. I adapted it to add the blueberries and oats and swapped out some of the flour and oil for healthier alternatives. I used whole grain flour and olive oil in lieu of the all purpose white flour and GMO corn oil.

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The recipe is incredibly easy. Just mix the wet ingredients together, add the flour and baking powder, combine with the oats and berries, and bake. You don’t even need a mixer. Along with the olive oil I used to moisten the cake, I added some  juice by throwing the orange I zested into my blender to make some pure whole fiber orange juice. My family drank the extra  juice and loved it; it’s pulpy and has all the fiber as opposed to  juice you get from an extractor. That is the beauty of using produce in season. You get the best flavors with no additives or artificial flavoring. The blueberries are just starting to phase out for the fall, but you may still be able to snag some sweet juicy ones! This recipe works well with lemon if that is your preference; just swap the juice and zest for lemon! 

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Blueberry Orange Oatmeal Muffins
Yields 16
refreshing orange, juicy blueberries, and whole grain fiber make this a delicious treat you don't have to feel guilty about!
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 c all purpose flour
  2. 1 c whole grain flour
  3. 4 eggs
  4. 1 c sugar
  5. 1/2 c honey
  6. 1 tbsp orange zest
  7. 1/2 c olive oil
  8. 3/4 c orange juice
  9. 1 tbsp baking powder
  10. 1/2 c rolled oats
  11. 1 c fresh blueberries
Instructions
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degree and grease a muffin tin.
  2. Combine the flour and baking powder in a medium bowl.
  3. In a larger bowl combine the eggs, zest, sugar, honey, oil and orange juice. Mix well.
  4. Slowly add the flour mixture to the liquid mixture.
  5. Add the oats and blueberries and stir with a large spoon until incorporated.
  6. Pour into a muffin tin, filling 2/3 of the cavity, and bake for about 20 minutes.
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/

Guacamole Salad

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This is such an easy and healthy salad to make and it goes great with any Mexican themed meals! It is also hearty enough to be a main meal for lunch or a light dinner. Avocados are one of those super foods with many great health benefits. I love them! Avocados optimize carotenoid absorption, support blood sugar regulation, have anti-inflammatory benefits, and improve heart health and cardiovascular health. They are also an excellent source of fiber, potassium, vitamins C , K and B6. It truly is a superfood and I LOVE to use them whenever I can!

Avocados are also supremely easy to prepare and serve. Because much of the healthy carotenoids are in the dark part of the flesh close to the skin, you want to slice the flesh and scoop it out with a large spoon to get as much of the good stuff as possible.

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Guacamole Salad
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Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
Prep Time
10 min
Total Time
10 min
For the Salad
  1. 2 avocados
  2. 1 medium tomato, diced
  3. 1/2 jalapeño pepper, diced
  4. 1/2 white onion, sliced
  5. corn on the cob (cooked in microwave or grilled)
  6. 1 bunch of fresh cilantro
For the dressing
  1. 2 limes, juiced (1/4 cup)
  2. 3 cloves minced garlic (1 tbsp)
  3. 1/2 tsp cumin
  4. salt and pepper to taste
  5. pinch of cayenne pepper
  6. 1/4 cup olive oil
Instructions
  1. First cook the corn. If you want the chargrilled flavor, cook it over a fire on a gas range or grill or inside your oven. Once cooled to the touch, slice the corn off the cob and allow it to cool completely before adding to your salad.
  2. Mix the chopped or sliced vegetables together in a large bowl.
  3. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl, mix well, and pour over the salad.
Notes
  1. This goes great with tacos, fajitas, or burritos!
Sugar & Garlic http://www.sugarandgarlic.com/