Archive for the 'whole grains' Category

Wheat Berry Salad with Kale and Feta

If I could have three wishes, I would be super tempted to make Mondays off one of them.  I was lucky enough to have two in a row in January and again in February, and I definitely made the most of them.

Even though it was unusually chilly (we got super spoiled with the awesome weather the last couple weeks), we went to the playground in the morning.


After lunch and a nap, we met up with the grandparents at the zoo!


We spent most of the time in the little house with the monitor lizard, but also said hello to some birds, the elephants, and the meerkats.

Dinner was really quick and easy.  I cooked up a whole bunch of wheat berries this weekend, so all I had to do for this was crumble up the feta and slice up some vegetables.  There are a ton of variations on this, and the leftovers are perfect to take for lunch.



Wheat Berry and Lentil Salad with Tahini Dressing

I think I have a good schedule worked out that will let me get in all the things I want to do. At least, it’s worked so far this week:

5 AM – wake up, make breakfast, write blog post

6 AM – shower, get ready

6:30 AM – get Ellie up, feed her

7 AM – Leave the house to take Ellie to daycare

7:15 AM – Arrive at work

3:30 PM – Leave work, pick up Ellie, go home and feed her

4:15 PM – Run with the stroller

5:15 PM – Home from run, shower, start dinner and do general household chores

7:00 PM – Ellie’s bedtime

8:30 PM – My bedtime

Since working out after school can be a little tougher than getting it done first thing in the morning, I hung a little motivation up in my classroom. The kids instantly recognized it as “that run thing I did last year when I was pregnant” (I may have mentioned it just a few times…)

I promised the kids I’d run with them today. I have four PE classes, and I’m running about mile with each class. I really do have the perfect job!

OK, so this is definitely very similar to this salad, which also has kale and lentils and lemon juice. But can you ever really have too much of a good thing? Especially when that good thing is healthy and filling?

adapted from Oh She Glows

Barley and Asparagus Salad

I am spoiled. So spoiled. I pay a high price to live where I do, but with the ocean a few minutes away, a city full of amazing food, and fresh local produce pretty much year-round, I feel pretty lucky to call California home. At least, until a big earthquake hits.

If you ever find yourself in Berkeley like I did the other day, please do yourself a favor and visit Berkeley Bowl. The produce section is indescribably amazing. Not only do they have about 20 different kinds of apples and 10 kinds of potatoes, they have signs telling you where each and every item was grown. Except for the shallots and a red onion (which I got at Trader Joe’s a while ago), all the produce in this salad is from California. There were huge piles of local asparagus, ripe avocados, and beautiful oranges. Mike’s only request for dinner was lots of vegetables, so I decided a salad — with barley to make it more filling — would be perfect.

Since I’m not working this week, it was the perfect opportunity to go meet Mike for lunch in the city.

We went to the Ferry Building, which has a huge variety of lunch options. We ended up at Delica.

I got 3 salads: wasabi potato salad (awesome), burdock salad (also tasty), and the hijiki and soybean salad (which is really similar to something I’ve made before).

My only complaint is that the serving sizes were TINY, but that was okay because it meant I had room for dessert!

Cookies and cream gelato… I need more of you in my life.

I love this weather and this view!


1 tbsp finely chopped shallot
1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tbsp red wine vinegar
1 tsp orange zest
pinch sugar, salt, and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil

1 cup pot barley (slightly less processed than pearl barley, which you can sub if that’s what you have)
2 cups water
3 ounces mixed salad greens
12 spears asparagus, thinly sliced on the diagonal
1 avocado, diced
1/2 cup roughly chopped walnuts, toasted
1/4 red onion, thinly sliced

Bring the water to a boil and add the barley. Turn down to low and simmer, covered, about 45 minutes or until barley is tender. Let cool.

Blanch the asparagus: Bring a small pot of water to a boil. Add the asparagus and cook for 30 seconds, then drain and submerge into cold water to stop the pieces from cooking. Drain well and set aside.

Put the greens and barley in a large bowl. Add the dressing and toss, then add the asparagus, avocado, walnuts, and onion. Mix to combine, then serve.

Millet and Tempeh Stuffed Eggplant

Yesterday was just one of those days. I knew there was pretty much nothing in the cupboards, but I was too lazy to stop at the store, leaving me with no choice but to try and throw some stuff together that was edible. Just before starting dinner I baked a loaf of Vegan Pumpkin Bread, so even if my experiment flopped, I wouldn’t starve.

I started with Japanese eggplants, which are just like regular eggplants except the skin is a lot thinner and there aren’t as many seeds. I actually like them a lot better than the regular kind, plus they are perfect for cutting up into little canoes, filling with stuff, and baking.

Once upon a time I was afraid to use oil, or pretty much any added fat. I thought I was a culinary genius at the time (look! no fat on this chicken! It’s so healthy!) when everyone around me must have been completely disgusted (Oh good, Cate baked some more rubbery, flavorless fat-free scones again. Oh joy, more dried out flavorless boneless-skinless chicken breasts). Sorry everyone, I’ve realized the error of my ways. Here’s proof:

Drizzling oil over the top helps keep the filling moist as it bakes and makes those beautiful little crusty parts on top that are so irresistable. Plus isn’t olive oil good for your heart or something?

I made a really simple mint and cabbage salad to go on the side: just slice some cabbage really thinly, toss with some chopped fresh mint, sprinkle with salt, and dress with olive oil and lemon juice. It’s best when it stands for about 15 minutes before you eat it.

And in other news, our reflective running stuff and headlamps have taken up permanent residence on the hook next to the front door. I guess it’s time to fully acknowledge that every single weekday run will now be in the dark. I was trying to figure out why this was such a hard concept for me to get used to and then it hit me: I have never had a full-time job before. This growing up and becoming a real adult stuff is kind of a pain sometimes.

Oh and because we were on the topic of leftovers recently, I wanted to show you two awesome things you can do with leftover millet (because this recipe calls for a cup and a half cooked millet, but it’s nice to cook up a bunch in the rice cooker and stretch it out over a few days):

1. Fried rice-style millet

Just make fried rice the way you normally would, but with millet instead.

2. Pizza millet

Heat up some cooked millet with some pizza sauce, then top with grated mozzarella.

It was while eating item #2 this afternoon that I realized I have a bit of a fork problem:

For the record, using a fork to juice lemons might seem like a good idea at the time, but the fork is the one that suffers.


4 tbsp olive oil, divided
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Japanese eggplants
1 1/2 cups cooked millet
1 8-oz package tempeh, cut into 1 x 1 x 1 cm cubes
about 3 tbsp lemon juice
5 Tbsp tahini
a few pinches sea salt
chopped parsley for garnish

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Cut the stem and leaf part off the end of the eggplant and cut each one in half lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds so you end up with a canoe shape. Arrange in a baking dish (I used a 9″ cake pan)

Heat 2 tbsp of the oil in a wide skillet and add the garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes, or until the garlic just begins to turn golden (don’t let it brown!) then add the tempeh and saute until golden brown.

Toss the millet, tempeh, lemon juice, tahini, and salt together in a large bowl. Taste and adjust seasonings, then pile into and on top of the eggplant halves. Drizzle evenly with 2 tbsp olive oil then bake for about 30 minutes, or until the eggplants are tender and the filling is golden.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with a little chopped parsley to serve.

Black Bean and Quinoa Salad

After baking 50 cupcakes for a summer school event, then following that up with cake, frosting, and fondant this weekend, I was ready for a good, healthy meal.

My favorite weeknight dinners are always the ones that just require a single bowl and fork or spoon. This one is awesome because it’s full of protein, and it gets a nice kick from the salsa verde. I don’t know why I don’t keep tomatillos around the house more often because they make the BEST salsa!


4 medium tomatillos, papery husks removed, halved
3 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 tsp salt
2 chopped serrano chiles (or less if you’re not into spicy food)
1/4 cup water

2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
juice of one lime
2 cups black beans, rinsed and drained
1 large tomato, diced
1 avocado, diced
chopped cilantro, for garnish

First, make the salsa. Put the garlic and tomatillos under the broiler until softened slightly and browned in places. Transfer to a blender and add the cilantro, salt, chiles, and water. Blend until nearly smooth. Set aside.

Bring the water to a boil in a covered pan. Add the quinoa, stir, and turn the heat down to low. Simmer, covered, until all the liquid has been absorbed, about 15 minutes. Let stand for a few minutes, then add the lime juice and fluff with a fork. Let cool.

In a large bowl, toss the cooled quinoa with the black beans, tomato, and avocado. Stir in about half the salsa, taste, and add more if desired. Serve garnished with chopped cilantro, and pass the remaining salsa on the side.

Lemon-Thyme Quinoa and Roasted Vegetable Salad

I spent all day thinking about this dinner. I realize to some people that might be a little obsessive, but I knew I had quinoa and a random assortment of vegetables at home, and I wanted to make something that would use up what I had on hand but not feel like a dumping ground for odds and ends. I wanted it to be well put-together, satisfying, and delicious.

It’s kind of like when you were in middle school and wanted to talk to the boy you liked, so you’d agonize all day over what to say to seem cute and fun, not clingy and desperate. Middle school was so awkward. Anyway…

Roasting the mushrooms, red onion, and zucchini together in a little olive oil with salt and pepper bring out complex flavors in all three, and the lemon and thyme in the dressing bring a bright summer freshness that is hard to beat. With quinoa, the protein-packed super-grain, and some white beans for added protein and fiber, this is an awesome main course dish that will definitely keep you satisfied. For those of you that eat meat, you could always leave out the beans and serve it alongside grilled chicken or shrimp. I’m also thinking that for summer, grilled vegetables would be a seasonally-appropriate stand-in for roasted…whatever works for you!

2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup quinoa

1 large zucchini, cut into 1″ chunks
10-12 large button mushrooms, quartered
1 red onion, cut into wedges
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper

1 can (or about 1 1/2 cups cooked) navy or canellini beans, rinsed and drained

juice of 1 large lemon (2-3 tbsp)
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper
2 tbsp olive oil
1 small shallot, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 400 F.
Toss the zucchini, mushrooms, and onion with olive oil, salt and pepper, and spread on a baking sheet. Bake for about 40 minutes or until all vegetables are tender. Remove and set aside.

While the vegetables are roasting, cook the quinoa. Bring the broth to a boil in a medium saucepan, then add the quinoa. Cover and turn to low, cooking for about 15 minutes or until all liquid has been absorbed. Remove the cover, transfer to a large bowl and fluff with a fork.

Mix together the dressing ingredients (lemon juice, thyme, salt and pepper, olive oil, and shallot) and toss with the quinoa. Add the beans and vegetables, toss a few more times, and serve.

Thai Quinoa Salad

I’ve been on such a barley kick lately that quinoa kind of fell off the radar for a little while. While perusing the bulk bins at our local natural foods store, I saw the bin of quinoa and realized it had been too long since it made an appearance in our kitchen.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it, though, so I started browsing through my cookbook collection and this quinoa salad with classic Thai flavors caught my eye. It reminds me a lot of tabouli, but with lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, and cilantro instead of lemon and parsley. Obviously, it’s not a classic Thai recipe, but I love the flavor and healthy ingredients.

I added tempeh to the original recipe so it could stand alone as a main dish salad. I sliced it into really thin pieces, pan fried them until golden brown, then crumbled it up (a technique borrowed from this recipe on Herbivoracious). If you’re hesitant about trying tempeh, this is a great way to do it because you hardly notice it’s there!

(adapted from A New Way to Cook by Sally Schneider)

1 cup quinoa
2 cups water
1 stalk of lemongrass (bottom 3″ only), finely chopped
1 kaffir lime leaf, finely chopped
3 small red Thai chiles, finely chopped (optional)
1/2 tsp kosher salt
2 tbsp vegetable oil
8 ounces tempeh, sliced very thinly
2/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1 shallot, chopped and rinsed with cold water
4 tbsp fresh lime juice
4 tbsp unsweetened coconut milk
3 tbsp dry-roasted peanuts, chopped

Toast the quinoa in a dry skillet over medium heat for about five minutes.
Transfer to a large saucepan and add the water, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaf, chiles, and salt. Bring to a boil, then cover, turn down the heat, and simmer for about 12 minutes, or until all the liquid is absorbed.
Remove from the heat and fluff with a fork. Spread in a shallow dish to cool completely.

While the quinoa is cooling, heat the oil in a wide nonstick skillet. When hot, add the tempeh slices in a single layer and fry until golden brown, then flip and cook the other side. (This may need to be done in batches) Transfer to a plate to cool, then crumble between your fingers

Transfer the cooled quinoa to a medium bowl and add the mint, cilantro, crumbled tempeh and shallot. Toss with the lime juice, coconut milk, and sprinkle with chopped peanuts to serve.

Barley Risotto with Spinach and Walnuts

Over the last two months, I’ve gone from thinking barley was just in weird soups at mediocre restaurants to being more than a little obsessed with it. I recently had a craving for risotto, and when I saw that Heidi Swanson had made some with barley in Super Natural Cooking, I was immediately inspired.

I made a few changes to the recipe in the book because using both orange and lemon seemed like it would be citrus overkill for me. I also used spinach instead of arugula because I just like spinach a whole lot more. This doesn’t get as creamy as risotto made with arborio rice, but it’s much healthier and Mike called it one of the best things I’ve made lately (which is probably because my attempt at vegan macaroni and cheese last night was a GIGANTIC flop). So, you want risotto but you’re trying to eat more whole grains? Here you go!

(inspired by Super Natural Cooking by Heidi Swanson)

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 yellow onion, chopped
1 shallot, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
a few pinches of salt
2 cups pearled barley
1 cup white wine
5 cups vegetable broth
grated zest of 1 lemon
3 cups roughly chopped fresh spinach
1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
2 tbsp sour cream
1/4 cup chopped toasted walnuts

Heat the oil over medium heat and add the onion, shallot, and garlic. Cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about five minutes.
Add the barley and salt and cook for another 5 minutes. Meanwhile, bring the broth to a simmer in a separate pan.
Stir in the wine and keep at a simmer. Stir in the broth, one cup at a time, waiting until most of the liquid is absorbed between additions. You may not need to add all the broth, but you’ll know when you’ve added enough because the barley will be tender and most of the liquid will be absorbed.
Stir in the lemon zest and spinach and stir until the spinach is wilted.
Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan and sour cream. Taste and add salt if needed, then serve, sprinkled with chopped walnuts.

Whole Wheat Oatmeal Pancakes

I have high standards when it comes to pancakes. When I was younger, my mom always used James Beard’s recipe, often with blueberries, and always incredibly good (particularly when drenched with maple syrup). I used to order pancakes when we went out for breakfast but now I don’t even bother because I can’t stand their spongy texture. The thought of using Bisquik to make pancakes makes me shudder. The bar was set very high, very early, and I don’t see the point of ever eating a sub-par pancake.

I don’t know where my sister in law found this recipe, but I do know that these are the best pancakes I’ve ever had. They’re Mike’s favorite too, so when I surprised him with these on Valentines Day morning, he was pretty excited.

I love them for their heartiness, the nutty flavor of whole wheat and the textural contrast of the oats. They cook up beautifully brown and lacy and are just perfect with a slather of jam. I love, love, love these pancakes. Unlike some recipes that make dozens, this makes just 6 4″ pancakes, so you don’t have to slave away over the griddle for hours trying to use up all the batter.

1/2 cup plain yogurt (I use nonfat)
1/4 cup milk (more if the batter seems thick)
1 egg
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp honey
1 tbsp brown sugar
3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
1/2 cup old fashioned oats
pinch salt
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
pinch cinnamon
pinch nutmeg

Whisk together the yogurt, milk, oil, honey, and egg in a large bowl.
Stir the remaining ingredients together in a medium bowl, then add to the wet ingredients and mix gently. If the batter seems especially thick, add a tablespoon or two of milk.
Heat a griddle and spray with nonstick spray.
Ladle out 1/3 to 1/2 cup of batter for each pancake and cook until golden brown on the bottom. Flip and cook an additional 2-4 minutes, or until golden both sides.
Serve with butter, jam, syrup, honey, molasses, applesauce, or whatever else you enjoy with pancakes.

Kale and Barley Gratin

I generally think there are two kinds of people in the world: those who embrace vegetables in their natural form, and those who are less fond and prefer them hidden so they don’t realize what they’re eating. This amazing gratin is a perfectly happy medium that will suit both types of people. It starts with an entire bunch of kale, and the finished product is so in-your-face green there’s no getting around the fact that it’s full of good-for-you vegetable. But it also has a nice nutmeg and allspice-enhanced cream sauce and bubbly brown cheese on top, so it’s not exactly rabbit food.

I was bracing myself for complete failure when this went into the oven. It seemed like a soupy mess and I didn’t see how it would get to the right consistency. But it did! It thickened up beautifully and my husband even said “I guess I like kale” – so I must have done something right.

In the original recipe, the cream sauce starts with a roux, but I opted to boil some whole milk with corn starch instead, and it worked nicely.

(adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison)

2/3 cup pearl barley
1 1/2 cups water
salt and pepper
1 large bunch kale, washed and stems removed
1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup grated provolone

Preheat the oven to 375 F.

Bring the water to a boil in a small saucepan and add the barley. Simmer, covered, until the barley is tender, about 30 minutes, then remove from the heat and let stand with the lid on.

Put about 1/2″ of water in a skillet and bring it to a boil. Add the kale and cook, stirring, until the kale is tender (about 8 minutes). Transfer the kale and a few tablespoons of cooking liquid to a food processor, and puree.

Bring the milk and corn starch to a boil in a medium saucepan, whisking constantly. Cook until the mixture coats the back of a spoon, then season with salt and pepper and add the nutmeg and allspice.

Grease a 2 1/2 quart casserole dish. Stir the cream sauce, kale, and barley together and pour into the dish. Sprinkle the grated cheese on top and bake until the cheese is bubbly and brown, about 30 minutes.


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