Cauliflower-Currant Quinoa

 

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Quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it has all the amino acids that your body can’t make on its own, all in one place.  It is also packed with fiber, which helps your blood vessels steer clear of clots, and your colon clear of … you know.  (But besides talking about feces and food all in one place, I’d like to also remind you that fiber is also anti-cancer, as it decreases the amount of time that toxins in the food you consume interact with your intestines!)  This dish also has healthy leeks and cauliflower, which I talked about in a previous post, and is brightened with fruity currants.  Almonds complement quinoa’s nutty flavor.

Here’s some other fun facts of why this dish is great for you:

-Almonds and other nuts have phytosterols (plant sterols), which lower your cholesterol.  How do they do this? They act like cholesterol in your gut, binding to the same receptors on your enterocytes (small intestine cells) that cholesterol molecules use to enter your blood stream.  Therefore, the cholesterol molecules can’t bind to these receptors, and they are led through and out of your colon.  Plant sterols are so effective that their effects are additive to the most commonly used cholesterol-lowering medications: statins. (Marangoni, Pharmacol Res. 2010 Mar;61(3):193-9)

-Polyunsaturated fatty acids (you’ve heard of them as omega-3’s, omega-6’s, and perhaps alpha-linoleic acid) are abundant in nuts, tofu, soybeans, and flaxseeds. (http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/Polyunsaturated-Fats_UCM_301461_Article.jsp) They’re beneficial for lowering your levels of bad cholesterol, a risk factor for heart disease, and they also help in other inflammatory conditions. A study of 2514 people in Australia age 49 and over showed that increased nut consumption was protective against mortality from inflammatory disease (examples of these diseases include chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and asthma). (Gopinath et al. 2011 ). Another group examined patients in the Physicians’ Health Study, a cohort of over 20,000 male U.S. physicians, and found that increased nut consumption was associated with a decrease in all-cause mortality, including cardiovascular mortality, in a linear fashion. (Hshieh et al., Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Feb;101(2):407-12).  The largest study that came out in 2015 pooled the results of 15 studies, and found that nut consumption is associated with decreased all-cause mortality, cardiovascular disease mortality, and cancer mortality. (Grosso et all., Am J Clin Nutr. 2015 Apr;101(4):783-93.)

Recipe (serves 4, takes 30 minutes):

Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 cup sliced almonds

1 head cauliflower

2-3 leeks, diced

1 large carrot or 2-3 heirloom carrots, diced

1/4 cup currants

4 tablespoons coconut oil

1-2 teaspoons turmeric powder

1 teaspoon each allspice and cinnamon powder

Salt and pepper adjusted to taste

  1. Cook quinoa: in a saucepan on medium, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil and add 1 cup quinoa. Toast quinoa in oil for a few minutes until the nutty fragrance develops, then add 2 cups water and bring to a boil, then simmer.
  2. In a pan on medium-low heat, melt the coconut oil, then add leeks and cauliflowers. Saute for several minutes until the leeks get more translucent and the cauliflower softens; then add the almonds and currants and spices. Cook all together until the quinoa is ready.
  3. Once the quinoa is cooked, add it to the mixture. Adjust spices to your taste preference. Enjoy!

 

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Leek cauliflower potato soup

When I first started cooking, soups were a total mystery to me.  I knew that I loved them, but making them seemed complicated, so I left that to my mom and restaurants.  But actually, making soups is really easy!  You should try it!

This soup is especially easy, and it’s super nutritious. There aren’t a lot of ingredients, and it turns out with a pleasant, mild taste.  I incorporated cauliflower because it’s super nutritious: packed with most of your daily requirement of Vitamin C, vitamin K, manganese, and other vitamins and minerals.  Additionally, cruciferous vegetables (like cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts) activate immune cells in the gut during eating via a receptor (AhR).  They are also some of the most active anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer vegetables out there.  http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-broccoli-receptor-our-first-line-of-defense-2/

Leeks are also super nutritious. They are part of the allium family of vegetables which includes garlic and onions. Leeks have a milder taste than onion. They are also one of the top most potent inhibitors of cancer growth (stomach, brain, kidney, pancreatic cancers), along with the rest of the allium family.

http://growyourownhealth.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/anticancer.pdf

Finally, potatoes aren’t very nutritious, but you can add them for the taste and the familiarity. Or you can choose to omit them and add another head of cauliflower. If omitting the potatoes, another delicious option is to add a can of coconut milk to the soup instead of 1 of the cups of water; coconut milk makes the soup sweeter and a bit fattier.

Almond milk adds protein, and if buying from a store, is usually fortified with calcium, Vitamin D, and Vitamin B12.

Prep time: 15-20 minutes  Cook time: 1:15 total  Serves: 8

Ingredients:

2 medium to large leeks – chop them into small pieces

1-2 heads of cauliflower – chopped into small pieces

3 Yukon Gold potatoes (optional) – mostly peeled, chopped into small pieces

4 tablespoons extra virgin first cold press olive oil

2 tablespoons vegan butter

4 cups of water and 1 vegan bouillon cube or 4 cups of vegetable broth (if doing the coconut milk option, 1 can of coconut milk and 3 cups of water or vegetable broth)

2 cups non-sweetened, non-flavor-added almond milk

Herbs: 2 teaspoons each of tarragon, thyme, and parsley

Salt: 2 teaspoons or to taste

Pepper: 1 teaspoon or to taste

Directions:

Put a large saucepan on the stove over low to medium heat. Add 4 tablespoons olive oil and leeks. Saute for 10-15 minutes, until leeks get soft.

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Add the cauliflower and saute an additional 5 minutes. Now add the potatoes, water, almond milk, bouillon, herbs, and vegan butter (or coconut milk, if using that) and bring to a boil.

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Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30-45 minutes, or until the cauliflowers and potatoes soften. Stir intermittently, every 10 minutes or so. Take off the heat and allow to cool. In batches, put soup into blender and liquefy. Add salt and pepper to taste.  You can add a bit of parsley on top to make it pretty.

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Thank you to www.nutritionfacts.org for the nutrition information!