Adventures in Quinoa

gluten-free, dairy-free, mostly sugar-free apple crisp dessert recipe

Somehow my busy weekend managed to feel slow-paced, which brought some much needed de-stressing to stop my lungs from attempting to squeeze my sternum right out of my body (…too graphic?). After some sunny, windows-down drives listening to my 90’s Pop Pandora station and admiring the buildings through downtown Dallas, I settled in for another one of my favorite stress-busting activities – baking. I put in a DVD from The OC: Season 1 and got to work.

While apple crisp is commonly a fall dessert, the lemons in this recipe make this a refreshing dish. Plus the fact that it’s gluten-free, dairy-free and sugar-free (okay, so there’s maybe just a tiny bit of optional honey) make it a light treat that also happens to be relatively healthy.

healthy, vegan apple crisp dessert

Ingredients

  • 2 granny smith apples
  • 2 small lemons
  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 1 cup of water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup gluten-free flour (Ex: Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour)
  • Cinnamon, nutmeg and salt
  • Oil spray

Quinoa

Combine rinsed quinoa with the water, vanilla, honey, one squeezed lemon juice, its lemon zest, olive oil and a dash or two of cinnamon. Bring to boil, cover and reduce to simmer. After 15-20 minutes, test-fluff the quinoa. If it’s still a little wet / clumpy, just recover, turn to low and let sit until dry. When ready, turn off stove and leave covered.

healthy dessert recipe

Prep

Very lightly coat pan with oil spray. Peel apples (I only partially peeled mine to get a little mixed texture from the apple skin). Thinly slice apples – the thinner, the easier they’ll cook through. Fill the pan halfway.

Dust with a handful of flour then with nutmeg and cinnamon to taste. Squeeze a little of the second lemon and sprinkle a pinch of salt over the apples.

Mix cooked quinoa with flour then sprinkle the mixture evenly until all apples are covered. Spray one light coat of oil over the top.

Bake

350 degrees until top is crispy and edges are starting to brown (25-35 minutes).

healthy apple crisp recipe

Enjoy!

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Pouuur some sugar on me

For the love of all that is splenda, give me SUGAR.

My roommate and I decided to go on a two week, no sugar diet/experiment. We were both just kind of curious to see if we could do it, and if so what it would feel like. Would we be overcome with a new found energy? Would we shed 20 pounds? Would magic fairies raise our metabolism to a point of life-long fat burning power? Could we possibly kick that chocolate craving we have after just about every meal that only increases about one week every SINGLE month? We set out to find out.

sugar

The first few days were painful. Rice Krispie treats, donuts, and chocolate cake were all offered to us within the first 24 hours. Worse is that we both work with a bunch of jokesters who find it highly entertaining to taunt us with Oreos instead of providing carrots. After those first few days however, it wasn’t so bad. We had already decided at the beginning to only cut out added or processed sugar. So fruits, milk, Simply Orange, and whole wheat grains were up for grabs. So we really did have a ton of options, it was just a matter of studying nutrition labels and consulting with Google.

I bought sugar free bread, cinnamon instead of brown sugar for my oatmeal, natural/no sugar added pasta sauce, natural peanut butter and jelly, whole wheat pasta, and a bunch of other over priced healthy things. Everything taste pretty much the same. The first week I was supposed to be carb loading for my half marathon that weekend. For me that meant eat pretty much what I usually eat, but I just wouldn’t have to feel as bad  about the copious amounts of pasta I so enjoy. Lunch was also quite difficult. You couldn’t have deli meat, so you either had to make chicken the night before, eat a very plain tuna sandwich or PB&J. I also found, however, that cutting out sugar alternatives, like Splenda, was imperative. Splenda makes you crave sugar. It’s like an endless cycle of fattening. You have the Splenda alternative to satisfy your craving for sugar in a no-cal way, but then a few hours later you’re drooling over some fudge with no idea what happened. To that effect, not eating sugar made me crave sugar less. This was a much healthier and happier endless cycle that I would much rather be a part of.

Going out to eat was a total pain in the tush, however. EVERYTHING is terrible for you. It took me 17 minutes to find something at Panera that wouldn’t break my new diet. I managed to avoid going out to dinner, and for the best. No one likes being that person at the table listing off all the things they don’t want on their plate. “Yes I’ll have the cheese burger. But with no bun, ketchup, mustard, and french fries. Oh and is your cheese all natural?” At holiday parties you had to turn down offers for dessert, and try your best not to offend. Especially when you’d be forced to explain why you are turning down a perfectly good piece of birthday cake and suffer through a 20-questions interview on “why the hell are you doing this?”

All in all. I highly recommend the experiment. I felt great. I think this is largely thanks to a lack of guilt. When you get to bed that night you feel good about every food decision you made ( except when we were offered chips and queso, both naturally sugar free. We went to TOWN on those ). That’s not easy feeling to come by as a girl. The downside of it all was the Monday-post experiment. Donuts, Rice Krispie treat and a Sprinkles cupcakes for dinner? Don’t mind if I do. As a result of two days of complete binge sugar eating, I’ve taken the experiment up again, but a little more laid back. I want to cut desserts out from my daily diet and save the calories for special occasions where I won’t feel guilty about having a slice of delicious, specially made, birthday cake. I think it is often easier to cut things out completely, than it is to eat in moderation. It stops that “oh I’ll just have one. Okay and maybe another. And I mean I worked out this morning so…” This next experiment will also be playing perfectly into my new post-half marathon work out routine that incorporates weights, hot yoga and less running. Let’s just hope this doesn’t fade faster than last year’s “Do 50 sit ups everyday” resolution. I like to think of this as less of a resolution, and more of a lifestyle change. If I’m going to Find Tiffanys in 2013, I want to do it looking and feeling great.

Images (sugar)