I’ll be heading to Philadelphia later this month to attend my first food blogging conference, Eat Write Retreat. Everyone who signed up was sent a selection of OXO tools and one of the following ingredients to use in an Amazing Apps Challenge: California Raisins, US Potatoes, California Ripe Olives or California Figs. The Grillmaster was thrilled to learn I received one bag of dried Mission Figs and one bag of dried Golden Figs. I was thrilled to learned that 3 to 5 dried figs provide 20% of your recommended daily value of fiber, 7% of potassium and 6% of calcium! Who knew that figs contain calcium?
Lately, I’ve been thinking about combining quinoa or couscous with figs and herbs to make a nice side dish. I began to wonder if I could somehow use this combination to make an amazing appetizer. Then I remembered those Salmon Quinoa Patties and thought about making bite-sized fig quinoa patties. As I wandered through one of my local farmers’ markets, I spied some spreadable fig and honey goat cheese. It occurred to me that goat cheese would be the perfect creamy addition to my crisp patties.
While prepping everything and sampling many of the figs for research purposes, I decided that ball-shaped appetizers would work better than patties as finger food.
And may I just say that the California Figs are the best dried figs I’ve ever had. When I was experimenting with making Fig Butter a while back, the dried figs offered by my local market were less than optimal and I decided that fresh figs were the only way to go. The California Figs are so plump and juicy, I’m going to try the fig butter again with their dried figs. Hey, how great would that be served alongside these Fig Quinoa Bites? Yum!
Disclaimer: I received a fig gift box from California Figs and a set of kitchen tools from OXO. All opinions are my own.
Fig Quinoa Bites
1 cup cooked quinoa, cooled
1 teaspoon fresh lemon thyme or thyme leaves, minced
1 teaspoon fresh parsley, minced
1 ounce fresh goat cheese, crumbled or grated with the OXO coarse grater
3-4 dried Mission Figs from California Figs (about 1/4 cup), chopped
3-4 dried Golden Figs from California Figs (about 1/4 cup), chopped
1 cup Panko bread crumbs, divided
nonstick cooking spray
In a large bowl, combine quinoa, egg, thyme, parsley, goat cheese, figs and 1/2 cup Panko. Mix well. Cover and place in refrigerator until thoroughly chilled, at least 2 hours.
Place an oven-safe cooling rack on a baking sheet and preheat the oven to 375°F. Pour remaining 1/2 cup Panko onto small plate.
Take about a tablespoon of the quinoa mixture and roll it into a ball. Roll the ball lightly in Panko and place it on the rack. Repeat with remaining mixture. (You should end up with about 16 balls.) Spray balls lightly with nonstick cooking spray.
Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown and hot all the way through. You may want to rotate the pan after about 8 minutes to ensure even browning.
Makes 8 servings
Per serving (2 balls): 91 calories, 2g fat (1g sat), 29mg cholesterol, 48mg sodium, 15g carb, 2g fiber, 4g sugar, 4g protein
Nutritional Analysis: These Fig Quinoa Bites are low in Sodium and they are a good source of Manganese. (Source: nutritiondata.com) If you are watching your Cholesterol intake, you may want to use 1/4 cup egg substitute or 2 egg whites instead of the egg.
I had a birthday last month and The Grillmaster surprised me with a Vitamix blender. These things are crazy expensive, but I was amazed by everything it claimed to be capable of doing. You can even make soup in it – the heat from the motor warms the soup. I haven’t actually tried this yet, but I will soon.
Needless to say, we’ve been in smoothie heaven. We’ve made green smoothies, fruit smoothies and salad smoothies. You name it, we’ve probably tried it. This papaya smoothie is one of our favorite combinations so far. It’s the perfect thing to have about an hour before a workout. If the amount contains too many carbs for you, reduce the portion size.
If you don’t have a Vitamix, you can still make this smoothie if you have a blender capable of crushing ice. You may need to cut the fruit in smaller pieces and crush your ice some first. Refer to the instructions that came with your blender.
1 banana, peeled and cut in half
1/3 large papaya, peeled and cut into large chunks
1 orange, peeled and cut in half
1 apple, cored and cut in half
1 cup ice
Add all ingredients to Vitamix container in the order listed. Use the “Smoothie” setting and wait until machine stops. Pour into glasses and serve immediately.
Makes 2 servings
Per serving: 163 calories, 1g fat (0g sat), 0mg cholesterol, 3mg sodium, 42g carb, 7g fiber, 28g sugar, 2g protein
Nutritional Analysis: This smoothie is very low in Saturated Fat, Cholesterol and Sodium and it is a good source of Vitamin C, Dietary Fiber, Vitamin A, Vitamin B6 and Potassium. (Source: nutritiondata.com)
I won’t bore you with a long explanation about why I haven’t been blogging much lately. Suffice it to say that I’ve been busy unpacking, reading a lot about new ways to eat healthy and exploring Chapel Hill, NC where I now live. The farmers’ markets around here are just incredible!
When I stumbled upon rainbow Swiss chard and Lacinato kale at one market, I decided to try a twist on baked beans. Most baked bean recipes include brown sugar and are overly sweet. This savory version includes greens, tomatoes and fresh herbs instead.
Use whatever beans you have on hand – I used a combination of pink beans, pinto beans and cannellini beans. Use three cans, rinse two and include the liquid from the third. Better yet, soak and cook dried beans and use a little bit of the cooking liquid.
These beans and greens really pack a nutritional punch. They are low in cholesterol and saturated fat, but high in fiber, vitamins and minerals.
Baked Beans with Swiss Chard and Kale
Adapted from Food Network Magazine
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1/4 large onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 bunch of Swiss chard, stems/ribs removed and leaves chopped
1/2 bunch of kale, stems/ribs removed and leaves chopped
1/4 cup water
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (15 ounce) can pink beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
1 (15 ounce) can cannellini beans, undrained
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
leaves from a 6-inch sprig of thyme or lemon thyme, chopped
leaves from a 6-inch spring of fresh oregano, chopped
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot and garlic. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables have softened, about 10 minutes.
Add the chard, kale and water to the pan. Cook and stir until the greens wilt, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and increase heat. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Add the beans and stir. Add the parsley, thyme and oregano and stir. Simmer for another 3 minutes or so.
Preheat oven to 375°F.
Coarsely mash about one-third of the beans in the pot with a potato masher. Season with salt. Transfer the bean mixture to a 2 quart baking dish, cover and place in preheated oven. Bake 45 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 15 minutes.
Makes 8 servings
Per serving: 225 calories, 3g fat (0g sat), 0mg cholesterol, 324mg sodium, 40g carb, 9g fiber, 3g sugar, 13g protein
Nutritional Analysis: This bean dish is low in Cholesterol and Saturated Fat. It is also a good source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Manganese, Dietary Fiber, Protein, Folate, Iron, Magnesium, Potassium and Copper. (Source: nutritiondata.com)