October 23: Inca Red Quinoa

A must try if you like quinoa!

Since I cooked a pot of Inca Red quinoa on Sunday for dinner, I have been raving about it to all my co-workers. I am a huge fan of quinoa in general because it’s quick and easy to prepare, it’s a great source of whole grains and protein, and it’s affordable. The only downside of quinoa to me is that it’s rather bland. I definitely have to add either salt or some chicken bouillon to boost the flavor. Well, I happened up a box of Inca Red quinoa while roaming the natural food aisles in Kroger on Sunday morning. Ancient Harvest brand quinoa was on sale for the same price Wal-mart carries it. The Wal-mart in my town only carries the regular variety of quinoa (if I can even say that), so I was pleased to see the Inca Red heirloom brand.

Inca Red cooks the same exact way as the regular variety: boil 2 cups of water and toss in 1 cup of quinoa, reduce to simmer, and cook until the water is absorbed or evaporated. Oh.but.the.flavor! I love it! Inca Red has a nutty flavor and a firmer texture than regular quinoa. The taste and texture reminds me of tabbouleh, only better. I can eat Inca Red by itself whereas I feel with the regular variety, I at least need to throw some vegetables on top to make it more palatable.

I am definitely going back to Kroger this weekend to stock up on Inca Red before the sale price expires. It’s $4 a box good, but not $6 a box good! I’m trying to keep my food costs down, especially since I developed a taste for expensive Fage yogurt, so quinoa will provide an excellent source of protein to go with roasted veggies and bean soups.  I might even mix up some quinoa salad with the Inca Red to see how I like it!

In random updates, I am all about roasted carrots, onions, and sweet potatoes. I prepared some to accompany the Inca Red quinoa and baked Honeysuckle turkey loins. I’ve been bringing leftovers as lunch and the meal is so filling that I can get by on a light snack for dinner, well as long as I don’t workout after work. I just can’t say enough good things about Inca Red quinoa. If you like quinoa, you have to try it!

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October 14: A tea exchange at work

Well, it’s a brilliant display of reds, yellows, and golds as the leaves on campus change here in southwest Ohio. I do love this time of year! Along with the fall foliage spectacle comes cooler weather, which for me means tea time! Unless I am sick, I rarely drink tea when there isn’t a chill in the air.

I recently started a little tea exchange with graduate students in the research group. We bring tea bags in for others to try. In the last two weeks, I’ve tried Stash moroccan mint green tea, Tazo blueberry cranberry white tea, Yogi bedtime, Yogi green tea energy, and Kroger Private Selection pomegranate white tea.

I love having a tea exchange because not only is it great to have a shared interest with co-workers, but I can try teas risk free. It’s nothing worse than standing in front of 50-75 varieties of tea and unsure of committing to 15-20 bags! I discovered that I like white tea. The blueberry cranberry smelled heavenly in the bag, though I was disappointed that the flavor was not robust once brewed. The pomegranate tea was very robust, however. I will definitely buy some on my next shopping trip. I also enjoyed the Yogi teas. That’s not too surprising, as I like most of their blends. The bedtime tea reminded me of a sweet chamomile. The green tea was not as edgy as more traditional green teas, which perhaps explains why I enjoyed it. I avoid green teas like the plague unless they are blended with other herbs or spices.

In exchange for my  teas, I shared Kroger Private Selection sweet cinnamon spice herbal tea, KPS passion fruit and papaya black tea, KPS lemon ginseng green tea, and Yogi Egyptian licorice. I’ve written about the others in the tea medly post earlier this year. The sweet cinnamon spice is a new addition since I consumed all my KPS brand teas. I love, love, love the sweet cinnamon spice. If you’re not a cinnamon fan, this is definitely not the tea for you. It’s a robust cinnamon aroma and flavor. It has a bite at first then mellows into sweet mintiness. I don’t know if the tea is caffeinated or just addictively good lol. I need an IV of this stuff!

I’m looking forward to holiday flavored teas and tasting new, exciting flavors that co-workers share.

 

September 14: Bear Naked Granola Protein with Fage Greek yogurt

The best damn granola, period!

Well, I’m still alive! I haven’t been trying nearly as many new things this summer. But I tried Bear Naked granola with added protein today with my Fage Greek yogurt (also a new thing from back in the summer that I never wrote about…or probably didn’t if my memory serves me correctly). So we will do a combo.

First, I started regularly eating yogurt again this summer after reading a health news piece on how it helped obese people in a research study lose more weight than a control group who did not consume yogurt regularly. I stopped eating yogurt because of all the added sugars, and since moving from Tucson, I could not find a brand of plain yogurt I enjoyed.

When I started consuming yogurt again, I opted for Dannon Vanilla since I could buy a huge tub of it. Well, then I had a yogurt parfait at a conference in June, and my life has not been the same. No, seriously lol. The parfait had vanilla yogurt, fresh berries, and granola. Not only was the parfait quite tasty, it was also very filling. After the conference, I started adding Kellogg’s granola and chocolate chip morsels (because everything is better with chocolate, right? *smile*) to the Dannon vanilla.

At some point, I jumped on the Greek yogurt bandwagon because it was more protein for my buck. And if I could have less food but with a greater density of slowly digested protein, then that was a win-win for me. With this half-marathon training, I need strong muscles. I heard lots of good reviews about Fage, so I purchased the fat free 33.5 oz tub. It only has four cups and costs $0.191 an ounce at my Kroger and Wal-Mart, but greek yogurt is so thick that I can easily make it 6-8 servings by the time I add fruit, granola and chocolate chips. I love the creamy texture, but even with the chocolate chips, I add a little bit of agave nectar (ran out of honey).

I’ve pretty much eaten a greek yogurt combo every day since the beginning of June. I tried Dannon Oikos greek yogurt, and it’s good, but I prefer Fage. In a tough month, I’ll choose Dannon because I save $1 per 33.5 oz.

Well, forward to today. I ran out of Kellogg’s granola and fully intended to buy another box. The cost is comparable to other Kellogg’s Special K brand cerial, is low in fat, and high in protein. It does have a bit more sodium (130 mg) per half cup serving than I would like, but considering the other pros, it was my choice.

I decided to try Bear Naked granola in the Protein variety because it has the same amount of protein (6g) as Kellogg’s but in half the amount, i.e, a quarter cup. I only eat a quarter cup of Kellogg’s, so I was really consuming 3 g per yogurt. Bear Naked is pretty much awesome. It costs twice as much per ounce as Kellogg’s but it has considerably less sodium (25 mg) and sugars. I already mentioned more protein. And it just tastes real. So, for what I want in a granola, Bear Naked granola is actually as cost effective as Kellogg’s.

I will definitely be buying Bear Naked protein granola from now on. Sadly, Wal-Mart has a better price than buying it in bulk from Amazon or Bear Naked directly. Guess I will stock up there because I cannot do without this brand! Now, if only I can wean myself from the chocolate chips *smile*