Portion control and mindful eating go hand in hand. This isn’t new knowledge— it’s intuitive that if you control how much you eat and make sure you’re eating well, the end product would be a healthier human. However, this also means cutting down on the food you love and more importantly rethinking what binging means to you. Since May of last year, food has been on my mind all the time. Not only do I think about the things to cook, but also how to be mindful about the things I eat. I realized that the only way to do both would be to focus on eating well through the week and portion two meals on the weekend for experimenting with new foods that may not be as healthy. This would be reduced to one meal, if I chose to have alcohol on any day. Sounds morbid? It wasn’t that hard because the results of my workout and nutrition were very evident which became the constant motivation.
At first, my cheat meals were all pasta. I would make pesto, carbonara, and lamb meatballs with marinara and didn’t skimp on the fat. I craved fat and flavor so much that these meals became my form of teenage retaliation to the mindfulness of my other meals. But as the weight kept dropping and my palate became accustomed to the daily eggs, kala chana, and boiled chicken salads, pasta started feeling a lot more heavy. It felt like I was giving up a lot just to eat pesto for a night. I know, I was pretty surprised by this realization as well. I looked for other ways to feed my carb cravings.
From pastas, I started marinating meats. I made my lemon garlic chicken, and fusion tacos. While I don’t like soups I made pho. For weeks where, I could afford to have more sugar, I made brownies and galettes. And then when I wanted to add more fat I made their coconut based curries. Quinoa slowly became another form of energy while cheating on my diet.
Quinoa, for the unacquainted is a seed indigenous of South America that took the superfood market by a storm. While we eat it as a grain, they’re actually tiny seeds. Cooking them takes time, almost an hour in boiling water and about 20 minutes in a pressure cooker which is unheard of if you think of grains like basmati rice and its different brothers and sisters. When cooked, quinoa fluffs up. It turns light brown, almost beige with a white germinating stem that sits on the side of the nutty grain. Cooked quinoa soaks water and turns into a delicate bubble, akin to tiny caviar sans the salty flavor.
There are two amazing quinoa recipes on the blog already, a shrimp quinoa bowl, and a recipe for fritters served best with a sour yogurt dip. A missing component to the quinoa range of recipes was something sweet (and possibly, something for breakfast). Enter, a quinoa oatmeal granola, perfect with some yogurt, parfait, milk, or as my mom loves to eat it— as croutons for salad. Baking quinoa is a whole new experience. Instead of becoming nutty, it turns hard like mustard seeds but almost flavorless. Its basically all texture. It helps hold the accompaniments together and help them build flavor. Essentially, this granola is purely flavored with the baked, scorched almonds and pure maple syrup. What you end up with is a filling meal full of almonds and a caramel-like sweetness. Give this carb-full yet kind of sort of healthy meal a try!
My Quinoa Recipes at a Glance
Quinoa has been one of the first ingredients that helped along my mindful eating journey since I’ve been back from college. It packs protein and the right amount of carbs to make it a fairly good replacement to rice. This shrimp quinoa bowl with battered shrimp and grilled veggies is a perfect meal with the right amount of flavor, texture, color, and maybe (just, maybe) carbs. Recipe link in the bio 💫
1 cup Oats
1/2 cup uncooked Quinoa
2 cups raw almonds (roughly chopped)
1 pinch sea salt
3 1/2 Tbsp coconut oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
Preheat oven to 170 degrees Celsius
Add oats, quinoa, almonds, and salt to a large mixing bowl - stir to combine.
To a small saucepan, add coconut oil and maple syrup. Warm over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, whisking frequently until the two are totally combined and there is no visible separation.
Immediately pour over the dry ingredients and stir to combine until all oats and nuts are thoroughly coated. Arrange on a large baking sheet and spread into an even layer.
Bake for 20 minutes. Then remove from oven and stir/toss the granola. Turn the pan around so the other end goes into the oven first (so it bakes evenly) and bake 5-10 minutes more. Watch carefully as to not burn. You'll know it's done when the granola is deep golden brown and very fragrant.
Let cool completely before enjoying. Store leftovers in a sealed bag or container at room temperature for 2 weeks or in the freezer for up to 1 month.