Tag Archives: quinoa

Fighting Breast Cancer One Meal at a Time: Cooking Class and Recipes

In the  8 years that I have been teaching cooking classes I have gotten to know my students (who are mainly women) very well. I have a regular following, and even have  some students who have attended almost each and every class I have taught.  When you see people on such a regular basis, you learn more and more about them, and you start to become friends.

Over the years, some of these friends have been diagnosed with breast cancer. There have been missed cooking classes where they just weren’t up to eating because their taste buds were off, or because they just didn’t feel well, and cooking classes where they walked in with  pretty pink scarves on their heads and a smile on their face. There are some that won their battle, and some who did not. All faced their breast cancer with a tremendous amount of courage and strength that  I can only try to get my arms around.

October is breast cancer awareness month,  and last night I had the pleasure of teaching a different kind of cooking class to a room full of  65 women currently fighting breast cancer, and women who are breast cancer survivors. The topic for the evening was focused on nutrition Fighting Breast Cancer One Meal at a Time.

Melissa Jones Snader, RD led the presentation with a detailed look at what foods provide the best nutrition/cancer-fighting nutrients, and which foods and drinks should be avoided. When you look at the statistics, and learn that 30% of all cancers are related to diet, “you are what you eat” takes on a whole new meaning.

Next, it as my turn to take all of that nutritional  information, and apply it using real recipes that the audience could make at home.  For those who don’t do much cooking, and/or haven’t eaten with the nutritional rainbow in mind, trying to figure out  how to cook  can be overwhelming.

I talked to my audience about ways they could ensure a healthy way of eating: Setting time aside 1 day a week  to put together a meal plan  that included nutrient rich foods, shopping ahead and making sure you have healthy foods  at-the ready for times they wanted a snack or quick meal. I talked about ways to incorporate things like a sprinkle of flax seeds here and there, adding applesauce to baked goods in place of fat, and about eating plant based protein as an alternative to an animal source.

This led me to my  quinoa salad, loaded with all kinds of good things, like fresh kale, apples, toasted almonds, dried cranberries, and goat cheese.  Samples of the salad were passed to the guests, and it was rewarding to hear that everyone thought this good-for-you salad was delicious.

Quinoa Salad with Kale, Apples, Almonds, and Goat Cheese


1/2 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons minced shallots

2 teaspoons honey

2 tablespoons raspberry balsamic vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Zest from one orange

3/4 cup olive oil

Whisk all dressing ingredients together in a medium bowl until well blended.


1 1/2 cups quinoa, rinsed

1 1/4 cups water

1/2 cup dried cranberries

2 medium apples, quartered, cored, and sliced into 1-inch-pieces

1/2 cup toasted slivered almonds

3-4 large kale leaves, center rib removed, thinly sliced

1 cup crumbled goat cheese

In a medium saucepan combine quinoa and water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat. Simmer, covered, about 12- 15 minutes or until liquid is completely absorbed.

Transfer quinoa and all other salad ingredients to a large  bowl along with the dressing. Toss well, thoroughly combining ingredients. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper.

2-4 entree servings

6-8 side servings

For a healthier sweet option, I put together some gluten-free pumpkin muffins. The muffins may be frozen, and pulled out of the freezer when you need a snack, quick breakfast, or even dessert.

Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

1 1/4 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup tapioca flour

1/4 cup potato starch

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1 Tablespoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

2 large eggs

1/2 cup milk (or rice milk)

1/3 cup apple sauce

1 cup canned pumpkin

1/2 cup light brown sugar


2 tablespoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

In a medium bowl, mix flours, ground flax seeds, xanthan gum, baking soda, salt and spices.

In a large bowl, mix eggs, milk, apple sauce, pumpkin, and brown sugar.

Stir the dry ingredients into the wet mixture. Mix everything together until it is just combined.

Pour the mix into greased or lined muffin cups.

Mix sugar and cinnamon together and sprinkle on top of muffins.

Bake at 400 degrees for 20 – 25 minutes (12 minutes for mini muffins), or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

Makes 12 muffins (or) 40 mini muffins

I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of the Pink Mondays series, and hope my recipes will inspire these fine ladies to go forward in their  kitchens with colorful, healthy foods in their own everyday cooking.

If you know someone who is a breast cancer survivor, or currently in treatment, I hope you will share these recipes with them too.


Farmer’s Market Quinoa Salad Recipe and a Dinner Party on the Lake




My cooking classes are on hiatus until fall, and in the meantime I have been enjoying time with my family here in the Adirondacks at our annual gathering during  the month of July.
There’s not a whole heck of a lot going on up here, but that’s exactly what I love about it and look forward to returning to each year. I’ve been doing a lot of hiking, kayaking, and just sitting on the dock listening to the loons.
While we are up here I also look forward to catching up with friends (who also return to this place each year) from neighboring homes around the lake.
Last night we had the opportunity to do just that.  We attended a dinner party hosted by two gentlemen in their beautifully restored historic home on Mountain Lake.
The theme was casual gourmet barbecue that focused on fresh local ingredients. We all prepared something to contribute to the meal, and served everything buffet style. I love this style of entertaining, as it  makes the guests feel right at home and comfortable, and also frees up the hosts’ time so they can spend time visiting with their friends.

We started the evening with wine and some fine New York dairy cheeses and artisan sausages, along with a savory pastry hors d’oeuvre. I don’t know about you, but when you have some really good cheese on the table and a glass of wine, it’s hard to think about moving on to eat anything else. If we had stopped there, it would have been okay with me.
But we did continue on, and  the buffet table was set with gourmet burgers filled with blue cheese and mushrooms, and some amazing homemade bratwurst from the grill, along with some fresh  salads.

Dessert had been assigned to one of our friends who also happens to be a pastry chef, so when that is the case, you always save room…and boy was I glad I did! He brought a lovely coconut cake and bread pudding, both of which were delicious!
We enjoyed such a nice evening talking and laughing. It was the kind of evening you just want to do over~great food, fun people, and a beautiful setting.


I was assigned to bring a salad, and after a visit to   a nearby farmer’s market, I decided to make a salad with a blend of everything I picked up.. I knew I wouldn’t find quinoa up here in the mountains, so I brought some along with other hard to find items in my travel kitchen box.

Here is a look at the salad and a recipe for you:


                               Farmer’s Market Quinoa Salad with Lemon Basil Vinaigrette


Zest and juice of 3 lemons

1 tablespoon minced shallots

2 cloves minced garlic

1 1/2 cups basil leaves, cut into chiffonade

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

Whisk lemon zest/juice and next 7 ingredients together in a medium bowl. Gradually whisk in olive oil. Set aside until ready to toss salad.


2 cups quinoa

4 cups water

3 small zucchini, ends trimmed, sliced lengthwise into 1/2-inch-thick slices

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Salt and pepper

3 ears fresh corn kernels, cooked

2 large tomatoes, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)

5 ounces baby arugula, sliced into a chiffonade

4 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

Heat water to boil. Add quinoa, cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes until done. Transfer quinoa to a large bowl to cool. Meanwhile, heat grill to medium high. Brush both sides of zucchini with oilve oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill 3 minutes per side and transfer to a cutting board. Cut grilled zucchini into 1/2-inch slices and add to bowl with cooled quinoa. Add remaining salad ingredients to bowl and toss with salad dressing.

8 servings


Mother’s Day Oven Baked French Toast: A Recipe Your Kids Can Make

When Virigina This Morning asked me to do a cooking segment for Mother’s Day, I knew I wanted to demonstrate a quick, easy recipe that kids of all ages could make themselves, or with a little help from their dad.

I talked with some of my friends, and sent out some tweets asking what they would like their child (or children) to make them on Mother’s Day. Given the choice of breakfast, dinner, or a special cake, breakfast won by a landslide. One person voted for a Mojito, but that wasn’t in my line up, and I don’t think it would go over very well on TV…maybe dad can take care of that one.

So breakfast it is!

I have a recipe for baked french toast (caserole style), which I have lightened up, replacing cream for low fat milk, and using a combination of eggs and egg whites. I am also using a whole grain or whole wheat bread in the recipe. In this case, I used protein packed quinoa bread that I picked up from Whole Foods. Add toasted almonds and fresh berries and you are letting mom know she is very special to you, and you are going to show her by making her a healthy, delicious breakfast.

Want to know something even better about this baked  french toast? It is assembled the night before and popped in the oven on Mother’s Day morning.

The aroma of cinnamon and nutmeg will fill your house, and the accomplished smiles on your child’s (children’s) face(s) as you take your first bite, will fill your heart. To me, that’s what being a mom is all about.

Happy Mother’s Day to all of you moms out there!

Here is the cooking segment clip from the show, as well as the recipe for you to print and pass along to the little cooks in your home.

1 whole-wheat baguette (13-16 ounces) – cut into 1-inch cubes

8 large eggs

8 large egg whites

2 cups lowfat milk

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1 cup toasted sliced almonds

1/4 cup dark brown sugar

1/2 cup raspberries

1/2 cup blackberries

1 cup strawberries

Spray a 9×13 baking pan  with cooking spray.

Place the bread cubes in a single layer in the baking pan.

In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and egg whites with the milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and maple syrup. Pour this mixture over the bread in the pan. Sprinkle with the almonds and brown sugar. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight (at least 4 hours).

Bake for 40 to 50 minutes in an oven preheated to 350 degrees.

Spoon onto plates and top with fresh berries.

6 servings