Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Not-Beef Ground Beef

We're on a health-kick here, and I think we might stay this way... I promise I haven't gone nuts!

For the past couple years, Shaune and I have skipped meat for a week or so at a time, in the interest of trying out new veggie and grain based recipes. It's never lasted more than a week. So far in 2012 though, we're on our 4th week of "part time vegetarianism." We're still eating meat on the weekends. But all week, it's a medley of veggie goodness.

One of the things we're working on adding is more whole grains. A personal favorite is called quiona. It's an ancient grain, a super food, one of the most complete proteins available in a plant, and downright tasty when cooked right (It's also terrible when cooked wrong but that's a different story). Quinoa is awful healthy, too. It has an interesting chewy texture that reminds me a lot of ground beef. So lately, we've been subbing it in to our favorite ground beef recipes.

Quinoa Meat Substitute:

Saute one diced red onion in a pat of butter. While that cooks, RINSE THE QUINOA (about 1 cup)! This is critical because it is coated with something called saponin, which tastes yucky. Once rinsed, add it to the onions, then top off with water (2 cups ish, just like rice). Bring to a boil, then simmer covered for about 15 minutes. You'll see the little white tails starting to separate. Sidenote: most packages say to cook for 30min. This is way too long and will result in mush rather than bliss. You'll know it's done by tasting a few grains - they should "pop" in your mouth. Underdone quinoa has a firm center.

Although it has an excellent taste and texture as is, we like to build from there - black beans are our favorite stir-in. I make up a batch of beans in the crock pot once a week and toss it into meals as I go so I can't tell you how many that is. Probably about a can's worth if you use them (rather than cooking from dry). We mostly use it in Mexican recipes. Just stir in a little taco seasoning and some water to the mixture. Not too much water! Simmer it together just for a couple minutes but not so long the quinoa gets mushy. I use that on nachos, in tacos, and tonight as filling for enchiladas. It's Shaune's favorite meal!

I'd love to hear from you! What fun grains and veggies have you discovered lately?


Sarah Jane said...

Thanks for sharing this! I have been reading a lot about quinoa lately although I have not tried it yet. I signed up a few years ago to be part of the Calorie Count site and read about it so often. . .it does sound like an amazing grain! Where do you get yours? I doubt David would go for it - at least at first - but I could definitely try your yummy sounding recipe for me and the boys during lunch! What a powerful protein punch! Good for little developing bodies and minds!

Jenny P. said...

I love love love quinoa. I buy mine at a couple different places. County Market grocery stores in town have it in their bulk bins where you can buy it by the pound. Most (here in Springfield at least) also have it in packages, often tucked with international foods, couscous, risotto rice, and that kind of thing. I've also recently discovered an awesome natural-foods grocery. It's very small, but they have great bulk bins with multiple colors of quinoa! Each tastes a little different. Good luck finding it!

Gillian said...

My mum puts quinoa in soups and things, but it hadn't occurred to me to try it as a meat substitute. Clever! I make sloppy joes sometimes with a mixture of ground turkey and cooked lentils - the texture is similar and I actually like the taste better than pure meat. I've also been putting grated zucchini into my fruit smoothies - you can't taste it and it's a good way to sneak some veggies in there :-)