Curried Quinoa Cakes

Curried quinoa cakes with roasted red pepper sauce and sweet potato mash.
Curried quinoa cakes with roasted red pepper sauce and sweet potato mash.

Our family has always tried to eat vegetarian at least one day per week. It wasn’t what many call Meatless Monday because in our house it was typically a Tuesday night, but it was almost always some kind of pasta dish. My kids aren’t big vegetable fans but that is slowly changing, and partly in an effort to encourage them, I’ve recently committed to trying a vegetarian diet through the week. I’m hopeful that by setting an example and eating a variety of vegetables in different ways, it will make them willing to try vegetables a little more often.

Last night’s vegetarian dinner was curried quinoa cakes on sweet potato mash, topped with a roasted red pepper sauce. I looked at a few different quinoa cake recipes but inspired by my love of curry, I finally decided to try an adapted version of this one from Vegetarian Times. I made a few changes to make it gluten-free, account for food allergies, and to customize it to our tastes. In the end, even my meat-and-potatoes husband liked them. In fact, I loved them so much, I crumbled half of one cake into my egg white omelette this morning and it was a fabulous savoury start to my day.

CURRIED QUINOA CAKES

makes 6 cakes

1 large egg

2 Tbsp brown rice flour

1 1/2 tsp almond butter

1 1/2 tsp apple cider vinegar

1 1/2 cups cooked quinoa, cooled

1/2 cup grated sweet potato

3/4 cup frozen spinach, thawed and well-drained

1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1/4 cup chopped cashews

3 Tbsp finely chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 Tbsp curry powder

Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine egg, flour, almond butter, and vinegar. Add all remaining ingredients and mix well. Shape into 6 cakes and bake 25 minutes, turning them over once during the cooking process, or until lightly browned.

Optional: Serve with roasted red pepper sauce. I chose to roast my own peppers on the BBQ last night rather than use a jarred product. I used two large peppers: preheat BBQ to high. Place clean, dry peppers directly on grill and cook until skin blisters and chars, turning peppers frequently to ensure they are evenly grilled. Remove them from the grill, and place in a bowl covered with plastic wrap while you prepare the rest of the recipe (10 to 15 minutes). This will help loosen the skin. Peel skin from peppers. Cut peppers in half to core and remove seeds. Chop peppers and proceed with original recipe.

Roasted red peppers on the grill
Roasted red peppers on the grill

Add Flavour, Not Fat

So many people think switching to a healthy diet means giving up flavour: losing those rich creamy sauces we all love, and giving up gravies and condiments of every kind for flavourless, dry meals. That was certainly the first thought I had after learning I had food allergies and medical conditions that meant I would need to change both my diet and my lifestyle. It is simply not true. There are many ways we can bring flavour to our food without using a thick, heavy sauce and therefore keep a lot of the fat off our plate.

Leave the rotisserie chicken at the deli and use your slow cooker and a wet rub to create your own flavourful chicken at home.
Leave the rotisserie chicken at the deli and use your slow cooker and a wet rub to create your own flavourful chicken at home.

Listed below are just a few ways you can add flavour to your meals at home, so leave off the heavy sauce next time and try some of these.

1)      Pesto – Traditionally made with basil, olive oil, pine nuts and parmesan cheese, there are many variations to enjoy. Try switching out the pine nuts for another nut (our favourite is walnut), or try a spinach pesto. Use pesto tossed with pasta or grilled vegetables, spread on top of meats or fish when grilling, spread on a sandwich, or used on a pizza crust in place of pizza sauce.

2)      Marinades – These are a great way to add flavour to meat without the use of a heavy sauce. You can prepare many marinades ahead: place the meat and marinade in a Ziploc bag and freeze for use later. When you are ready to cook the meat, thaw the meat in your refrigerator. The meat will soak up the flavour from the marinade as it thaws.

3)      Seasoned oils – use fresh herbs in olive oil to add flavour to your choice of meat just before serving. Garlic, rosemary and sage add a flavourful punch to olive oil. For example, roast chicken breasts in the oven until cooked, transfer to a plate with approximately ¼ cup seasoned olive oil, and let rest for 10 minutes before serving, turning the chicken in the oil every few minutes.

4)      Rubs – You can use either a wet or dry spice rub on your favourite cut of meat or fish prior to cooking. There are countless numbers of rubs out there to add just about any flavour profile to your meal: BBQ, Indian, Korean, and more. A wet rub uses a small amount of liquid to form a paste which is then rubbed on the meat or fish. I use my favourite dry rub, and add 1 or 2 tbsp of olive oil but you can use any number of different liquids. Dry rubs are also great when sprinkled on oven-roasted potatoes or home fries.

EASY SLOW COOKER CHICKEN

This recipe uses your favourite spice rub on a whole chicken to bring a juicy and flavourful chicken to your dinner table without a lot of effort. It’s so easy and delicious in fact, I promise it will quickly take the place of one of those rotisserie chickens from your local grocery store deli on your dinner table.

4 tbsp of your favourite dry rub

1-2 tbsp olive oil (you can use water or another liquid of your choice)

1 whole chicken, rinsed and patted dry

Put the dry rub in a small bowl. Add the olive oil 1 tbsp at a time to form a thick paste. Rub the paste all over the chicken. Place the chicken in the slow cooker and cook on low 6-8 hours or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.