Tag Archives: quinoa

“I am Thankful” for Cafe Gratitude

28 Jul

I always try at least one vegan/vegetarian/raw spot whenever I’m in LA. I found Cafe Gratitude through a Google search. It’s on North Larchmont in LA, a short walk from the main part of Larchmont Village which is full of quaint shops, and outdoor dining.

There’s a large outdoor patio where dogs are welcome and treated to a bowl of fresh water upon seating. The scene is very casual, perfect for a low-key brunch or lunch. They serve alcohol too (hallelujah). The menu is partly raw, and partly cooked. Everything is 100% organic and vegan. Produce is from “Be Love Farm”, their farm in Vacaville, CA.

Outdoor Seating area at Cafe Gratitude

Our server, had a huge head of coiled up dreads, and a soft-spoken voice. After Husband and I ordered, she asked “Today’s Question” which was, “What do you love to give?” Of course, you can imagine the Beavis answers THAT conjured. For a second, I stared at her vacantly wondering if I was supposed to answer, and then she was gone, presumably placing our order.

We ordered the “I am Accepting”, ironic considering I wasn’t feeling very “accepting” at the time. Perhaps if I’d eaten two portions I would have felt differently?  Our dishes arrived looking gorgeous with vibrant green kale and sprouts. I felt healthier just looking at it. It just goes to show its the QUALITY of ingredients that really counts. Look at what you can do with amazingly fresh, locally sourced, organic food, and the simplest preparation! This “sushi” bowl even got a thumbs-up from non-vegan Husband.

"I am Accepting" - "Sushi" bowl with raw kale, cucumber, avocado, nori, and fresh herbs, quinoa, spicy wasabi ginger sauce, topped with sprouts and kimchee.

I asked for hot sauce and of course, they make their own. LOVE that!

Cafe Gratitude's Homemade Hot Sauce

I was dying to try one of their smoothies. Despite being full, I couldn’t help myself. The server recommended the “I am Cool” so I got one to-go. And no, I didn’t order it because I just wanted to say that I’m cool. I was impressed how much it reminded me of a mint chocolate chip milk shake. However, the consistency was very thick, almost chunky, with constant hard bits of cacao that had to be chewed. Although I enjoyed the taste, I couldn’t take the consistency for too long and ended up pitching it halfway through.

"I am Cool" smoothie Mint chocolate chip "milkshake" with Vitamineral green and raw cacao

Of course, we couldn’t leave without one last Cafe Gratitude thought-ism. This card arrived clothespinned to our check. We didn’t do it.

Note that came with our check

As we were leaving, I spotted a guy wearing aviators and casual workout gear. It was none other than, Jake Gyllenhaal. He ordered a smoothie (I couldn’t hear which one), hopped back in his Mercedes, shook hands with a fan through his car window, and was off.

Conceptually, I respect and applaud what Cafe Gratitude is doing and wish there were more restaurants that did the same. I’m a fan of any place going against the grain with a new and different experience. However, the way it’s all packaged together was too over-the-top, touchy/feely for my taste. Each dish on the menu is named something like, “I am Extraordinary”, “I am Courageous”, “I am Luscious”, you get the idea. So when you order, you have to say, I’ll have the “I am Accepting” and the “I am Cool”. Not really my cup of tea. I couldn’t buy into but hey, that’s why the world is great right? We don’t all have to like the same things, but I can appreciate that they’re doing something unique.

There’s one thing you can’t argue. The food is fresh, tasty, and I left feeling nourished by a healthful meal. And really, that’s what us Food Buffers care about right? Good food, not trendy scene? And hey, if it’s good enough for Jake, it’s good enough for me.  I’ll definitely be back to try some of the raw food and smoothies. I am Thankful for Cafe Gratitude!

Cafe Gratitude

Casual, vegan, raw, organic

Starters – $6-$12/Entrees – $7-$13/Sides – $1.50-$3.00/Juices & Smoothies – $3.00-$9.00/Desserts – $2.25-$8/Beer & Wine -$5-$9 (glass), $21-$28 (bottle)

639 N Larchmont Blvd, Los Angeles, California 90004

11am – 10pm 7 days/week


Orange Glazed Tempeh Recipe

1 Jul

I had a package of tempeh staring at me all week. I just wasn’t inspired so I kept staring back at it until I stumbled upon this recipe for Orange Glazed Tempeh on 101Cookbooks. It was love at first sight. It doesn’t require long marinating times, or steaming the tempeh before cooking. It tastes like it took hours to make, and it was start to finish, 30 minutes.

The recipe is actually from Australian cookbook author, Jude Blereau‘s book, Coming Home to Eat – Whole Food for the Family. The cookbook doesn’t have US distribution yet (big bummer because I want it), but there’s an abundance of info on healthy eating at site and blog. You can also contact (sales@boffinsbookshop.com.au) and to coordinate an order. Beware, the shipping costs to the US are hefty (about $25).

I paired the tempeh with broccoli and quinoa, but you could easily use any lightly seasoned veggies, brown rice, couscous or even orzo. I made a couple minor tweaks to 101cookbook’s version. Although I don’t eat poultry, this sauce would go well with chicken, as well as salmon or scallops, if that’s your thing. It’s a very versatile recipe and could even work with tofu if you don’t have tempeh on hand.

If you’ve hesitated to try tempeh, or introduce it to your family, this is the recipe to try! It’s sweet, with a crusty, meaty texture that’s still light, healthy, and absolutely delicious! Liberate yourself this July 4th by trying something new!

Orange Glazed Tempeh Recipe


  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (3-4 large juicy oranges)
  • 1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
  • 3 teaspoons tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons mirin
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala (or ground coriander)
  • red chili pepper flakes (couple shakes, or equivalent to a couple pinches)
  • 2 small garlic cloves, crushed
  • roughly 10 ounces of tempeh (or extra-firm tofu)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 lime
  • a handful of cilantro (coriander) leaves
  • 2 cups broccoli cut into small florets
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa


1. Put the orange juice in a small bowl. Grate in ginger. Add the tamari, mirin, maple syrup, garam masala, red chili pepper flakes, and garlic. Mix together and set aside.

2. Cut the tempeh (or tofu) into bite-sized pieces. If working with tofu, pat dry with a paper towel.

3. Put the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the tempeh and fry for 5 minutes, or until golden underneath. Turn and cook the other side for another 5 minutes, or until golden.

Searing Tempeh

Pour the orange juice mixture into the pan and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the sauce has reduced to a lovely thick glaze. Turn the tempeh once more during this time and frequently spoon the sauce over it.

Seared Tempeh in Orange Glaze Sauce

4. Cut the broccoli into small, bite size florets and add them to the pan for 2-3 minutes until cooked through. (If the florets are large, you may need to steam them first before finishing in the pan). Make sure they’re well coated with the pan sauce.

Seared Tempeh and Broccoli in Orange Glaze Sauce

5. Add two cups of cooked quinoa and stir until warmed through.

Orange Glazed Tempeh with Broccoli and Quinoa

6. Serve the tempeh drizzled with any remaining sauce, a squeeze of lime, and fresh coriander scattered on top.

Orange Glazed Tempeh served with Broccoli and Quinoa

Note: If you’re cooking vegetables that are large and require a longer cooking time, cook them separately, seasoning thoroughly with salt and pepper. Same with the quinoa. Then plate the tempeh on top of the vegetables and quinoa with a drizzle of pan sauce.

*As you know, I’m not a doctor or nutritionist. If you have gluten allergies, please check with your doctor if you are uncertain about wheat content in any of these products. Some tempeh does have gluten so be sure to double-check before consuming.

Serves 4

Cheesy Quinoa Grits

21 Mar

I usually want something sweet for breakfast like oatmeal with maple syrup and dried fruit, or a smoothie, but this morning I was craving something savory.

I love grits and polenta. I thought it would be fun to try a veganized version with quinoa and Daiya cheese. I wasn’t sure how I’d make the sauce at first. I started making a bechamel sauce, but I didn’t need the roux to thicken. The Daiya melted so beautifully and was the perfect consistency, you’d never believe it’s non-dairy.

As with all experimental recipes, it’s always a gamble. Sometimes they end up in the trash, sometimes they end up in the permanent repertoire. The fluffy quinoa with the creamy cheese was hearty and satisfying while the black pepper gave a nice heat at the end. Quinoa is low-fat, high in protein, and fiber, so it’s filling and good for you! It’s perfect for a quick and nutritious breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

This could be a healthy alternative to mac and cheese for the kids if they are open to trying new things, or if they already like quinoa. Next time I would even try it with itsy, bitsy broccoli florets. You could also substitute quinoa with two cups of elbow macaroni. I think I know what my next experiment is…

The whole recipe takes about 15-20 minutes to prepare if you have to make the quinoa. If you cook the quinoa in advance, this dish comes together very quickly since the sauce only takes about 5 minutes.

I even got the thumbs up from the omnivore hubbie so I’ll definitely make this one again!

Cheesy Quinoa Grits

1 cup uncooked quinoa

1/4 cup milk (I use hemp milk, but you could use any nut milk too) *

1/2 cup cheddar cheese (I use vegan non-dairy Daiya cheddar cheese)*

salt & pepper

hot sauce

*If you want it extra cheesy, double the sauce recipe.

1. Prepare quinoa according to manufacturer’s directions.

Fluffy Quinoa

2. Once quinoa is cooked and still warm. Make the sauce.

3. Bring the milk to a boil with a pinch of salt and a generous amount of ground pepper (1-2tsp).

Milk and Pepper

4. Add the cheese. Once becomes creamy and sauce-like texture, add couple shakes of tabasco.

Bubbling Sauce

Stirring the Sauce

5. Pour over cooked and warm quinoa. Stir until fully incorporated.

Cheese Over Quinoa

6. Serve immediately.

Cheesy Quinoa Grits

Roasted Curried Cauliflower with Quinoa and Carmelized Onions

28 Feb

Whenever I go to Soul-Cycle Tribeca, I always stop at the Whole Foods next door for two things: Blue Print Cleanse (Green & Red) and curried cauliflower from the salad bar. You may think cauliflower is a snooze fest, and I agree, it can be. But there’s one cooking method that makes anything taste better. Roasting.

Roasting uses indirect heat to cook evenly. It produces a crispy texture on the outside, while cooking all the way through the inside. Meat benefits greatly from roasting, but vegetables are my fave. Here are a couple great roasting tips from Mark Bittman‘s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.

1. Get that oven HOT (over 400 F)

2. Don’t crowd the pan – make sure there’s enough room so the heat can circulate and any moisture will evaporate. If you crowd the vegetables together, they’ll just trap the heat and steam so you’ll never get that gorgeous browning or crisp exterior.

If you’re looking for a vegetarian bible, get Bittman’s book. There’s literally a recipe for every vegetable you can imagine and he offers vegan substitutions too.

I’ve roasted just about everything from broccoli, onions, garlic, asparagus, fennel, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, and eggplant, to apples, pineapples and fresh chestnuts (YUM). It completely transforms boring vegetables into sweet, carmelized morsels. It’s easy and ideal when entertaining because you’re not chained to the cooktop paying more attention to your dish than your guests. You’ll never believe cauliflower could taste so good!!

If you don’t already have them, invest in a set of stainless steel baking sheets, also known as jelly roll pans. I prefer not to use non-stick because of the perfluorooctanoic acid (say that ten times fast) used to create the non-stick coating. (Scroll down for more info on PFOA). If you use non-stick to save calories, try a high heat canola oil in spray form. You’ll use less with the spray, and it’s easier to coat evenly without dousing with oil.

Spectrum canola spray

I could not live without my baking sheets. If you’re looking to stock your kitchen with the right tools and equipment, start with (2) half sheet pans, and (2) quarter sheet pans. You can find baking sheets and other cookware, utensils, and baking items, at Broadway Panhandler. Their prices are typically better than specialty stores like Williams-Sonoma. I can get lost in Panhandler for hours. It’s a vortex like CVS or Duane Reade.  I go in for something specific, and walk out an hour later with various things I don’t need. You can also order online or find baking sheets at stores like Bed Bath & Beyond.

Baking sheet

I took a stab at replicating the Whole Foods curried cauliflower. I’m proud to say, it’s pretty darn close and I really like my addition of quinoa [pat, pat on the back, back]. Not only is this dish delicious, it’s incredibly healthy.  Cauliflower is low in fat, high in dietary fiber, folate, and Vitamin C. With the addition of quinoa, it’s a balanced meal with protein, vegetables, and whole grains. Quinoa is a complete protein, high in essential amino acids and is gluten-free. I cannot get enough of it.

I’ve also roasted cauliflower and tossed it with olive oil, lemon juice, chopped parsley and toasted pine nuts. It’s totally amazing with the addition of parmesan cheese too.

Do you have a favorite cauliflower recipe? Or a stellar roasted vegetable dish? Share it!

Roasted Curried Cauliflower with Quinoa and Carmelized Onions

4 T extra-virgin olive oil

1 small-medium yellow onion, sliced

1 head cauliflower

1 can garbanzo beans

1 cup frozen peas

2 cups cooked quinoa

1 teaspoon curry powder

1/2 teaspoon garam masala

1/4 teaspoon turmeric

2 garlic cloves

Garam Masala is available at Whole Foods and most ethnic food stores. If you can’t find it, you can make your own. Click here for the recipe.

1. Set oven to 400. Cut cauliflower into small florets. Put 2 Tablespoons olive oil on a sheet pan (or eyeball it…enough to coat the cauliflower. Start with a little, add more if you need it). If you’re using oil spray, spray the pan. Place cauliflower on the sheet pan. Season with salt, pepper and curry. Mix with hands making sure all florets are coated. Bake in oven for about 30 minutes until florets are slightly browned and cooked through. Be sure to rotate position of pans and mix cauliflower occasionally.

2. While cauliflower is cooking, heat 2 T extra virgin olive oil in medium saute pan. Add onion and saute until translucent. Season.

3. Add chickpeas and cook about 2 minutes. Add garlic, garam masala and turmeric. Stir to coat chickpeas and onions. Add peas cooking another 2 minutes until warmed through. Add two cups quinoa and stir until warmed through. Season with salt & pepper to taste.

4. Put quinoa/chickpea mixture into a large bowl. Once cauliflower is done, add to the quinoa. Squeeze 1/2 lemon and stir in. You can also sprinkle chopped cilantro on this as a garnish.

5. Serve warm or room temp.

To learn more about the benefits of cauliflower, check out these links:

University of California, Santa Barbara: UCSB Scientists Show How Certain Vegetables Combat Cancer

Benefits of Cauliflower and Broccoli

To learn more about the dangers of PFOA, check out these links:





Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots, Broccoli and Tahini Dressing

5 Jan

Day 3: I’ve been Vegan for 3 days!

Third day and I’m sitting pretty! Ok, not pretty exactly, but I feel good. Haven’t had any cravings which totally surprises me. Energy is still up. And drumroll please… no alcohol since New Year’s. That part wasn’t planned, but I have been eating well and working out so much I haven’t felt like tainting it by drinking. Ha-ha I said “taint”. I even had a double ass-kicking session today comprised of Power Pilates then Bar Method. This was my 2nd Bar Method class this week and literally 5 minutes in, my thighs and legs were shaking uncontrollably. You know what’s worse than fat thighs? SHAKING fat thighs. However, it’s motivating to feel that jiggle and know I’m working the areas that need it. I’m going back tomorrow so hopefully will be a little stronger each time. I digress. Now that I’ve completely grossed you out, onto the food…

I need to go grocery shopping, but until then I had to whip up whatever was on hand. I’m “queen of the whip-up” thanks to a well-stocked pantry. I always keep canned no-salt beans (chickpeas, black, cannelini & red kidney beans from Whole Foods), quinoa (keen-wah), olives, frozen fruit & vegetables, tempeh, tofu and scallions. I’m asian, I require scallions and ginger at all times.

I was perusing 101Cookbooks and saw a Lemon-Scented Quinoa Salad that inspired me so below is an adaptation based on what I had available. I highly recommend the Tahini dressing and made it almost exactly as listed on their site. I will try it on salads, rice, and maybe noodles. Their site is an amazing resource, so definitely check it out when you get a chance. This recipe is a template you can use for an easy lunch or dinner. Simply substitute with any combination of vegetables, red onion or shallot instead of scallions, any beans, or try tempeh or tofu, take your pick. You could also toast pine nuts, sunflower seeds, pecans or walnuts. If you’re not vegan, this would rock with feta or goat cheese. Trust me, I was thinking that when I made it. I also recommend dousing with hot sauce simply because everything is better with hot sauce.

The beauty of this type of cooking is it’s not scientific. Don’t stress about how you’re cutting the vegetables, or the exact temperature of the oven. Just keep a close eye on your food and TASTE, TASTE, TASTE! If you taste along the way, the end result will be great. If you wait until the end, it’s often too late to make any adjustments. Many people always ask me, how long do I cook it for? How much do I put in? I often don’t have an answer because I do everything by taste. I put guidelines here, but if you are feeling ballsy, put your 5 senses to work to judge how things are going. What’s the worst that can happen? Take out? Have fun!

Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots and Tahini Sauce

1 cup quinoa

1 1/4 cup water

1 can garbanzo beans (rinse before using), or dried equivalent

1/2 cup parsley, chopped (couple sprigs w/leaves picked off)

1/4 cup mint (8-10 mint leaves)

2 scallions, chopped (use white and greens)

1 head broccoli chopped into bite size florets

4 carrots peeled with ends cut off

salt & pepper to taste

olive oil

Tahini Dressing:

1 garlic clove, smashed and chopped

1/4 cup tahini

Zest of one lemon

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (about 1 lemon depending on size and juiciness)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 tablespoons hot water (just heat a little filtered water up in the microwave)

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt


Set the oven to 375.

Peel the carrots. Cut the thin part horizontally into bite size pieces. I usually split the fatter ends of the carrots in half lengthwise and then cut them in half crosswise to make 1/2  moon shapes. Try to have them all about the same size so they cook evenly. Drizzle olive oil on a baking sheet. Put the cut carrots onto the sheet, sprinkle with salt & pepper then shake them around so they’re evenly covered. Make sure they are not too crowded. Crowding=steaming not browning. Same principle applies in pan cooking like sauteing.

Drizzle about 1 Tablespoon of oil on a separate baking sheet. Spread the broccoli florets on it, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and shake on the pan until all florets are coated. Pop both the carrot and broccoli sheet pans in the oven for about 20 minutes or until they start to brown and are tender. Be sure to check frequently, rotate the pans and flip the vegetables so they get even color. Taste, taste, taste! If it tastes the way you want to eat it…it’s done!

Rinse the quinoa in a fine-meshed strainer. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1/4 cups water to a boil. Add 1 cup quinoa. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 12 minutes. Turn off the heat, but keep the quinoa covered for another 5-10 minutes to rest and absorb the remaining steam. Try not to pick up the cover during the cooking process because you’ll let that valuable steam escape.

While the vegetables cook, make the dressing. I put all the ingredients in a blender to really emulsify and make the dressing creamy. You can also use a mini food processor or go old-school and whisk it. You could probably use a full size 7c food processor, but I’d recommend doubling the recipe or you may not have enough quantity to blend.

Consider reserving 1/2c of quinoa for breakfast tomorrow (mix it with dried fruit, nuts & soymilk as an oatmeal replacement). Toss the remaining cooked quinoa, beans, carrots, broccoli, parsley, mint, scallions, and half of the dressing. Add more dressing if you like and season with more salt to TASTE. Either reserve the dressing for a salad tomorrow, or if you feel it needs it, use the whole thing. Serve garnished with a bit of parsley and lemon zest.

Source: Adapted from 101cookbooks.com

Recommended brands: Eden Organic Quinoa Whole Grain available at Whole Foods

Deconstructed Quinoa Salad with Roasted Carrots, Broccoli & Tahini Dressing


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