Love food. Love others. But most of all, love yourself.
That’s the message of today’s post and my attempt to tie three big topics together under one little photo of a chocolate covered quinoa treat.
To begin, I wanted to give a quick update about next week’s “Love Your Heart Recipe Rally.”
Yes, the whole idea was a bit last minute, but amazingly, in just a few days, some wonderful bloggers – none of whom have any low sodium dietary restrictions – have joined the Rally and have agreed to take on the challenge of cooking food with little to no salt.
Kind of heart warming, don’t you think?
Currently, the star-studded blog roll includes:
Farm & A Frying Pan
SF Tao of Pao
Haute Apple Pie
Gina’s Skinny Recipes (the winner of the Homie awards!)
Couldn’t Be Parve
Exercise for Everyday
The Sustainable Palate
And hopefully, by next Friday, we will grab a few more participants to really blow this event out of the water.
But beyond the unexpected and enthusiastic replies, the thing that has been most exciting is talking with people who have never cooked low sodium food before. I have been cooking without salt for so long that I have, in many ways, forgotten how overwhelming it can seem. I mean, for those who have earned their culinary degrees by watching food shows or reading cookbooks, making a meal without salt seems absolutely preposterous! And boring.
Yet, the absolute opposite is true. By removing the salt, you are forced to be creative, original, and innovative. You are forced to be a great cook. You are forced to become a force to be reckoned with. And isn’t that the point of cooking and eating? To take the classics and riff and raff until you’ve made it your own? To surprise your palate with combinations you never expected? Isn’t that why we love shows like Top Chef and Iron Chef and Salt-Free Chef. Oh wait, that last one isn’t a show. Yet.
The point is that yes, we love cooking because it is an outlet for creativity. And while we patiently wait for a low sodium cooking show to be broadcast on national television, we’ll just have to settle for the good word to spread in print and on the interweb. And this week, I’m excited to announce that Ladies Home Journal gave me the opportunity to promote my low sodium philosophy.
You see, I recently realized that cooking without salt is very similar to playing (and dominating) a game of charades and I wrote about this little metaphor, as well as my own cooking metamorphosis, on the Ladies Home Journal Ladie’s Lounge Blog. So if you want to know what silently impersonating Oprah has to do with making a low sodium sloppy joe, then check out this link. Hopefully, you’ll be inspired to put on your apron, or at least host a game night for your friends. Either way, it’s a win-win situation
It is just a friendly reminder to approach your diet less as a restriction and more as an opportunity to do something whimsical, different, and delicious. Like covering quinoa with chocolate. And that brings us to our third and final topic of the day. These crazy Quinoa Cocoa Bites.
I have been craving the crispy rice pop of Nestlé Crunch candy bars and in a search for a low sodium alternative, I happened upon these quinoa chocolate bars from Alter Eco. I also happened to have a few Alter Eco Chocolate Orange bars of my own as well as a fresh bag of quinoa. And suddenly, one plus one equaled a dessert that was completely guilt-free, dreamy, and as simple as making a box of Sara Lee brownies.
With that, happy almost Valentine’s Day, which in my mind is less about fancy pants reservations at a decadent restaurant and more about filling your stomach and life with the people and food that make you feel really good. But I’ll take that fancy pants reservation too, if you’re offering, that is.
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 2 chocolate bars (preferably with orange flavor)
1. Put quinoa and 3/4 cups of water into a pot and bring to a boil. Then, lower heat so water is gently simmering and cover the pot. Cook for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and remove cover. Stir the quinoa and add a pinch more water if any of the grains are stuck to the bottom. Quinoa should be cooked but crunchy. Set the pot aside.
2. Turn the oven broiler on low. Spread quinoa on a cookie sheet and put into oven. Cook for 10 to 15 minutes, or until quinoa is crispy.
3. In a double boiler (or a microwave), melt the two bars of chocolate. Stir constantly to make sure that the chocolate doesn’t burn.
4. Meanwhile, set up your treat-making station. Silicone cupcake cups or little bowls are easiest to use. In each, mix a tablespoon of quinoa and two tablespoons of chocolate in the cup. I used a chopstick to do the stirring. And make sure the chocolate is spread throughout. You want the quinoa to be covered on all sides. Then, put the cups or bowls in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
5. When ready to eat, pry the treats out of the cups or bowls and serve immediately so they melt in your mouth and not on your carpet.