Lemon Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa (Vegan & Gluten Free)

If I were to spill uncooked quinoa all over my kitchen, there’d be a trusty sidekick to lick it up, or, it would go unnoticed, blending into the dirt tracks left from those rare occasions when the Urban Farmer actually wears shoes. However, when I had a few quinoa casualties while styling on a video set, the tiny grains stood out from the impeccable, showroom-esque kitchen like a streaker at a baseball game. The eye went right to them! Yet, it seemed impossible to clean up all the minuscule grains. That’s when I realized, quinoa is like hippy glitter. 

Lemon Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa // www.WithTheGrains.com

That comparison led me to question- what is glitter anyway? I realized I had taken this sparkle bombardment material for granted my whole life. Of course there is a glimmering product that exists to make first graders feel like artists and somehow lasts for eternity. Why wouldn’t there be? 

Lemon Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa // www.WithTheGrains.com

For every rathole of curiosity, there is a google search waiting with answers. So my friends, let me tell you, glitter has been around for a long damn time- it’s older than quinoa- an ancient grain! Way back in the period of 40,000 to 200 B.C, ancient  civilizations were using flakes of the mineral mica in cave paintings for their sparkly, light-catching quality. Fast forward to New Jersey in 1934, when machinist Henry Ruschmann invented a way to grind up plastics to make large quantities of glitter. He founded Meadowbrook Inventions, still a major supplier of the substance. Its slogan: “Our glitter covers the world.” (They forgot to add “whether you want it to or not.”

Lemon Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa // www.WithTheGrains.com

I guess we humans (and cats) are inherently suckers for glimmering objects, and I’m a sucker for grains. Glitter and quinoa have both stood the test of time, so make yourself a big bowl of this Lemon Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa, and dive into your own early morning internet ratholes. Tell me what curiosities you discover. 

Cheers,

Quelcy Signature

p.s: This is not a sponsored post, but I did work as a stylist for a truRoots video shoot, which is what inspired me to share this recipe. You can see more of my professional styling work here

Lemon Blueberry Breakfast Quinoa (Vegan & Gluten Free)

Recipe adapted from truRoots | yield: 2 servings

About this Recipe: Cooking the quinoa in vanilla almond milk yields a rich vanilla flavor to every bite. Avoid a vanilla almond milk with a high sugar content, since maple is the main sweetener. Serve warm or cold. Works well as a topping for Greek yogurt also. Trust your tastebuds on the maple syrup, lemon zest and blueberries. The quantities below are just starting points. I like to make a large batch of this, so I have an easy, healthy breakfast option all ready for me.

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Whole Grain Chocolate Cupcakes with a Fudge Mint Cookie Crunch for @BevBirthdays

For a brief stint of diligence, I had a gratitude journal. Daily, I would jot down three elements of my life for which I was grateful. Unfortunately, I fell into a rather lazy rotation of bullet points: my apartment, heat, employment, a roof over my head, etc. Of all the things I recorded, I never once thought to write “I am grateful to have had birthday parties to celebrate my place in this world.” 

Whole Grain Chocolate Cupcakes with a Fudge Mint Cookie Crunch // www.WithTheGrains.com

I never thought to write down “birthday parties” in my gratitude journal because these were celebrations I had taken for granted. Of course I had birthday parties. I had a BIG family who relished my existence, and even when times were tight, we had the resources for my favorite flavors of cakes and thematic decor. My older sisters channeled their creativity to make thrilling scavenger hunts and party games that stick out in my memory to this day! It should have been obvious, but I discovered recently just how blessed I had been/am on the birthday front.

Whole Grain Chocolate Cupcakes with a Fudge Mint Cookie Crunch & a Naturally Dyed Mint Buttercream Frosting // www.WithTheGrains.com

It was this article that set me straight (and probably made me all misty-eyed too). In it I learned about Megan Yunn, who founded Beverly’s Birthdays. In 2011, Megan was volunteering at a local after-school program and helping 12-year-old Beverly with her homework. Discovering that Beverly never had a birthday party nagged at Megan and then eventually inspired her to start the organization that now provides birthday celebrations for homeless kids in the Pittsburgh region. 

Whole Grain Chocolate Cupcakes with a Fudge Mint Cookie Crunch & a Naturally Dyed Mint Buttercream Frosting // www.WithTheGrains.com

Imagine the effects of these parties! Reading through a few of the organization’s blog posts had me in tears. One child asked to keep a clean disposable birthday plate because he wanted to cherish the birthday party. He washed it and reused it. Another child just wanted her own bottled water- not even a fancy bottle of water, just one bottle. Another mother walked her three children to the party after a stressful day of doctor’s visits (to which she also walked) because she knew how important the celebration would be to her kids.  

Whole Grain Chocolate Cupcakes with a Fudge Mint Cookie Crunch & a Naturally Dyed Mint Buttercream Frosting // www.WithTheGrains.com

All these stories reiterated how much I have taken for granted. Theme parties and baking are two of my biggest passions, so I was so long overdue to contribute. I finally signed up and baked these cupcakes for a zoo-themed party. I chose this party in particular because it took place in the very neighborhood where The Urban Farmer started his farm. The community has welcomed him with such open arms, this felt like the least I could do to give back.

Whole Grain Chocolate Cupcakes with a Fudge Mint Cookie Crunch & a Naturally Dyed Mint Buttercream Frosting // www.WithTheGrains.com

I’m not sharing these cupcakes to toot my own horn. My hope is this story will inspire you to find a similar outlet for your passions, whatever they may be. There are countless organizations that rely heavily on the work of volunteers, so whether you love knitting, power tools or cupcake making, there is probably an outlet for you. Also, these stories are worth sharing because they not only inspire us to give but to be grateful. I can’t applaud the folks at Beverly’s Birthdays enough, and I look forward to future themed baking!

Quelcy Signature

Whole Grain Chocolate Cupcakes with a Fudge Mint Cookie Crunch & Mint Buttercream Frosting

About This Recipe: These cupcakes may be green and feature traditional cookie flavors, but they are made from all natural and organic versions because playful party food can still have a wholesome spin to it. I used all-natural blue and yellow dyes (from India Tree) to create the green frosting. 

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A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles

Ah brunch, society’s way of justifying lazing about, eating too much, doing too little and marrying salty, sweet and saucy (mimosas anyone?). 

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

Brunch is my favorite meal of the day, but as farm duties kick into full swing, it’s a meal that no longer fits the schedule (not that the Urban Farmer is the 6 am sort by any means). To indulge in brunch while we still could, I whipped up a little celebration of spring to be enjoyed in the mid-morning hours.

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

I first shared this brunch with the fine, fashionable folks at ModCloth, who asked me for some tips on supporting local agriculture, a topic I love to bring to the table! Since not everyone has the luxury of a fine fella who digs in the dirt all day and then comes home with fresh, flavorful greens, I’ll share some of those same tips here too. (This is also a good time to tell you I’m a ginger now!)

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

What’s your favorite part about farmers markets and other local food spaces?

Conversation + flavor. When people plant, grow, and harvest a vegetable, or milk a cow or goat to make cheese, they tend to be very enthusiastic about that product! Whether it be the quirky name of the heirloom seed or the temperament of the baby goats, this dialogue is such a far cry from asking the produce clerk at the grocery store for more details on the fennel. Plus, local purveyors can pick when the produce is ripe, since they aren’t shipping their product across the globe.

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

Do you have any tips on how to get the most out of a farmers market experience?

Shop with your taste buds and an open mind! Many farmers will give out samples, or offer up herbs and fruits to smell. Think of the farmers market like a cooking show challenge. Here’s what is available and flavorful at the moment, now be creative and turn it into tonight’s dinner! Also, don’t be afraid to stick to your food values! Ask the farmers if they grow organically or pesticide-free (even if they aren’t certified, which is often too expensive for small-scale producers). They risk more for their sustainable approach and should be rewarded accordingly.

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

Okay, so you’ve scored big at the farmers market…now what? Any tips for using your finds in a way that minimizes potential food waste?

Wasting less is a huge priority of mine, so much so that I added a “Waste Not, Want Not” category to my blog to share my experiments and pursuits. One of the biggest ways to mitigate food waste is to compost, so at least waste and scraps won’t be taking up space in a landfill, where they present a slew of problems. Some cities pick up compost with trash and recycling, but unfortunately, Pittsburgh is not yet one of those cities.

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

If you don’t have your own yard, talk to a neighbor about sharing a bin or contact the managers of a local community garden to see if you can drop off a bin of approved compostables. Or, talk to my farmer and me!

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

As far as consuming food to waste less, it comes down to kitchen creativity and experimentation! Try a version of my Turnip Chips & Turnip Greens Dip as a way to use the entire vegetable. Use the end cuts of vegetables like carrots and celery to make a Homemade Stock. The homemade version is usually more flavorful, cheaper and healthier than even the organic store-bought varieties. Juicing is a great way to clean out the refrigerator, and there are quick pickling methods that are not intimidating at all.

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

In the spirit of “Waste Not, Want Not,” I shared a recipe for a Rhubarb Simple Syrup with ModCloth readers. Rhubarb is so nostalgic, since my mom was one of the few neighbors who knew what to do with the stalky vegetable when most people thought it was a weed. This Simple Syrup is perfect for easy brunch cocktails or an afternoon homemade soda (just add sparkling water). 

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

Rather than strain and pitch the fruit from the simple syrup infusion, use it to make a sweet and tart topping for waffles, which I made with local cornmeal and fresh, homegrown basil. I topped it off with Rose Water Whipped Cream for a truly fresh, spring flavor.

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

And if you truly want to eat brunch like this part-time farmer, you DRENCH everything in PURE maple syrup! 

A Spring Brunch featuring Rhubarb Simple Syrup, Rhubarb Compote & Cornmeal Basil Waffles // www.WithTheGrains.com

Happy Brunching!

Quelcy Signature

p.s: Be sure to scroll to the bottom to see the #BTS with my trusty sidekick. 
p.p.s: This post was presented in collaboration with ModCloth, but all opinions are my own. 

Whole-Grain, Cornmeal, Basil Belgian Waffles with Strawberry Rhubarb Compote & Rose Water Whipped Cream

Yield: about 5 8-inch Belgian style waffles.

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Strawberry Rhubarb Simple Syrup & Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

“Why don’t you order me a decaf, and I’ll get us a table?” Her question was more of a directive, as she scanned the room of laptops to find the ideal spot. The sun was still shining, but it was clear they had already dined and were on their post-dinner treat. Date night! 

Strawberry Rhubarb Simple Syrup & Strawberry Rhubarb Compote // www.WithTheGrains.com
Ingredients for Strawberry Rhubarb Simple Syrup & Strawberry Rhubarb Compote

His large frame sauntered to the counter, with as much side-to-side motion as forward progress, and he followed her instructions. One decaf cappuccino coming right up- a modest indulgence for a weeknight romance. As the steamers steamed, they sat together and did that act we so rarely do these days- they conversed, he in his blazer, and she in her formal turtleneck.  The coffee order arrived on the counter, and the woman, whose jawline had long since eroded, emerged creakily from her place on the equally stiff, wooden church pew.

Strawberry Rhubarb Simple Syrup & Strawberry Rhubarb Compote // www.WithTheGrains.com

She retrieved the mug and saucer with great care, the viscosity threatening to rupture with every small jostling. The distance between her and her love seemed to lengthen with every minuscule movement. She held the saucer with one hand, and the other palm outstretched, hovering over the cappuccino design as if her fingers held magical powers. Her eyebrows raised, as if to say “ta da,” and she began a little balancing waltz.

Strawberry Rhubarb Simple Syrup & Strawberry Rhubarb Compote // www.WithTheGrains.com

She matched each shimmy forward with a little short-and-stout-teapot motion. Her eyes glanced at her husband, whose large frame commanded the trendy black metal chair on which he sat. The entire world had changed around them- wifi, latte art, email, twitter, OkCupid, GMOs, wars, president after president- and through it all, they still managed to look to each other, as if they were as young and in love as the day they first sipped after-dinner coffees together. 

Strawberry Rhubarb Simple Syrup & Strawberry Rhubarb Compote // www.WithTheGrains.com
Strawberry Rhubarb Simple Syrup & Strawberry Rhubarb Compote- a way to waste less and enjoy more

“You know you are a ballerina,” he said in response to her waltz. In a room full of laptops, he only saw her. As she arrived at the table without spillage, she was exactly that- a young, lovely, graceful ballerina. From my corner of email and wifi and Instagram hearts and general nonsense, I melted, I completely MELTED! It was a fleeting, precious little glimpse, a cinematic romance masked by wrinkles. The truest sweetness is often buried beneath the overlooked, the outliers. 

Rhubarb may be the stalky mystery the neighbors mistake for a weed growing at the edge of their garage, but it’s the stalky growth my mom taught me to appreciate and savor for its surprise sweetness. With this recipe, it’s even easier to take advantage of rhubarb’s spring emergence.  

Here’s to the romantics and hidden sweetness!


Strawberry Rhubarb Simple Syrup & Compote

yield: Makes about 16 ounces

About This Recipe: The simmered fruit leftover from infusing the simple syrup makes a sweet, tart compote, perfect for waffles or mixing into a parfait. You’ll waste less and enjoy more!

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Roasted Beet Hummus (Vegan)

“Put a beet on it” might be the new “Put a bird on it.” Between the bold color, the natural sweetness and the ability to endure a long winter in storage, the beet has risen in popularity from its humble beginnings as that odd pickled staple at my Czech grandmother’s table.  

Roasted Beet Hummus (Vegan) // www.WithTheGrains.com

And “Put a beet on it” I have! From waffles, to cakes, to frostings, and even donuts, I’ve worked that painterly root vegetable’s color and sweetness into every course. When it came time to make a meal to share with a vegan friend, hummus came to mind. 

Roasted Beet Hummus (Vegan) // www.WithTheGrains.com

As much as I love hummus, its color palette leaves much to be desired, so I… put a beet on it- roasted beets, tart lemon juice, a kick of garlic and the most important secret, last-minute decision- fresh ginger! The result is a bold, beautiful bowl that makes hummus more dippable and even more addicting than ever! 

Quelcy Signature

Roasted Beet Hummus
Recipe type: Vegan, Gluten Free
yield: ~1 quart

About this Recipe: My Palestinian friend taught me his mother’s time-tested secret. Even if you are using canned chickpeas, it pays to soak them in water for at least half an hour and rinse them thoroughly. This makes the chickpea much more digestible! The hummus will keep in the fridge for up to a week (if it lasts that long).

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Valentine’s Day: Chocolate Chip Pancakes & A Honey Themed Gift

Outside, the sloppy mix of rain and ice falls at an intense angle, and the distant hillside has lost its detail, now appearing as a giant, sleepy, gray elephant. Inside, the sunset painted hyacinths fill the room with their intoxicating perfume. The scent transports my mind to lavish gardens and flowering trees in California and that narrow window in the spring, when the campus lilac bushes bloomed and lightened an otherwise stressful commute. We give flowers to lift spirits, a power I am appreciating more and more.

Valentine's Day: Chocolate Chip Pancakes & A Honey Themed Gift // www.WithTheGrains.com

These hyacinths are fragrant remnants of a Valentine’s Day well celebrated, of brunching, of sappiness and of lazing away a Sunday as Sundays should be. I know there are commercial ties to this holiday, but I love it anyways. I love the extra incentive to show a caring gesture, like a card that reads “You’re Perfect (even if you cut your sandwiches like an idiot).” I love champagne toasts, pajama dress codes and puns on top of puns. I love my beekeeper, and I love to show it.

Valentine's Day: Chocolate Chip Pancakes & A Honey Themed Gift // www.WithTheGrains.com

As the Urban Farmer pointed out, Saint Valentine was the patron saint of lovers and beekeepers, appropriate, since I was inspired to celebrate my favorite beekeeper this February 14th.

Valentine's Day: Chocolate Chip Pancakes & A Honey Themed Gift // www.WithTheGrains.com

Valentine's Day: Chocolate Chip Pancakes & A Honey Themed Gift // www.WithTheGrains.com

In my ode to my favorite beekeeper, I wrote:

Here’s to history (a beekeeping poster), here’s to sweetness (honeycomb chocolate & Honey Lavender ice cream), here’s to health (fresh bee pollen), and even to a little buzz too (wine)! 

Valentine's Day: Chocolate Chip Pancakes & A Honey Themed Gift // www.WithTheGrains.com

And because beekeepers need to eat, there were Multigrain Chocolate Chip Raspberry Pancakes with Raw Cacao Whipped Cream spiked with Snap and a ruby red champagne toast!

Valentine's Day: Chocolate Chip Pancakes & A Honey Themed Gift // www.WithTheGrains.com

Valentine's Day: Chocolate Chip Pancakes & A Honey Themed Gift // www.WithTheGrains.com

Valentine's Day: Chocolate Chip Pancakes & A Honey Themed Gift // www.WithTheGrains.com

Valentine's Day: Chocolate Chip Pancakes & A Honey Themed Gift // www.WithTheGrains.com
Multigrain Chocolate Chip Raspberry Pancakes with Raw Cacao Whipped Cream spiked with Snap Liquor, topped with a Dark Cherry

Valentine's Day: Chocolate Chip Pancakes & A Honey Themed Gift // www.WithTheGrains.com

Valentine's Day: Chocolate Chip Pancakes & A Honey Themed Gift // www.WithTheGrains.com

It was a Valentine’s Day well spent with gifts that will keep giving. I hope your Valentine’s Day was just as sweet! Did you give any edible or themed gifts of your own?

Quelcy Signature

Chocolate Chip & Raspberry Multigrain Pancakes with Spiked Cacao Whipped Cream

About This Recipe: You will never see me recommend a box cake mix (sacrilege!), but when it comes to pancakes, I do like to use Arrowhead Mills Multigrain Pancake Mix. The blend combines corn flour, whole grain wheat flour and brown rice flour, packing a lot of grains into one mix without over burdening your pantry. Alternately, you can use my Whole Wheat Pancake Recipe (skip the bananas).

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How To Use Leftover Ganache: Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Brownies (gluten free)

David lifted Didi into the air, and her satiny blue skirt’s ruffles erupted like a firework beneath his grip. They were now husband and wife, and this dance floor embrace was the moment I wanted to preserve in my memory- nothing but satin, lace and love! In the same weekend, a mere bridge away, I watched Chris and Dana embrace their 10-lb bundle of puppy joy, feeling the slipper like warmth of her fur brush against their ridiculously happy, tired faces.

How To Use Leftover Ganache: Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Brownies (gluten free) // www.WithTheGrains.com

These satin, lace, and puppy joys emerged from times of illnesses, deaths and heartaches, which only heightened these highs. In its ebbs and flows, this life can feel like one big sine curve- an alternating act of “all” or “nothing.” My kitchen corroborates these intense swings- the oven will warm, churning out fancy cake after fancy cake, for back-to-back birthdays, dinner parties and holiday gatherings, followed by the cold oven periods and slim pickings.

How To Use Leftover Ganache: Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Brownies (gluten free) // www.WithTheGrains.com

During the “all” times, we swim in desserts. The refrigerator bursts with an odd assortment of frostings, fillings and cake scraps, and even my intense sweet tooth feels overwhelmed. I give desserts away right and left, but shamefully, I’ve yet to hit the sweet spot of zero waste, and of all the morsels to hit the compost bin, dark chocolate pains my sensibilities the most.

How To Use Leftover Ganache: Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Brownies (gluten free) // www.WithTheGrains.com

In fear of a half-frosted cake, I always seem to make too much chocolate ganache- a good problem in the chocolate sense, a bad problem when it ends up as compost. As I whipped up a mid-week dessert-craving cure- my trusty nut butter blondies– I eyed the leftover ganache in the refrigerator. Sure, it could be frozen and maybe be enough for the next cake, but in the end, I’d probably end up stuck in a leftover cycle. Wanting an immediate solution, I broke off chunks of the pliable chocolate and stirred it directly into the batter. Out came an even better blondie- a brownie.

I’m still figuring out how to extend the grin-until-your-jaw-hurts moments through the sadder/stressful swings, but in the meantime, at least I am finding more ways to stretch dessert abundances more and waste less. What are your tricks?

Quelcy Signature

Dark Chocolate Almond Butter Brownies (Gluten Free)
yield: 9×13 pan

About this Recipe: If you have leftover ganache after baking a cake, save it for these brownies. If you don’t have ganache to add, simply omit it and follow the rest of this recipe to make my go-to blondies. I used approximately 1 cup of soft ganache (not liquid), but as a chocolate lover, I imagine the more, the better, so experiment! (more…)

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