Tag Archives: quinoa

Jena the TV Producer Tells Us… “What’s For Lunch”!

Today’s “What’s For Lunch” contributor is kind of a big deal.  She’s the breaking news producer for Fox News’ Shepard Smith Reporting.  Her name is Jena.


Jena, breaking news producer for Shepard Smith Reporting on Fox News

We met when we were producing news together in Cincinnati, and if her job is anything like mine is now, she’s almost always eating at her desk.  So when you want to eat well, you need to pack well, and that’s exactly what Jena does.   Her trick – dinner leftovers.  Let’s take a look!

Jena’s Lunch


  • Poached salmon
  • Steamed & sautéed veggies
  • Quinoa
  • Fig Newtons

Jena told me she ate her leftovers cold, and they were amazing!

Now I want YOU to answer the question… “What’s For Lunch?”!  E-mail me a description of your meal (with a picture!), and we’ll feature it on the blog!  The address is thehungrytortoise at gmail dot com.

I look forward to hearing from you!


The 13 Fittest Foods For Your Fridge (and Pantry)

When it comes to being physically healthy, what’s the secret to success?  It’s the million dollar question, but in most cases I’d argue the answer is a well-stocked kitchen that allows you to fix quick, nutritious meals on a budget.  Preparation is key, especially when you’re a busy bee.  And if you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight, remember that diet is paramount!  This graphic says it best:

OUTRUN YOUR FORKYou really can’t.  I’ve tried. I could be the only person in the history of life who actually GAINED weight while training for a marathon.

The following items are vegetarian and/or vegan and even better… versatile!  You can use them in all sorts of ways.  I list some ideas, but use your imagination.  They’ll also give you the most bang for your buck in terms of protein and essential nutrients.  Call this your secret superfood stash!

The 13 Best Foods For Your Fridge (and Pantry)

Almonds: A handful a day keeps the doctor away!  Raw nuts are best.  Almonds have more calcium than any other nut.  They also contain a healthy dose of fiber and protein to keep you full, with healthy fats and vitamin E!


Almond Milk (Unsweetened): Aside from the fact that it’s vegan, I actually prefer the taste of almond milk over regular cow’s milk.  It can be more expensive, but it’s worth it.  Fewer calories.  Lots of calcium.  Also great for my friends with lactose intolerance.

Bananas: I ALWAYS have bananas around.  They’re usually inexpensive, and if they get too brown before you can eat them, ditch the peel and throw them in the freezer.  Use them in smoothies.  Or, make my guiltless Cocoa Banana Ice Cream.  It’s boyfriend approved!

Cacao: Look for raw and organic varieties.  You can buy cacao beans, nibs or powder.  All are a great substitution for regular cocoa in smoothies, shakes, baking, and more.  It’s better than your garden variety baking cocoa because it’s unprocessed and, therefore, more potent.  It could very well be the world’s most concentrated source of anti-oxidants.  It also has sky-high levels of magnesium and iron.

Coconut Oil: I love this stuff so much, I made it a Friday Favorite.  Click to find out why.

Eggs: When I attempt to go entirely vegan, these little babies always bring me back.  Nothing makes a cheaper, lower calorie meal than egg whites, veggies, and some whole grain toast.

Greek Yogurt: Yet another reason why it’s almost impossible for me to go 100% vegan.  Greek yogurt is so high in protein, so tasty, and so versatile, it’s just hard to give up.  I always keep a tub of the non-fat plain in the fridge.  I eat it with fruit and cereal.  I use it as sour cream.  I mix it with marinara sauce for an instantly creamy red sauce for veggies or pasta.  The opportunities are endless!

Lemons: An esthetician (the awesome Christen Michel) once told me that drinking fresh lemon water in the morning can help a puffy face.  It can also help a puffy body.  I like to drink as much lemon water as I can stomach in the days after an indulgent weekend.  The enzymes in the fresh lemon juice help your body work out extra waste.  If you’re feeling brave, add some cayenne pepper for a metabolic boost.

Natural Peanut Butter:  I don’t care what anyone says.  Natural peanut butter is better than regular.  It tastes better, and it’s better for you.  Before you buy, check the ingredient list.  You’d be surprised at all the things manufacturers hide in those jars.  Your goal is to find a brand with just ONE ingredient – peanuts.  MAYBE salt.  No sugar or syrup or high fructose anything.  Whole Foods sells a generic for about $4.


Quinoa:  I used to be a brown rice whore until I found quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah).  Why would you eat plain ol’ rice when quinoa provides so much extra protein?  In fact, it’s one of the few plants that can be classified as a complete protein.  It also cooks way faster than rice.  Eat it warm with stir fry or cold in a salad with fresh fruits splashed with lemon juice and olive oil.

Frozen Spinach: Spinach is the best for so many reasons.  It’s easy to find.  It’s one of the most nutritious foods available.  You can hide it in things (like breakfast smoothies).  And when you buy it frozen, it lasts forever.

Stevia: One of the healthiest things you can do for yourself right now is to ditch the artificial sweeteners.  They’re poison, and they can actually make you fatter.  I’m not kidding.  I gave up conventional diet soda almost completely 3 years ago.  I lost 10 pounds without even trying.  Stevia is a great way to naturally sweeten most anything, including coffee and baked goods, without adding extra calories.  Aldi sells a 40 packet box for just $2. 


Whole grain breakfast cereal:  Nothing makes a quick meal like cereal, day or night.  I’m a big fan of generic Grape Nuts.  The ingredients are scarce and simple.  Kashi cereals are also awesome, but beware of added sweetener.  “Organic cane syrup” might sound fancy, but sugar is sugar.

Did I miss something?  How do you keep your kitchen stocked?  Let me know in the comments below or e-mail me at thehungrytortoise@gmail.com.

Recipe: Thai Red Coconut Curry

This recipe is vegan, delicious, and impressive.  Make it for your friends, and you’ll immediately appear more exotic and interesting.  If you like spice, add more curry paste.  I paired the curry with quinoa instead of rice for an extra helping of protein.  And if you don’t have the veggies listed, don’t worry.  Just about anything, from broccoli to bok choy, will work!

Thai Red Coconut Curry

Serves 4

Calories Per Serving: 240 (quinoa included!)



  • 2 c. quinoa, cooked
  • 7 oz. or half a standard package of extra firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 c. frozen stir-fry veggies
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 2 c. fresh spinach
  • 1 c. fresh mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp. garlic, minced
  • 1 14 oz. can lite coconut milk
  • 1 tbsp. fish sauce
  • 4 tbsp. red curry paste
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil


  1. Heat sesame oil in a large skillet.  Add garlic, onion, and tofu.  Cook until aromatic and tofu is golden on all sides.
  2. Add frozen veggies (fresh veggies will come later!) to the skillet and stir-fry until nearly thawed.
  3. While you’re waiting on the frozen veggies to cook, prepare the curry sauce.  In a separate pan or skillet, combine the coconut milk, fish sauce, red curry paste, lemon juice, and brown sugar.  Heat just until boiling and reduce to a simmer.
  4. Check back to the skillet.  As soon as the frozen veggies are just about thawed, add the fresh bell pepper, mushrooms, and spinach.  Cook just until tender.
  5. Pour warm curry sauce into the skillet with the tofu and veggies.  Mix well.
  6. Serve with 1/2 c. of quinoa.  It helps soak up every last drop!

Friday Favorite: Native Foods Cafe

Each Friday, I gush about things that I’m obsessed with.  I’m not paid to do this.  I don’t get free stuff for the mention.  I just love finding awesome treasures and sharing the news!  Today, we’re sitting down at one of my favorite restaurants ANYWHERE, Native Foods Cafe.

Native Foods Cafe [Photo: Andrea McGintyNative Foods is my paradise.  I don’t eat out often, but when I do, this is my go-to place.  It’s a fast-casual joint (think Panera or Chipotle), only EVERY SINGLE THING on the menu is 100% plant-based.  Even the “cheese”.  Even the “mayo”.  Even the “corned beef”.  Even the “bacon”.   And it’s all impossibly delicious.  I’m promise, even your meat-loving friends will find something to drool over.  And if you’re new to the vegetarian/vegan lifestyle, this place lets you experiment and learn in a non-threatening environment.  The menu even has definitions for things you may be unfamiliar with.  So cool.


As an aspiring vegan, the thing I probably miss most is the reuben sandwich.  Lucky me!  Native Foods has one on the menu!  It comes complete with thinly shaved marinated seitan, Russian dressing, “cheesy” horseradish sauce, and sauerkraut piled high on grilled rye.  Lord Jesus, give me strength.  And a side of sweet potato fries.NATIVE FOODS REUBENNow, just because this sandwich is vegan doesn’t mean it’s low-calorie.  You know that.  You’re not stupid.  And that’s okay!  Native Foods has an assortment of lighter options available, including salads and bowls with lots of fresh veggies, tempeh, tofu and quinoa.  They even have an entire dessert cooler with plant-based brownies, cupcakes, and more!


My only complaint is that Native Foods hasn’t figured out a way to exist on every single corner in America.  There are only a handful of locations, 14 to be exact, in California, Oregon, Colorado, and Chicago.  If you’re lucky enough to live near one, GO!  NOW!  HURRY!  And if you do, tell me what you ordered and how you liked it.  We can chat in the comments section below, or you can email me at thehungrytortoise@gmail.com.

Have a healthy weekend!

Workout Wednesday: What To Eat Before & After Your Sweat

Regardless of your goals, it’s important to always eat a little something BEFORE and AFTER each workout.  What you eat, however, depends on the kind of results you’re looking to achieve.  Timing is also important.  Nosh about 30-60 minutes before, and as soon as possible afterward.  Your body has a very small 30 minute window where it’s best able to replace the nutrients lost at the gym.  The more mindful you are about your food, the faster you will see results.

A heads up – these recommendations are meant for moderate exercisers.  If you’re doing something of a lower intensity, you may not need to eat prior to your workout.  Serious athletes will need to eat more food more often, possibly even during the exercise session to refuel.

Goal – Weight Loss:

  • Pre-workout snack:  Water, about 16-20 ounces in the hours before your workout.  The food you reach for should be light, low in fat, and high in easily digestible (high glycemic) carbohydrates.  Aim to consume between 100-200 calories.  Good examples:  banana, pineapple, mango, watermelon, pretzels, toast.
  • Post-workout snack: More water, and a small meal with mostly carbs and a little protein.  Some experts recommend a ratio of 4:1.  That’s four grams of carbohydrates to each gram of protein.  Aim to consume under 200 calories.  Good examples: Hummus and whole grain crackers, a protein shake with almond milk and fruit, handful of almonds and an apple, a banana with peanut butter.

Goal – Building Muscle:

  • Pre-workout snack: Water, about 16-20 ounces, a serving of slow-burning (low glycemic) carbs to sustain you through the workout, a serving of fast-burning (high glycemic) carbs for a burst of energy, and a serving of protein.  Good examples: Oatmeal, an orange, and walnuts.  Sprouted-grain toast and a banana.  Quinoa with raisins.
  • Post-workout snack:  The idea here is the fuel the body ASAP with foods that are absorbed quickly and easily.  This way, you’ll be able to repair tired muscles and replenish glycogen stores.  Reach for more of those carbs high on the glycemic index.  A trainer I spoke with recently maintains his mass by eating white rice after lifting weights.  White potatoes will work, too.  And make sure you throw in some protein.  You can’t grow muscle without it.  Keep some powder on hand.  It’s easily digestible.  I like the brown rice variety because it’s vegan.

And let me get up on my soapbox for a second.  BEWARE OF MARKETING.  There are all sorts of fancy supplements, energy bars, gels, and sports drinks on the market now.  Unless you’re a serious athlete in training, there’s a good chance you don’t need any of them.  Often, they’re full of nasty preservatives and artificial ingredients.  You’re MUCH better off eating real food to fuel and recover.  The nutrients in real food are more easily recognized and absorbed by the body.  In the long run, real food is probably cheaper, too.  If you must buy a bar, pay attention to the ingredients.  The list should be short and sweet.  I’m a fan of KIND snacks and Larabar.

Do you have a favorite snack you’d like to share?  Tell me in the comments below… and be sure to VOTE:

%d bloggers like this: