Coconut Quinoa Lettuce Wraps

 THROWING YESTERDAY’S PEANUTS ONTO TODAY’S DINNER

Mhm, That’s what I did, and it was a glorious decision. And maybe that’s the theme of my week/weekend: Elevating yesterday’s junk into something even better–although those peanuts don’t really need much elevating. But we did it anyway. Other things? We have this old wooden desk we keep bed-side that was donated to our space (along with 95 % of the other furniture in our apt), and it has a funky shape I never knew how to handle; it looks like the letter H but with an extra shelf in the middle and then a vertical shelf separating those shelves.  I know–confusing. So being the confused me, I just turned it on its side and kept/keep a stack of books and papers on there, but now, 2 years later, I have the urge to elevate it too. Do you think it should be a prop shelf inspired by the tidal wave of napkins and little saucers I’ve started collecting, or should I just break it apart and turn the shelves into one of those wall work desks that look badass because they float?? I can’t decide yet, but I’ll let you know what comes of it. 

(going back to the food)

Cooking Quinoa in the Oven: This time I made my quinoa in the oven and not on the stove. I hear cooking grains via stovetop is sometimes hit or miss for most people anyway, and a fraction of the time they end up with a thick skin of burnt rice glued to the bottom of a stainless steel pot? Well, to be honest, I’m just suffering from a finicky stovetop; it’s a dated electric stove with old coiled burners, and each burner is puffing so much smoke–I might’ve spilled some oil on it at some point while making noodles last night– I’m afraid I’m going to set off the hypersensitive smoke alarm management just installed. I’ve already set it off twice in the past month. And so to keep the superintendent at bay, I’ve opted instead for a new technique I learned for oven-baked rice (insert quinoa where rice is…) at the meal kit company I worked part-time for last year. 

FORMULA: Grains + boiling liquid + baking dish + aluminum foil = perfection

It’s a simple steaming process that gets you perfectly cooked and fluffy grains every. single. time. No burnt bits. 

Be sure to read the previous recipe for “Chili Lime (Leaf) Peanuts” for the complete list of ingredients

Coconut Quinoa Lettuce Wraps 

  • 1, 13 ounce can coconut milk (I used full-fat but lite is fine)
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 clove garlic, grated
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1, 15 ounce can chickpeas, drained (but save the brine for delicious vegan baked goods though!)
  • 8 crispy lettuce cups 
  • Chili lime (leaf) roasted Peanuts, for garnish 
  • Sliced radish, for garnish
  • Chopped green onion, for garnish
  • Thai Basil, for garnish 

Dressing

  • 3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 1 heaping tsp chili oil
  • 1 tsp agave or other sweeteners
  • 1 tsp soy sauce or tamari(for gluten free)

Heat the oven to 450 degrees. Have a sheet pan and at least a 2-inch deep baking dish (I used a 9″ loaf pan) nearby. 

In the microwave or in a saucepan combine the coconut milk and water and heat until nearly boiling.

Add the quinoa to the baking dish, pour over the hot coconut milk, add in the grated garlic, and salt to taste. Mix everything together well to make sure all the grains are coated, cover the dish with aluminum foil and place in the oven to cook for about 20-25 minutes or until cooked through. Remove from the oven, allow to cool slightly, and then fluff with a fork. 

Bake the chickpeas while you’re cooking the quinoa: Spread the drained chickpeas out on the baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt, and place in the oven on the middle rack to bake and get crispy, about 15-18 minutes. Check and shake the pan halfway through to make sure they cook evenly. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

Make the dressing by combining all the ingredients: the vinegar, chili oil, agave, and soy sauce. 

Assemble the wrap by filling the lettuce cups with the quinoa, crunchy chickpeas, chili lime peanuts, sliced radish, scallions, basil, and a generous spoonful of the dressing. Serve!

Follow whatever journey works for you: I think it’s important to remember that everyone’s eating journey is different. Sometimes it feels difficult to decide what’s right for you especially in the health community when there’s a vast spectrum of beliefs, possibilities, and information, and everyone holds their own definitions for the term “healthy”. All our bodies are different though, so you just always have to ‘do you’ and figure out what your own body likes. It’s not a race or competition, it’s a personal journey–and hopefully you hear enough people remind you of that in your life. One thing I’m learning though, is that no matter what I eat (meat, fish, cheese, vegetable juices, raw things) my real power comes when I move my body! It’s like night a day–It’s incredible. And I somehow forgot (honestly, I didn’t want to remember) that truth.

Eric and I have been staying active these past 2 weeks doing the  StrongLifts 5x 5 Workout at our little Fenway gym and jogging outside some days (hayyy if you see us around these streets!), and just getting lots of sunshine-soaked-skin (July wasn’t Boston’s sunniest month). None of this deserves an applause, it was an important bit of self-care I mentioned we fell out of the habit of doing, but that’s been my missing piece all along. I’m finally understanding how no other obligation should come before taking care of myself, and literally sweating out old, trapped, negative energy from my body and putting the right energy in there. “What can I do to make myself feel amazing?” should be the first thought people have when they wake up. Because no matter who you think you owe your day to or your time to, you can’t give from a dry well.  So make sure you’re happy and moving…and also eat more tacos or these lettuce wraps ^^^^^^.  

 

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