Food Blog – Quinoa Upma

We want to share heart healthy recipes and inspiring stories with you!

Forward by Yuki Kotani

We are very excited to introduce our newest social media intern to the Harboring Hearts’ team, Pareesha Narang.  Our interns are invaluable to our organization.

Pareesha is a recent graduate of University of Maryland’s Philip Merrill’s College of Journalism and she came to us with a strong interest in working for a start-up non-profit organization.  Michelle Javian (co-founder) and I immediately saw potential in Pareesha because of her willingness to learn and take initiative on projects.   Most importantly, we felt she truly grasped Harboring Hearts’ mission and vision because of her own personal experiences.  We appreciate Pareesha for sharing her story with us today.

I hope you are inspired by her story and heart-healthy recipe!

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My family made a choice to be heart-healthy when my father was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor back in 1995.  Note that I say family, not just my father. My mother had consulted a special dietitian, and he told us that in order for this to work, we had to do it as a family.

My younger brother and I were both under 10 at the time, and we were told that we weren’t allowed to bring home cookies and all sorts of other unhealthy foods anymore, we were pretty bummed — it seemed so drastic!

As time went on, we got used to better alternatives to all the sugary, fattening foods.  We kept hearing that cancer loves sugar (just Google it and you’ll see what I’m talking about), so as a family, we became more conscious about what we put in our bodies.

I was born with a sweet tooth, so it definitely took work to get to where I am today.  Over time, I’ve limited the amount of sweet things I eat in a day, drink lots of water and eat a balanced diet filled with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, protein, and a couple of supplements.  I don’t count calories because my weight isn’t a concern, but I do read the ingredients – I like to know what I’m putting in my body!

In April 2009, my father passed away — but he proved the doctors wrong for many years.  I believe that his dedicated change in diet and meditation kept him with us for 14 years since his diagnosis.

When an illness happens to one person, it impacts the whole family.  What helped our family was sticking together and supporting each other.  After my father’s passing, my family continues to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet.   It was a good reminder for me that though I’ve been blessed with good health so far, it takes work to keep it that way.

My challenge to you:

  • Replace one unhealthy food in your diet with a healthy alternative.
  • Do something for yourself everyday.

A powerful motivation for me to eat healthy and stay positive is my ability to be there for my mom and my brother – my family.

Here is the recipe for a scrumptious dish I made with my mom, with heart-healthy ingredients including quinoa and chana dal.

Quinoa Upma

Serves 6-8

2 1/2 tbsp. olive oil, we use extra light
1 tsp. mustard (rye) seeds
1 stem curry leaves (about 15 leaves), remove leaves from stem
1/4 cup of chana dal, stones/junk removed and washed (find it at any Indian grocery store)
black pepper
12 oz. quinoa, washed
8 oz. pack of frozen mixed vegetables
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 tsp. salt (less if you’re watching your salt intake!)
1/4 tsp. red chili powder (cayenne)
24 oz. water
fresh cilantro, chopped
lime
roasted peanuts (optional)

Heat the oil in a large pan (make sure you have a lid for it), medium heat. Add mustard seeds, curry leaves and a generous pinch of black pepper.  Stir, then add the chana daal and saute for 2 minutes.  Add quinoa, dry roast for about 7-8 minutes until it gets a little color (turn down heat slightly if needed).  Add onion and frozen vegetables, saute until cooked, about 5 minutes. Add salt and red chili powder, saute for 30 seconds, then add water.  Cover the pan. Once water comes to boil, lower the heat and let cook for 20 minutes.

Sprinkle a handful of cilantro, juice of a lime, and sprinkle peanuts on top.  Enjoy it guilt-free!

Follow me at my food blog! http://itsallfoodlove.blogspot.com