Wheat Berry Salad

I knew I wanted to make something fresh and light for dinner last night. After having had a rather sinful sushi lunch – I went with the tempura/multiple sauce roll, I didn’t want to go to bed feeling stuffed.

I had seen an ad for Pompeian oils and vinegars in a magazine a few months back. The ad also contained a recipe for Black Bean, Edamame and Wheat Berry Salad. I had tracked down some of the ingredients over the weekend and decided that would be the recipe I’d try.

The Ingredients:

4 Cups Water – not shown – used to cook the wheat berries
1/2 Cup Dry Wheat Berries
1/2 of a 15 oz. Can of Black Beans – rinsed and drained
1 Cup Shelled Edamame – the recipe called for thawed frozen – I went with fresh from Trader Joe’s
1 Cup Chopped Tomato
1/2 Cup Finely Chopped Red Onion
3 Tablespoons Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tablespoons Red Wine Vinegar
Salt and Ground Pepper to taste – not shown…I’m sure you are all familiar with my salt and pepper shakers now 😉

Serves 6 –  (3/4 Cup Servings)

Wheat berries – I had heard of wheat berries. I had seen other recipes that called for wheat berries, but I wasn’t exactly sure what they were or where to find them in the grocery store.  I thought for sure they would be near the rice – to me they looked similar to brown rice when cooked. Well… A wheat berry refers to the entire wheat kernel, except for the hull. They can be cooked several different ways. You can cook them similar to rice – add water, bring to boil and then simmer. You can soak them and then sauté them in olive oil with garlic and other spices. You can also add them to bread for a crunchy texture or ground them up into a wheat flour. They are available in both soft and hard textures and they vary in color from white (light tan) to red (reddish-brown). I’m pretty sure the original recipe showed red, but all I could find at the store was soft/white. You can find them in the grain section or healthy foods section of the grocery store, near the flour.

For you calorie counters – A cup of wheat berries has about 300 calories and is packed with fiber, protein and iron.

The first step was to rinse the dry berries. A fine mesh strainer would have worked great for this… the coffee filter/pampered chef can strainer/hoopty combo I used… was pretty much a pain in the butt.

Mental note: Must purchase a fine mesh strainer.

Anyway, I added the rinsed berries to 4 cups of salted water. The cooking instructions on the wheat berry package called for way less water, but the recipe instructions I used – called for 4 cups  – bring to boil, simmer for 50 minutes and then drain.

While the wheat berries where simmering, I chopped up the tomatoes and red onion. I rinsed and drained the black beans and added all of the ingredients, minus the wheat berries to a bowl. I gave it a good mix and then put it into the fridge to marinate.

As soon as the berries were finished, I grabbed my coffee filter, can strainer, make-shift contraption and I rinsed the berries with cold water to cool them down. I patted them dry with paper towels and then got them added in with the other ingredients. I gave everything a good stir and did a taste test. It needed something. I added more ground pepper and a splash or two of balsamic. I let the salad mixture sit in the fridge for another 30 minutes.

Perfection! I will definitely be making this dish again. I loved the combination! It would be great paired with grilled chicken.

I ended up eating it with a 100 calorie everything bagel thin w/reduced fat cream cheese. I actually ended up using my bagel as a scoop – it was delicious!

I’m super excited about wheat berries and can’t wait to try them in more recipes – good thing I still have the majority of the huge bag left. One of the recipes I came across combined wheat berries with milk, honey and cinnamon – interesting, I could see that – they do have a rather nutty taste to them.

Queen of all things salad and master of the side-dish,

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Better Oats in the morning

While grocery shopping over the weekend…I stopped at a huge display of Better Oats Oatmeal. I’d never seen it before. The sign said that they offer a product that is exactly what I’m looking for… Mmmkay… From Oat Revolution to Oat Fit to Raw Pure and Simple – with everything in between.

Being that I’m a designer, the packaging actually was the first thing to catch my eye. The second was the whole grains, flaxseed and real fruit pieces and chocolate morsel ingredients. There were so many flavors to choose from, I decided on three to start. I went to my “go to” oatmeal favorite, Abundance – Apples and Cinnamon. Then I grabbed Mmm Muffins – Blueberry and the last one was Lavish – Dark Chocolate – I thought the names were really creative.

They come 5 packages to a box… and they were on sale – 4 boxes for $5.00 – Whoops!  Just noticed that on the receipt… guess I should have grabbed another box.

Not sure the oatmeal dispensing system is necessary, but again… I’m a sucker for innovative packaging design.

You cradle the pouch in your hand and add cold water to the fill line. I’ve tried all three and used this method every time. If you don’t want to fuss with the package, you just add 1/2 cup of water to the bowl of oats. The package claims… “For easier and quicker preparation, tear open and try our measuring cup pouch!”  – There is a dotted line and me being an over-achieving perfectionist… I had to use scissors 😉

Brace yourselves for the action/pour shot… I gave it a good stir and put the bowl into the microwave for 2.5 minutes. The package said 2 – but I know my microwave better than Better Oats does… so I went with my tried and true 2.5 minute oatmeal setting.

Sunday’s oats were the Mmm Muffin – Blueberry and OMG! They smelled delicious, tasted just like a gooey muffin and I will DEFINITELY be purchasing the flavor again.

Nutrition Info. – 160 cal. | 2.5 g fat | O mg chol. | 220 mg sodium | 32 g carbs | 4 g protein

Monday morning I tried the Abundance Apples & Cinnamon. I’m trying to get back into the habit of eating breakfast before work, instead of bringing string cheese and fruit to eat at my desk.

I really liked the apple pieces and the cinnamon flavor –  the texture was perfect. I like a thicker oatmeal and this one delivered.

Nutrition Info. – 150 cal. | 2.5 g fat | O mg chol. | 90 mg sodium | 30 g carbs | 5 g protein – Much lower sodium and 1 extra gram of protein in this flavor.

In honor of my friend/blog reader Kristen’s birthday today – I got up at 5:30 this morning with Dan to bust a move with my Lavish – Dark Chocolate Oats. Sprinkles, a candle and chocolate oatmeal at 5:45 AM –  yep, the neighbors now officially think I have gone off the deep end.  Happy Birthday Kristen!

It was like eating a brownie for breakfast and you know what? I honestly don’t see a problem with that. Hah!

Nutrition Info. – 160 cal. | 2.5 g fat | O mg chol. | 220 mg sodium | 33 g carbs | 4 g protein – very similar to the blueberry muffin.

They have a lot of products and while I may or may not go for healthier versions next time – I liked all three of the ones I picked.  For Weight Watcher’s peeps – the Oat Fit line has no added sugar, 100 calories and calculates to 2 pts.

I noticed on their website that you can “Take the Taste Test” and get a 55 cent coupon – they also claim that if you share your experience in an email or video, they will donate 5 meals to help feed hungry families in the United States” – pretty cool!

Now I must get in the shower to really get this day started.

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Teriyaki Chicken Kabobs

Dan loves Island’s Restaurant and their “Yaki Tacos” – A few months ago I found a copycat recipe online and I recreated them. Part of the recipe included making  the teriyaki sauce. I wasn’t feeling like tacos, so I decide to make the sauce for kabobs instead. I had 1/2 a pineapple left from the fruit salad and I wanted to use it up.

The Ingredients for the Teriyaki Sauce:

1 3/4 Cups Water
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
1/2 Cup Soy Sauce
3/4 Cup Light Brown Sugar
1/2 Teaspoon Garlic Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Onion Powder
2 Teaspoons Minced Fresh Ginger

The first step is to add the water to a medium saucepan. I had the heat set to between medium and high. I then whisked in the cornstarch. I added all of the remaining ingredients and brought things to a boil – I then turned the heat down to medium and let it simmer for about  8 minutes. It starts to thicken after about 5 minutes.

At this point I added some of the juice from the pineapple that I had cut up – it was about 2 Tablespoons. Once I felt that the sauce was the right consistency, I extracted a cup of it and poured it in a bowl over the chicken. I decided to use Foster Farm’s chicken tenders. I threaded them onto the skewers and it worked out great! I have to say, touching and cutting raw chicken is NOT my favorite thing to do. I will dive into ground beef bare handed for meat loaf… but chicken is a different story. The slime factor is too huge for this girl.

The Simple Kabob Ingredients:

Minus the chicken… it was already in the bowl marinating. I got the veggies cut up while the teriyaki sauce simmered on the stove.

A rainbow of veggie/fruit yum!

The neighbors were having a huge family BBQ and I must have opened the sliding glass door 25 times during this kabob process. Out with the food and camera, in to wash utensils, out with camera… thankfully they were the side neighbors and the fence is high enough to hide my shenanigans.

I constructed the skewers and took them and the remaining sauce out to the grill.

I made one skewer with the pineapple mixed in with the peppers, onion and chicken… but I wasn’t sure how fast it would cook, so I decided to leave it out of the second skewer. That way, if it burned, I’d still have a full skewer of pineapple that I could throw on the grill at a later time.

I did end up putting the “all pineapple” skewer on about 10 minutes into the grilling, but it didn’t really matter that I separated the pineapple – the other mixed skewer did just fine. Next time I will probably also spray the grill – the chicken stuck to it a bit at first.

I basted the kabobs with a much longer brush throughout the cooking process.

They were perfection! Super moist with the right amount of teriyaki flavor. I served them with a side of sticky rice. I probably won’t buy store-bought teriyaki ever again. I love that I can use low sodium soy sauce when I make my own.  It was the perfect dinner for the amazing weather we had yesterday.

I spent about 5 hours gardening during the morning/afternoon and when I say “gardening” that’s sort of a stretch – it was more like weed pulling and plant trimming. I should also note – I apparently used muscles that I didn’t even know I had. Picking up that platter last night was a struggle.

Even though the first day of Summer isn’t until June 21st – it sure felt like Summer grillin’ to me.

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