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Yesterday marked the start of a unique journey that I began preparing for over a year ago.  Like many other bloggers and cooking aficionados, I decided to leave my job to explore a career in the culinary world.  I don’t know yet what it will look like or when it will start, but I feel that I began a journey that I will not turn back from.

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During this time set aside, I also want to be more active and live a healthier lifestyle.  Overall I eat pretty healthy, but working in an office for two years has brought upon bad eating and exercising habits.

This quinoa “fried rice” is a healthier alternative to fried rice with an interesting twist; pomegranate balsamic vinegar and purple kale.


My friends bought me the pomegranate balsamic vinegar from Oak Mountain Winery in Temecula for my birthday.  It is a lovely and casual winery close to Los Angeles.  I highly recommend it because no one there is pretentious!  All the servers are so kind and the raspberry champagne is delicious.

Now back to the balsamic vinegar.  You can find flavored balsamic vinegar at local farmer’s markets, wineries and specialty retail stores.

Along with eating healthy, much of my cooking is now from scratch.  Months ago, I began making my own vegetable broth from dried shitake mushrooms, onions, garlic, and celery,  The mushrooms absorb so much flavor and are great in a soup or stir fry.


Mushroom Broth (Makes 2 Quarts)

This recipe is adapted from the True Food cookbook by Andrew Weil, MD.  It is a beautiful cookbook with healthy, well developed recipes.  The end contains 23 recipes for sauces, vinaigrettes, broths, and sides that are vital components of the recipes in the book but are also great building blocks for developing your own taste.  I have made this broth many times and it is my favorite for soups and stir-fries.

  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 medium onion or 2 shallots skins on, chopped into quarters
  • 2 ounces dried shitake mushrooms (about 2 cups)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic skins on
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon or lemon basil (optional)
  1. Add the celery, onion, mushrooms, garlic, and basil to 2 1/2 quarts water in a large pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30-45 minutes, covered.
  2. Turn off the heat and add the soy sauce to taste.  Strain the stock through a fine-mesh strainer, discarding the solids except for the mushrooms.
  3. Refrigerate for up to 1 week or freeze for up to 1 month.

Quinoa “Fried Rice” (Serves 4)

  • 1 cup red quinoa
  • 2 Tbs expeller pressed canola oil or extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 1/4 cup mushroom broth or 2 Tbs soy sauce and remaining water
  • 2 Tbs pomegranate balsamic vinegar or any balsamic vinegar
  • 8-10 asparagus stalks, pale ends removed and cut into small pieces
  • 6-8 purple kale leaves, ends removed and cut into small pieces
  • 4-5 shitake mushroom caps, stems removed and diced
  • 2 steaks of frozen cod (appx. 12 oz)
  • 2 eggs
  1. If using mushroom broth, allow 1 hour to prepare broth and mushrooms.  If not using mushroom broth, use fresh shitake mushrooms.
  2. Prepare red quinoa according to the package directions and set aside.
  3. Thaw the frozen cod in cool water until just nearly thawed.
  4. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until it shimmers.  Add the shallots and saute until translucent, about 2 minutes.  Throw the purple kale on top, wait about 30 seconds and then mix it in until the oil is absorbed.  Add the mushroom broth, reduce to low and cover for 3-5 minutes until the kale is tender, stirring occasionally.
  5. Mix in the asparagus and simmer with the lid on for 1 additional minute.
  6. Add the quinoa until combined.
  7. In a separate bowl, whisk the eggs.  Move the vegetables and quiona to one side and add the eggs.  Cook the eggs until done or they start to stick and then combine.
  8. Create a whole in the mixture for the cod.  Chop the cod into 1/2 inch cubes and add to the pan.  Stir the cod until flaky when picked by a fork.  Add the pomegrante vinegar and mix to combine.
  9. Serve with soy sauce on the side.