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Tuesday, November 2, 2010

For the love of Quinoa

Here is an article that didn't get published when ever it was I wrote it so I thought I'd put it up here for you to enjoy....

What Color is Your Quinoa?

This ought to be a common question. Not so much for the actual color of the grain. You can get regular tan sort of quinoa or red or black varieties, but I was really referring to how you like yours cooked. I like mine with dried cranberries and extra water for breakfast, cooked until the bottom browns. This creamy, sweet and sour mix is very satisfying with a nice cup of hot tea or grain drink. For lunch, I’m partial to quinoa salads. The complete protein in this little seed keeps me satisfied for hours.

Quinoa is power packed with fuel for us. Along with its high protein content for a cereal grass, quinoa is a great source of calcium, manganese, iron, phosphorus, Vitamin E, B vitamins and more. It is reported a wonderful grain for those that run long distances for the energy that it provides. I think that is great for every day!

Quinoa ought to be one of the tops for being “green” as it is easy to grow and can thrive in adverse conditions. You could even toss some of the seeds around your home and grow them just for color.

This super seed has been cultivated in South America since about 3,000 B.C. that we know of. It was sacred in some Indian tribes such as the Aztecs but suppressed by the Spanish and even today it can be thought of by some as “Indian food” and less than Elite. The refining of foods used to be more costly and difficult to obtain. It was therefore revered as inferior in status to processed grain products. I personally would rather be superior in health. Ironically, quinoa is making a comeback in gourmet circles, as it is a fun versatile whole food.

It’s so easy to cook up some quinoa and it can be used in soups, salads, timbales, burgers, breakfasts and desserts. In fact there are few places that quinoa wouldn’t go in the course of planning out your menu. Sauté it with garlic and then add broth and green onions for a fun dinner dish. Cook it up and then add carrots, red onion and celery while still hot. Cool and serve with dressing for a wonderful salad. Try it with beets, green onions and mint with some toasted almonds tossed in. Try the following spreadable quinoa wrapped in a crepe with your favorite roasted veggies. With it’s innumerable uses, you are sure to find a quinoa dish or two that are your personal favorites. What color is your quinoa? I really would like to know.

Easy Chequinoa

Here is a recipe for those who would like a cheesy spreadable grain dish, high in protein, and great for most any condition. You may need to adjust the amounts of water to quinoa for your particular pans to get the right consistency. It should be moist and stick together pretty well. You can eat it plain, spread on a cracker, a slice of carrot or celery stick or use in a wrap sandwich.

1 Cup Quinoa, sorted and rinsed

3 ½ Cups water

6 – 8 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped

2 T. parsley, chopped

Mirin (optional)

1 + tsp. white miso paste

Sesame oil

Lemon juice

Place the quinoa, water and garlic in a pot with a lid and bring to a boil. Add the miso paste now or later it doesn’t matter. Turn the heat to low and put a lid on the pot simmering for about 20-30 minutes until the water is absorbed and the consistency somewhat sticky. Stir in the parsley and a sprinkle of mirin. Add just a small amount of sesame oil and lemon juice to get a taste that you enjoy. I just drizzle a little of each in and stir well.

Quinoa Cauliflower Casserole

This casserole is a lovely blend, being light and satisfying at the same time.

1 Cup Quinoa, rinsed and sorted

2 Cups Water

1/2 Large onion, chopped

1/2 head of Cauliflower, broken up

1 tsp. fresh sage (or use dried)

1 tsp. fresh oregano (or use dried)

2 cups broth (homemade vegetable broth or any broth you like)

2 T. safflower oil

2-4 T. flour (most flours work well)

Salt & Pepper to taste

1/4 – 1/2 Cup Breadcrumbs

Pre-heat your oven to 350° Place the quinoa, water, onion, cauliflower and chopped herbs into a pot and bring to a boil. Add a pinch of sea salt. Cover the pot and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 20 minutes or until all the water is absorbed. Stir well, breaking the cauliflower up even more. Add salt and pepper and any other seasoning you would like.

While that is cooking, heat the oil in another pot and the flour to make a paste. Allow this mixture to bubble and start adding in broth 1/2 Cup at a time, stirring with a small whisk to make a creamy sauce. Keep adding in broth until the sauce will not thicken anymore. Stir this into the quinoa mixture and place in a casserole pan. Sprinkle breadcrumbs on top and bake uncovered for 30 minutes.

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