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Sunday, October 23, 2011

How to cook Quinoa- with a little help from my friends

Yesterday I was blessed to meet some lovely health-conscious souls at Holland & Barrett health foods.  We had lots in common- a desire for a delicious dairy alternative (I use Kara Coconut milk), quest to perfect our Gluten-free baking (Karina's Kitchen is my go to for this; so much information for gluten-free living!) and a LOVE of Quinoa.  But the question kept on popping up-  how to cook quinoa?

When I came home the hubs had chopped up some organic chicken and was at a loss on what to cook it with.  I felt like some fresh corn tortillas with lots of spicy vegetables, but he was hunting in the pantry for couscous, as he felt like "something light and not doughy" to go with the chicken.  As I've been slowly ousting the wheat and gluten from our diets there wasn't any couscous to be found; but we did have a great supply of quinoa, and dinner just fell into place after what I'd been chatting to others about all day!
yum. thanks to the Dinner Mom for this Curried chicken quinoa pic! 
How to cook Quinoa

Store-bought quinoa has usually been washed and air dried but always rinse the grain to get rid of any chaff or mold (uncommon if you buy pre-packaged quinoa, but best to take precautions as we do with any grains).  Quinoa isn't a grain in actual fact; it's a complete protein from the family of spinach.  This family contains saponin which can taste bitter; soaking the quinoa for 5 minutes before cooking, then rinsing once more further minimises the saponin effect.

I cook quinoa easily using the "absorption method"; the traditional (and in my experience, easiest) way to cook rice. Here's how:

  1. Oil a saucepan and heat it on high.
  2. Add 1 cup of quinoa and toast it on high for half a minute in the saucepan
  3. Add enough boiling water (I pour it straight from the kettle) to cover the quinoa + 1 centimetre.  Stir the pot, turn the heat down to low, and pop on the lid.  Your quinoa will be ready in 9-12 minutes!

You can tweak this basic recipe so easily:

  • to make a tasty savoury quinoa, add a teaspoon of vegetable bouillon or half a stock cube when adding the hot water.  A dab of butter at this time really amplifies the taste.
  • to make a porridge-type breakfast or sweet dessert quinoa, use milk, single cream or your favourite dairy substitute instead of the boiling water.  Bring up to near-boiling point before lowering the heat and popping on the lid of the pot.

I always use my nutrition school's concept of "cook once, eat twice" with wholegrains, so as we watch the Rugby World Cup final this morning we'll have a beautiful bowl of Breakfast Quinoa; adapted from the Savvy Vegetarian , to fuel us for the day.

Many thanks to Chris and Mandy at Holland & Barrett Douglas for the chance to meet your customers to share my passion for healthy living and the transformative power of Health Coaching.  It was a lovely experience.  And welcome to a healthy circle, all new friends!

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