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For those of you searching for gluten free grains, you will be pleasantly surprised to know there are several to choose from. I’m going to talk about Quinoa today.

Quinoa is an ancient grain from South America. Its spelling causes people to stumble and mis-pronounce it, coming up with some rather humorous renditions. It is actually pronounced “KEEN-WAH.”

Quinoa grains contain essential amino acids like lysine as well as substantial amounts of calcium, phosphorus, and iron.

It must be rinsed before using due to the fact that it’s coated with a substance called saponin. Saponins are bitter tasting and God put them there for a reason, to protect the grain from insects while growing. What a thoughtful God! You’ll find that while you are rinsing the quinoa the water will look soapy and cloudy – that’s the saponin. Keep rinsing until the water runs clear.

After cooked, its appearance is light & fluffy and its flavor (much like me) is slightly nutty. It is a great alternative to white rice or couscous. Get creative with quinoa by adding it to vegetable dishes & soups. I add it to my black bean burgers! Mmm! It can even be served as a high protein breakfast food and as with cereal, it can be mixed with honey, almonds, berries and almond milk!

Here are a couple of recipes I found on the internet:

Quinoa and Almond Milk

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup quinoa grain
  • 1/2 cup raw unblanched almonds
  • 2 Tbsp. maple syrup
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 cups + 5 – 6 extra cups of water*

Directions:

Soak the quinoa and almonds in water in separate jars overnight. Rinse the almonds and the quinoa grain separately. Set the almonds aside. Place the quinoa into a medium saucepan along with the 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, covered – for 15 minutes; cool. Place the cooked quinoa, almond, vanilla, maple syrup and 2 cups of water into the blender. Pulse until most of the ingredients have broken down. Add the remaining water and blend into a smooth milk. Strain in a fine mesh strainer or nut milk bag (click here to read more about nut milk bags).

*Add as much or as little water as you like. 5 cups of water (in addition to the quinoa’s cooking water) will make a fairly creamy milk. When made creamy, it can be used in place of cream in most recipes.

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Warm Quinoa Breakfast Cereal

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup prepared quinoa
  • 1/2-3/4 cup (depending on the consistency you like) almond or soy milk
  • 1 tsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 Tbsp. honey
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/4 cup toasted almonds

Directions:

Place prepared or leftover quinoa in a sauce pan. Add milk, butter, honey, cinnamon and raisins. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes or until the cereal thickens slightly. Garnish with nuts and an additional drizzle of honey if you like.

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As for one of my yummy recipes, well, you know I love my roasted veggies! Gather what you can, such as sweet potatoes, eggplant, onions, etc., find some of your favorite seasonings and let’s begin our creative cooking!

Quinoa and Roasted Veggies

Ingredients:

  • Non-stick spray
  • 1/4  plus 2 Tbsp. (separate) Olive Oil
  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 2 medium size sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 1 medium size eggplant, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 1 medium tomato, cut into wedges
  • 2 or 3 of your favorite bell peppers, or a combo of each ( green, yellow, orange or red) – sliced not too thick but just PERFECT
  • 1 small onion, cut into slices – to a medium thickness, we don’t want them too thin.
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. fennel
  • 1/2 tsp. dried thyme (if you’re like me though, I’m always running short on thyme or is it time? haha… a little joke!)
  • 1/4 tsp. dried marjoram
  • 2 cups water or vegetable broth (O Organics organic veg. broth is perfect)

NOTE:  As I always say…you can improvise…add the seasonings you want, you don’t have to use these. Same principle goes with the veggies. Practice free-form cooking!

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees. Spray large baking sheet that has sides, with cooking spray. Arrange veggies on baking sheet and coat with olive oil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, fennel, oregano and red pepper flakes – mix well. Bake for 30 minutes or until veggies are tender and brown.

While those are baking, rinse quinoa very well with cold running water, using a fine mesh strainer. Add remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil to a medium sized sauce pan and heat over medium heat, adding in garlic, thyme & marjoram; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Incorporate the quinoa now, and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Add in water, stir, bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until water is absorbed – about 15 to 20 minutes. Mix roasted veggies & quinoa together. MANGIA!

Be sure to BREATHE, and enjoy these last few days of Christmas week! Reach out to those in need. They may be closer than you realize.

Fun, adventurous cooking to you!

Mary

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