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Quinoa Porridge

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It’s been extremely cold in Portland the last few days. The kind of cold that only Northwesterners can complain about; the air dries up, ice covers the street and a dusting of snow lays on the crowd, throwing us all off kilter and into chaos. But back to quinoa… in weather like this, the only thing that’s going to pull you from under the warm sheets is a good bowl of warm porridge.

I can’t take all the credit for this recipe; I was first introduced to a similar one by my good friend Caitlin. But with a few adaptions it’s become one of my favorite breakfast meals. I usually make it in large amounts because it freezes well. Just stash individual portions in the freezer and thrown them in a pot with a bit of water when you want tasty porridge in the morning!

Also- a note on the cranberries: I love the orange flavored ones you can get at Trader Joes, but another option is to use regular dried cranberries and mix them with a little orange zest.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup orange flavored cranberries
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins
  • 1 cup chopped pecans (almonds work well too)
  • 3 cups almond milk
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • turbinado sugar to taste (you can substitute with a non-sugar substance if you like)

Recipe:

Alright, this is easy!

  1. Cook quinoa in a large pot
  2. Once cooked, add in all ingredients and let simmer for about 5 minutes
  3. Flavor with sugar and extra spices as needed

Note: I like my porridge with a bit of personality, so I add in a lot of spices; probably more than I put into this recipe. If you’re making the porridge for a lot of people, spice it just for flavor and then let people add more to their individual bowls as they see fit.

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Banana quinoa muffins

The amazingly beautiful fall weather, including this intense blue sky captured this weekend, have given me my recent cooking inspiration. Given the time of year, I had originally wanted to make pumpkin quinoa muffins. But after 4 attempts in the last week I’ve had to admit to myself that the only recipe I’ve perfected has been one for banana quinoa muffins… at least they have pumpkin seeds in them, making them semi-seasonal! Don’t worry, pumpkin muffins will come soon, the recipe just needs to be tweaked a few more times — which means the roommates will be happy with the amount of baked goods I’ll be leaving around the kitchen.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cups uncooked quinoa
  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1/2 cup hemp milk (you can probably switch out for any type of milk; soy, almond, rice, etc.)
  • 1 egg
  • 3 tablespoons melted butter
  • 1 cup brown rice flour
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup chopped raw pumpkin seeds

Recipe:

  1. Cook quinoa (remember 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa!) and set aside
  2. Whisk egg and mix in bananas, milk and melted butter
  3. Combine dry ingredients and chopped pumpkin seeds
  4. Combine all dry and wet ingredients and stir in cooked quinoa
  5. Pour batter into greased 12-cup muffin pan
  6. Bake at 375 degrees for 18 minutes

Enjoy!


This is where it all started… the slight obsession with quinoa that is. Earlier this summer I came across a quinoa cake recipe and thought to myself “if I can get this grain into a dessert as well, I’m going to be hooked.” Well, you can guess what happened. The first one was such a success that I ended up making another two for my housemates that week. A lot of versions of the cake were tried out; chocolate chips, crystallized ginger, pecans… the list went on. In fact I have made this cake so many times with so many additions and changes it no longer looks like the original recipe. But after having made this cake for various dinner parties, afternoons with the girls and the obligatory “it’s Friday night and I’m bored… I guess I’ll cook,” I’ve decided that it’s the simple version that I like best.

I’ve been lucky to have a bag of home-grown apples on hand which really can’t be beat. The fruit obviously gives the cake a very moist texture and the buckwheat adds a very dense flavor.  The best thing about this cake is that once you get the basic recipe down, you can pretty much add anything you want, switching up the flavors to fit your mood. Most importantly, remember this: you’re making a cake with an uber-healthy grain!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1 cup buckwheat flour
  • 1 large apple, peeled and diced (I normally use Fuji or Gala apples)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 stick butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 cup turbinado sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ginger
  • dash of nutmeg or allspice
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or switch out for orange extract)

Recipe:

  1. Cook quinoa and set aside
  2. Mix dry ingredients
  3. Whisk butter and eggs together and add to dry mixture
  4. Combine all ingredients and tir in apple pieces
  5. Bake for 35-45 minutes at 350 F.

Getting fancy:

If you really want to impress your friends, put a glaze on it by mixing powdered sugar and the juice of a lemon…. delicious!

Over at Plenty Magazine a reader wrote in to ask just how sustainable of a grain quinoa really is. According to Plenty, there isn’t a whole lot of information available regarding quinoa’s footprint in relation to other grains like millet or rice. But even if you can’t determine what the amount of water and land use is to harvest quinoa, because it’s a complete protein, you can use to grain to replace meat in your diet.

Even if you don’t want to go full-on vegetarian, cutting down on meat consumption can help cut greenhouse gas emissions. In fact, according to the UN, the livestock industry is responsible for 20% of those emissions worldwide, so replacing a few meat meals with quinoa every week will help make for a better environment.

Stuffed peppers are one of those dishes that is surprisingly easy to make but looks so exquisite and classy when it’s done. I was inspired by the beautiful red peppers at farmers market. They were huge and, being organic, had just the right amount of imperfection to add to their natural beauty.

This recipe calls for a bit of gorgonzola, which gives the peppers a noticeable bite. I have in the past however switched out for other cheeses that can maintain their taste even in a complex dish, like feta or chevre.

I served my stuffed peppers with a side of cooked sweet potato, mashed with a bit of garlic and olive oil; the color contrast on the plate was beautiful. It’s always fun to play with what you put on the plate; it’s like having a canvas and palette of paints in front of you.

Recipe:

  • 1 cup quinoa (1/2 red, 1/2 white)
  • 3 large peppers (or 4 medium)
  • 1/2 cup lentils
  • 1/2 large leek
  • 6 mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil (or 1 tablespoon dry)
  • 1/2 cup toasted hazelnuts, finely chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 3 tablespoons gorgonzola (or more if you want a stronger taste)
  1. Cook quinoa and lentils separately and set aside
  2. Rinse peppers and slice off top — about a 1/2 inch down — in order to make a sort of hat that can sit on top of the pepper. Clean out the inside to get rid of any seeds.
  3. Saute mushrooms, garlic and basil
  4. Mix saute with quinoa and lentils
  5. Add hazelnuts and gorgonzola
  6. Stuff peppers with mixture and place in pan. Make sure that the peppers are standing upright; if the peppers don’t stand by themselves, squeeze them into a smaller pan.
  7. Bake at 375 for 35-45 minutes.

Bon appetit!

Since October 1st is the official World Vegetarian Day, even if you’re a meat-eater, consider giving it up for today. Studies show that cutting meat out of your diet can help cut greenhouse gas emissions.

My tips for quinoa — and 100% vegetarian — recipes to make today:

Salade de Quinoa Rouge via Chocolate and Zucchini

Warm and Nutty Cinnamon Quinoa via 101 Cookbooks

Quinoa Vegetable Paella via Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

Any other suggestions?

Now that I have this blog it’s time to get creative! Last Sunday B — the man who is happy to support my quinoa obsession — and I decided that meant quinoa burgers. It took a bit of web surfing, but after deciding that I didn’t want the vegan recipe, and I wanted to keep the burgers gluten free (had to switch out the standard bread crumbs), I decided on my own version of the recipe and went for it.

Although I am calling them burgers, they’re felt more like falafel while I was making them. I made them rather small, but if you want to go for the all out burger feel, you can make the patties bigger. The end product was dense and delicious; certainly packed full of protein thanks to the quinoa/bean combination.

To make the meal even more decadent, we topped the burgers off with homemade guacamole

Burgers:

  • 1 cup uncooked quinoa
  • 1/2 baked yam
  • 1 finely grated carrot
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 can organic black beans
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 of a white onion (I used a Walla Walla)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon chipotle powder
  • a sprinkling of red pepper flakes (add more if you like things spicy!)
  • oil for frying
  1. cook quinoa
  2. mix quinoa with baked yam, carrots, cilantro, salt, chipotle powder and chili flakes
  3. sautee garlic and onions. add black beans and cumin powder mix everything together
  4. add egg and buckwheat flour to the mix
  5. make small balls and flatten into patties. to make the burgers you can either fry them in the frying pan with oil (I used olive) or bake them in the oven.

Guacamole:

  • 2 mashed avocados
  • 1 finely chopped tomato
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • juice of 1/2 lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • chopped cilantro

throw it all in a bowl and top off the burgers!

Bon appetit!