Wednesday, February 9, 2011

My Quinoa Obsession

Red Quinoa (dry)
Recently I discovered a book at Costco, which made me break one of my New Year's Resolutions. I had sworn not to buy any more cookbooks, due to my overflowing cookbook shelves (yes, plural). I'd seen this particular book before Christmas and had considered adding it to my wishlist - I actually took a picture of it. In early January, I found myself standing in Costco, looking longingly at the pile once more. Then something inside my went "crack", and my resolution was broken. All for the greater good (of my family), I told myself. (Yes, I can be weird about things. It only cost $17.39.)

The glorious book in question? Quinoa 365: the Everyday Superfood:

What the heck is quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah")? From the publisher's website:
One of the world’s healthiest foods, quinoa contains a perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids, and is a great source of protein, making it an increasingly popular food choice for those looking to incorporate superfoods into their everyday diets. Gluten-free, wheat-free, and nutrient-packed, quinoa is ideal for those who are health-conscious, vegetarian, or physically active, as well as for those with gluten intolerance, wheat allergies, and other digestive disorders. But that’s not all; you can eat quinoa guiltlessly knowing it’s free of cholesterol and trans fats, contains natural antioxidants, and is a source of vitamin E, calcium, potassium, iron, and magnesium. In Quinoa 365 sisters Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming show you how to use this miraculous superfood in all your favorite dishes.
It is not a grain either, but the fruit of a broadleaf plant. All by itself, cooked quinoa is a great sidedish and alternative to rice. Since it's a complete protein (extremely rare for a vegetable or plant), it is an ideal meat substitute. But really, use it in all your favourite dishes? Yep. There are recipes in this book for salads, breads, cereals, stews, burgers, frittatas, cookies, and puddings to name a few. Flipping through the book, there are countless ways I see that we can incorporate quinoa into our new flexitarian way of eating.

White Quinoa (dry)
Until this book, my only other quinoa recipe was Golden Quinoa Salad with Mango and Walnuts. I got the recipe from the newspaper and was so smitten, that I made it for a family gathering at the end of the summer a few years ago. It was a hit and I (who hates cold salads) couldn't get enough of it.

Golden Quinoa Salad with Mango and Walnuts
There are many blogs with adoring posts about quinoa. I even found a blog by a mom admittedly "Keen on quinoa". It's a great source for quinoa recipes: How Do You Cook Quinoa?

My first dish from Quinoa 365 was the Minestrone Soup. I had all the ingredients on hand and felt like making something warm and cozy (because of what our weather has been like lately). The quinoa cooks with the soup, so there is no extra step. When I served this yummy minestrone, it looked like this:

Minestrone Soup

But after it had sat a little longer, the quinoa plumped up and became more visible:

Minestrone Soup - Day 2

I make a similar soup as part of my own repertoire, but I will now definitely add quinoa to it for a nutritional boost. In fact, I'll likely be adding quinoa to all my soups!

The other recipe I tried was Outrageously Quick and Easy Pizza Crust. In a word: fantastic. When we make our own pizza dough, I've used a recipe that came with our breadmaker. It's very good, but this is better. The quinoa is cooked and cooled first, then added to the dough. I found the dough a little difficult to work with, but I'm sure that will improve with practice - and I WILL be "practicing" this recipe.

Slightly Overcooked Pizza made with
Outrageously Quick and Easy Pizza Crust recipe
I was a little worried that the crust would be too doughy, since it puffed up when baking, but it wasn't at all. The quinoa (although practically undetectable) gives the crust an interesting and satisfying texture. It's hard to explain, but I'll say it was a HUGE hit with my family. I made the pizza vegetarian, save for the tiniest bit of crumbled bacon.

You can find a handful of recipes on the Quinoa 365 website, including Championship Chili (on my list of next-to-try), but I strongly suggest buying or borrowing the book, because once you get started with quinoa, it's pretty exciting stuff. Some other dishes on my list: healthy cookies, quinoa veggie bake, jalapeno chedder pepper scramble, pumpkin pancakes, black bean soup, tomato and basil crustless quiche, caramel date cake, chewy chocolate chip cookies, to name but a few. I did say I was obsessed!


  1. This is very interesting Denise, thanks for sharing. Im going to have to find this book and give some recipes a try. Where can you buy quinoa?

  2. Oh God! You need to have a separate blog with just recipes!!!!

  3. I do include a lot in my posts, Alysha, but I can't do that for the ones from the book. (Not legal.) If you want to see some other recipes that I've blogged about so far, check out

  4. Thanks for the mention. That Golden Quinoa Quinoa Salad with Mango and Walnuts looks beautiful. I will have to try making the pizza crust. We moved to a new town several months ago and I haven't found a pizza shop we like yet. I think it's time to start making our own pizza.

  5. I'm a huge fan of this cookbook and, with your prompting, will try the pizza recipe too! We've enjoyed many of the recipes & especially the chicken stew on p.75. Enjoy!

  6. It is a fabulous cookbook. Who knew you could make so many things with quinoa? Definitely try the pizza recipe and let me know how it goes. (One suggestion: make the quinoa ahead so it can cool, otherwise it can cook the egg - not what you want.)

  7. The quinoa salad with mangoes and walnuts was amazing! Thanks for making it today for us to sample! :)