Quinoa 365 the Everyday Superfood Cookbook

November 18, 2010

A recent email introduced the new cookbooks; Glutton for Pleasure, Quinoa 365: the Everyday Superfood, Heart of the Artichoke, Cooking for Geeks, and Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy, along with an offer for more information on any of the publications that I was interested in.

The titles that immediately attracted my attention were Quinoa 365 and Heart of the Artichoke. I receive frequent opportunities to review various gardening related books but seldom take the publishers up on their offers… I love books, but hate committing to read and review one if I’m not sure how soon I will get around to it.

Quinoa 365 Cookbook, the Unauthorized Review

Quinoa 365 Cookbook CoverI received a copy of the Quinoa 365 cookbook and while I’m not doing an official review and haven’t even read the entire book, I was impressed and inspired enough to pass along some information about this superfood and the unique cookbook based on it.

If you’re unfamiliar with quinoa (pronounced ‘keen wah’), it’s simply a small grain somewhat similar to couscous or grits. Light and fluffy when cooked it can be used like rice or a hot breakfast cereal and is considered to be a very nutritious superfood.

The following garden facts come right from the pages of the cookbook:

  • Extremely hardy, the 5 to 6 foot plant’s ability to germinate in cool temperatures and grow at high elevations in drought like conditions makes it an extremely dependable crop.
  • The Incas considered quinoa to be their most sacred food, which contained spiritually enhancing qualities, and so named it la chisiya mama, or “the mother grain.”
  • An astonishing 4 cups of the seed will grow an entire acre of crop! The saponin seed coating provides an all-natural, safe pesticide for protection of the crop without the use of chemicals.
  • Technically, quinoa is not a grain at all. It is cultivated and used similarly to a grain but is actually the fruit of a broadleaf plant. It is in the same family as spinach and beets.

Enjoying Quinoa as a Delicious and Nutritious Superfood

Quinoa is increasingly available in local markets and natural food stores and can be purchased in colors that range from white to yellow, red, and black. It has a mild flavor that pairs well with many foods and is very versatile in its uses within the kitchen.

In addition to being used as a grain-like side dish or hot cereal, quinoa can be incorporated into soups, breads, salads, beverages, desserts, loafs, casseroles, stews, entrees, pies, cookies, cakes, and many of your favorite recipes. I’ve prepared quinoa occasionally and coincidentally enjoyed it cooked over an open fire just this past weekend while camping with friends in New Jersey.

Recalling a conversation with a coworker last year who was interested in quinoa, the first thing I did after receiving the cookbook was to take it into the office for her to look at. Sharon quickly spotted a couple of recipes that caught her interest and from there the book made its rounds to a few other curious and adventurous coworkers.

Take Your Pick Among Healthful and Exciting Quinoa Recipes

I was very surprised by the amount of interest that the book generated around the office, with a couple of people commenting that they intended to purchase a copy to use as a holiday gift. Some of the recipes that had mouths watering and imaginations wandering included:

  • The Ultimate Granola
  • Jalapeno Cheddar Pepper Scramble
  • Black Bean Quesadillas
  • Quinoa Crusted Chicken with Sage
  • Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup
  • Salmon and Red Quinoa on Asparagus
  • and a Mexican Casserole

There are also recipes to tempt your sweet tooth such as White Chocolate Macadamia Nut cookies, Lemon Poppy Seed Loaf, Caramelized Banana Pudding, and a Blueberry Sponge Cake. Finally the last section of the cookbook featured suggestions for creating your own nutritious and organic baby foods by incorporating the “mother grain” in purees, smoothies, yogurts, and other toddler friendly meals.

Quinoa is a great food that is well worth exploring further and Quinoa 365 offers some great ideas to help you get started with it in the kitchen. As far as actually planting the seed is concerned I haven’t gone beyond simply germinating them for use as sprouts, but I may try sowing a few seeds out in the garden next season just to see how well they will grow.

Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood cookbook is written by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming, published by Whitecap Books, and is available for purchase on the Quinoa 365 website and at Amazon.com.

Other Related Vegetable Gardening Posts:

  • Quinoa is a Chenopodium or lamb’s quarters relative, and the leaves are edible in the same way. In fact the plants look very similar, and quinoa won’t have any problem naturalizing in your garden. If you save your own seeds, beware it’ll also cross with lamb’s quarters. It’s certainly very easy to grow.

    The main problem is threshing and cleaning the seeds, which generally requires special screening or winnowing tools. In addition quinoa has saponins that are both a skin and eye irritant, as well as having a bitter taste. Normally store bought quinoa has been treated to remove these, so if you grow your own you have to do this yourself by soaking and rinsing it before you cook it.

    I decided it was too much trouble, and I don’t grow it anymore…

  • Kenny Point

    Thanks for the info Patrick, I hadn’t even gotten around to considering how I would thresh and clean the quinoa seed. Sounds like it’s not something that I would want to raise for consumption but I’ll still plant some even if it’s just for the experience and also to use the leaves.

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