Wellness from Within: Quinoa

Quinoa, an ancient super grain and cousin to the ancient grain Amaranth.  I think it took me years to pronounce this wonder grain properly!  You pronounce it properly as “keen wa”.  Quinoa was a staple food of the Incas and they referred to it as the mother grain.    Quinoa has some wonderful healing properties.  It’s main strength is its warming property which acts to strengthen and tone our bodies organs, particularly the kidneys.  Quinoa has a high protein content and has more calcium than milk.  For this reason it is a great source of calcium for the lactose intolerant.  It is also a great source of iron, phosphorus, magnesium, Vitamin B, and Vitamin A.  This little grain is gluten free too, making it a fabulous nutrient packed grain for the gluten intolerant and Coeliacs.  

Quinoa can be cooked as a whole grain in much the same way as rice.  It is now also available as a ground flour to be used in baking and in flakes to be used as a cereal or much the same as porridge.  I’ve been experimenting with Quinoa in all sorts of recipes from salads and patties, to cakes and slices.  My favourite recipe that I’ve come across so far are these deliciously moreish Little Quinoa Patties by Heidi Swanson in her book “Super Natural Everyday“.  I know I shared a recipe of Heidi’s last week but these are so tasty, good for you and very versatile, you could eat them for breakfast, lunch or dinner.  They even freeze well!  I love to serve them as pictured below, atop a fresh seasonal salad with a dollop of a freshly made tahini, yoghurt and lemon sauce.

Another great cookbook I have that really shows the versatility of cooking with Quinoa is “Quinoa 365; the everyday superfood.”  This is definitely worth a look if you are interested in learning how to bake with quinoa flour as well as cooking with the grain.

Now last week I promised to share my Chicken Pilaf recipe with you all.  My boys absolutely love this and we often have it to use up left over roast chicken and as a great one pot midweek meal.  Enjoy!

Liza’s Nourishing Chicken Pilaf

2 tbs olive oil

1 diced brown onion

1 clove crushed garlic

1 heaped tsp fresh turmeric

1 tsp powdered ginger

2 segments of preserved lemon, diced

2 grated carrots

2 cups peas (frozen is fine)

1/4 cup sultanas

2 cups shredded chicken (I use the leftovers from a roast chicken)

2 cups basmati rice

3-4 cups chicken stock (start with 3, add more if rice is still a little hard after all stock has been absorbed)

1/2 cup of flaked almonds (for added flavour lightly brown them in a little olive oil or butter)

A handful of fresh parsley, roughly chopped and cracked black pepper to finish

In a large heavy based pot with a tight fitting lid, heat the olive oil and sauté the onion and garlic until transparent.

Add the turmeric and ginger to the pan and stir until fragrant.  

Add the carrots, peas, preserved lemon, sultanas, chicken and stock, stirring well.

Bring the pot to a simmer and replace the lid and reduce heat to very low.  

Allow the rice to absorb the liquid for approximately 20mins.  Resist taking the lid off to check, as this allows all the steam to escape and will extend the cooking time of the rice. 

After 20mins, remove the lid and give the pot a good stir to prevent any rice catching on the bottom of your pot.  Also check to see if all stock has been absorbed and taste.  If the rice is still a little firm, add a further half a cup of stock and replace lid and leave for about another 5 mins and check again.  Repeat until all liquid has been absorbed and the rice is tender.  To serve top with toasted flaked almonds and chopped fresh parsley.  

It was great to read all of your comments last week and hear so many of you say you were going to cook the delicious Red Lentil Soup recipe.  I’m really excited that you’re enjoying this new weekly post and look forward to sharing even more with you over the coming weeks.

Liza xxx

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