Thursday, January 24, 2008

Quinoa recipes

The rotation diet has forced me to incorporate more alternative grains into my menus. I've discovered a whole new world of grains with quinoa, amaranth and buckwheat (kasha). These gluten-free grains are actually superfoods nutritionally. Quinoa, the grain I plan my meals around for Day 1, is an ancient grain with origins tracing to the Andes Mountains of South America. It was one of three staple foods, along with corn and potatoes, of the Inca civilization. Quinoa (pronounced "Keen-wa") contains more protein than any other grain, an average of 16.2 percent, which means it rivals the protein content of meat. It's also a complete protein with an essential amino acid balance close to ideal. It's a versatile grain as I've come to find out. Each time I sample a new recipe it leaves me begging for more just like Pumpkin, my orange kitty, at the right. Recipes and menu plans for Day 1, a new round, which features quinoa, are below. Other key ingredients for these meals are safflower oil, mushrooms, lettuce, zucchini, peas, beets, kiwi, blueberries and starfruit.

Breakfast: Ancient grains quinoa flakes with blueberries

Lunch: Homemade quinoa flour roll with pea soup (recipes below)

Dinner: Quinoa/mushroom veggie burger (recipe follows) with grilled portabello mushrooms and zucchinis, and sliced star fruit

Quinoa and Mushroom Burger Recipe
Difficulty rating: medium
(pictured with starfruit at right)

2 cups cooked quinoa
1/4 tsp. cumin seed
1/4 tsp. coriander
8 chopped mushrooms
3 T. safflower oil
1 can garbanzo beans
4 T. quinoa flour or brown rice flour
2 egg equivalents made with egg replacer
Additional safflower oil and pan spray for cooking
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the quinoa according to instructions on package. In the meantime, put the mushrooms, garbanzo beans, spices and safflower oil in the food processor and blend until it forms a thick paste. You may need to add more oil. Put the quinoa, along with mixture from the food processor, into a large bowl and blend. Add the egg replacer and additional quinoa flour and mix. Shape burgers from the mixture. If the mixture is too wet, add additional quinoa flour. Cook the burgers in a heavy skillet with oil. The mixture makes about eight good-sized burgers. Extras keep well in the freezer. To freeze, place each burger on a square of wax paper, stack them up, and store in a ziploc bag. The wax paper trick will help you remove one at a time for heating and eating. Serve quinoa/mushroom burgers on homemade quinoa buns (next recipe).

Quinoa Flour Hamburger Buns
Difficulty rating: hard
Note: I altered a gluten-free bread recipe to make these buns. They are extremely dense in texture.

1 3/4 cup quinoa flour
1 cup tapioca starch
2 T. sugar
2 1/2 tsp. xanthum gum
2 tsp. yeast
1 cup warm water (110 degrees)
1 1/4 sea salt
2 tsp. cider vinegar
2 T. safflower oil
3 eggs or equivalent of egg replacer
parchment paper

Mix together the wet ingredients in stand mixer. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Slowly add the dry ingredients, beating together on low. Place the mixer on a speed of 2 to knead the mixture for four minutes. Add more flour if needed to reduce stickiness of dough. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out balls of dough for the hamburger buns, space them evenly on the baking sheet. Allow to "rise" in a warm place for at least 30 minutes. Keep in mind that these buns will not rise like wheat rolls or bread. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes or until golden brown. Allow the buns to cool completely before slicing.

Fresh Pea Soup with Mint
Difficulty rating: easy
(serves 2)
1/2 T. safflower oil
1 rib celery, green parts only, cut into small pieces
Optional: 1 scallions, green parts only, cut into 4-in. pieces, and 1/4 medium onion, finely chopped
1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups peas, fresh, or frozen, thawed
1/8 tsp. sea salt
1/4 cup fresh mint leaves

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the celery tops and optional scallions and onions. Cook, stirring for 5 minutes, or until vegetables are tender.
Add the broth and bring to a boil. Add the peas and salt. Simmer for 10 minutes.
Carefully transfer the mixture to a blender or food processor. Add the mint leaves and puree until smooth. Serve warm or chill for at least one hour before serving.

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