Monday, August 8, 2011

Trying Something New, Food Edition: Quinoa


(don't pronounce it phonetically, like i did for the longest time - apparently it's "KEEN-wa")

I've heard a lot about it, particularly on Spark People. People go crazy over this food. "It's amazingly delicious, it incredibly healthy, it's a SUPERFOOD!"

Well, i made up my mind to try it. I had to really hunt for it - up where i live, none of the big stores have it - even in their natural food section. There is a natural food store in town, but i get uncomfortable going in there - they watch you hawkishly while you browse, and if you enlist their help with finding something, you MUST buy it immediately, or suffer their disappointed scowls (don't even think about going in just to check availability/price on something!).

Anyway, I finally found it in a bulk bin at Superstore when i was in Lethbridge visiting family. I only bought two cups worth, didn't weigh it myself, and forgot to check my receipt afterwards, so i have no idea whether or not it was expensive - it was more expensive than the rice, i know that. But i was curious, and wanted to try it.

It naturally produces a bitter outer coating (to protect itself against animals) which has to be rinsed off before you can eat it. Tip: since the grain is so small, i lined my colander with a paper towel - it kept all the quinoa contained while i rinsed it. 

There are so many ways to cook quinoa - the recipes i researched had it used in a dinner meal in place of rice, so that's how i prepared mine.

I cooked 1 cup of quinoa in 2 cups of chicken broth, and tossed it with a stir-fry of chicken, bell peppers (all colors!), onions, and garlic. it was incredible! I am an official convert. Even my boys loved it (though i must admit i am blessed with relatively adventurous boys). 

Here's a little more about this seed from Canadian Living:

"Regarded as a sacred food by the Incas, quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) provides a wide range of vitamins and minerals. This supergrain seed contains more protein than most cereal grains (22 grams per one cup/250 millilitres uncooked quinoa) and is considered a complete protein because it contains all eight of the essential amino acids we need for tissue development.
Quinoa is higher in calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, iron, copper, manganese, and zinc, and lower in sodium compared with wheat, barley and corn. This gluten-free grain also receives an honourable mention for being low in saturated fat (one gram of fat per one cup/250 millilitres uncooked quinoa).
Dietary uses: Quinoa can be substituted for most hot cereals and is a good replacement for rice. Cook it like porridge, include it in casseroles or stews, or add it (steamed, toasted or baked) to soups, salads or desserts. You can also use ground quinoa in breads, cookies, puddings, muffins and pasta. It's available in most grocery and health food stores."
(from "Top Ten Superfoods: Goji Berries, Cinnamon, Turmeric, and more")

I have one more cup of it left, and i think i might try it in a sweet breakfast recipe...

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Recipe Time: Healthy Nutty Chocolate Chip Cookies

hi there!! Our family just recently returned from a trip south to visit our family and spend some time together sight-seeing. We had an awesome time!

 It's taking some time to get back into the swing of things. Luckily, i had this post halfway completed before i left!

For our trip, i wanted to pack a good selection of healthy foods that wouldn't spoil in the heat, and are nourishing and balanced enough to sustain us without having to spend a fortune on fast food (especially at the Zoo, where a mere hamburger can cost you a weeks pay).

Since i make my own granola, i had thought to make granola bars, but i just couldn't find a recipe i liked. Then i stumbled upon this recipe for "healthy" cookies.

I read the comments section to get other people's opinions and adjustments, and decided to make my own adjustments. Normally i'm all for making the recipe as it's written first, but for this one i preferred to use the framework and adjust for my own tastes and what i had on hand.

These are so delicious! Even the kids love them! And i love that they're getting something nutritious and think of it as a wonderful treat! 

Healthy, Nutty, Chocolate Chip Cookies
2/3 c. unsweetened applesauce
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 c. flour
1 1/2 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. wheat germ
2 tbsp. ground flax
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. chopped almonds
1/4 c. sunflower seeds
1/4 c. mini chocolate chips (mini chips get dispersed more evenly than big ones)

Cream together applesauce and sugar with electric mixer. add egg and vanilla and mix well. Blend in flour,  rolled oats, wheat germ, flax, baking soda, baking powder and salt, scraping sides with spatula so everything is mixed evenly. Stir in almonds, sunflower seeds and chocolate chips. 

Drop on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or coated with non-stick spray. Bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Makes 3 dozen

And thanks to, here is a breakdown of the nutritional content per cookie:

Nutrition Facts

  36 Servings

Amount Per Serving
  Calories 62.9
  Total Fat 2.1 g
      Saturated Fat 0.4 g
      Polyunsaturated Fat 0.8 g
      Monounsaturated Fat 0.8 g
  Cholesterol 5.4 mg
  Sodium 37.7 mg
  Potassium 65.4 mg
  Total Carbohydrate 10.2 g
      Dietary Fiber 1.1 g
      Sugars 3.3 g
  Protein 2.0 g

  Vitamin A 3.8 %
  Vitamin B-12 0.3 %
  Vitamin B-6 6.1 %
  Vitamin C 0.1 %
  Vitamin D 0.3 %
  Vitamin E 4.2 %
  Calcium 3.0 %
  Copper 3.6 %
  Folate 6.4 %
  Iron 6.6 %
  Magnesium 3.9 %
  Manganese 21.2 %
  Niacin 5.4 %
  Pantothenic Acid     1.7 %
  Phosphorus     5.6 %
  Riboflavin 4.8 %
  Selenium 7.1 %
  Thiamin 8.4 %
  Zinc 3.0 %