As the weather cools and the days get shorter, it is time for more rest, more warmth and more nourishment.
We are often told to eat more whole grains, but many people are not sure of how to easily incorporate them into their diet or feel that they require too much time to cook and eat in a rushed and busy life. One quick and easy whole grain to prepare is quinoa. Quinoa is an ancient grain eaten by the Incas. They called it the "mother grain”. It contains more protein than any other grain, and is high in magnesium (important for relaxation) and iron (for energy). Its nature is considered to be warming and energizing, the perfect food for this season to help ground, nourish and strengthen us.
Quinoa can be prepared in two ways which reduce the bitterness of the saponin on the outside of the grain:
(1) Soak overnight, drain and rinse it in the morning.
(2) Dry roast it in a cast iron pan on moderate heat until it is light brown and starts to smell really good.
For both methods, after roasting or soaking, cook the grain like rice in a ratio of 1:2. That is, if you soaked or roasted 1 cup of quinoa, cook it with 2 cups of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to cook with the lid on for approx 15-20 mins until all the water is absorbed.
Now you can try it for breakfast with raisins, apple, yogurt and flax oil or try it in a salad, simply added to greens or in a grain salad as in the following recipe.
This quinoa salad is not only nutritious, it looks wonderful with the yellow added by the tumeric powder (excellent for the liver, skin and eyes), the orange of the carrots (high in anti oxidants), red of the cranberries (high in vitamin C) and apples (high in fibre and vitamin C) and green of the parsley (high in vitamins A, C, K folic acid and B vitamins). It is also great for fall / winter as apples, carrots, parsley and cranberries are all in season!
3 cups cooked quinoa
½ cup organic plain full cream yogurt
½ cup cold pressed extra virgin olive oil
1 tbls unpasteurised apple cider vinegar
1 ½ – 2 tsp curry powder
½ tsp tumeric
½ tsp sea salt
2 tbls freshly squeezed lemon or lime juice
1 tbls maple syrup
1 cup grated carrots
1 cup crisp red apple
¾ cup cranberries
¾ cup sliced almonds
¼ cup sesame seeds
1 cup parsley, chopped
1. Place the cooked quinoa in a large bowl.
2. Add the grated carrots, finely chopped parsley, diced red apple and dried cranberries.
3. In a separate bowl whisk together the yogurt, olive oil, vinegar, curry powder, tumeric, salt, lemon/lime juice and maple syrup to make a dressing. Taste for general flavor and make any changes you feel inspired to make, then add this to the quinoa and vegetables.
4. Lastly, dry roast the sesame seeds in a cast iron pan on moderate heat until light brown. Then dry roast the almonds until light brown and add both to the salad.
5. Mix well to combine and enjoy this beautiful salad! You can eat it immediately but is better if it sits for a few hours for the flavors to be absorbed. It also tastes great after 2 days in the fridge so perfect for lunch leftovers.
(recipe adapted from the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook).
Anna Louise Dodds is a registered holistic nutritionist who works in Nanaimo. Email: email@example.com