Keen for Quinoa?

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Grains seem to be an easy addition to the diet for someone, like me, who is working to add more diversity to their pantry. Self-stable, easy to prepare, and hearty, there does not really seem to be a downside to adding more of them to my kitchen repertoire. I liked many of the dishes we made in class – especially the bread pudding – and I wanted to challenge myself this week to make 3 different kinds of dishes with the same grain. I decided on a dinner entree, a breakfast entree, and a dessert. I chose quinoa because it is so full of nutrients and because it is one of a few grains I have used more regularly in the past. I also find quinoa to be relatively easy to prepare in a batch, and fairly versatile for use in both savory and sweet dishes.

Recipe #1 Vegan Quinoa Crockpot Chili

http://everyday-reading.com/vegan-recipe-4-crockpot-quinoa-chili/

I love this recipe. It’s flavorful, easy, and is just so hardy and healthy. On top of that, it is a crowd-pleaser. My husband, who is a meat lover, liked the chili so much he said he didn’t miss meat at all.  I even fed it to my in-laws and they loved it too! The quinoa adds a nice texture that, although not identical to meat, gives this chili a richness that would be sorely lacking if omitted. As I am developing my confidence and intuition with cooking, I am also getting more comfortable with adding ingredients or “going rogue” with recipes, and this dish makes it easy to try a new spice or add a new vegetable because it is very forgiving. And, cooking doesn’t really get easier than something you can make in the slow cooker!

Recipe #2 Veggie Quinoa Breakfast Bowl

http://www.reclaimingprovincial.com/2013/03/06/veggie-quinoa-breakfast-bowl/

A nice side effect about preparing both this quinoa recipe and the chili one is that, while adding whole grains to my diet, I am also adding a good deal of vegetables! This was another yummy recipe, and one that could be easily played with to add new or different vegetables, spices, and flavors. The premise is simple – warm quinoa as a base for sauteed veggies, cheese, and that yummy, umami flavor you get with a runny egg yolk. This was also a hit with my husband, and I could see making this with easily with just about any vegetable you have around the house, even frozen ones. I added red onion to the recipe to add even more flavor, as well as a bit of coconut aminos in place of salt, but I would think a hot sauce like sriracha would work very well too.

Recipe #3 Chocolate Quinoa Pudding

http://thegreenforks.com/chocolate-quinoa-pudding/

I suppose it was inevitable that I would not luck out and go 3 for 3 with recipes this week. Unfortunately, this sweet “pudding” recipe was a bit of a disaster. Though I kind of liked the chocolate flavor of the end product, I would not call this dish anything resembling a pudding; at best, it was a chocolate soup, and at worst it was chocolate-flavored quinoa sludge. The intention is there – chocolate flavoring, natural sweetener (with the maple syrup and dates)- but the texture just did not work at all. I am not sure how the original author managed to get such a lovely pudding consistency, but even blending and blending (in a pretty nice blender, I might add) and using small amounts of the almond milk so it didn’t get too runny, this dish does not “set” at all and does not have a pudding-like consistency. It could all be user error, but I would not recommend this particular preparation of “quinoa pudding”.