Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The many questions and mysteries surrounding QUINOA!

What is Quinoa?

Quinoa....pronounced Keen-wah or kee noh ah? That is usually the first discussion I have with people regarding Quinoa. I always stick with pronouncing it KEEN WAH!

The second discussion is usually on the topic of what is Quinoa? 
Well a quick Google will tell you that Quinoa is in fact a grain like crop and member of the seed family. It is native to South America and appears to be increasing in popularity across the world due to its associated health benefits. It is a very popular food for vegans and vegetarians due to the high protein content along with other high levels of vitamins and minerals. Although its popularity in the western world has received some negative attention due to the demand pushing the prices up in south america, leaving locals who rely on the crop not being able to afford it. Read about it here. 

How do I cook Quinoa?

The second discussion I have with people on the topic of Quinoa is How do I cook Quinoa? It either just sticks to the pan or comes out soggy, is usually what they tell me!
I have previously posted a great set of easy and quick instructions on how to cook quinoa. I learned how to cook it at a Blazing Salads's cooking demonstration. You can read about it here.

It's equal parts Quinoa to water. So 250g Quinoa to 250ml water etc.

1. Put the Quinoa in the pan along with boiling water salt and vegetable stock (optional).

2. Put the lid on the pot and leave it on (this is very important). Bring to the boil and simmer for 10-15
minutes. The trick is to leave the lid on as you are going to be steaming it.

3. After simmering  take it off the hob and just leave it to rest.

Tip!-I find that to make sure it doesn't stick to the pan or get too compressed, pick the pot up and shake the quinoa around the pot while holding the lid on.

Quinoa Recipe Ideas

Now onto Quinoa recipe ideas. I use Quinoa a lot across a wide range of dishes. I like to cook a large amount and keep it in a plastic container so it's ready to use with various meals.
You can add it to soups, stews, salads, burgers, sauces, dressings, cakes and more!

Quinoa Salads

My favourite use for it is using it for really tasty, fulfilling and healthy salads.

It's really easy to make a great quinoa salad using:
  • Roast vegetables  
  • Tofu/Roast Tofu
  • Toasted seeds
  • Green leaves
  • Chopped Salads
  • And whatever else you think tastes good!

Sweet chilled sweet potato quinoa and rocket salad

Flavouring Quinoa

Quinoa without any seasoning or dressing pretty bland and most people will agree! You can season it while cooking it but adding vegetable stock, salt or lightly frying garlic and onions before adding the quinoa to cook. 

My favourite dressings to use with Quinoa:
  • Soya Sauce
  • Happy Pear Sundried Tomatoe Pesto
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Beetroot Dressing
  • Chopped Parsley (any herb to your taste!)

Quinoa beyond Salads!

Sweet Potato Quinoa Burgers and Falafel Bites

You can make a vegi burger even healthier and more wholesome by adding cooked quinoa to the burger
mixture. Roast sweet potato, chick pea, kidney bean and quinoa burgers go great together and make a nutrient packed and seriously colorful burger!

Sweet Potatoes
Tin of chickpeas
Tin of kidney beans
Olive Oil

1. Cook as much quinoa as you want to add to the mixture (Increase the amount in accordance to the amount of burgers you want to make). 200g is a good start of measurement.

2. Roast your sweet potato, again as much or as little as you want in the burgers. Too much can make the mixture quite wet though. I cut the sweet potato into chunks, cover in olive oil, salt and lots of paprika. I also bake the sweet potato alongside with garlic!

3.Blend a tin or chick peas and a tin of kidney beans in a food processor (or whatever combination you want). Add the baked sweet potato to the blender and fresh coriander (or any herb you want) and blend until smooth.

4. Place the sweet potato and bean mixture into a bowl, add your cooked quinoa, a good handful of breadcrumbs and mix.

5. Shape the mixture into flat burgers or into small bite size balls (perfect for salads). Place on a baking tray and place into a hot oven and cook for aprox 20-30 mins or until the burgers aren't soft and wet.

Additionally add quinoa to your soups and stews! 
Has anyone else tried some different quinoa recipes?

Monday, July 1, 2013

Vegan Package Swap - All about Vegan food

Glauce, a long time vegan, blogger, Mom and owner of All About Vegan Food set up the amazing worldwide Vegan Package Swap earlier on this year. The worldwide project which has nearly 500 subscribers allows vegans to send and receive vegan goodies from across the world every month! Sounds great right?

 Here are the rules as set by Vegan Package Swap:
The rules:
1. The Vegan Package Swap is open to everyone in the world. You don't need to be vegan to be part of it but all goodies in the packages MUST be vegan.
2. You need to register to the website and JOIN the Swap to take part (just once). We'll send monthly emails or newsletters to confirm your participation within 72 hours between the 3rd and the 5th of each month. If you DO NOT get the email, please go come to this page, login and click JOIN between the 3rd and 5th of each month (even if you did it before you'll be asked to do it again).
3. On the 8th of each month, you'll receive an email with the details of your match for that month.
4. Packages should have goodies up to the limit of $20 (or 15 Euro or equivalent in other currency). This value reference does not include the shipping value (it will vary from country to country).
5. The shipping deadline will be on the 15th of each month.
6. In the last week of each month you will receive an email to evaluate the package you received and the user (to help us to keep the quality of the project). - See more at:

A package from Dublin to Germany and from Germany to Dublin

I finally took part in the swap last month. I chose to swap within Europe and got paired up with a lovely girl from Germany! You can contact your partner to find out what they like and how they found the package when they receive it!

My Irish package -> Germany

I tried to include as many Irish products as possible but struggled. I did however include The Happy Pear's sun dried tomato pesto because it's an all time favourite of mine. There was a buy one get one half price sale on in Holland and Barrett at the time so I took advantage of that and included lots of goodies! It cost me just over 7 euro to ship this to Germany

My German package -> Ireland

I received an amazing package full of German products I had never had before. It included some seriously addictive (gone within 5 minutes) Roc & Roll's crisps, chocolate spread, almond tofu, a pudding mix, jellies, soap, a cream and 2 pates! Such a good mix. I've finished nearly all of the products but most of them didn't last more than a few hours!

I hope this post influences you to take part in this amazing vegan project! If you are like me are love waiting for packages, this package is seriously exciting to wait for because you have no idea what you are getting.

For more information see: