Sunday, April 11, 2010

Quinoa is My Friend

So this is NOT a post about hamburgers, sorry.  One or two of you seemed to get pretty excited about L.A. style hamburgers.  You might be inspiring me to do a post.  I was kind of surprised on moving here, that L.A. was still so hamburger oriented and OHMIGOD - you would not believe the lines at Pinks the famous hotdog joint. When I left New York, fast food was pretty much pizza or sushi.  But that is a whole other conversation.

In a more 21st century multi-cultural vein, do you like Quinoa?  (Do you know how to pronounce it?!)  I've been eating alot of it lately.

My lovely trusty French cinnamon shaker

In my family, we females seem to have a little bit of hypo-glycemia.  I personally have a really hard time eating anything for breakfast that doesn't give me the sugar shakes.  Even when I eat old-fashioned oatmeal, which I love, or Shredded Wheat and Bran which I (and my cat) ALSO love, I get the shakes or the disorientation about mid-morning or the terrible drained fainty feeling.  Let's just skip the egg discussion.  I'm not a great lover of the sulphur-ey taste of eggs, they are a little rich for a.m.s, can't bear the smell that early and there's something in them called "cholesterol". So even if I liked them more, I would be disinclined to consume them on a regular basis.

For people like me, it's horrible really. We really need that substantial protein shot first thing in the morning to get us comfortably through the day.  I used to always have a bag of peanut M and M's with me when I worked which I would either eat on the subway for breakfast (!) or in order to pop one or four of them at about 10 a.m. with coffee and then again around 2:30 after the inevitable post-lunch droop.  But that was before.....QUINOA. 

If you don't already know, this is a miracle food.  Very high in protein. Here's what wikipedia can tell you about it's nutritional profile.  But BETTER is that it is SO easy to make.  Dump a little pile into a small saucepan, swirl it in some water, drain.  Then refill with some fresh water to cover (old chinese trick for rice cooking: put the tip of your finger on the surface of the grain then add water to the first knuckle) cook on a low simmer till done.  How long does it take?  Like between 5 and 15 minutes?  Go feed the cats or something and it will be done!

Lately I've been making a fairly big pot of it, just so I don't have to go through the whole routine every day.  But so I'll HAVE some!  Now my husband could and does, eat a bowl of corn flakes every single day of the world, and will do so for the rest of his life. This is WAY BORING for me.  I need to eat something different at least every couple of days.  So here is what I'm doing with quinoa to make my breakfast life more interesting:

Cinnamon is a crucial component of this.  And so is maple syrup.  My cousin (also hypo-glycemic) is very excited about agave syrup.  I have some, but haven't tried it yet.  You?

Trader Joe's French Village Plain Cream Line Yogurt
Toasted Almonds (you don't HAVE to burn 'em like I did)
Fresh Valencia Oranges
(Don't You Love Cinnamon and Orange Together?  It's Like Christmas!)
Peeled and Cut into Tidy Sections
Your Two Other Friends From Above - Cinnamon is Good for Regulating Blood Sugar

THIS IS JUST WHAT I DID TODAY.  It's really so refreshing and satisfying.  

My first breakfast quinoa recipe was a take on classic rice pudding (which I, alone in my immediate family LOVE LOVE) without all the cream and fiddling and cooking. So once again, the yogurt, the maple syrup, the cinnamon. I also throw raisins or dried  currants in there. And a sprinkling of shelled pistachios.  Once some mint. YUM!  I think the next one I try will be Indian styled yogurt with a little buttermilk and a toasted chili or two and some minced cilantro. OK wait - pomegranate seeds would be good with yogurt too!  A big pile of them, and some lemon zest.  With some tinned mandarins or lychees?  Why not?  And then again, what about strawberries and banana with vanilla yogurt?  Am I onto something here? Stay tuned for further reports!

So do you eat quinoa?  I know alot of people are baking with quinoa these days.  I haven't tried that yet.  Any high protein breakfast ideas of your own?



  1. never tried quinoa. but only because it isnt available here.

  2. Fantastic MP!
    Marvellous syncronicity. I bought Quinoa on the weekend to try...I had some before but the cupboard swallowed it before I got round to using it.

    So another purchase from a lovely organic store and determination to cook it this week.

    Thanks you for great instructions - I do love the breakfast ideas you have supplied.

    I have been told it is pronounced Keen-wah... although I must say I much prefer calling it kwin-o-a which sounds a whole lot better even it is horribly wrong!

    I do quite like oats made into porridge soaked overnight with currant and cinnamon...and the almonds thrown in towards the end... Yoghurt yes... and now I can see that I can use some of those same ingredients in this new direction.
    thanks for the inspiration MP...back to the lainting,
    Ciao bella,

  3. I use quinoa, but in simple boring ways. I guess as with rice and semolina - the only limit is your own imagination - sweet, savory, hot, cold, baked, caked, boiled, fried...The question is, why didn't I realize before? Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. I don't think I've ever tried it, though it looks delicious in that photo! I have to admit to being and eggs-and-bacon girl when it comes to breakfast, though most days I just eat dark chocolate and coffee.

  5. never tried it, rather original! I am the one egg every morning type (with toast and salted butter, the French in me! and lots of fresh fruits). have a nice day!

  6. Quinoa has become a big art of my life, especially as I'm going gluten-free these days. I even make quinoa spaghetti from whole foods now when the rest of the family has the regular kind. This recipe seems awesome. I'm going to try it.

  7. I have not tried this before, although I have heard of it. I love eating sweets for breakfast, not an egg person either.

  8. thanks all for leaving your two cents re: breakfast and quinoa. it took me awhile to accept the correct pronunciation too, sophie, but now it just reminds me of my favorite chinese restaurant in midtown NYC (Kee-Wah-Yen) and that works! yes, i think it is something you either embrace or you don't. my husband thinks it tastes like sawdust. but has he heard what other people say about some english food? i'm just happy - as perhaps corine is - to have some choices. i wish i could be an egg person, as it seems so sober and reliable, but i'm also that girl who'd be happy with a big slice of cold pizza or hot broth with tofu and green vegetables floating in it or idlis for breakfast! so much food, so little time! bon appetit!

  9. Wow, what a great way to eat Quinoa. I need to try that. I eat it plain and I bet I would eat it more often if it were more like a rice pudding.