Book "review"

Few and Far Between: Moments in the North American DesertFew and Far Between: Moments in the North American Desert by John Martin Campbell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Ok... I have a confession. John Martin Campbell is my grandfather. My moms dad. It's true. So I suppose you could say I "have" to like his books. Truth is though... I really just love the pictures! Some more than others. This book, for instance, is all about deserts - and I love anything to do with the desert. I actually had to ask him in particular for a copy of this book. I love it! The pictures. The fact that my grandfather took the pictures. I don't usually even bother to read the words. I just drink in the pictures...

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Party Time!

The weather is finally cooperating and staying nice enough that I can plan and throw all of those parties that wouldn't fit in my teensy tiny house!
My mom and I just had a fun ladies brunch for some of the women from church... We made open face cucumber and sprout sandwiches, caprese skewers, little BLT sandwiches, chicken curry salad sandwiches and chocolate truffles with strawberries and whipped cream!

*Unfortunately all of our cameras are either broken or have gone missing (mine), so I am unable to document any of the fun party happenings.*

The next party that's in the works is... My 26th Birthday Fiesta! *Gasp* I'm going to be 26.
I have big plans for this shindig... I'm making: tacos de lengua and carne asada tacos (tongue and steak tacos)! Mango, jicama and cucumber salad. Green chile salsa, chunky guacamole and homemade refried beans with corn tortilla chips. Several kinds of ceviche and oyster cocktails (if I'm lucky)! And don't forget Jarritos (for the kidos) and plenty of margaritas and caipirinhas. Yum Yum! I'm excited.
I'm working on some great decorations... I'm making these pom-pom things (only all of mine are going to be hanging) and I'm making.......... a PINATA! It's going to be fun :-) I only wish all of my Moscow friends could be there.
I am going to try to dig up a camera to take pictures of the actual party - so hopefully I'll be able to show you how everything turned out!


Savory Gluten-Free Rolls

In the oven RIGHT NOW are some yummy gluten-free rolls! I never thought I would be putting the words "yummy" and "gluten-free" in the same sentence - but I'm pretty sure I've only had bad gluten-free bread in the past. I'm a believer now! These rolls have sold me - and they are sooo easy to make.

Here is my version of a recipe I got from this gal I've been cooking for:

Makes 1 dozen rolls

1 1/2 c warm water (almost as warm as you can stand for about 20 seconds)
1 tsp whole cane sugar
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast (one package)
3 Tbsp agave necter
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp  raw apple cider vinegar (any other plain vinegar works in a pinch)
1 c sorghum flour
1/2 c brown rice flour
1/2 c teff flour
1/2 c arrowroot flour
1/2 c tapioca flour
1 1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/4 c chopped fresh garlic
2-3 Tbsp Italian seasoning or 1 Tbsp each basil and oregano

- Oil a 12-cup muffin tin. Find a warm place to proof the rolls (the oven set at about 200 works, as does a food dehydrator set at the same temp.)
- Stir the warm water, sugar and yeast together in a small bowl. Set aside while you mix together the dry ingredients.
- In a large bowl, combine all of the dry ingredients (leaving out the chopped garlic). Whisk together to completely combine.
- To the small bowl with the liquids - add the agave syrup, olive oil, and vinegar. Stir well to combine.
- Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and quickly whisk together. Continue to whisk to get rid of any lumps and keep whisking until the batter thickens and becomes smooth.
- Quickly add the chopped garlic and stir until just combined. (You want to work quickly after all the ingredients have been added together, otherwise you might loose the little air bubbles that are being created by the baking soda and the vinegar.)
- Spoon into the oiled muffin tin. Set in a warm place to rise for about 20 minutes.
- Bake in a preheated oven at 375 for 20-25 minutes (or until the tops are golden brown).
- Allow rolls to cool for a few minutes before removing from pan (a knife may need to be run around the edge of each roll to loosen.)
- Enjoy with butter, soup or salad or make each roll into a little mini sandwich!

Let me know what you think of these rolls! I just love them...


Good Fat!

Although I promised a while back to do a "mini series" on Why Fat Is Good For You - I never really did anything about it. So consider my previous post (Raw Chocolate Torte) the first of the series!
One aspect of that dessert that I just LOVE is the fact that it is full of good fat. Coconut oil, coconut butter, avocado, nuts - all of these contain fat that is GOOD for you! I'm not going to go into all of the many details surrounding "good" fats and "bad" fats right now - but I will say this... If we don't eat enough good fat our body hangs on to any excess fat we happen to have because it thinks it's being deprived.
          I will also give you this excerpt from one of my favorite "real food" cookbooks: Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. She says this in her introduction, "Fats from animals and vegetable sources provide a concentrated source of energy in the diet; they also provide the building blocks for cell membranes and a variety of hormones and hormone-like substances. Fats as part of a meal slow down nutrient absorption so that we can go longer without feeling hungry. In addition, they act as carriers for important fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. Dietary fats are needed fro the conversion of carotene to vitamin A, for mineral absorption and for a host of other processes."

Think about it - if we don't eat good fat we can't absorb all of the vitamins and minerals we need. So - go make that Torte and eat some good fats!

Raw Chocolate Torte

This is something you have to try to believe! Containing only raw ingredients and absolutely no dairy, soy or gluten - this is a dessert that can be enjoyed by a large majority of people who are restricted by their diets! Let me know what you think!

2 c pecans (or pretty much any other nut combo you can think of)
8-10 medjool dates, pitted
1 Tbsp coconut oil
1 Tbsp cinnamon
1 pinch ground cardamom

In a food processor, grind the nuts until they are fairly well blended. Add the rest of the crust ingredients and process until well combined. Press into a deep dish pie plate and refrigerate while you make the filling.

1 c raw cashew butter
1 small avocado (yes - I said avocado)
1/2 c + 2 Tbsp raw cocoa powder
1/2 c agave necter
1/2 c melted coconut butter
1/4 c water
1 Tbsp vanilla

Rinse out the food processor. In the food processor, blend all filling ingredients until smooth. Scrape filling into crust and chill for 3-4 hours.

This is great on its own or served with berries! Enjoy!


Cilantro Dip

This. Dip. Is. Amazing. You will never want to use Ranch again! Tzatziki sauce either. It's great with veggies, all kinds of meat, over rice, with chips... pretty much anything you can think of. And if you just add some vinegar it would make a wonderfully creamy salad dressing. You will be eating this by the spoonful and licking the bowl (both of which have been done)!

I made this dip for the first time this weekend, in a gigantic sized batch. This recipe should give you similar results on a smaller scale!

*Please note that this dip is best if made at least one day before serving. The first time I made it I kept adding lime juice and salt, trying to get it to taste like something other then mayo. I put it in the fridge without really being happy with the flavor - but the next day it was wonderful!

1/2 c mayonnaise
1/4 c sour cream
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp lime juice
1 garlic cloves, minced
6 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro (you can never have to much cilantro, so feel free to add more than this)
S&P to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Adjust the lime juice and salt if needed to get some kind of flavor. Refrigerate over night. Allow dip to become your new addiction!


Guess what?! Now that I have semi-consistent internet access (at my house), I can blog more! Woohoo! Now the question is... will I? I would help if I could find my camera. No idea where it went.
Ok. Does this sound good to you?

White wine vinegar
Olive oil
Minced chives
Minced garlic
Dijon mustard
Salt & Pepper
aaand Apple Juice???

I think it does. I'll be getting about 160 peoples opinions about this dressing on Sunday when we serve it with a mixed greens salad at the "Mothers Day" lunch my dad and I are putting together!


Quick Post

I know... I know... I've taken WAY to long of a break from posting. So here's a really quick post about - My mom's blog! Check out someone who DOES post on a regular basis here!

This is what my mom has to say about her blog, "I would like all Christian women to pause regularly in the midst of their busy lives and think about what choices they are making with their time.  Are they living their lives in a way that will most profoundly influence the next generation to love and follow the Lord Jesus Christ? This means being there; fully (not distracted by too many activities or even church commitments). I am encouraging women everywhere to get a bit more introspective, to recognize their great worth in God’s kingdom, to learn to say “no” to false guilt and “yes” to joy and peace."

Check out her inspirational articles and advice on practical living!

(In the meantime, I'll get back to working on MY posts.)


Meal #8 - Last one...

Meal number eight - Friday dinner

For dinner tonight I just thickened up last nights beef stew by throwing in a couple of handfuls of flour as I reheated it. Then I made some easy cheddar biscuits that I baked in a dutch oven on top of my beef "stew" - to create an instant... Beef Pot-Pie!

For the biscuits just mix together:
2 c flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp sugar
4 tsp baking powder
Cut in:
1/3 c butter
1/2 c grated cheddar
Pour in:
1/3 c milk
Mix together until just blended.
I pretty much just tore pieces of dough off and flattened them into biscuit shapes that mostly fit together to cover the pot-pie. Then I baked the whole thing in the oven at 400 for about half an hour. Everyone loved this impromptu pot-pie!

This ends "the challenge". My dad is home now so he and Rosie will be taking care of feeding the kids tomorrow! Rosie has plans for breakfast that involve using up a bunch of frozen berries and some spinach...

Keep an eye out for my next "mini series" - Why Fat IS Good For You!

Meal #7

Meal number seven - Friday Lunch

Success! This was easy and fabulously tasty... Chili Pie! My sister helped me make corn bread (she even found a good recipe in her Boxcar Children Cookbook by Diane Blain), and we topped a pie pan full of leftover chili with the corn bread batter.
Here is the recipe she used...

1 1/4 c flour
3/4 c cornmeal
1/4 c. sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 c milk
1/4 c vegetable oil
1 egg
            Combine all ingredients in a large bowl, pour into a greased baking pan (or on top of some chili) and bake at 400 until a toothpick or a knife comes out clean.
It did take a while longer then expected to bake (the chili was cold and I think that was a big factor), but the end result was worth the wait! We topped each bowl full with grated cheddar cheese and the whole thing magically disappeared, so fast in fact that I almost didn't get a picture of the end result.

Meal #6

Meal number six - Friday breakfast

Cereal! I know... I know... Easy and boring. But there's only so much you can do without eggs, or bread, or breakfast meat, or... I think you get the idea. Thankfully there is plenty of coffee!


Meal #5.5 - or dessert...

Remember that rhubarb soup I mentioned earlier?? Well... it stayed soup. What do you do with liquid dessert? Make it look like you planned it that way! And that's just what I did. So - this "soup" consists of chopped up frozen rhubarb, frozen summer strawberries, frozen raspberry puree and tapioca flour (one of the missing ingredients I mentioned earlier was any type of normal thickening agent). 
I patted my mixture of brown sugar, melted butter and flour into little ramekins and baked them for about ten minutes in the oven.

  Filled the ramekins with "rhubarb soup", returned them to the oven for five minutes and... 
Happy children!

Meal #5

Meal number five - Thursday dinner

This soup was made up almost entirely of freezer stuff!
I used up:

2 qt bags chopped asparagus
1 qt bag carrot "coins"
one large container of "mystery" soup (turned out to be mostly beef and mushrooms from a crock pot roast)
the rest of the rump roast from yesterdays dinner
the rest of the large can of cream of mushroom soup from yesterdays lunch
leftover broccoli and rice soup from earlier this week
some other random leftovers that just happened to contain broccoli, beef and rice

In an attempt to do more then just dump it all in a pot, I diced up the rump roast, tossed it with some flour and salt and pepper, and fried it in some hot olive oil. It gave the meat a nice crunch even after it was added to the soup! But after that - I literally dumped everything in a big pot, added a few cups of water and just let it bubble away. I have to say - I thought it turned out to be pretty good. And these leftovers are going to make a fantastic beef pot pie tomorrow!

Dessert is in the oven - although it looks like we might be having some more soup. I'm attempting to make a kind of rhubarb strawberry crumble to use up some more freezer stuff. Only problem in we're missing some of the key ingredients for a crumble... and there is way to much liquid since everything was frozen. If I leave it in there long enough it might turn into something that doesn't have to be eaten with a spoon! I'll keep you posted...

Meal #4

Ok. For meal number four (Thursday lunch), I sort of cheated. Only because Kealen made a request. For lunch we had... Corn dogs and tater tots! Technically it still helped clean the freezer out.  
Tonight though, I'm using up about a million little random bags of frozen veggies from last summer - along with some mystery soup -  and making the best darn beef stew you've ever seen! So stay tuned...

Meal #3

Meal number three - Thursday breakfast

Now - I know pancakes aren't very earth-shatteringly original, and they don't use up anything in the freezer (unless you're my friend Sue - in which case your freezer is full of different kinds of flour), but the kids loved them! After I'd cooked up about half of the batter, I decided I should be "makin' banana pancakes" - and that's just what I did! Nothing beats banana pancakes with home-made strawberry jelly!
Abby's idea of "a little" powdered sugar.
Banana Pancakes!
(You'll need a hot griddle or a large frying pan)

3 c. all-purpose flour
2 tsp salt
5 Tbsp sugar
3 1/2 tsp baking powder

4 eggs - lightly beaten
6 Tbsp olive oil
2 1/2 c. milk

Mix the dry ingredients together and either sift or (do what I do) and kind of fluff them to make sure "most" of the clumps are gone. Whisk in the wet ingredients, making sure to not OVER mix the batter. Use olive oil to lightly grease your griddle or frying pan. When griddle is nice and hot, use a measuring cup to poor batter onto griddle to make preferred size of pancakes. Pancake is ready to flip over when the edges are turning lightly brown and the bubbles that are appearing have started popping and staying open. To make banana pancakes - simply thinly slice a banana into coins and lay on the pancake AFTER the batter is poured but BEFORE it is flipped.
Eat with plenty of butter and strawberry jelly... Or honey... Or powdered sugar... but ALWAYS plenty of butter!


Meal #2

Meal Number Two - Wednesday Dinner

I found a rump roast, dried and canned beans and a couple of forms of canned tomatoes. What does this make??? Chili!

2-3 cups dried pinto beans, cooked with a handful of dried minced garlic
1/2 of a large beef rump roast, diced and browned
1 can black beans
1 can garbanzo beans
2 cans red kidney beans
1 can peeled tomatoes, crushed before adding
1 can tomato paste
1/2 can "onion and garlic" spaghetti sauce
a handful of crushed dried red chili peppers
salt to taste
cheddar cheese, grated (to sprinkle on top)

After cooking the pinto beans I diced up the meat and browned it. I combined all of the ingredients, including any liquids in the cans or from the cooked meat, in a large soup pot and heated until it was bubbling. I served this nice thick Chili with grated cheddar cheese. All of the kids loved it! (Even the little one with a loose tooth who started dinner by complaining about not being able to chew even a banana...)

The Challenge & Meal #1

My challenge for the next couple of days is... feed myself and four hungry active kids three meals a day while my mom is in Portland at Hannah's debate tournament! Oh - and try to use up random food that's in the freezer at the same time.

Stay tuned to see how I respond to this challenge and what I unearth from the freezer!

Meal Number One - Wednesday Lunch
I got to my parents house about an hour before the younger kids had to be at their friends house for a weekly play date. (That was bad planning on my part.)
I scrambled through the cupboards trying to find SOMETHING to feed them that could be thrown together quickly and keep them going for most of the afternoon. Solution? Tuna and Rice Casserole!

cooked rice leftover from dinner last night
4 cans of tuna
1/2 of a giant can of cream of mushroom soup
Italian seasonings
dried minced garlic
grated cheddar cheese

Preheat oven to 400.
Throw cold rice in a 9x13 pan, break up any big chunks so it will heat evenly. Dump undrained tuna on top of rice and spread out to cover evenly. Sprinkle seasonings, garlic and salt evenly over everything. Plop cream of mushroom soup across pan and spread to cover. Throw in oven and cook until nearly hot. Pull out of oven, stir around to combine all ingredients and sprinkle top with cheese. Put back in oven until cheese is melted and casserole is completely hot.
Encourage the one child that doesn't like it to eat it anyways 'cause that's all she's getting and then rush kids to car and off to friends house!


Creamy Italian Chicken on Rice

I love this dish! It's simple to make, has only a few ingredients, will easily feed a lot of people and is almost as good as Mac n' Cheese is the comfort food department!

You just need:

- Boneless, skinless chicken pieces (I prefer thigh or leg meat for the added flavor from the higher fat content)
- Italian "dressing" seasoning packets OR dried oregano, dried basil, granulated garlic, paprika, salt and pepper
-Canned Cream of Mushroom soup
-Sour cream
-Cooked rice

Cut the chicken into bit size pieces and spread evenly in a greased oven proof pan. Sprinkle chicken evenly with Italian "Dressing" Seasoning or your preferred combination of the alternative seasonings. Add the Cream of Mushroom soup by plopping it across the pan and then spreading it with a spatula to cover the chicken. Cover with foil to prevent browning and bake at 350 until the chicken is cooked through. When cooked, remove from the oven and stir in the sour cream to create a smooth creamy sauce. Reheat for a bit if needed to be able to serve hot. Serve over cooked rice with lots of extra sauce! The sauce and rice can help the chicken go a long way. Can be served with steamed veggies or a big green salad.
Can be frozen and reheated BEFORE sour cream is added.


Peanut Sauce!

This peanut sauce is wonderful as a dip with veggies, added to rice, used to marinade chicken and rolled into sushi! It can also be thinned out with a little water and used as a salad dressing. It is so good you'll want to eat it by the spoonful!

1/2 c natural-style peanut butter
2 Tbsp Hoisin sauce
1 Tbsp soy sauce
1 small garlic clove, mashed to a paste
1 tsp chili-garlic paste
1 Tbsp dark sesame oil
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 c sugar
1/4 c rice vinegar
1/4 tsp salt

Dissolve sugar and salt in rice vinegar and mix together with remaining ingredients. Taste and adjust salt or sugar as needed.


Colorful Cabbage Salad

This salad is everything a salad should be. Flavorful, fresh, full of vitamin's and minerals and containing enough different textures to keep you interested and happy all the way through!

1 medium red cabbage, chopped into bite size pieces
1 medium green cabbage, chopped into bite size pieces
2-3 apples, cubed
1 medium beet, peeled and cubed
3-4 kale leaves, stem removed and torn into bite size pieces
1/2 c. raw walnuts

1/2 c. raw apple cider vinegar
1/2 c. good quality olive oil
1/2 tsp cracked black pepper
2 tsp sea salt
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/4 c. lemon juice

Combine the first 6 ingredients together in a large bowl. Combine dressing ingredients in a smaller bowl, taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Toss dressing and salad together, making sure to use just enough dressing that it coats everything well but doesn't drown the salad.
This salad can be served immediately - but it just seems to get better with time and will hold well for at least a couple of days.

Minted Strawberry Fool(Proof)

This delicious dessert recipe was most recently served at my parents 29th (Yay Mom and Dad!) anniversary dinner and it was the one thing I let the whole family try. Everyone loved it! I personally couldn't get enough. Beware! If you like this as much as I do - it won't feed six, it'll feed maybe two...

Strawberry Fool is a traditional British recipe for a classic dessert of strawberries in a mix of double cream and Greek yogurt flavored with mint and liqueur. A very simple version is given here and because of the simplicity of this recipe, I've added the (Proof) to the name!

Minted Strawberry Fool(Proof)

1 lb strawberries (hulled)
2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp fresh mint leaves
1 c. heavy whipping cream
6 oz plain yogurt

Makes enough for six people.

Save a couple of strawberries for garnish.

Puree berries, sugar and mint in a food processor or blender. Taste to make sure they are sweet enough and add more sugar if needed.

Whip cream until it holds firm peaks. Fold in yogurt. Fold in berry mixture. Chill until needed or serve immediately. Garnish with slices of strawberries.

This dessert is perfect for the middle of summer - or just to REMIND you of summer when the rain seems endless and the sun refuses to shine...


Ayla's Gluten Free Cookies

My wonderful roommate Ayla invented these cookies last fall when she wanted a healthy alternative to the normal desserts that are packed full of refined, teeth-rotting sweeteners. Every couple of weeks she whips up a new batch for us to scarf down...
The recipe is as follows:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

1/2 c. butter
2 Tbsp coconut oil (unrefined)
1 c. flax flour
1/2 c. tapioca flour
1 c. oats
1 c. shredded, unsweetened coconut
1/2 c. maple syrup or honey
1 tsp salt (preferable sea salt)
1 1/2 c. chocolate chips (the least healthy part of these cookies)
1 tsp vanilla

Mix all ingredients together until well incorporated. Drop by the spoonful (these don't spread very much) onto a lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for about 12 min. Let cool slightly and enjoy!

Ayla has also made these with many different combination's of gluten-free flours, as well as adding peanut butter or whole flax seeds. (The peanut butter version was a big hit!)

These cookies stay soft for at least a week. Not that I think they'll last you that long...


Fish Sauce

From Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon – on fish sauce in soup

“Another excellent addition to soup is fish sauce. You can make this yourself (see below), or buy a Thai or Vietnamese variety (called nam pla or nuoc mam). These clear brown fermented sauces, made from small whole fish including the head and organs, are rich in iodine and other substances that benefit the thyroid gland. On heating the fishy taste disappears but the nutrients remain. You may add fish sauce to any heated soup instead of salt.”

Fermented Fish Sauce – makes about 2 cups

1½ lbs small fish, including heads, cut up (sardines work well)

3 Tbsp sea salt

2 c. filtered water

2 cloves garlic, mashed

2 bay leaves, crumbled

1 tsp peppercorns

several pieces lemon rind

1 Tbsp tamarind paste (optional)

2 Tbsp whey

Toss fish pieces in salt and place in a wide-mouth, quart-sized mason jar. Press down with a wooden pounder or meat hammer. Mix remaining ingredients and pour over fish. Add additional water to cover fish thoroughly. The top of the liquid should be at least 1 inch below the top of the jar. Cover tightly and leave at room temperature for about three days. Transfer to refrigerator for several weeks. Drain liquid through a strainer and store fish sauce in the refrigerator.


Business Flier - What do you think?

She Cooks!

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In-home meal preparation
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I love helping people eat the way they need to,
in order to live the life they want to!

Experienced with special diets, allergy and health restrictions including gluten-free, wheat-free, dairy-free, vegetarian, vegan and raw food diets.

I can plan and prepare anything you need from breakfast foods to snacks to lunches, dinners, freezer meals and beyond!

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For more information please contact
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Coconut Chicken Soup

Doesn't this just sound so good?! I found this recipe in a book that makes me feel like I really CAN eat the way God intended me to... Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

Now, I have yet to make this soup – but I'm going to the first chance I get! (If you try it before I do – let me know what you think...)

Coconut Chicken Soup

1 qt chicken stock
1½ c. whole coconut milk
¼ tsp. dried chile flakes
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
juice of one lemon
sea salt or fish sauce (more later on fish sauce)
several green onions, finely chopped
1 Tbsp. finely chopped cilantro

Bring the stock to a boil, skim any foam that rises to the top and add coconut milk, lemon juice, chile flakes and ginger. Simmer for about 15 minutes, Season to taste with salt or fish sauce. Ladle into soup bowls or mugs and garnish with onions and cilantro.

Serves 4


Quinoa - what is it?

Quinoa is making a comeback as a popular alternative to other more widely recognized grains. Here is some of what Wikipedia has to say about this tasty... seed??

Quinoa (pronounced /ˈkiːnwɑː/ or /kɨˈnoʊ.ə/, Spanish: quinua, from Quechua: kinwa), a species of goosefoot (Chenopodium), is a grain-like crop grown primarily for its edible seeds. It is a pseudocereal rather than a true cereal, or grain, as it is not a member of the grass family. As a chenopod, quinoa is closely related to species such as beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds. Its leaves are also eaten as a leaf vegetable, much like amaranth, but the commercial availability of quinoa greens is currently limited.

The Incas, who held the crop to be sacred, referred to quinoa as chisaya mama or 'mother of all grains', and it was the Inca emperor who would traditionally sow the first seeds of the season using 'golden implements'. During the European conquest of South America quinoa was scorned by the Spanish colonists as 'food for Indians', and even actively suppressed its cultivation, due to its status within indigenous non-Christian ceremonies. In fact, the conquistadors forbade quinoa cultivation for a time and the Incas were forced to grow wheat instead.

Quinoa was of great nutritional importance in pre-Columbian Andean civilizations, being secondary only to the potato, and was followed in importance by maize. In contemporary times, this crop has become highly appreciated for its nutritional value, as its protein content is very high (12%–18%). Unlike wheat or rice (which are low in lysine), and like oats, quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids for humans, making it an unusually complete protein source among plant foods. It is a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. Quinoa is gluten-free and considered easy to digest.

Quinoa has a light, fluffy texture when cooked, and its mild, slightly nutty flavor makes it an alternative to white rice or couscous.

A common cooking method is to treat quinoa much like rice, bringing two cups of water to a boil with one cup of grain, covering at a low simmer and cooking for 14–18 minutes or until the germ separates from the seed. The cooked germ looks like a tiny curl and should have a slight bite to it (like al dente pasta). As an alternative, one can use a rice cooker to prepare quinoa, treating it just like white rice (for both cooking cycle and water amounts).

Vegetables and seasonings can also be added to make a wide range of dishes. Chicken or vegetable stock can be substituted for water during cooking, adding flavor. It is also suited to vegetable pilafs, complementing bitter greens like kale.

Quinoa can serve as a high-protein breakfast food mixed with honey, almonds, or berries; it is also sold as a dry product, much like corn flakes. Quinoa flour can be used in wheat-based and gluten-free baking.

Quinoa may be germinated in its raw form to boost its nutritional value. Germination activates its natural enzymes and multiplies its vitamin content.[15] In fact, quinoa has a notably short germination period: Only 2–4 hours resting in a glass of clean water is enough to make it sprout and release gases, as opposed to, e.g., 12 hours with wheat.[citation needed] This process, besides its nutritional enhancements, softens the grains, making them suitable to be added to salads and other cold foods.

I for one, love this interesting grain :-)

Southwest Quinoa

I have been making this for one of the gals I've been cooking for (she gave me the recipe), and I just can't get enough of it! I hope you like it as much as I do. (For her family of eight we double this recipe and it makes a LOT)

Southwest Quinoa

This can be served hot or as a cold salad – it is delicious either way!

1 heaping Tbsp grated lime zest
¼ c. fresh lime juice
6 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 Tbsp maple syrup
1 tsp sea salt
½ tsp ground pepper

Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a bowl or blend together in a food processor to help them emulsify. Set aside.

2 c. quinoa, rinsed well (soak for a few minutes, drain in a fine strainer)
4 c. water

Simmer quinoa in water, uncovered, about 10 minutes. Turn off heat, cover, and let stand 10 minutes. Strain any excess water. (Quinoa seems to cook up about the same way rice does – so you should be safe using using your favorite “rice cooking” method.) Add dressing and quinoa together in a large bowl and stir to coat evenly.

2 cans black beans, rinsed well (or about 3 c. cooked black beans, rinsed well)
4 medium tomatoes, diced
8 scallions, chopped (including most of the green part)
1 c. chopped fresh cilantro

Combine all ingredients. Taste and add a little salt if needed to bring out the flavor. If it tastes bland it needs more salt!