Wednesday, June 23, 2010

♥ Hearty Quinoa

The bottom layer in this cute little heart is called quinoa (the tiny little puffed up circles).  Quinoa is a very cool little seed that is extremely packed in nutrients.  Why you say?  Well, it is known as the "Mother Grain of the Andes" since the Inca were able to survive on it because it is high in protein and iron (and other nutritious elements).  The protein  it contains is complete (unlike beans, or any other legume, that need a grain, for example, to complete the protein).  In addition, quinoa has a similar makeup to milk, so it has a high portion of calcium and phosphorous.  The great thing about quinoa is that it can replace white rice (not a very nutritious food) and it cooks fast!!   
     It has become more popular, especially in the US....even Costco is selling it!  There are a couple types of quinoa that grow in different environments, but most often are grown in very very high altitudes.  One category of quinoa is found in the salt flats of Bolivia (my beloved native country!).  This past January I took a family trip to the salares (salt flats) and let me tell you that is was absolutely breath-taking!!! To the right is a picture of the amazing beauty that can be found in Bolivia: 

When it rains a bit, there is an incredible reflection of the sky on the ground.  It was as if we were driving on clouds!! 

If you ever want to be adventurous and explore South America, I suggest visiting the salares of Bolivia.  I guarantee that you will be amazed!!

Now for some yummy food containing quinoa!  I made my own rendition of a recipe I found in The Conscious Cook by Tal Ronnen.  I have to admit that I was first intimidated by the beautiful artworks of food that were displayed in this cookbook.  As it turns out, it was not that difficult!  I hope you try it!

♥Hearty Quinoa:

To make the quinoa, cook it and then let it cool to room temperature.  Then, add the rest of the ingredients and combine.  Set aside. 
-  Rinse 2 cups of quinoa and cook it with 4 cups of water
-  Bring to a boil
-  Simmer for about 30 min. (more or less)
-  mince 2 jalapeños (optional)
-  1/4 cup of minced cilantro
-  some extra virgin olive oil
-  juice of 1 lime
-  some salt to taste

Sweet Potatoes:

-  peel and dice 4 - 5 medium sweet potatoes into 1/2 inch cubes
-  place in baking sheet with some olive oil and sea salt
-  cook in oven at 400 degrees for about  30-40 minutes or until lightend browned
-  set aside

Tortilla Strips:

-  5-6 small corn tortillas, cut into 1/4 inch strips
-  fry in canola oil and sprinkle some cajun seasoning after frying
-  set aside

Avocados:  2 avocados diced and some alfalfa sprouts (or any sprouts) to garnish when assembling the hearts

Use Cilantro-Lime Vinaigrette from yesterdays post for the dressing.

To assemble the "hearty quinoas":
The cookbook called for circular molds, but since I didn't have any, I used heart shaped cookie cutters (a bigger one and a smaller one).  Fill the heart mold with the quinoa mixture and press down with pack it in until you have a smooth surface.  Place the diced avocados on top of the quinoa and then the sweet potatoes (in a gently fashion).  Carefully remove the mold and top off with the crispy tortillas and alfalfa sprouts.  I served this dish with some steamed yellow squash, zucchini, and broccoli that were mixed with sauteed red onions with a bit of sea salt. 
You can use any cookie cutter shape you like or have....this dish can even be good for valentines day!

He is my brother, Chris, right before chowing down the tasty hearts!  There are so many flavors packed in this little dish that will leave your taste buds very happy! 

♥ faby


  1. It was very delicious! The pictures look amazing!