Monthly Archives: February 2012

Quinoa is Not a Cereal Grain

(Pronounced KeenWah)

I get asked a lot for better grain choices. Although Quinoa is not really a grain, it is a great choice and is relatively high in protein and somewhat lower in carbs. I’ve purchased an incredibly good pasta made from Quinoa and Rice. It’s gluten free and the brand I bought is organic. GOGO Quinoa. I don’t think your kids would know the difference. Here’s a snippet of info on the subject. It’s really good used in Tabbouleh-recipe below.

Quinoa is a plant that is very hardy and drought resistant. It bears clusters of seed on top of the plant that can range in colour from white to orange, red, purple and black, depending on the variety. The ancestral seed colour of quinoa is black; the other colours have been obtained from mutations and breeding. The quinoa seed, about the size of millet, resembles the grain of some cereal grasses, but it is not a grass.

How to Remove the Saponin

The seeds are coated with a saponin, which has a bitter taste. This bitterness is removed by washing in water or by a dry polishing process. Before consumption of quinoa the seeds should be rinsed to remove any of the saponin dust that may remain on the seeds. [Suggestion: Mix two tablespoons of yogurt or buttermilk in enough purified water to cover quinoa by one inch. Soak the quinoa for at least 12 hours and then drain and rinse before cooking.] The seed of quinoa is an excellent food, rich in protein and high in fibre. The protein is well balanced and is particularly rich in the amino acid lysine, which is difficult to obtain from other vegetable sources. It is also high in calcium, phosphorous, vitamins B and E.

Versatile Quinoa

Quinoa is a very versatile plant that can be cooked many ways and tastes excellent. The green leaves can be used in salads or cooked like spinach. The grain can be sprouted, like alfalfa; used as a hot cereal; used in soups, casseroles and soufflés; used in the place of almost any other grain, including rice; ground into flour; and toasted. An imaginative chef can find many more uses and ways to prepare quinoa than those given above. Dishes ranging from appetizers through desserts can be prepared from quinoa.

I have used quinoa to stuff peppers and Rodney (Dr. Van Dueck) recently used it to make veggie patties. (I’d give you the recipe but he made it up and he never writes down the measurements.) 1/3 cup cooked quinoa contains 13 gm. of carbohydrate and 3 gm. protein. Brown rice contains 1/2 the amount of protein and 15 gm. of carbohydrate. The best part about quinoa is that it has not been hybridized. It is relatively the same as when the Incas were eating it.

Quinoa Recipes (Basic cooking instructions and a few other ideas)

Quinoa Tabbouleh Salad A great alternative to couscous or bulgar which are both wheat based.

Quinoa the Supergrain: Ancient Food for Today – by Rebecca Wood

Examines many of the properties of Quinoa. Over 120 Quinoa recipes.

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Posted by on February 28, 2012 in Grains


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Smits & Co. Farm Cheese

Ron Smits with his cute hat!

What a treat! Rodney came home from his trip to the mainland with a gift from some clients. Three different cheeses straight from their farm. The Smits of Smits & Co. Farm Cheese live in Chilliwack where there is a large Dutch community. They have had a dairy farm for a long time but recently started making cheese! They make goat and cow’s milk cheese. The different varieties we received are stinging nettle, cranberry and chive. Tonight we are going to have a sampling with friends. What fun!

Wouldn’t it be good tossed into the Arugula and Beet Salad?

You can contact the Smits at 604-824-9779 or

Look at all that cheese!


Posted by on February 23, 2012 in Dairy


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Spinach Salad with Warm Bacon Dressing

Spinach, Goat Cheese with Warm Bacon Dressing PRINT

4 servings

8 ounces bacon, diced (look for nitrate free)

1/2 cup finely chopped red onions

1 teaspoon minced garlic

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pinch salt

1 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1/4 cup red wine vinegar

2 tablespoons honey

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil or grape seed oil

8 cups fresh spinach, tough stems removed, washed and spun dry (about 12 ounces)

1 large orange or grapefruit, segmented

4 ounces goat cheese, crumbled (Your favourite blue cheese would be good here too.)

In a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until crisp, about 5 minutes. Drain on paper towels and pour off all but 1/4 cup of grease from the pan.

To the fat in the pan, add the onions and cook, stirring, over medium-high heat until soft, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, pepper, and salt and cook, stirring, for 30 seconds.

Add the mustard and vinegar and cook, stirring to deglaze the pan. Add the honey and stir to combine. Remove from the heat and whisk in the oil. Return the bacon to the pan and adjust the seasoning, to taste.

In a large bowl, toss the spinach with the warm dressing. Divide the salad among 4 salad plates, arrange the orange segments around the edges, crumble the goat cheese over the top and serve.

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Posted by on February 21, 2012 in Salads


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What’s in Your Pantry?

Bella and Bishi

I’m lucky living on Gabriola Island. We have a great organic farm ‘The Good Earth’ run by Rosheen and Bob. Every week for at least 6 months of the year I can go and get us and our rabbit ‘Bishi’ (or more frequently named ‘Squidley’ – he’s black-squid ink-get it?) fantastic bog grown organic veg. Squid’s fave is kale! Sadly my stock of keeper veg is now dwindling as we approach the end of February. I do still have some beets in gold and red shades. So here’s a favorite recipe that I’ve enjoyed for years courtesy of a friend Jay (Jennifer) James. She owns Turning Point Wellness Center (Massage) in Steveston, BC.

Roasted Beet & Arugula Salad PRINT
6 medium beets (use whatever colour you like)
3/4 cup shelled walnuts, pecans or pine nuts, toasted and chopped
4 bunches of arugula, washed and dried (or baby arugula)
1/4 cup cider vinegar
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp thawed frozen apple or orange juice (preferably organic – Cascadian Farms is available at Whole Foods, Choices, SPUD and many other locations…even some Save on Foods) or fresh squeezed.
1/3 cup shallots, finely chopped
1/2 tsp sea salt (we prefer Fleur de Sel or Grey Celtic salt)
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil or grape seed oil
Pierce beets. Place on lined baking sheet in 400° F oven until tender. Cool, peel and slice. Toast nuts and chop (leave pine nuts whole). Wash and dry arugula. Remove leaves from stems and discard. If your arugula is very young and tender, you don’t have to remove the stems. Place leaves in salad bowl.
Place all dressing ingredients, except oil, in a medium bowl. Whisk until combined. Slowly add oil while whisking until thickened. Dress beets and set aside. Just before serving, dress arugula and add beets. Toss in the nuts. Serves 4-6.
Carbohydrates if 4 servings = 9 gm/serving
Make this a meal by adding feta or goat cheese. Check out Smits & Co. Farm Cheese.
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Posted by on February 20, 2012 in Salads