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After CHRISTMAS detox with Quinoa

Sunday, January 11 2015

Christmas is officially over and Carnival has begun. Many of us who were decking the halls with ponche de creme and black cake, sweet treats, pastelles and other irresistible holiday delights are now ready to fete “like ah boss.” Chances are you are looking for ways to detox from the rich Christmas fare – not to mention knock off a few pounds before Carnival Monday. But skipping meals is not the answer. Make sure to eat balanced, healthy meals and while you’re at it, why not try some new tastes, textures, ingredients, and cooking techniques. Here are some recipes using quinoa, a good gluten-free source of protein, iron, and fibre. Available at most grocery and health food stores, quinoa is not only versatile, it also tastes wonderful, has a nice crunch and is a quick and flavourful way to get in a serving of whole grains.

Baked Quinoa Falafel
1/2 cup uncooked quinoa
1 can (15 oz) chickpeas
1 small red onion
5-6 garlic cloves
1/4 cup fresh parsley
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 cup flour
2 tablespoons cornmeal
For serving:
Greek yogurt, cucumber, cherry, tomatoes, lemon or lime, sliced
Cook the quinoa according to the directions. Drain the chickpeas (garbanzo beans) from the can. In a food processor, combine the chickpeas, onion, garlic, parsley, and cilantro. Process until well blended. Stir in the salt, baking powder, and cooked quinoa. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes (or overnight).
Form 4 patties from the batter. On a small plate, combine the flour and cornmeal. Dip the patties (both sides) in the flour mixture.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a large skillet or heatproof pan, heat a little oil over medium heat. Add the patties and cook for a few minutes so that side can get a little crisp to it. Flip the patties over, then immediately move the skillet (or pan) from the stove top to the oven. Continue to bake for 12-15 minutes.
Allow these to cool just a little before serving. Squeeze on a little lemon or lime juice, top with Greek yogurt and your chopped veggies.

Quinoa-Stuffed Eggplant with a
Roasted Garlic Raita
3 large eggplants or 5 small eggplants
1 cup dry quinoa
3 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 tablespoons olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup crushed tomatoes
2 teaspoons oregano
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 cup fresh mint, chopped
1 cup water
Roasted Garlic Raita
1 head garlic
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups plain yogurt
1 cayenne pepper, diced
2 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon pepper
3 tablespoons fresh mint, chopped

First, prep the eggplants. Cut them in half lengthwise and use a strong spoon to scoop out the soft flesh, leaving about 1/2 inch of flesh around the skin. Chop up the flesh that you removed, discarding any parts that are mostly seeds. Set aside.
Now, prepare the quinoa. In a medium-sized pot, bring two cups of the broth to a boil with the quinoa. Lower heat to a simmer and cover. Cook according to the time on the quinoa package, or until the
little threads of the quinoa have started to separate from the kernel and they’re soft when tasted. Remove from heat and set aside.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large frying pan, saute the onions in the olive oil over medium heat until slightly transparent. Add the chopped eggplant, garlic, crushed tomatoes, and all the dried herbs and spices (not the fresh mint). Simmer over medium-low heat for ten minutes.
While the mixture is simmering, you can start prepping the roasted garlic. Cut the top 1/4 off the head of garlic and place it in the center of a roughly eight-inch square of tin foil. Drizzle one tablespoon of the olive oil over the top of the garlic and then wrap up the tin foil around it so it’s in a nice little sealed up tin foil bushel. Set aside.
Once the ten minutes of simmering have passed, stir in the fresh mint and the quinoa and remove from heat. Place the eggplant halves on a large casserole pan, hollow side facing up. Fill the eggplants with the quinoa mixture and scoop any remaining mixture into the casserole pan around the eggplant halves. Pour one cup of broth and one cup of water into the casserole pan. Place the pan in the oven, and place the tin foil-wrapped garlic head in the oven next to the casserole pan. Allow them both to cook for 45 -55 minutes, or until the top of the quinoa stuffing is slightly golden and lightly crisp to the touch.
While they’re baking, you can start preparing the raita. Mix together the remaining olive oil, yogurt, cayenne pepper, onion, salt, and pepper until blended. Cover and refrigerate.
Once the roasted eggplants and garlic are done cooking, remove each of them from the oven and allow the garlic to cool until safe to touch. Squeeze the garlic head’s contents out into the raita and stir to incorporate. Top with the fresh mint and serve immediately alongside the stuffed eggplants.

Crunchy Quinoa, Toasted Almond
and Dark Chocolate Brown Butter
2 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup toasted sliced almonds
1/2 cup ground flaxseed
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup dark chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper.
Add butter to a small saucepan and heat over medium heat. Whisk constantly until brown bits appear on the bottom, about five to six minutes, then immediately remove from heat and set aside. Stir in honey and vanilla extract.
In a large bowl, combine oats, almonds, quinoa, flaxseed, cinnamon and salt. Stir well to combine. Pour butter/honey over the oat mixture, stirring with a large spoon until the entire thing is equally moistened. I stir and even mix with my hands for about five good minutes. Spread evenly on the baking sheet in one layer. Bake for ten minutes, toss and then bake for ten minutes more. Toss again, then bake for about ten more minutes, stirring every three minutes or so
until the mixture is golden.
Remove and let cool for about ten minutes. At this time, I gently and quickly squeeze some of the granola together with my hands – I find that this helps it “clump” together. Pour chocolate chips over top and stir in gently. Let cool completely for at least one hour before eating.

Crispy Black Bean Quinoa Burritos
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
1 (15 oz) can Libby’s Organic Black Beans, rinsed and drained
1/2 cup Libby’s Organic Sweet Corn, rinsed and drained
1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime
Salt and black pepper, to taste
Cilantro Lime Quinoa (see recipe below)
2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
10 burrito-sized flour tortillas
Dip of choice for serving

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and cook until tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for two minutes. Stir in the peppers, black beans, corn, chili powder, cumin, and cilantro. Cook for five minutes. Add the fresh lime juice and season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Place a few spoonfuls of cilantro lime quinoa in the center of a tortilla, leaving 1/2-inch border around edges, then add the shredded cheese, and bean/corn mixture down the center of the quinoa. Roll burritos, by folding over the ends and rolling up. Continue making the rest of the burritos.
Heat a large non-stick skillet or griddle pan over medium heat. Arrange burritos, seam-side down, in pan or griddle and cook until golden brown and crisp, about two to three minutes per side. Serve warm with dip of your choice.

Cilantro Lime Quinoa
2 cups vegetable broth
1 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
1 clove garlic, minced
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/3 cup chopped cilantro
1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large pot, bring the 2 cups of vegetable broth to a boil. Stir in quinoa and cook until broth is evaporated and quinoa is tender, about 20 minutes. Pour quinoa into a medium bowl and fluff with a fork.
Stir in garlic, lime juice, cilantro, and sugar. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Serve warm.

Basil Parmesan Quinoa Cakes
2 1/2 cups cooked quinoa
4 eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
1 white onion, finely chopped (yellow would be fine too)
1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 cup bread crumbs (plus a few extra tablespoons if needed)
1-3 tbsp olive oil

Stir the quinoa, eggs, and salt together in a medium bowl. Add the basil, cheese, garlic, and onion.
Stir in the bread crumbs and let stand so the crumbs can absorb some moisture. The mixture should be easily formed into balls without falling apart. If needed, add a couple tablespoons of breadcrumbs and let stand a few minutes more.
Heat the olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan – the exact amount will depend on the size of the pan you use) in a skillet or wide frying pan over medium. Pat the mixture into patties and cook in batches, about ten minutes on each side, flattening so they’re about ? inch thick. Flip carefully! They should be browned on one side after ten minutes – if not, adjust the heat. Repeat with remaining quinoa mixture.

Quinoa Crusted Chicken Strips with BBQ Honey
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken tenders, cut into stirps
1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs (use gluten free if needed)
1 teaspoon fresh black pepper pepper
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
BBQ Honey Mustard
1/3 cup dijon mustard
1/4 cup honey
3 tablespoons of your favorite BBQ Sauce
1/2 a lime, juiced

In a medium size bowl combine the dijon mustard, honey, BBQ sauce and lime juice. Mix well and season with salt and pepper if needed. Set aside. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silpat. Spread the quinoa on the prepared baking sheet and bake until toasted, golden brown and crispy, 20 to 25 minutes. Let cool, then transfer all but 1/3 cup to a food processor or high powdered blender. Process the quinoa until half of it is ground into flour and the other half is in small pieces, about one to two minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 475 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and spray or brush it with the olive oil. Add the quinoa crumbs and the 1/3 cup of reserved quinoa to a large bowl and add in the Panko bread crumbs, pepper and seasoned salt. Stir to combine. In another bowl combine the buttermilk and 1/4 cup of the BBQ Honey Mustard sauce, add the chicken and toss well. Remove each piece of chicken from the buttermilk, and dredge through the crumbs, pressing gently to adhere. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all the chicken has been used. Make sure not to crowd your pan, if necessary use two baking sheets. Lightly spray the fingers with cooking spray or a mist of olive oil.Bake for ten-12 minutes, then gently flip using kitchen tongs and spray the other side. Bake for ten-12 minutes more, then remove from oven and serve with the remaining BBQ Honey Mustard. Garnish with fresh cilantro and or parsley and a lemon wedge if desire

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