Tuesday, October 2, 2012

500 Best Quinoa Recipes by Camilla Saulsbury - Cookbook Review



I have to start this post with a confession:  I have been cooking gluten free for years, but have rarely cooked with quinoa.  My experience was a quinoa salad, which was by the way quite good and that was it.   The idea of a whole cookbook dedicated to this grain that is considered the perfect balance of protein, carbohydrates and dietary fiber, rich in vitamins and minerals, the "super food , the mother grain!"  I was stoked!

If the recipes were really good then this cookbook with a whopping 500 recipes would be a gem!

I was ready to cook.  As I flipped through the pages I found that this cook book was truly dedicated to quinoa and there was no rice flours to be found or xanthan or guar gums!  Wow!

I was excited to get into the kitchen and see how these recipes really tasted.    My approach was to cook things that I would use in my everyday life but using this more nutricious grain. 

First on my list was chocolate.  I love chocolate and we are a family of chocoholics.   I made Chocolate Zucchini Cake


Results:  
This cake was super moist and delicious.  It was perfect that the recipe called for cocoa and chocolate chips.  My kids loved it and so did I.  Because this recipe called for only one egg,  I used a flax egg and made a dairy free buttermilk and the results were tasty.  I cooked it 15 minutes longer than suggested by the recipe but this recipe lent itself to dairyfree and egg free substitutions.  Good stuff!

Second was what I was used to making, a
  Quinoa Tabbouleh



Results:
This was an awesome dish!  Let me tell you how awesome.... I got so carried away, that I forgot to take a picture and I scarfed down the whole bowl.   I forgot that I promised my mother a taste and when she asked all I had was an empty bowl to offer her!  I made a second bowl just to take this picture.  I adjusted the cumin to my taste because I don't like to much and I was in heaven!

Third was something everyone makes.  It is as American as the hot dog... 
 Blueberry Muffins

Results:
These muffins were beautiful and tender.   I really enjoyed these muffins and they used honey instead of sugar.   The opinion of my kids was different than mine.  My kids wanted a sweeter muffin and suggested I used granulated sugar next time.  Figures!  
Still, a really good muffin.

Next on my list was the 
Chewy  Coconut Quinoa Bars


Results:
These bars are among the many granola, and energy bar recipes in the cookbook.  These chewy bars use quinoa flakes and we used our favorite nut butter.  This bar makes a perfect after school snack.  We of course munched them all up on the spot.  I did cook these not as long as prescribed by the recipe, only until it was browned.  Delicious!

Next, was the 
Cinnamon Sugar Doughnuts,
who can pass up a doughnut?


Results:
These doughnuts had the most surprising results in my house.  It was a 50/50 split.  Who could imagine that something that good would only get 50 % grade!  I really liked them, but my husband and several of my kids thought it tasted "off".  My guess is that my kids wanted a second flour in this recipe that toned down the natural nutty flavor of the quinoa flour.

I couldn't leave on that note so I wanted to try my theory about two flours making a difference.   Though I don't think quinoa flour alone is strong like chickpea ( garbanzo bean flour),  it is probably true that some of you would think that it does have a strong enough taste.   I was in luck!  Camilla has an abundance of recipes that call for quinoa flour and oatmeal.  I think that a second "flour" might tone down the "off" taste.

So, next I tried

 Carrot Cake Breakfast Cookies


Results:
These cookies use rolled oats, quinoa flour, and flax meal.    I swapped out raisins for my children's beloved chocolate chip chunks and used granulated sugar instead of the honey and let me tell you, these cookies disappeared!  My family loved these cookies!  The use of oats really added to this cookie.  This one is a keeper.  The use of oatmeal seemed to have done the trick with not too much of that nutty flavor.


Having 500 recipes to choose from, I have to tell you that I have barely scratched the surface of the plethora of recipes this cookbook has to offer.  I still have a lengthy list of recipes that I want to try.  

Highlights of this cookbook:
*has a vegetarian section
*contains recipes for everyday foods using this nutrious grains- 
crackers, breads, dips, desserts, soups, granola, pie crusts 
*creative and foreign dishes for those who want something more exotic

This book has taken my hesitation out of cooking quinoa and I am feeling that I can even begin to experiment with it on my own.  This book makes cooking with this unfamiliar grain, easy.  The recipes were tasty and you are bound to try many recipes that will become your favorites.  

I also adore the fact that if you have multiple allergies that most of these recipes are easily adapted.  I easily replaced her use of up to two eggs with flax eggs with great results.   I also substituted dairy options with my favorite dairy free versions and the recipes were just as scrumptious.  And if you have a sweet tooth like me, then substitute granulated sugar or your other favorite sugar substitutes.    Also, I would recommend trying recipes using each type of quinoa -- 
It is very likely that you will like one more than another, or you make like them all.  I love using quinoa flakes in place of oatmeal in my recipes and you can't taste the difference at all. 

I would definitely recommend buying this book.  It really is a gem!

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