Speaking of Fiber

When the average person thinks about adding fiber to their diet, they think of brown rice, wheat and oats primarily. After a while there is only so much brown rice or oats you can eat.

There are a lot of other fiber rich foods available. One food that has a great nutritional profile is Quinoa (pronounce “keen wah”). Quinoa is not a grain; it is actually a relative of Spinach and Swiss Chard. Quinoa was eaten by the Incas on their way to battle and has been called “the gold of the Incas” or “the mother grain”.

It is a nutritional power house, high in protein and high in the amino acid lysine which is essential to tissue growth and repair. A cup of quinoa is equal to a quart of milk in calcium content. Although not as high in fiber as some grains, it is a good source of iron, phosphorus and several of the B vitamins.

Quinoa seeds are often coated with saponin, a soap like product. As such, it should be rinsed before cooking to get rid of any saponin residue. Due to its high oil content of polyunsaturated fatty acids, it should be stored in a cool dry place.

I am allergic to oats, so I came up with this breakfast recipe . Quinoa contains no gluten so it is an option for those that are gluten intolerant. It is outrageously tasty and good for you too!

There are many things you can do to vary the recipe. You could try making a winter pudding with apples and cinnamon and walnuts, replacing the coconut extract with rum or vanilla flavor. You can use apricots and dried cranberries with whatever flavoring sounds good.. I thought next time I might add chopped mango to the mix or replace the banana with mango. In any case, the recipe is terrific just the way it is.

I use brown rice syrup http://www.lundberg.com/products/syrup/syrup_og.aspx that you can get at WholeFoods or other health stores. It has a lower glycemic index than sugar. If you don’t want to buy it, you can use white or brown sugar or even maple syrup. If you have never tried brown rice syrup, I suggest you try it. It is not overly sweet like white sugar and you will find many uses for it. I have used it in cornbread with great results.

If you want more of a soft pudding texture, only cook this for 40 minutes. I like it more loaf like so it can be sliced, so I cooked it for an hour.

One warning: Be careful…when you try this you may find yourself wanting to eat the whole batch! This is good stuff!

Tropical Quinoa Pudding

½ cup Quinoa
1 cup water
1 egg and 1 egg white
½ cup of non-fat milk (or low fat, if preferred)
Heaping ¼ cup brown rice syrup
Pinch of salt
1 tbl wheat germ (I used 2 tbl of granola because I didn’t have wheat germ)
2 tbl coconut (I used sweetened but you could also use unsweetened coconut)
½ tsp coconut extract (you could vary this with vanilla extract, coconut rum or some other tasty liqueur if preferred)
¼ cup plus 1 tbl slivered almonds (toasted)
¼ cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Put the Quinoa in a fine strainer and wash it to remove the saponin residue.

Bring quinoa and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Cover, reduce heat and simmer until the water is absorbed and quinoa is translucent, approximately 15 minutes.

Whisk together egg, egg white, milk, salt, brown rice syrup. Stir in cooked quinoa, coconut, wheat germ, raisins and 1/4 cup almonds.

Pour mixture into a lightly greased 8x5 loaf pan. Top with the reserved 1 tbl of almonds. Place loaf pan in a preheated 350 degree oven for an hour. Serve hot.