Don’t tell your kids that this cake contains quinoa and a few vegetables. They won’t be able to tell, anyway

Don’t tell your kids that this cake contains quinoa and a few vegetables. They won’t be able to tell, anyway

Versatile quinoa lends itself to muffins, pilaf, even cake

  • By Reshma Seetharam For The Herald
  • Tuesday, February 23, 2016 3:48pm
  • Life

Quinoa, a nutty flavored subtle grain, has quickly gained popularity in the food world. It can be boiled, toasted, seasoned, sprouted, ground to flour and combined with many ingredients. The easiest way is to cook it is with water or broth in 1: 2 quinoa to liquid ratio. Fluff it with a fork and it’s ready to eat.

Quinoa originated in South America thousands of years ago. The seeds come in ivory, red or black colored grains. It is high in protein and fiber, rich in vitamins and minerals and gluten free. If you have a picky family, try not to jump into quinoa right away. Mix it in with rice, salads, baked goods or veggie burger patties. The choices are endless. Here are some recipes to try.

Banana, flax and quinoa muffins

These are wholesome breakfast muffins that you can make ahead for weekdays. They’re not too sweet; chocolate chips give them just enough. Toss them in the microwave to warm up and you can fulfill a morning dessert craving.

4 medium sized, ripe bananas

2 eggs

½ cup yogurt

½ cup oil

½ cup brown sugar

½ cup chocolate chips

½ cup powdered flax seeds

1 cup powdered oats

½ cup powdered quinoa

1 cup whole wheat flour

½ cup cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ tsp salt

Combine the flax seeds, oats, quinoa, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, mix well and set aside. Mash the bananas and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 375 degree. Either spray the muffin pans with nonstick spray or use paper liners.

In a large bowl, combine oil, yogurt and sugar. Beat at low speed until well blended. Add eggs, one at a time, and beat until combined. Pour in the mashed banana and beat well.

Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, a little at a time. Beat on low or with a wooden spoon until combined. Let the mixture rest for about 5 minutes. Stir again.

Using an ice-cream scoop, divide the batter evenly into 24 cups. Top the muffins with oats and chocolate chips.

Bake for 20 to 23 minutes or until a skewer inserted through the muffin comes out clean. Let the muffins rest in the baking tray for two minutes, then cool them completely on cooling racks. Store in airtight boxes or refrigerate for a longer shelf life.

Makes 24 muffins. Prep time: 15 minutes. Cook time: 25 minutes

Quinoa, brown rice and vegetable pilaf

An aromatic, flavorful pilaf of quinoa, brown rice and vegetables.

1 cup organic quinoa

1 cup brown rice, soaked in water

4 cups assorted fresh vegetables (cauliflower, potatoes, carrot, beans, peas)

1 teaspoon garam masala powder

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

½ cup chopped onions

½ cup green peppers

¼ cup lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil or ghee/clarified butter

Salt to taste

1 cup coconut milk

Boiling water — about 4 cups, or broth of your choice

Spices (see below)

Grind the following ingredients to a paste: 6 stems of fresh cilantro, 10 small green hot chilies (Use more or less, depending on your preference), ½ teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon black pepper seeds, 1 teaspoon finely chopped ginger and 1 teaspoon finely chopped garlic

Add oil into a 4-quart pan. Over medium-high heat, add onions and fennel seeds. After a minute, add in the vegetables and green peppers. Cook on medium for 5 to 7 minutes. Sprinkle garam masala powder and salt to taste. Pour in the cilantro paste, boiling water and coconut milk. Bring it to a rolling boil. Reduce the heat to medium.

Drain the soaked rice; add quinoa and rice into the bubbling mixture. Pour in the lime juice, turn the heat to low. Soak a dish towel in boiling water, drain and ring it carefully, being careful not to burn your hands. Place it over the top of the pan and then close the lid to seal the pilaf. Cook on low for 12 to 15 minutes. The damp towel keeps the pilaf moist and helps it cook uniformly.

Poke a fork into the pilaf. The pilaf is ready when the quinoa is fluffy and a few grains of rice can mush to a paste between your fingers.

Serve hot with cucumber and yogurt salad.

Yield: 6 cups, serves 4-6

Prep time: 10 minute. Cook time: 25 minutes.

Quinoa chocolate cake

This is a healthy cake, with quinoa and a few vegetables sneaked in. Don’t say that to your picky kids. Believe me, there is no way they can discover what went into it.

2 cups quinoa flour or whole raw quinoa, lightly roasted and powdered to a superfine flour

½ cup cocoa powder

2 teaspoons instant espresso/coffee powder

½ cup vegetable oil

1 and ½ cups packed brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 teaspoon baking powder

1 cup raw carrot puree

1 cup raw zucchini puree

1/8 teaspoon salt


¼ cup melted butter

2 cups confectioner sugar

A few teaspoons of warm milk

A pinch of salt

A few drops of almond extract

Skip to the next paragraph if you are using quinoa flour. Lightly toast the raw quinoa in a dry wok until it is aromatic. Let it cool completely. Grind it to a fine flour. Sift the flour and powder it again, to achieve a superfine quality.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour dust two 6 inch baking pans. Set aside.

In a stand or hand mixer, whisk the eggs, oil, vanilla and sugar until light and frothy. This should take about 3 minutes on medium speed.

In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients together. Add the milk and vegetable puree to the dry ingredients and stir together to get rid of lumps. Pour this into the egg mixture and mix to combine.

Spread the batter in the greased pans. Bake for 35-40 minutes until a skewer inserted in the center comes out with a few moist crumbs. Let its cool completely before you glaze the cake.

To make the glaze:

Sift 2 cups of powdered sugar and salt. Set aside. Melt the butter in a saucepan or microwave. Add the butter to the sugar mix and stir to combine. Add a few spoonfuls of warm milk to achieve a dripping consistency. Add a few drops of almond extract for flavor. Beat until smooth and creamy, adding a little more milk if necessary. You can choose the consistency you like by using more or less milk. Drizzle the warm glaze over a cold cake and let it flow at its own pace. The cake is best served at room temperature.

Yield: makes 2- 6 inch cakes or 1-9 inch cake. Serves 12

Prep time: 20 minutes. Cook time: 40 minutes

Quinoa and vegetable saute

2 cups raw quinoa

4 cups water or broth of your choice

1 cup onion, chopped

1 cup red peppers, chopped

1 cup carrots, diced

1 cup peas, diced

1 teaspoon cumin/jeera seeds

¼ teaspoon finely grated ginger

½ teaspoon red chili powder

A pinch of coriander powder

A pinch of turmeric

1 teaspoon lime juice

2 tablespoons olive oil

Salt to taste

Cook 2 cups of quinoa with 4 cups water and ½ tsp salt in a rice cooker or a covered saucepan until they are cooked completely and the seeds split, about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside.

Add a tablespoon of olive oil and cumin seeds into a medium pan and let the cumin splatter on medium heat. Add in the ginger, followed by peas and carrots. Turn the heat to medium high for a few minutes.

Add in the chopped onions and pepper and saute them for a few more minutes. Toss in the powders and salt, stir, and let it sit for a few seconds so the powders infuse in the oil. Add in the quinoa and toss together gently. Add salt to taste. Garnish with fresh herbs of your choice and a drizzle of olive oil. Toss and serve.

Yield: about 5 cups, serves 4

Prep time: 10 minutes, cook time: 20 minutes

For more quinoa recipes, go to

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