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Quinoa cream soup with no cream

A favorite, very quick soup that now appears at potlucks and “pachamama” celebrations.   Let me tell you, people all over South America as well as France are now enjoying this basic, smooth, lush soup with a touch of a crunch! (Thanks to the fiber in the unblended quinoa.)

It is my own creation and I´m told it´s even better than the classic Ecuadorian quinoa soup that requires pork and potatoes.  I began promoting it in my first cookbook that has now sold 50,000 copies. This Lent it also highlights the non-meat tradition of limiting, but you will not feel you are fasting when you taste this insanely delicious soup. A cream soup with no cream becomes rich and elegant thanks to ground peanuts or pepitas (pumpkin seeds). Really, the original version I did with peanuts, but now with so many allergies around, I find it is also very good, perhaps even better with pepitas.

This is my go-to, comfort food. I like adding one whole, fresh chili pepper to the simmering soup to get a bit of spunk!  Merely cut a slit in the chili and add it whole.   

And remember, quinoa is a complete protein; native Andean women, before the coming of Spaniards, instinctively knew that its value compared to mother´s milk and used quinoa as a weaning food.

To balance your diet and get all the macro and micronutrients, serve this cream soup with a green salad, or nice crunchy vegetable strips.  And then, top off the meal with real, fresh fruit.

Quinoa cream soup with no cream

1 1/3 cup rinsed quinoa (any color, even though the regular beige/white one is excellent)
6 cups water
Scallion sauté:
    1 tablespoon butter
    annatto paste (optional, merely to give color)
    2/3 cup minced scallions
4 tablespoons smooth natural peanut butter or 5 tablespoons dry-roasted pepitas
2 cups milk
salt
(1 fresh chili pepper, Serrano or Jalapeño  - optional)

Cook the quinoa in the water for 10 minutes in an Instant-Pot (the term now being used for my good old pressure cooker) or 30 minutes in a regular pot until each grain is opened and the tiny white germ is no longer curved around the transparent inner part.  

Prepare the sauté:  heat the butter (and annatto paste, if using); add the scallions and sauté over low heat until transparent.  

Blend one third of the cooked quinoa with the peanut butter or ground pepitas (pumpkin seeds), sauté and milk.

Add the blended mixture to the rest of the cooked quinoa.  Add salt (and the fresh chili, if using) and merely heat for a few minutes or until thickened.  Stir while heating to avoid sticking.

Makes 6 servings.

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Hearty and light two color bean dish (green beans and white ones, too)

 Even though this would be called a salad in most Latin countries, I find it more a vegetable dish and if you eat good amounts, it could serve as a main dish, too.  

1 lb. fresh green beans

1 potato, unpeeled in thin slices

1 small/medium onion, diced

2 tablespoons olive oil

3 small organic tomatoes, peeled and chopped

2 tablespoons water

salt, pepper

½ cup “chochos”/”tarwi”/edible lupine (or substitute white cooked beans)

2 tablespoons fresh herbs (parsley, mint, oregano, basil)

 

With thin, very young green beans, merely cut them in 2-inch pieces.  If the beans are thicker and with more fiber, first cut them in half lengthwise and then in 2-inch pieces.  

In a thick, low pot with a lid, sauté the onion in the oil until it begin to brown. Add the green beans, potato, tomato and water.  Cover the pot and cook over the lowest heat possible, mixing from time to time until all is cooked (approximately 20 minutes).  Add the beans and heat.

At serving time, salt and pepper and stir in the minced herbs you have chosen. 

I love this dish served at room temperature with a little glug of additional olive oil.  Warm it´s also excellent.  

Makes 4 - 6 servings.

Active time: 20 minutes

Total time: 40 minutes

 

 

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Michelle´s Quinoa Salad, based on a Middle Eastern dish

1 cup quinoa, rinsed

1 small red onion

salt and pepper

¾ cup minced parsley

¼ cup minced mint

5 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons lemon juice

1 cucumber, if you want

1 tomato, if you want

Add the quinoa to at least a quart of boiling water.  Simmer for 10 minutes.  Strain.  The heat in each grain will continue to cook the quinoa and when it cools, you will have crunchy, separate grains, not at all soggy.  

If you choose to add cucumber, after removing the central, seedy part, chop it.  Mix in lots of salt; let sit for at least ten minutes and then wash and squeeze.  This prevents the cucumber from adding too much juice to the salad, which would take away its superb flavor.  If you want to add tomato, also remove the juicy, seedy part and chop finely. 

Mix all ingredients with the cooled quinoa and taste.  The flavor of lemon should prevail.  Serve at room temperature. 

This salad can be prepared in advance, adding the tomato for serving. 

Make 6 servings. 

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Locro de papas con verduras de hojas verdes (Classic Ecuadorian Potato Soup with Greens)

As promised, here are a few of my favorite recipes and tips to help you add more greens to your diet, to take advantage of their wonderful nutritional properties. This hearty potato soup, full of lightly cooked greens and garnished with fresh goodies makes a full meal.  A very basic recipe, it can become more Andean when you add edible lupine beans (“chochos” in Ecuador; “tarwi” in other countries of South America).  Whatever green or combination of greens you have available works perfectly, too.  Remember, heat partially destroys certain vitamins so try to cook the greens only slightly by adding them at the end. Ones with thicker leaves, such as cabbage or kale, require a few minutes more of simmering than thin ones, such as watercress or arugula, that really require no cooking at all - they wilt merely in the heat of the soup.
 

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Cooking creatively with quinoa, rediscovering the mother grain from the Andes

In many countries of the north, quinoa is acclaimed as a super food.  And yet, it’s incredible that in many countries of the south, only recently are people beginning to appreciate its fantastic nutritive and culinary properties.

When traveling to Peru as a public health nutritionist many years ago, I first discovered the fascinating history and incredible nutritional properties of quinoa.

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Quinoa-Rice Pilaf

Most Latin households have a special way rice MUST BE COOKED.  This “recipe” is really more an indication to do what you already do with your rice but do it both with quinoa and with rice.  That way the nutritional quality of the rice improves drastically – more protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals.  It is amazing that the two grains cook in the same amount of time. Thus you can rinse them together and cook them together in the same pot or rice cooker.  Then you do what you most like to do with your rice.  

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Double quinoa patties or veggie burgers

Many, many years ago I created a recipe that won the first prize in a cook-off contest.  In fact, the recipe for quinoa patties became so famous that these delicious morsels appeared in many cocktails parties. They come out so wonderfully crunchy and brown that they even look like meat.  But of course they have the advantage of being chocked full of many vegetables and thus multiple vitamins.

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Magical Cream without cream

During my trip to Bolivia, what an incredible discovery it was to find a well-known recipe that uses raw, ground peanuts (groundnuts) as cream. Although traditionally hand-ground in a “batán” between stones, an almost similar effect can be produced in a blender. The peanut cream comes out pure white and smooth, smooth, smooth. 

As a nutritionist, I appreciate peanuts for the excellent quality of oil (similar chemically to olive oil), for the high protein content, and a source of iron, calcium and folate. But never, ever did I suspect that using them unroasted would produce such a light-flavored, luscious cream substitute. 

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Amaranth risotto with dried mushrooms

As I read through this recipe, it´s hard to imagine how truly wonderfully it comes out.  Some kind of magic happens between the unique flavor and texture of amaranth when it is united with the deep, richness of dried mushrooms. Here in the Andes where those valuable mushrooms grow under the newly-planted pine forests, they are extremely inexpensive, too! 
I do hope you will try this special recipe that is surprisingly both light and filling.   Turns out to be almost vegan – but I must admit, I especially appreciate this scrumptious risotto with butter, not a lot, just enough.  

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Blackened Fish with Amaranth

We are learning how important it is to eat fish thanks to the healthy kind of fat it has, BUT I´ve noticed that in the Andes few people prepare it on a regular basis.  Thus, I want to present you with a very simple recipe.  It is fascinating because it´s “breaded” with wonderful amaranth.  (If you can´t find black, the regular cream-colored one works beautifully, too.)  Either amaranth provides an incredible crunch, as well as plenty of fiber.  And as a special feature, the amaranth seeds look like lovely, miniscule pearls.

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Amaranth bread

The unique texture of this sweet bread makes it a winning favorite – both firm and at the same time magnificently moist; I love it. It´s completely gluten free and even without the black amaranth seeds, it´s delicious. For those of you who may not have access to goldenberries, any other dried fruit is fine (cranberries, cherries, etc.). 

This is quite an incredible recipe. Made all in one bowl, it is quick and completely fool-proof. 

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Chocolate Cake with Quinoa

As a child, every year of my life my father made me his chocolate cake for my birthday.  Now that he is no longer with us, I decided to try my hand at an Andean version, with quinoa.  I must admit that objectively this recipe is even better than my dear father´s.  This one comes out wonderfully moist.

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From kitchen scraps, I make a delicious vegetable broth.

I like to recycle in my kitchen, to make good use of all the flavors, nutrients and energy the universe has already given me.

When preparing meals with vegetables, there are always skins, stalks, and scraps that get thrown away in the garbage, or hopefully in the compost. Please, don’t throw them away! I want to show you how you can use these scraps to make a delicious vegetable broth.

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Hearty Hominy Soup (Nuevo caldo de patas sin pata)

What a treat it is to eat a soup in a traditional style, but with a new twist! Even without the “patas”, this potage is filling, but it´s also quick and healthy. After all of those sweets and meat during the holiday season, it is refreshing to have a dish that both fills us up and is good for our bodies. Since hominy comes with the textured germ, it helps with our digestion. The traditional belief that peanuts are heavy on the stomach no longer is true, since the peanuts used in the commercial products of peanut butter and ground peanuts have been toasted all the way through and are not “chamuschados”.

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Special Christmas Recipe - “Snow Cookies” - Galletas de almidón

Galletas de almidón are so famous, that anyone traveling to the province of Manabí, Ecuador cannot return home without bringing some.  The ones sold there tend to be a bit hard; this recipe I cooked with a fabulous cook/hacienda owner, Yolanda Martínez and her cookies are so light, delicate and pure white that I call them Snow Cookies.  Oh, and of course they are completely gluten free.

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