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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
(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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Mangos have to be my favorite fruit.  I remember the first time their awesome aroma entered my body.  I was a ripe 21, living near the Sahara desert in West Africa and I approached a “stand” on the ground where a brightly-dressed woman was opening a powerfully-colored orange fruit.  She sensed my wonder and offered me a taste. And what a discovering that was! That flavor has carried me around the world. I was told by an old food mentor, a Swedish epicure, that he remembered the taste of one peach in Italy; for me, it was that first mango.  And in my case, many other mangos in countries of the Andes bring me that incredible flavor I so cherish.

Please simply, really taste a tree-ripened mango; its juice is to be savored and remembered.  If you want to serve that wonderful flavor as part of a meal, try the delicious recipe below.  This is a MMM mango, the fruit in a complementary liquid, infused with products from countries of the Andes.  

It goes without saying that fresh mango is a treat to the taste buds and as well it is full of those orange vitamins and FIBER that is so lacking in modern diets.  

In general in this blog I try to highlight foods native to the countries of the Andes.  Mangos are not, but because of my love affair with them, and because they are part of the region´s abundance,  I HAD to share this recipe with you.  


2 large mangoes  
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons gold/amber rum
1 large, key lime

Cut the mangoes into half-inch cubes.

Mix the honey, rum and lime juice and stir into the mango cubes.  Chill, if you have the time. (Letting the mango macerate in the juices for many hours produces an even more succulent dish.)

Taste to balance flavors between sweetness and tartness, playing around with the amounts of honey and/or lime juice.

Makes 4 servings.
Total time: 10 minutes  (without chilling and macerating)



Forget diets!!


Let me help you eat delicious, healthy food all year round. And let the ingredients be ancient ones from the Andes. 

Now that we have all indulged over the holidays, and perhaps our stomachs and our weight are not in good shape, we can think of moving towards enjoying healthy foods that are also really delicious. 

How we eat is also important. To begin with, if we have a tendency to eat more than our body needs, try drinking at least a big glass of water half an hour before all meals.  Then, when eating, chew slowly to give us the opportunity to really taste.  This kind of mindful eating makes all the difference.  And when we eat slowly, we will feel satisfied earlier and thus eat less.   

Choosing healthy ingredients for us as individuals, we can choose to enjoy foods that are also healthy for the planet.  Thus these healthy foods can be based on locally sourced ingredients.  Living here in countries of the Andes, there is an abundance of biodiversity among so many ingredients. 

I love all the shapes and colors of potatoes and search out ones that are not grown with toxins.  My New Years resolution is to take the time to search out organic or agro-ecologic potatoes because beyond preserving the soils, they also have incomparable texture and taste; I feel safe in eating the peel, too.

Tomatoes originated in South America, too. Their flavor and juiciness cannot be matched by those hot-house, almost square things full of nasty pesticides that may suit commercialization processes but certainly don´t suit my taste buds.  Often even their smell is obnoxious. 

Again, this year I resolve to spend the extra time and perhaps cost to buy only organic or agro-ecological tomatoes.  

Beans are a healthy source of protein and in comparison to animal protein barely have a carbon footprint and are not a source of antibiotics like those found in chicken and other animal protein.  Cultivating beans doesn´t require destroying the Amazon or other forested areas and beans don´t produce methane like cattle.  

The recipe I share here comes from my book in full color, Un Mundo de Comida con los Ingredientes del Ecuador.  It produces a spectacular dish and since one doesn´t cook the veggies in water or roast them, they retain almost all of their micronutrients (vitamins and minerals).  I personally use an edible lupine as my bean, but any white bean will supply excellent protein.  What I like about this recipe is that it is equally delicious hot or at room temperature, so you can pack it and plan to eat it when you are at the office or out and about.  It´s really good not to have to think of what you can pick up to ward off hunger, because often quick food pick-ups can tend to be not at all healthy.  By thinking a bit in advance and packing up, we can control what we eat because we know the quality of ingredients we use.  

You will find many other healthy recipes in my cookbooks and of course here on my site and blog. Do please sign up at the bottom of the page www.michelleofried.com You´ll see delicious and healthy recipes, tips and advice to live a life of flavor. The concept of eating the rainbow you will see on each recipe; it helps you learn the nutritional value in a fun visual way.  

Read full recipe here



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





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. 



5 tips for Healthy, Delicious Fare for the Holidays

Click para ver la versión en español

Let me share some delicious tips so that this holiday season will sit well both on your stomach and with your weight.  What's most important is to think of NOT RESTRICTING ANYTHING, but to think of adding healthy, delicious, special options to the regular holiday fare.  Enjoying healthy options, one ends up eating less of the buttery/fatty, sweet dishes.  

Let's think of the holiday meal:

My tip number 1 is to include at least three dishes that are based on plants, either vegetables or fruits.  Let´s try to make one with raw fruits or vegetables, for example an appetizer with mango, shrimp and Latin-Asian flavors.  You can find that recipe in Un Mundo de Comida con los Ingredientes del Ecuador.  Another healthy option, full of anti-oxidants is a roasted beet recipe, with the special, flavor trick of orange rind and cloves, also in that same cookbook. Or a luscious flan based on pumpkin, also in the book. 

Since each vegetable or fruit´s color gives us a different anti-oxidant we want to eat the rainbow in our holiday meal.  Tip 2 is to make sure that each of the three dishes is based on a vegetable or fruit of a different, bright color

Tip 3 guarantees that the vegetables or fruits are of the best quality and thus have optimum quantities of micro-nutrients.   Buy only organic or agro-ecological produce directly from growers.  And if you live in a great, warm country, perhaps you have produce right in your own garden or you can exchange with a neighbor.  

Eating whole grains, not processed or refined, give us fiber as well as micro-nutrientes.  Thus tip 4 is have at least one dish based on a whole grain.  Here I present you one of my favorites, based on quinoa, also from that book Un Mundo de Comida con los Ingredientes del Ecuador.  

Click here to see Michelle´s Quinoa Salad full recipe, based on a Middle Eastern dish

Tip 5 is to make delicious, economic drinks that use healthy ingredients.  For children and those who don´t want alcohol, you can prepare a gorgeous pink bubbly drink.  First make a thin syrup of organic lemon juice and your favorite sweetener.  Pink it up with a concentrated infusion of hibiscus flower; top it off with bubbly mineral water and you will marvel at your healthy substitute to sodas.  This one tastes real and everyone love it.  

For those who´d like a tropical mulled wine, follow the recipe in Un Mundo…..  With lots of Andean ingredients, such as the dried flower of the cinnamon tree (“ishpingo”) this mulled wine has always been a winner at my holiday parties.  AND, you can make it from inexpensive wines.   



Download innovative cookbook edited by Michelle and created by indigenous, Andean cooks using indigenous ingredients

What an honor that I was given the opportunity to create/edit a cookbook that unites the concepts of healthy eating, with healthy lifestyles and healthy planting! Small farmers, (who also eat!), had been part of a creative food project geared toward promoting agro-biodiversity in their indigenous communities in northern Ecuador.  They had developed many recipes using Andean ingredients and it was now time to publish them in a cookbook to spread the good, delicious news. 



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.



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.



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.  



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.



A Native American diet: healthy, fresh, and GREEN

When European colonists first arrived in South America more than 500 years ago they found healthy, well-nourished local populations. There were social nets in place that provided food in times of drought, even in spite of high altitude and extreme climates. The populations knew how to manage forests and planting and their diets and lifestyle kept them healthy.  What irony that these days, with all the advances of science, that chronic diseases (such as diabetes, obesity, heart problems) are on the increase year after year!!

Perhaps even more remarkable is that those original populations had so few of the foods the world now knows.  In the Americas, there was no wheat, no rice, no beef, no milk, no pork, no chicken, no broccoli, no carrots.  The populations were able to supply their caloric needs with corn/maize and a huge variety of tubers and roots.  Their animal protein came from guinea pigs, native dogs, llamas, wild animals and fish that they didn´t eat every day. On a daily basis they were vegetarians, eating beans, pumpkin seeds and certain pseudo cereals like quinoa and amaranth for their protein.  Even now, in South America most of the population gets plenty of calories and protein in their diets, but what they are missing is what they ate all of those centuries ago, leaves, green leaves.


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Baked Pumpkin Custard - A luscious dessert made from an American veggie

Since for me pumpkin or winter squash is a sweet vegetable, I decided to try it in desserts and I think you will be happily surprised by the result in this simple, healthy version of Crème Brûlée.  Of course, if you´d like to make it in a more sophisticated way, go right ahead with heavy cream instead of the milk and a real vanilla bean, but do please try it with the lovely orange vegetable.   

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Awaking My Taste Buds in Bolivia and My Favorite Bolivian Recipe

I am always amazed at how different cultures use similar foods.  As I ate and cooked my way through parts of Bolivia, I had many fascinating and delicious experiences. 

In Bolivia, the common potato undergoes a remarkable, time-tested treatment to become either “chuño” or “tunta”.  Both are freeze-dried potatoes, each processed in a different way. The one comes out dark (chuño) and the other white (tunta). Each has a distinctively different flavor and texture. One of the traditional ways of preparing “chuño” is to mix it with a thick white cream, precisely the raw-peanut cream from my previous post. 


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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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