By all accounts quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse. A complete protein, it’s also high in iron—good for baby. For my palate, however, quinoa needs a little help. I always make my own stocks and broths, even with a baby on board, but I can’t be pouring all my fluid flavor into the quinoa pot. We eat too much of the stuff. So I tried out some bouillon cubes from Whole Foods. Before I had kids I shunned convenience products. I had never so much as used canned coconut milk—my how things change!
Edward & Sons natural bouillon cubes are vegan and gluten-free. Available in three flavors, Garden Veggie, Not-Chick’n, and Not-Beef (plus Low Sodium Veggie), just one of these squares yields a savory batch of quinoa that everyone around here loves. Here’s how we do it:
- 1 cup raw quinoa, well rinsed. I use a fine mesh sieve and wash the grains in running water, 1/2 cup at a time.
- 1 natural bouillon cube of your choice. Not-Chick’n is our favorite.
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric. I fell in love with this spice when I fell for Indian food. One of seven McCormick-christened “Super Spices” (as part of their curry powder blend), turmeric boasts high antioxidant levels. In scientific studies, turmeric is showing anti-cancer, anti-inflammation, and anti-dementia potential. Plus it colors your food a cheerful and enticing shade of yellow. I almost always, for any preparation, toss cut-up eggplant with turmeric and a bit of salt before frying/sauteing, by the way.
- a spot of olive oil. You know, a teaspoon or so.
- about 2 cups plus 3 Tablespoons water. The amount of liquid required can vary depending on the brand of quinoa. Lately I’ve been cooking up WF’s bulk offering.
Put everything in your pan. I like to use a skillet (10″ is good) with a well-fitting glass lid (so I can spy on the cookin’s a goin’ on in there). I find many grains, and most rice pilafs, cook more evenly in a wide, shallow vessel, than in a saucepan. When cooking larger quantities this is especially helpful. Bring it all to a full boil over high heat, put the lid on, turn the heat down to low and cook for 20 minutes.
After I turn the heat off, I like to remove the lid and check for doneness and moisture level. If there’s a little excess liquid, I leave the pan on the burner (electric, so still hot), and give the mix a few stirs to dry the grain some. On the other hand, if I find the quinoa to be slightly underdone—I like a little “pop”, but no crunch–I shake the water clinging to the underside of the lid back into the pan and set the whole thing on the cooling rack. You’ll figure out your preferences and your brand’s cooking requirements soon enough.
My family loves to eat bowls of this “ancient grain” sprinkled with almost any kind of cheese and spiked with lots of fresh ground black pepper (for the grown-ups). Quinoa also goes great with scrambled eggs (local!). For the baby, these days I concoct:
- about 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
- about 1/2 can of liquid from WF 365 organic green beans (or 1/3 -1/2 cup water). I buy these for the baby. It’s easy, cheap nutrition that I can feel good about and baby loves those beans!
- 4 ounce jar organic carrot baby food. I’ve been using Earth’s Best because I had a coupon. Clink the link to get $1 OFF ten jars. I find carrot baby food to be the handiest variety and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends not cooking carrots yourself for baby, because of possible high nitrate levels. Until Texas carrot season starts back up again (come on autumn!!), my little one’s enjoying this preparation.
- 1 small sweet yellow onion, halved and sliced kinda thin. Hairston Creek Farm is still selling organic bagged onions at SVFM.
- 1 large clove garlic, slivered. organic or local, if you can find it now.
- 1/8 teaspoon garam masala. I make my own. This recipe looks good. Or you can purchase some from WF’s or CM’s bulk spices. Smell before you buy. You want a warm, savory aroma. This enhancement is optional. My baby loves the flavor.
Simmer your quinoa, green bean liquid, onion, and garlic until the mixture is nearly dry. I do recommend a non-stick pan here. Add the baby food and continue to simmer until the mess is thick enough to mound on itself. You’re looking for a texture that baby can pick up and feed himself with. That’s what we’re after around this house, anyway. Infant-led feeding for the second baby has revolutionized mealtimes for us. Thanks for the tip, austinfrugalmom! Lastly, stir in the garam masala, if using. My little guy gets several servings out of this healthy recipe.
I’m enjoying the heck out of all this scribbling. Thanks for checking me out!