Quinoa cakes are a quick, healthy, vegetarian meal anyone can whip up on a weeknight. AND they taste great. Who doesn't love quinoa anyways?
Lately, I’ve been trying to include healthier ingredients in my day-to-day cooking. But I was a little overwhelmed by it all: organic, natural, whole-grain, polyunsaturated, unbleached, stone-milled… Can someone just make it simple, PLEASE! I have no time to compare heat tolerances of various oils when I’m on the verge of caving in to honey-flavoured Shreddies (they’re amazing, BTW). So was I ever happy to come across a pair of cookbooks by blogger Heidi Swanson that sum it up like this: choose ingredients that are as close as possible to the way you would find them in nature: no chemicals and no modifications – genetic or mechanic. Ahhh… Now that makes sense!
But before I tell you more about my new favourite cookbooks (and you start to yawn), let me win you over with these babies: quinoa cakes. I came across a picture and recipe of them in one of the books that stopped me dead in my tracks. Making patties resembling meatballs or crab cakes with quinoa. AMAZING! Enough with the quinoa salad already, these little patties are a great new way to use the grain we’ve all come to love for its taste as much as its nutritional value. Quinoa is high in protein, so this mean two of these puppies will keep you going until your next meal, no problem. Plus, the recipe is quick and easy. Consider this: tonight, I made this recipe (with ingredients I had on hand, mind you), took pictured of it, ate my dinner in a civilized fashion, did a whole load of dishes, scrubbed my ceramic cook top (which I admittedly had not cleaned for quite some time) drove Mat to the metro, BBM’ed with my good friend AND wrote this post - all by 10:30 p.m. Not bad! So give it a shot, why don’t ya.
Super Natural Every Day, Heidi Swanson's second cookbook, is packed full of healthy recipes for the every day.
Adapted from Super Natural Every Day by Heidi Swanson
Yields 6 quinoa cakes
- 1 cup quinoa, cooked and cooled (in 1.5 cups of simmering salted water for about 15 minutes)
- 2 eggs, beaten
- A pinch of salt
- 1/3 cup of cheese, grated (Whatever you have on hand will do. I had parmesan and leftover Gruyère, which happen to be the recommended cheeses for this recipe.)
- 1/2 an onion, finely chopped
- 1 large clove of garlic, minced
- Green parts of 4 shallots or small bunch of chives, chopped
- 1/2 cup of breadcrumbs (I had Italian breadcrumbs and used that although the recipe calls for whole grain – no biggie.)
- A splash of olive oil for browning the patties
Mix the cooked and cooled quinoa with the eggs and salt. Incorporate all other ingredients and let stand a few minutes for the breadcrumbs to absorb the moisture. Adjust the consistency with a little water if needed so that you can easily form patties with your hands. Heat the oil on medium heat and cook the patties, covered for about 5 minutes on each side.
Quick dipping sauce
This is a last-minute invention that I came up with when I realized the quinoa cakes might need a little sauce to call its buddy. It turned out great and I’m happy to share it with you, but be sure to taste it as you go and adjust it to your liking.
- Big dollop of plain yoghurt
- Small dollop of mayonnaise
- Big spoonful of smoked paprika
- Medium spoonful of regular paprika
- Couple shakes of coriander
- Couple splashes of Tabasco sauce
Mix it all together. Taste. Adjust. Repeat until satisfied
So, back to the cookbooks. The one I cooked from tonight is Super Natural Every Day. It’s Heidi Swanson’s second book and includes a lot of great vegetarian recipes featuring natural ingredients. Although it has a solid introduction that shares some basic info about “natural cooking”, I would recommend her first book to anyone who wants to get educated on healthy eating.
Super Natural Cooking is the author's first cookbook. I recommend it to anyone who wants to get the basics on "natural cooking".
Super Natural Cooking (the first book) contains all the basic information you need to make better choices – which flours, oils, grains, sweeteners, etc. to favour and why, as well as those to avoid. The information is concise and the more technical explanations are explained simply. I read the 17-page chapter called “Build a Natural Foods Pantry” in less than an hour last night and feel like I’ve already gained a world of knowledge. The book contains quite a few recipes, but if that’s more what you’re after – either because you’re already up to speed on natural cooking or because it bores you – get her second book (mentioned above). Together, I think the pair of cookbooks works great: one sums up all the basic information you need to get you going and the second give you a wide repertoire of recipes to choose from.
Still not convinced? Check out Heidi’s award-winning food blog, 101cookbooks.com. There, you’ll even find a downloadable six recipe sampler in pdf format from her second book.
So, how do you go about incorporating healthier ingredients in your cooking? Is organic important to you? Should we stop eating meat? All questions that I haven’t dared pondering yet. I’m taking this one step at a time…
Full disclosure: I bought these books with my own dough. I have not been approached by anyone looking to promote them. I am just genuinely stoked and wanted to share