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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Quinoa for Kids (And scared Adults)

Do your kids eat quinoa? Mine do, basically because they think it's couscous. Part of that is because the two foods almost sound the same, but it's also because I've always served quinoa as a side dish and prepared basically the same way I've always prepared couscous.

But did you know 2013 is the International Year of Quinoa, declared by the United Nations Office of Food and Agriculture? There's even a tagline: "Quinoa, a food sown thousands of years ago." I love how mystical it sounds.

You probably know that quinoa is a great source of proteins and amino acids, nutritious for kids and just as easy to make as rice. But did you know it's also called the Mother Grain? And despite that maternal association,  many moms aren’t sure how to prepare it in a way that’s tasty for kids...other than couscous-style?

So I turned to many a mom's best friend in the kitchen, Pinterest, to find three interesting ways to serve quinoa to my family. Below are three recipe reviews!

For breakfast, we had quinoa pudding. My parents were visiting, so that meant four people who tried this pudding. Three out of four taste-testers of us liked the it, so that's a success. I topped the quinoa pudding with some roasted italian prunes I had made a day earlier. Yum. The recipe from Honest Fare was easy to follow and I do eat rice pudding cold, but I preferred this version warm.

Best served warm

Ready for the day

For lunch boxes and snacks, I needed a way to serve quinoa that wasn't moist or warm. So I found this creative idea for Qrispy Treats from the blog One Happy Table. I wasn't able to locate pre-toasted quinoa so I toasted it on my home. The warm, sweet, nutty aroma that filled the house tempted even my health-food-averse father. So if you can't find toasted quinoa for sale give it a try on your own. I liked that this recipe gave me a chance to use flax meal.
I am a messy cook

Looks a bit like birdseed

My first mini-batch
So I made a mini-batch on the weekend then tackled a larger batch a few days later and also added chocolate to please the love of my life. He felt I could add more chocolate. (He says that all the time.) But he still eats this without me asking him to! Later I forced our piano teacher and a business acquaintance to try these. The piano teacher gave it a rating of 6, as in "not my favorite thing but I'd eat it again."

Finally I sought out a dinner option that would make quinoa the main dish but wouldn't look like rice or couscous. Since my middle son is the least likely to try something new but really enjoys hamburgers, I decided I'd aim for a quinoa burger recipe. I found a great one at The Iron You and was excited that the blog author is also a triathlete!

First time I cooked quinoa in the rice cooker

I tried hard to focus & not burn them

My dad enjoyed his with hot mustard

He ate more than his share
Following the instructions for the Pesto Burgers was easy and I was pleased to able to use basil from our garden. They smelled good while they were cooking and tasted even better. I made homemade tortillas the next day and popped a burger into each tortilla with some alla vodka sauce for a tasty lunch. My dad likes things extra-spicy and actually ate two of these as long as I topped his with Chinese mustard. Sadly, I could not get my middle son to take a bite. But he often needs to see things more than once before he'll try them and I'd happily put this on the dinner table more than once.

So there you have it: Quinoa for kids, three ways. If you try one of these recipes or have a variation let me know and enjoy!

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