Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Review - Quinola Mothergrain Quinoa Flour and flakes

Just recently I've been all about quinoa. Matt and I have been doing the 5:2 diet and quinoa is fab for low calorie meals on the two days a week that we eat limited calories. I'm thinking of doing a blog post of our experience of 5:2 if anyone is interested.

Above is the Black Bean and Quinoa salad from Appetite For Reduction. Below from the same book is Quinoa Puttanesca. These were both fast day lunches, full of flavour and nice and filling.

I spotted a range of instant pots from Artisan Grains in a health food shop the other day and can report that this Moroccan Spiced Couscous, Quinoa, Freekah and Lentils was tasty and filling enough for a fast day meal. They'd be great for camping too.

Back in the day when I was a reviewer for Can I eat It? App I discovered some amazing companies such as Artisan Grains who make these pots and also Mothergrain Quinola whose quinoa range I reviewed here. Recently Mothergrain contacted me to ask if I'd like some samples of new quinoa products that they've added to their range - quinoa flour and quinoa flakes. I'd been impressed with the previous products I'd tried and also with the fact that they are a Fairtrade company so I was happy to say yes.

I used the quinoa flour on two different recipes and was pleased with how both turned out. The first one was these Spiced Apple, Almond and Walnut Quinoa Breakfast muffins from the Yoga With Emma blog. As well as being vegan these are gluten free and refined sugar free. They were definitely a 'healthier' tasting type of muffin and we enjoyed them spread with some home made marmalade and accompanied by fresh Moroccan Spiced coffee over the course of a couple of breakfasts.

The other recipe I used the flour in was these Salted Chocolate Chip and Quinoa Cookies from the My Darling Vegan blog. These were a knockout and went down really well both at home and with friends. I would never have thought of quinoa as being something that you'd use in a cookie so I was pleased to have had my eyes opened to this!

Around the time I got the samples I had a sleep over at my sister's and she introduced me to the delights of Quinoa Porridge. Simply add 1/3 cup of quinoa flakes to a cup of plant milk and then sweeten with maple syrup and add some toppings. Goji berries and flaked almonds are a big favourite of mine. On the days I'm in the office I always take breakfast with me and this is my new go to favourite. I'd love to know what everyone else uses quinoa for. Let me know in the comments and also if a 5:2 post would be off interest.

Thank you to Mothergrain for providing me with samples of their products.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Winter Warmers

Inspired by my friend over at the My Cat Loves Daiya blog I've been using my local library for recipe inspiration. The weather has been awful this week, so wet and windy, and I was drawn to this little book of recipes for Hot Toddies.

The book has large section of alcoholic hot beverages with things such as mulled wine and cider, glogg, hot buttered rum and of course hot toddy. Towards the back is a non-alcoholic section and I was attracted to the recipe for Moroccan Spiced Coffee first.

I used decaff coffee for this as it is what Matt drinks at home. I usually drink one cup of caffeinated coffee a day and then switch to decaff if I want anymore. I also don't like caffeinated first thing in the morning so this was a good breakfast blend for me. To two ounces of coffee you add a spice blend made from a cinnamon stick, two teaspoons of toasted sesame seeds, a quarter of a teaspoon of fennel seeds and the seeds from three cardamon pods. We tried this as both black unsweetened coffee and also with milk and a teaspoon of Sweet Freedom and enjoyed it both ways. A packet of this would make a nice quick and easy gift for a coffee lover too!

We are still working our way through Mad Men and are on series 6 at the moment. If you've seen the show you'll know how much alcohol and cocktails feature so sometimes we like to join the cast in a drink whilst we're watching. This spiced hot chocolate came from the Nogs and Creamy Drinks section of the book.

I altered it slightly to make it vegan and less alcoholic than the recipe suggested and it was a wonderful treat on a wet Wednesday afternoon huddled in front of the fire with a box set. In a saucepan you warm two cups of almond milk with two ounces of dark chocolate, the zest of half an orange, a tablespoon of your desired honey substitute (I used Sweet Freedom) and two whole star anise. After it was heated through and the chocolate melted I removed the star anise and frothed the mixture in the blender along with two dessert spoons of rum and two of orange liqueur. It tasted amazing and we'll definitely be making it again.

The final drink of this post comes from the Non-Alcoholic Warmers section of the book and is Saffron Milk. This recipe uses dairy milk and also condensed milk but it was easy to make with vegan substitutes. I warmed a cup of almond milk with a good pinch of saffron, two crushed cardomon pods and a tablespoon of maple syrup. After bringing to the boil I switched off the heat and let it sit for five minutes then gave it a quick rewarm before straining into a cup. Oh wow, this is such an amazing sweet and comforting drink. I often avoid hot chocolate at bedtime as I find the caffeine in the chocolate keeps me awake but I can see lots of cups of this in the future! It's also a great way to use up saffron. I don't know about anyone else but I rarely use saffron, maybe for a paella once a year and it ends up languishing in a drawer. This box is nearing it's best by date so I'm pleased to have found a new use for it.