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Use quinoa in shepherd's pie, crepes and decadent fruit and nut clusters

"The Vegetarian's Complete Quinoa Cookbook" is full of recipes using quinoa in imaginative ways, from breakfast to dessert and everything in between.
"The Vegetarian's Complete Quinoa Cookbook" by the Ontario Home Economics Association, edited by Mairlyn Smith is shown in an undated photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/ho-Whitecap, 2012

"The Vegetarian's Complete Quinoa Cookbook" is full of recipes using quinoa in imaginative ways, from breakfast to dessert and everything in between.

"I think as home economists what we want to do is educate people and so the way you do it is by giving them solutions to problems," says Mairlyn Smith, the book's editor. "So how can I get quinoa into my diet without just having if for dinner or in a salad?"

The 120 recipes were developed by 58 home economists, members of the Ontario Home Economics Association, and compiled by Smith. Here are three to try.

Mexi Meatless Shepherd's Pie

Smith says this wonderful variation on shepherd's pie gets rave reviews all the time and it's easy. Serve it with a tossed green salad for a great family dinner.

1 kg (2 lb) sweet potatoes, scrubbed well and pierced all over with a fork

15 ml (1 tbsp) canola oil, plus extra for greasing casserole dish

1 onion, chopped

1 red pepper, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

10 ml (2 tsp) ground cumin

1 can (540 ml/19 oz) black beans (no salt added), well rinsed and drained

250 ml (1 cup) cooked quinoa made with water

250 ml (1 cup) frozen corn (no need to thaw)

250 ml (1 cup) mild or medium salsa, deli-style

50 ml (1/4 cup) light sour cream

50 ml (1/4 cup) finely chopped cilantro

1 ml (1/4 tsp) freshly ground black pepper (optional)

50 ml (1/4 cup) thinly sliced green onion or chopped cilantro, for garnish (optional)

Heat oven to 180 C (350 F). Bake sweet potatoes for 60 minutes or until tender. Alternatively, microwave at high for 8 to 12 minutes. Let cool until easy to handle.

Lightly grease a 2-l (8-­cup) baking dish with canola oil or line with wet parchment paper (makes cleanup a breeze). Set aside.

In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion, red pepper, garlic and cumin. Cook, stirring often, for 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in black beans, cooked quinoa, corn and salsa until well combined. Remove from heat.

Pour into prepared pan. If you used a microwave to cook sweet potatoes, at this point heat oven to 180 C (350 F).

Meanwhile, cut cooled sweet potatoes in half and scrape out flesh. Discard skins. Mash sweet potato well with sour cream. Stir in cilantro. Season with pepper, if desired.

For a rustic look, spoon sweet potato mixture over quinoa mixture in heaping teaspoonfuls. (If you like more conformity, spoon on and spread out.)

Bake for 30 minutes or until heated through and bubbly. Sprinkle top of casserole with green onion, if using.

Makes 1.5 l (6 cups).

Nutrition information per serving (375 ml/1 1/2 cups): 413 calories; 6 g total fat (1 g saturated fat); 2 mg cholesterol; 75 g carbohydrates; 13 g fibre; 24 g sugars; 13 g protein; 544 mg sodium.

Recipe developed by Amy Snider-Whitson, PHEc.


Basic Quinoa Crepes

"The crepes are fantastic," says Smith. "I'm really impressed with the crepes just because it's so different."

This recipe will give you a slightly sweet basic crepe that you can use in recipes with fruit or sweeter sauces, such as Apple Crepes (recipe follows).

175 ml (3/4 cup) quinoa flour

3 omega-3 eggs

50 ml (1/4 cup) canola oil

250 ml (1 cup) organic vanilla soy beverage

In a food processor fitted with a metal blade, process flour, eggs, oil and soy beverage for 10 to 15 seconds, until smooth (batter must be lump free). Refrigerate batter for at least 30 minutes before cooking. This allows bubbles to dissipate and gives a nicer finished product.

Very lightly grease a small frying pan (18 cm/7 ­inches) with canola oil. You may only have to do this once; a lightly seasoned pan will give you a more uniform crepe.

Spoon a scant 45 ml (3 tbsp) of the batter into pan and rotate pan around so that there is an even coating on the bottom of it. Try not to run batter up the sides as this will over-crisp the edges. Turn crepe over after 30 seconds. Crepe will be lightly browned on both sides and will be flexible (for folding or rolling).

Place cooked crepes on a plate lined with parchment paper to cool. They can be used in other crepe recipes or can be frozen at this point for later use. Freeze in small amounts, placing a small piece of parchment between crepes and wrapping them in clear plastic wrap. Freeze for up to 1 month.

Makes 12 crepes.

Nutrition information per serving (1 crepe): 84 calories; 6 g total fat (1 g saturated fat); 16 mg cholesterol; 6 g carbohydrates; 1 g fibre; 1 g sugars; 2 g protein; 15 mg sodium.

Recipe developed by Deb Campbell, PHEc.


Tips for Making Perfect Crepes

A crepe pan helps. If you don't have one, use a heavy-bottomed non-stick frying pan.

To measure 45 ml (3 tbsp) of batter for a single crepe, use a 50 ml (1/4 cup) measuring cup filled three-quarters full.

It's all in the wrist. As you add crepe batter to pan, swirl pan at the same time.

The oil helps. Make sure you either use a well-seasoned pan or lightly brush pan before making each crepe.

Never use soap on a well-seasoned pan. Instead, wipe it clean with a paper towel.


Apple Crepes

For a more spirited version, you can add 30 ml (2 tbsp) of rum into the apple mixture after it has been taken off the heat.

1 recipe Basic Quinoa Crepes

30 ml (2 tbsp) non-hydrogenated margarine

4 apples, peeled and thinly sliced

125 ml (1/2 cup) brown sugar, packed

2 ml (1/2 tsp) cinnamon, plus extra for garnish

1 ml (1/4 tsp) nutmeg

375 ml (1 1/2 cups) fat-reduced French vanilla yogurt

Fresh mint leaves, for garnish (optional)

Prepare Basic Quinoa Crepes. When crepes are made, in a large frying pan over medium heat, add margarine and saute apple slices for 2 to 3 minutes, until they start to become translucent.

Add brown sugar, stirring to coat fruit, and cook for 2 to 4 minutes, until mixture is just starting to bubble.

Add spices and continue to simmer for 5 to 10 minutes or until apple slices are tender but not mushy. (Recipe can be made in advance to this point. Let cool, refrigerate and then reheat just before serving.)

To assemble: To make sure each crepe is flavour enhanced, working quickly, brush each crepe with some of the cooked apple mixture. Fold crepes in quarters and place 2 crepes on each of 6 plates. Spoon one­-sixth of the apple mixture over each pair of crepes. Add 50 ml (1/4 cup) of the yogurt to each serving and sprinkle with cinnamon. Drizzle any remaining sauce over crepes.

To serve: Garnish with mint, if desired. Serve immediately.

Makes 12 crepes (6 servings).

Nutrition information per serving (2 crepes with 1/6 of the cooked apple mixture and 50 ml/1/4 cup of the yogurt): 373 calories; 18 g total fat (3 g saturated fat); 39 mg cholesterol; 49 g carbohydrates; 3 g fibre; 34 g sugars; 7 g protein; 74 mg sodium.

Source: Recipe developed by Deb Campbell, PHEc.


Fruit and Nut Clusters

These fruit and nut clusters make a decadent treat. "They're yummy and contain a little more protein than if you just had a nut cluster," Smith says.

Quinoa puffs, which resemble puffed wheat, are created through the use of high heat. They can be found in the cereal aisle in most high-end grocery stores or at a health-food store.

175 g (6 oz) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (70-75 per cent cocoa mass)

125 ml (1/2 cup) quinoa puffs

125 ml (1/2 cup) dried cranberries

125 ml (1/2 cup) whole almonds, coarsely chopped

Line a large baking sheet (42 by 28 cm/17 by 11 inches) with parchment paper and set aside.

Place chocolate in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at medium for 1 minute, stir, microwave one more minute at medium and stir again until completely melted. (Depending on your wattage, this could take longer than 2 minutes. The trick is to add more time in 5-second intervals, as you don't want to scorch the chocolate. Stir until chocolate has completely melted.)

Add quinoa puffs, cranberries and almonds. Stir to combine.

Drop 12 equal spoonfuls of the chocolate mixture on prepared baking sheet.

Let set until firm, about 30 minutes, or refrigerate until firm. Store in fridge in an airtight container. Serve at room temperature.

Makes 12 clusters.

Nutrition information per serving (1 cluster): 134 calories; 9 g total fat (3 g saturated fat); 0 mg cholesterol; 0 mg sodium, 15 g carbohydrates, 2 g fibre, 9 g sugars, 3 g protein

Recipe created by Cathy Ireland, PHEc.

Source: "The Vegetarian's Complete Quinoa Cookbook" by the Ontario Home Economics Association. Edited by Mairlyn Smith (Whitecap, 2012).