A healthy alternative grain

posted in: Blog | 0


There so much choice nowadays when it comes to carbs and accompanying dishes. Quinoa is one of those and is a nutritious and speedy alternative to potatoes, rice or pasta. Quinoa is an alternative staple ingredient full of slow release carbohydrates, which will keep you fuller for longer, and is packed full of protein.

Quinola Mothergrain has developed 3 types of quinoa – pearl, red and black. Most people will be familiar with pearl (or white quinoa as we called it in our house!). The flavours of each are quite different. Pearl is the smooth one, a lot less bitter than the others. It is also firmer giving the quinoa a lovely bite. The red quinoa is the nutty one. It adds good colour to dishes. The black quinoa is the crunchy one and is firmer and crunchier, more like rice than the others. It has a natural earthiness to it. You can mix all three up together.

I tried a few different recipes as we weren’t too sure about quinoa at first! My two daughters didn’t like quinoa on their own but when mixed in with salads or part of a meal, the quinoa was a hit. And when used in pancakes they were a winner.

Andy McFadden, Ireland’s youngest Michelin starred chef has created some healthy and simple recipes with Quinola Mothergrain’s quinoa. One we tried is his blackened chicken recipe.


Serves 4

  • 100g black quinola
  • 100g red quinola
  • 100g white quinola
  • 1 red chilli, finely chopped
  • 100g baby spinach, picked
  • 4 spring onions, trimmed and finely chopped
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander, leaves only (I left out as I don’t like coriander)
  • 1 bunch of fresh mint, leaves only
  • juice and zest of 2 limes
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 50g feta cheese
  • 2 x 200g skinless free-range chicken breasts
  • sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp ground allspice
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • olive oil
  • 2 mixed-colour peppers
  • 4 tbsp natural yoghurt
  1. Cook the quinola separately according to the packet instructions, then drain and spread out on a large plate or tray to cool quickly.
  2. On a large sheet of greaseproof paper, toss the chicken with sea salt, black pepper, the allspice and paprika. Fold over the paper, then bash and flatten the chicken to 1.5cm thick with a rolling pin.
  3. Put into the frying pan with 1 tablespoon of olive oil, turning after 3 or 4 minutes, or until blackened and cooked through.
  4. Deseed the peppers, cut each one into strips and add to the frying pan, tossing regularly.
  5. Toss the quinola with the chilli, spinach, spring onions, coriander (reserving a few leaves) and cooked peppers, add the lime juice and zest, the extra virgin olive oil, mix well and season to taste.
  6. Slice up the chicken, toss the slices in any juices and add to the salad. Crumble over the feta, scatter over the remaining coriander leaves. Serve with dollops of the natural yoghurt.

A recipe from the world of the Happy Pear book that we tried was quinoa and flax pancakes. For this, we used the pearl quinoa. We improvised a little and used almond milk instead of rice milk. We used the following Ingredients to make approx. 10 small pancakes:

  • 125g quinoa uncooked
  • 2 tbsp flax seeds
  • 250ml unsweetened almond milk
  • A medium banana
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • A pinch of salt
  • Some oil for cooking
  • Toppings: fresh berries, natural yogurt, honey
  1. Grind/Blend the uncooked quinoa and flax seeds together till they are like flour. Then add rest of ingredients, except the oil and blend together.
  2. Put a dash of oil in a non-stick pan. Put pan of high heat and let heat up for a few mins. Pour in a dollop of batter and spread evenly over pan.
  3. Turn down to medium heat. Once bubbles start forming, it’s time to flip the pancake. Cook  on other side till it gets light brown. Pancakes are then ready to be eaten with toppings of your choice.

These are a good healthy option and the whole family can enjoy them too.

Quinoa is also good in salads. This is what we tried:


Quinoa and edamame soya bean salad. I used pearl quinoa, red quinoa, black quinoa, edamame beans, red peppers, grated carrots, tomatoes, onions with some gluten free soy sauce, red wine vinegar and olive oil. You can add anything in really. It was really tasty and nutritious.

Quinola Mothergrain is an award-winning producer of great tasting quinoa products. The entire range is 100% gluten-free, and 100% natural, making all of the products the best choice for a tasty and healthy lifestyle.

They retail at €5.99 each and are available in SuperValu, Tesco, Dunnes, Avoca, and independents. See www.quinola.com for more info and recipe suggestions. My final verdict is that quinoa is an acquired taste, is versatile and needs to be mixed in to give it flavour and texture. Nice to try something different too.


Leave a Reply