Thursday, February 3, 2011

Back to basics

I'm sure every person has their essential ingredients, their "must haves".
Pantry basics used to be simple - flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, pasta, rice etcetc. 
Nowadays we have more exotic ingredients making themselves at home in our pantries and fridges.

One of the current "trendy" staples is Quinoa.
Whilst I've devoured my fair share of quinoa chocolate I'd never actually tried it by itself. 
Until my friends at Alter Eco sent me a package filled with what some may call basic ingredients.

 Quinoa is actually not a grain at all, it's a pseudocereal,
meaning that its used much in the same way as other cereals but it's not actually a member of the grass family. 

It's been used since ancient times, 
The Incas actually considered the crop to be sacred, referring to it as "mother of all grains".  
Quinoa contains a balanced set of essential amino acids which makes it a complete protein source.
 Quinoa has recently come into Vogue, so to speak, due to its high protein content, source of dietary fibre and phosphorus and high magnesium and iron content. 

But you might be thinking, "enough with all the chatter, what on earth am I going to do with those tiny little grains?"

Well, the first thing is wash them thoroughly. 
Quinoa has a coating of bitter tasting saponins making it unpalatable. 
So unless you want to feel like you've had your cheeks slapped - take that quinoa over to your sink, pronto!
Your other option is to soak it for a few hours then change the water and resoak 
(I'm pretty sure the first option is much easier)

Now you've rinsed the quinoa (and subsequently avoided any cheek slapping) 
you can treat it much like rice, using a ratio of 1 part quinoa to 2 parts water, bringing the water to a boil and then covering at a low simmer and cooking for 14-18 minutes until the germ separates from the seed.
Or if you have a rice cooker you can throw it in there just as you would white rice.

Another option for crunch lovers is to use quinoa in granola mixes
and bakers can find plenty of recipes that use quinoa. 

Alter Eco also sent me two varieties of rice - Purple Jasmine and Coral Red Jasmine

Purple Jasmine Rice is glutinous (meaning it's a sticky rice) and has a delicate sweet flavour. 
This would be perfect for a rice dessert and its pretty colour means its perfect for impressing foodie friends :P

Coral Red Jasmine Rice is derived from an ancient wholegrain red rice. The grains are polished by a natural technique using traditional millstones which means they retain all the natural riches and minerals of wholegrain red rice whilst being lighter and easier to digest as well as acquire a pretty coral colour. 

As someone who's not a big rice fan whatsoever I actually really enjoyed these rices 
probably because I'm secretly five years old their vibrant colour.
You've got to admit, colourful foods are so much more appealing than bland boring foods!

The last item in the box is something that will most definitely become a pantry staple for me. 
Alter Eco's Organic Ground Cane Sugar is deelicious.
Its much the same as brown sugar with the fact that it's naturally moist, however, its flavour is 1000000 times better.
The cane sugar has a rich somewhat molasses taste with hints of vanilla. 
It also contains up to fifty times more minerals than a refined sugar - white or brown. 

I've used it in baked goods and sprinkled it on top of oatmeal
and I don't think I could turn back to brown sugar again! 

I urge you to go out and find yourself some, I promise you won't regret it! 
Have a look here for where you can find Alter Eco products 


But back to the topic of foods,
What are your staple foods?

For me my staple foods would have to include
 raw oats 
wheat bran
chia bran
fruit and vegetables
peanut butter
cheese (especially cottage cheese)
dried fruit

and the list goes onnnnnnn and on! 

Kristy received Alter Eco Products courtesy of
If you'd like a review of your products, send an email to


  1. the organic cane sugar sounds like a good alternative to the refined sugar which i try to avoid. i'll have to look out for it :-) hopefully i can find it somewhere.

  2. I hope you can find some! It tastes great as well as being somewhat better for you :)

  3. I love quinoa! So nutty and a nice alternative to rice but not as heavy :)

  4. It's definitely lighter! Which makes it perfect for salads and summery dishes.