Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Gluten-free alternatives

Quinoa - A grain with a difference

Naturally gluten free, rich in B-vitamins, a good source of fibre and a complete protein -  What more could you want from a grain? 

Quinoa is fast becoming recognized as an nutrient-rich superfood. It is technically a pseudo-cereal which means it shares many of the characteristics of a grain but is botanically slightly different. It is, in fact, actually related to plants such as beets and spinach. 

This Peruvian native is a whole grain which means that it's fibre content, minerals and vitamins make it more nutritious and satisfying than other better known grains like refined wheat or rice. 

Moreover it contains fatty acids such as oleic acid and alpha-linolenic acid both of which are necessary in normal human growth, help to protect the heart, condition the skin and have been used to aid weight loss. Quinoa is a great source of antioxidant phytonutrients such as quercetin, a powerful flavonoid which supports vascular health. 

In the following recipe, which we orignially sourced from, Quinoa is combined with chickpeas to produce a healthy yet tasty combo that is easily prepared. We added a Mediterranean touch by including sun dried tomatoes, a dash of cumin as well as a pinch of turmeric to add to it's anti-inflammatory properties. These vegetarian patties are sure to tempt young picky eaters and satisfy discriminating spouses.

Mediterranean quinoa and chickpea Patties


1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 cup cooked chickpeas
3/4 cup cooked quinoa
1/2 red bell pepper
4 sundried tomatoes, finely chopped
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp turmeric
small bunch of fresh cilantro and fresh parsley
2 tablespoons chickpea flour (also known as gram flour) + extra 3 tablespoons for coating
1-2 teaspoons salt
freshly ground black pepper
1/2 – 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Oil for cooking


  • In a large pan, drizzle in a little oil and sautee the onion and garlic until slightly browned. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • Dice the red pepper and chop the cilantro and parsley.
  • Place the chickpeas in a food processor and process into a textured
  • paste. Transfer into a large bowl.
  • Add all the ingredients to the chickpeas in the bowl and mix to combine. Season to your liking.
  • Sprinkle a few tablespoons of chickpea flour on a large plate. Scoop some of the mixture onto your hands and shape into a ball (no larger than the size of a golf ball) and then press gently to shape into a patty. Drop into the chickpea flour to coat evenly. Dust off excess flour.
  • Reheat pan to medium heat. Drizzle in a little more oil and fry the patties for about 2-3 minutes on each side until nicely browned.
  • Serve hot or cold with a large leafy salad.

You can buy organic Quinoa at Soap Cafe, Sliema. Email Charlene at or visit our Facebook page and subscribe to our newsletter for more ideas on healthy eats and info about our range of natural, non-toxic skin care products.

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