Culinary Adventures in Peru

I traveled to Peru in June 2012 to experience the incredible Inca ruins, the rich culture and of course the cuisine. It was a truly memorable trip of a lifetime. I returned home with great respect for the food and traditions of the Peruvian culture. I’ve always loved quinoa and amaranth. Seeing the colorful, abundant crops in Peru, the difficult terracing on the steep Andes terrain and the hand-harvesting gave me even more appreciation of the grains. These ancient grains truly are ‘super-food’.

Quinoa is a great source of protein and a good alternative to high carb foods like potatoes, rice and pasta. The liquid to grain ratio is the same as rice (2 parts liquid; 1 part grain). I rinse it before cooking so it will be less starchy. The quinoa basically absorbs whatever flavors you add to it which makes it versatile enough to use for breakfast, savory sides, salad and even dessert. Quinoa is often on the menu in classes at CasaLana Gourmet Retreats as a side dish or salad.

I like to make it as a hot breakfast cereal in place of oatmeal. Cook it in milk (or for non-dairy use coconut milk – the beverage type). I add some chopped dates, or other dried fruits, for sweetness and some chopped crystallized ginger. You can use the same approach in cooking it to make it as a dessert – cook it in a sweetened liquid, add vanilla, cinnamon and other flavors of your choice. Serve it as you would serve rice pudding or topped with fresh fruit. It’s delicious, satisfying and a healthy alternative to sugar-laden desserts. You won’t need to feel guilty about indulging!

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