Book review: Quinoa Cuisine by Jessica Harlan and Kelley Sparwasser

Raise your hand if you have no idea what quinoa is. Okay, hands down. Here’s a quick tutorial:

Quinoa is classified as a “pseudograin” by nutritionists and can be used in place of wheat in many, many things. Since Quinoa is gluten-free, it’s an excellent substitute for those with gluten sensitivities, fibromyalgia and celiac disease. You can use to make biscuits, add it to beef stew and even turn it into a tasty and crusty topping for those tilapia fillets that you bought at the grocery store. Quinoa is so  high in iron, fiber, potassium, calcium, protein and vitamins B and E that it’s considered a superfood. Even if you don’t have a gluten sensitivity or medical condition that is exacerbated by consuming gluten, it’s a good idea to eat at least a few meals each week with quinoa in them.

Now, before you go all “health food- aaaugh” like my husband. Here’s a tasty cracker recipe that will change your mind:

Multigrain Crackers

These crispy rustic crackers just beg to be topped with a creamy spread, such as goat cheese, flavored cream cheese, or pub cheese. For variety, try different seeds on top—roasted pumpkin seeds or sunflower seeds, white or black sesame seeds, or chia seeds. These seeds, as well as the spelt flour used in this recipe, are easily found in natural food stores or a well-stocked grocery store. This is also a good chance to experiment with fancy salts, like smoked sea salt or pink

Himalayan salt; larger grains work best.

Makes about 3 Dozen Crackers

Good for Company, Healthy Choice, Vegetarian

1 cup quinoa flour

½ cup spelt flour

½ cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon fine sea salt

¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil

¼ cup water, or as needed

2 tablespoons flax seeds

2 tablespoons quinoa flakes

1 tablespoon flaky sea salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In the bowl of a food processor, place the quinoa flour, spelt flour, whole wheat flour, and salt. Pulse to combine, about 10 pulses. With the motor running, drizzle in the olive oil through the feed tube, then gradually drizzle in the water until the mixture clumps together well when you squeeze it in your hand. You might need more or less water to achieve the right texture.

3. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Working with about a third of the dough at a time, roll it into a thin rectangle, no more than ⅛ inch thick. Prick the dough all over with a knife, then use a pizza wheel or pastry cutter to cut the dough into squares, diamonds, or any size or shape you wish. Transfer the crackers to the prepared baking sheet and brush each cracker with water, then sprinkle with the flax seeds, quinoa flakes, and flake salt.

4. Bake until the crackers are hard and browned, about 20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely before storing in an airtight container. The crackers will keep for 2 to 3 days.

After a quick introduction to quinoa, Quinoa Cuisine by Jessica Harlan and Kelley Sparwasser dives right into the good stuff: the recipes. Starting with breakfast, where recipes for porridge, pancakes and crepes can found, this cookbook then moves on to starters, salads (really!), soups and stews, side dishes and pilaf, meat and fish, vegetarian meals, desserts and even ideas for portable edibles perfect for lunches and picnics, and larger dishes for potlucks and parties. Pretty much any type of meal that you could possibly encounter is included, and there are multiple recipes for each. With easy to follow recipes and clear instructions, each entrée, dessert and side dish is simple to make.

If you’re thinking about going gluten-free (or have to, due to dietary restrictions) or simply want to eat a little healthier now and then, check out Quinoa Cuisine. It’s available now at and booksellers everywhere.


(Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher in exchange for my honest review. For more information, please check out my disclosure policy.)



Leave a comment

Filed under books

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s