Quinoa revolution: In the kitchen with Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming

These sisters are on a mission to get your family to eat quinoa, and they hope their new cookbook, Quinoa Revolution, is Secret Agent No. 1.

Patricia Green (left) and Carolyn Hemming. Photo: Ryan Szulc

This is your second quinoa cookbook. Why the focus on quinoa?
P: Quinoa is so versatile and also so healthy; it lends itself to be something you can eat on a regular basis.

Patricia, were your kids fans of quinoa right away? If not, how did you get them to like it?
P: Well, it took a few different recipes. I started with soups and stews and breakfast cereals; introducing the cooked whole seed, as opposed to the flour or the flakes — the quinoa seed has the least bitter flavour, and I incorporated it with other flavours. At first, they kind of asked me what it was, but then, when I taught them about the nutrition and sold it to them in terms of why they should be eating it, they sort of became receptive, even though they may not have eaten a lot of it. So gradually they kept tasting it because they knew it was important, then I started cooking with it more, then they started eating more of it, and now it’s just become a regular staple.

How old were they?
P: Three or four years old and five.
C: Your kids were also big fans of quinoa waffles and pancakes, Patricia.

How would you suggest parents make quinoa if they’re concerned their kids might not like the texture?
C: Kind of overcook the seeds so it’s really fluffy and almost heavy with water, and then pure?e it in the blender and add your soy milk or whole milk and some cinnamon and bananas. We have that recipe in our cookbook. It’s so delicious that when I was making it for my daughter, I was eating it. It pure?es so thick it’s like banana pudding. She would just gobble it up.

What do you hope parents get out of your new cookbook?
P: When parents are using this book, they can be reassured that when they are making the recipes, we’re using whole ingredients because we want to teach kids about whole-food sources, teach them about nutrition and we want them to know about their food. So the goal is to have whole ingredients, to make something tasty and to nourish families with quinoa in an easy and appealing way.

Were you both into cooking when you were kids?
P: Our mom is a very healthy cook, and she had us involved in the cooking: cutting and chopping and helping with the meals. We were also given recipes to make.
C: We always knew that preparing the meals and the food that we ate in the house was important. And our mom is from a prairie farming family, so we also always knew that where the food came from was important. We’d sit down at Grandma’s table and we’d always have fresh berries. She’d do everything with what they had, so my mom had those skills as well. The bread was always homemade, and the cookies were never store-bought. Mom always made everything in our fridge — yogurt, whatever it was. And so we grew up knowing that was an important job.

Where did you grow up?
C: We were Saskatoon city kids, but on both sides there were family farms. So every weekend and in the summers, we were always in a farm environment or in an acreage environment.

What kind of advice can you offer to parents who want to get their families eating well?
P: Being a positive role model at the table is the first step.
C: Be aware of cost, but not afraid of it. Some people say, “Isn’t quinoa more expensive?” or “What if I go buy organic produce or farmers’ market produce; isn’t it more expensive?” And I think it’s important for people to know how much bang they’re getting for their buck. And if you break it down, you’ll realize it’s not expensive at all. It is just pennies per meal for the proper nutrition.

A version of this article appeared in our November 2012 issue with the headline: “In the kitchen: Patricia Green & Carolyn Hemming” (p. 134). For more great recipe ideas visit our Recipe section!

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