For the Love of Quinoa – Indigo Herbs Review

After a week of unhealthy dinners it has been an inspiration to receive three huge packs of quinoa from the kind souls at Indigo Herbs, who asked me to review a few of their products on my blog.

Indigo Herbs are a family-owned business based in the alternative town of Glastonbury in Somerset, selling an vast range of superfoods, herbs, wholefoods, and even gift sets and tea. They have a formidable knowledge of how to create healthy, nutritious, plant-based meals, and are all about empowering consumers to pursue a healthy lifestyle.

Quinoa has enjoyed a vogue in recent years amongst trendy metropolitan hippie types, and you can see why – the health benefits are well-documented and really quite extensive, as any foodie can tell you. Hailed as a superior alternative grain to couscous and bulgar wheat, it actually fulfills a different function in our diet similar to chard or spinach, and is technically a seed.

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This week I jazzed up my diet using the huge bags of quinoa varieties that Indigo Herbs kindly sent me to blog about.

Organica Red Quinoa Grains

Organic Puffed Quinoa

Organic Quinoa Flakes

Firstly, I used the red quinoa to create a lentil and quinoa feta salad. The product came in an air-tight resealable foil pouch that fits comfortably in my kitchen cupboards. I rinsed the quinoa and added to a saucepan of boiling water and left it to cook for 10-15 minutes until the seeds split. I combined it with cooked green lentils, added some chopped veg (red pepper, spring onion, cucumber) and some garlic and oregano to flavour, plus a generous crumbling of feta on top. I never now how to judge how much quinoa to use; it deceptively expands in water in the same way that pasta and rice does so I always end up making enough to feed a passing hungry squadron, but at least that’s lunch sorted for the next day. Helpfully, the packaging offers a serving suggestion of “use as much as you see it” – now that’s my kind of brand!

The puffed quinoa also came in the same attractive and practical packaging. If you’re not sure what puffed quinoa is or how it differs from the more recognizable varieties, basically it is created by a process of gently heating quinoa seeds until they pop, then allowing them to cool. The puffs can then be used in cereals, puddings, muesli or granola, so quite a versatile ingredient. I used the puffed quinoa to create these chocolate-covered, maple-syrupy protein snacks.

Finally, we come to the quinoa flakes, which are often used in baking as a gluten-free alternative, but also in cereals or granola or sprinkled on salads. I used them to make these pancakes and they provided a healthy addition of protein to this otherwise indulgent weekend breakfast treat. The batter held together really well and the quinoa provided a really tasty nutty flavour.

If you want to read a bit more about the history and health benefits of quinoa, have a read of Indigo Herbs’ page on the benefits of this amazing seed. 

I was really impressed with the quality and quantity of Indigo Herb’s quinoa range; the branding and packaging is thoughtful, with plenty of helpful nutritional information. Their products are organic and often vegan and/or gluten-free so this brand is an invaluable resource to those following a gluten-free or plant-based diet.

To summarise the extensive health credentials of quinoa:

  • Double the protein content of rice
  • Contains vitamins B and E
  • Source of calcium, magnesium, manganese, fibre
  • Contains all 9 essential amino acids
  • High level of anti-inflammatories
  • Source of omega 3 fatty acids (promotes heart health)
  • Slowly digested carbohydrate

 

 

 

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Early Grey Tea Cake Recipe

I’ll be honest, I’m a terrible baker. Most of my efforts have resulted in failure. I know even the most proficient bakers are sometimes let down by a bad recipe or ill luck, but in my case, it’s not you it’s definitely me.

It really is my fault. I’m sloppy, I’m messy, I don’t measure things properly, I give up when the mixture doesn’t combine properly and hope that it will just magically heal itself in the oven. My sponges disintegrate. My buttercream still has lumps of flour in it because I forgot to sieve it first.  My batter curdles. I have baked a cake for nearly 2 hours and it was still raw in the middle.

I acknowledge that I do not have the skill, talent nor patience.

Yet still, on a rare free Saturday I might try my hand at baking and today was one of those days. I attempted an Earl Grey Tea Cake and actually it’s kind of, possibly, not all that bad. I mean, it tastes nice and it’s not burnt or raw so I figure I can count that as a success, right?

Well, if you think you can do any better (which I am certain you can) then here’s a decent recipe you could try.

Ingredients

160g butter

250g self-raising flour

150g caster sugar

4 early grey tea bags

105ml milk

Handful of fresh foraged blackberries

2 eggs

A dash of almond essence

And for the buttercream

100g softened butter

175g icing sugar

2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Method

Soften the butter and combine gradually with the sugar. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Fold in the flour.

Heat the milk in a saucepan on the hob but be careful not to let it boil. Add the earl grey tea bags and turn off the heat. Give the tea bags a good squeeze and cover with lid to let it steep for 10 minutes. Let it cool before adding to the mixture. You can use loose leaves tea bags if you prefer.

Separate the mixture into 2 sandwich tins and cook for 40 minutes in a pre-heated oven on 160 degrees.

In the meantime, we create the buttercream. Soften the butter and gradually add the icing sugar, mixing thoroughly. Add the cocoa powder and stir together into a thick cream. Add a bit of milk if necessary if too dry.

Et voila.