Soul hooked on... Quinoa

Are you keen for quinoa?

OK - we all know quinoa is good AND gluten free. We also know it is a complete protein. So this is not a post about why you should eat quinoa.

Even though this ingredient has been commonly used in the food scene for years, it seems that most people don't know much about quinoa - apart from knowing that it's healthy and you should eat it. One of the top questions I get asked is - What's the difference among white, black and red quinoa? And which one should you buy?

Today, let's get the quinoa mystery cracked!

The most common colour of quinoa is white. It is the most delicate tasting, has the lightest texture and cooks up a bit fluffier than the other types of quinoa. We will use this as our control group for the next 2 quinoas.

Red quinoa is richer in taste, slightly chewier and has a heartier texture. Flavour-wise it is nuttier compared to white quinoa.

Black quinoa has more of an earthy flavour. It is also surprisingly slightly sweeter than the white one too!

Is it just me or this feels like a wine tasting session? 🥂 Next time, try sharing these fun facts with your friends, while you can still talk about the protein, how it is in fact a GF seed than a wholegrain food.


The next question is - What should I do with it? The most common dishes we see quinoa used in are probably -

1) our bowl of rice; and
2) that salad box we had at lunch.

Tired of those two options yet?

Because of its fluffy texture and milder flavour, white quinoa works well as a substitute for rice in many dishes. Try adding white quinoa in your burrito next time instead of rice!

Baked Potato Skin
Another typical comment that makes some people hesitate to eat quinoa is its texture - it's too crunchy and nutty for e.g. a bowl of rice. These textures and tastes come from black and red quinoa, as they don't have the light texture that white quinoa has. Their stronger flavour may overpower other ingredients in the dish. This is why they usually work great in salads or other dishes where the quinoa needs to hold its shape and give an extra crunch to each bite. Perhaps try stuffing your baked potato skin with tri-colour quinoa instead of cheese next time, topped with creamy guacamole. This is how easily you can make a guilty dish to not just vegan but also satisfying!

How would you usually use quinoa in your dish? I made inari sushi with white quinoa and hijiki for lunch this week. 

Inari Sushi

Thank you @commonfarms for the micro-cilantro and micro-chives. Definitely add so much flavour to the dish💛

Finally, it's recipe time!
My friends know me well as a rice bucket - someone who LOVES rice and can eat a lot of it 😁. When it comes to Dragon Boat Festival, I'm always told that I can't eat too much as traditional Chinese Tamales are made with glutinous rice, which adds stress to digestion - until I discovered a #glutenfree option.
Whether you are a rice person like me, this recipe is prepared for you to enjoy a taste of a Chinese dish typically eaten during Dragon Boat Festival.
Chinese Tamales by Soulistic
Chinese Tamales (ZhongZi)
  • 27-30 Bamboo Leaves (2-3 leaves per tamale)
  • 10 pieces of String, 40 inches long (100cm) - I use "salt water grass" given when I got them from the market.
  • 250g Millet
  • 250g White Quinoa
  • 4 Dry Shiitake Mushrooms
  • 1/3 cup Dried Peeled Mung Beans
  • 1 cup Butternut Squash, chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
  • 2 tbsp Gluten Free Soy Sauce
  • 1 tsp Salt
The night before... (just like any other special occasion. It worths the effort!)
  1. Soak the bamboo leaves in tap water.
  2. Soak shiitake mushroom in tap water.
  3. Soak mung beans in tap water (or at least 4 hours)

Soaking Bamboo leaves

The next day... (yes that's all you need for the night before - yay!)

  1. Wash and rinse each bamboo leaf with a scrubby and keep them in water so they don't dry out. Trim the pointy ends so that they don't pierce through the leaves when we're wrapping.
  2. Strain the water from the millet and quinoa and season with oil and salt.
  3. Strain the water from the mushroom and cut them into bite sized pieces. Cut them into bite sized pieces. 
  4. Chop the butternut squash into bite cubes.


Wrapping - be ready for some leaf-folding challenge!

  1. Start by placing one bamboo leaf 1/3 of the way over the other.
  2. Fold upwards to form a cone shape
  3. Add the filling - start with 1 tbsp millet, 1 tbsp quinoa, small handful of mung beans, 1 pc of shiitake mushroom, 1 butternut squash cubes, mung beans, quinoa and millet.
  4. Add 1 more leaf on each side and fold the two sides of the leaf over the rice.
  5. Fold the two sides of the leaf over the rice. Fold the leaves down from the top, covering the rice.
  6. Wrap the remaining leaf around the bundle and then tightly wrap and tie with the string.
  7. Repeat until all the leaves and ingredients are used up:) Trust me you have just gone through the most difficult part. You will be a pro when you used up all your ingredients!
Chinese Zongzi Step by step
Chinese Zongzi Step by Step 2
Chinese Zongzi Step by Step 3
  1. In a medium pot, bring the water to boil and place the zongzi into the boiling water.
  2. Put a plate large enough to hold the zongzi down.
  3. Turn the heat down to medium high and let it simmer for 40 mins.
  4. Once they are soft to the touch, carefully remove them from the pot with tongs and you can eat them right away.
  5. Cut the string and unwrap the bamboo leaves and drizzle a bit more soy sauce.

Storage: They keep well in fridge for up to 4 days and can be frozen for up to 3 months. To reheat, just let them thaw overnight and steam them over a bamboo basket or boil in water for another 15 mins.

Chinese Zongzi
So that's it! Homemade gluten free vegan zongzi - not too bad right?
Don't forget to tag @soulhookedonfood or tag #soulhookedon so I can see your creations!
Soulistic is a vegan brand created by Chef and Food Therapist, Tiffany Lau (@soulhookedonfood), as a platform to educate customers about healthier diets over medication by providing products and experiences that create change from within. Read about her story and what led her to start Soulistic here

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