Grain Power

Written by Chris McDonell

While definitely on trend themselves, there is no doubt that sisters Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming have also been catalysts in the popularization of the once obscure grain quinoa. The authors of Quinoa Revolution (2012), which followed Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood (2010), were bestsellers that have helped make quinoa almost ubiquitous today. The “Quinoa Sisters” are back again with a new book. Grain Power allows them to broaden their recipe selection utilizing a wider range of “healthy and delicious gluten-free ancient grains.” The results are as promised

For those who years ago embraced oat bran as a cure-all for the things things that ail us, in particular our battle with “bad” cholesterol, you’ll be glad to know that Green and Hemming still endorse oats as one of the “superfoods” at the heart of the 100 recipes in Grain Power. Amaranth, buckwheat, chia, kañiwa, millet, sorghum and teff — and of course quinoa — round out the core list of ingredients, and there are clear, straightforward instructions for how to purchase and cook all of them. I was also glad to see the authors encourage looking for Fair Trade brands. I need to interject that this is no earnest-but-bland approach to cooking and eating healthily. The basics of getting nutricious grains into your diet, such as a Creamy Slow-Cooked Steel-Cut Oats, harkens back to my grandfathers’ breakfast of choice, but touches such as the addition of pure vanilla extract and the use of a slow cooker accentuate the flavour and convenience factors. The Breakfast section of the book is actually quite a lively one, with interesting variations on crêpes, waffles and granola (you saw that coming) and dishes such as a Prosciutto & Kale Kañiwa Frittata with Romano Cheese that could easily be served for lunch or dinner as well. Lush photographs of most of the dishes also serve to inspire, and small but significant variations are frequently added, helpful for accommodating personal tastes as well as utilizing what is in your pantry. The book is also well indexed, for similar purposes.

An enticing variety of appetizer, lunch and dinner recipes are featured — see the following recipes for examples — and it is easy to imagine some of these ancient grain recipes becoming family favourites. (I can also imagine readers adapting some of their own recipes to utilize these grains.) Convenient one-skillet dinners and whole meal suggestions — with lots of comfort foods — are included. My biggest surprise was how the Desserts section of the book really shines. The Chocolate Torte is a rather decadent example —yes, please!— but there are also lots of simpler cookie, square, muffin and brownie recipes that have great appeal. No one is advocating desserts as a key to healthy eating, but for those with diet restrictions that so often have to pass on treats, and those who believe every step in the right direction is a good idea, there is a plenitude of great recipes here.

Chris McDonell is the publisher of eatdrink. He likes quinoa.


Recipes from Grain Power © 2014 by Patricia Green and Carolyn Hemming. Food Photography by Ryan Szule. Food Styling by Nancy Midwicki. Prop Styling by Madeleine Johari. Published by The Penguin Group. All rights reserved.


Cheddar Cauliflower Amaranth Soup

Cheddar Cauliflower Amaranth Soup

Cheddar Cauliflower Amaranth Soup with Sherry & Thyme

Enjoy this savory soup with a sprinkle of chives across the top and crusty bread or artisan crackers on the side. Cooked and puréed amaranth makes a luxurious and creamy soup and also provides additional nutrition.

Serves 4

1 Tbsp (15 mL) grapeseed oil
1 cup (250 mL) chopped onion
1½ tsp (7 mL) chopped garlic
4 cups (1 L) low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups (500 mL) peeled diced Yukon gold or red potatoes
2 cups (500 mL) cauliflower, chopped into 1–inch (2.5 cm) pieces
1/3 cup (75 mL) amaranth seeds
¼ cup (60 mL) sherry
2 tsp (10 mL) chopped fresh thyme
1 cup (250 mL) 1% milk, or milk substitute
1½ cups (375 mL) shredded reduced-fat aged Cheddar cheese
½ tsp (2 mL) salt (optional)
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Sliced chives to garnish (optional)

1 Heat a large saucepan on medium-low heat. Add the oil and onion. Cover and cook for about 7 minutes or until the onion is opaque.

2 Stir in the garlic and heat for an additional minute. Stir in the stock, potatoes, cauliflower, amaranth, sherry and thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 minutes.

3 Purée with an immersion blender or in small batches with a standard blender until smooth. Stir in the milk and cheese. Add salt (if using) and season with pepper as desired. Heat until cheese has melted. Serve topped with chives if you wish.

Reserve 1 cup (250 mL) of cooked potato, cauliflower and ancient grain mixture after cooking for 20 minutes and before puréeing. Add it again after the remainder of the soup has been puréed to make for a chunkier version.

• If you don’t have amaranth on hand or want a change of flavour, an equal amount of quinoa seeds or 2 cups (500 mL) of precooked sorghum grains are great ancient grain alternatives.


Oven-Roasted Herb Chicken over Tangy Apple & Cabbage Quinoa

Oven-Roasted Herb Chicken over Tangy Apple & Cabbage Quinoa

Oven-Roasted Herb Chicken over Tangy Apple & Cabbage Quinoa



Ancient grains, together with the fragrant aroma of herbed chicken, tart apples and crisp cabbage, make a well-rounded meal that is familiar, wholesome and so tasty.

Serves 6


1 roasting chicken (3 to 4 lb/1.5 to 2 kg), trussed
1 Tbsp (15 mL) fresh thyme or 1 tsp
(5 mL) dried thyme
1 Tbsp (15 mL) minced garlic
1 Tbsp (15 mL) grapeseed or vegetable oil
½ tsp (2 mL) salt


1 Tbsp (15 mL) grapeseed or vegetable oil
½ cup (125 mL) chopped yellow onion
1 cup (250 mL) low-sodium chicken stock
½ to ¾ cup (125 to 175 mL) water
½ cup (125 mL) quinoa seeds
4 cups (1 L) shredded red cabbage, ½ inch (1 cm) wide
2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced ¼ inch (5 mm) thick
½ tsp (2 mL) salt (optional)
Pinch of freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp (30 mL) brown sugar
2 Tbsp (30 mL) red wine vinegar)

1 Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Dry the chicken with paper towels and place in a roasting pan. Divide the thyme and garlic into four parts and push under the skin to cover the breast and legs as evenly as you can (or put them into the cavity). Rub the skin with oil and season with salt. Roast, uncovered, for 15 minutes.

2 Reduce the temperature to 350°F (180°C). Cover and roast for an additional 30 minutes. Remove the lid and bake, uncovered, until the leg will move freely and the juices run clear, 15 to 18 minutes per pound. Remove from the oven, cover and keep warm.

3 To make the quinoa, heat a Dutch oven or large saucepan on medium-low heat. Add the oil and onion and cook, covered, for 5 to 7 minutes, until onions start to become tender. Stir in the stock, water and quinoa and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Lay the cabbage, apples, salt (if using) and pepper on top of the cooking quinoa (don’t stir). Cover and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until the apples and cabbage are tender. Stir in the brown sugar and vinegar until sugar is dissolved and evenly distributed. Reseason with additional sugar and vinegar if desired. Remove skin and serve hot chicken over the quinoa with apples and cabbage. 

Chocolate Ancient Grain Torte with Raspberry Chia Sauce

Chocolate Ancient Grain Torte with Raspberry Chia Sauce

Chocolate Ancient Grain Torte with Raspberry Chia Sauce

Dessert powered with omega-3 nutrition, protein and plenty of vitamins and minerals. Sorghum provides the base for this rich chocolate torte. Top it with the raspberry chia sauce for a soul-satisfying dessert.

Serves 6

3¾ cups (925 mL) water
1¼ cups (300 mL) sorghum grains
1⁄3 cup (75 mL) unsalted butter, melted
1 large egg
3 large egg whites
¾ cup (175 mL) lightly packed brown sugar
½ cup + 2 Tbsp (155 mL) sifted unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
¼ tsp (1 mL) salt

Raspberry Chia Sauce

1 cup (250 mL) fresh or frozen raspberries
¼ cup (60 mL) white or organic cane sugar
1 Tbsp (15 mL) chia seeds)

1 Bring the water and sorghum to a boil in a medium saucepan. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 60 minutes. Remove from the heat, drain, then cool (the sorghum should be very tender).

2 Lightly grease a 9-inch (23 cm) springform pan. Cut a piece of parchment to fit the bottom and lightly grease the parchment. Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C) with the rack in the center position.

3 Place 3 cups (750 mL) of the cooled sorghum, melted butter, egg, egg whites, and brown sugar in a blender. Purée until smooth and no large pieces remain. Transfer batter to a medium bowl and whisk in cocoa, vanilla and salt. Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake for 40 minutes, until the center is no longer liquid but still moist. Cool the torte for 2 hours.

4 To make the sauce, mash the raspberries with the back of a fork in a shallow bowl. Stir in the sugar and chia. Let set for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.

5 Cut torte into desired servings and serve with chilled Raspberry Chia Sauce.   

This torte is also terrific with 1½ cups (375 mL) each of fluffy cooked millet and quinoa in place of the sorghum.


About the author

Chris McDonell

Eatdrink founder and publisher Chris McDonell brings integrity and a widely diverse background in publishing to the task of making Eatdrink a vital part of the food and drink scene in Southwestern Ontario.