Monday, 10 September 2012

Cinnamon Raisin Quinoa with Caramelized Peaches

My time in Germany is quickly coming to an end. I've been travelling around the country for the past few weeks, trying to soak up as much summer as possible before I return to Canada for my spectacular sister's wonderful wedding. Why is she so spectacular, and why will this wedding be so wonderful? Well, because she's my sister and she's marrying a great guy of course! But alas, this is not the only reason I am so excited for the upcoming nuptials.

My sister and I have both had stomach problems for pretty much our whole lives. As is the case for almost everyone I know, it's been a long struggle to identify which foods are making us sick, and to find a way of eating that leaves us feeling full, energized, and most importantly, pain-free. Both of us began to see huge improvements when we adopted a whole-foods based diet, if not only for the reason that it is much easier to identify a single trigger food when you know exactly what's going into your meal. From there, my sister followed her path to becoming gluten-free, while I meandered down another road to eventually find the wonderful world of veganism (which makes not only my stomach happy, but my head and heart as well).

I don't get to see my sister very often, but when I do get the chance to share a meal with her, it's always a fun experience. It usually begins with a phone call along the lines of "So, I'm going to make x, if I replace y with a, then z with b, then add a little c, that should work for both of us, eh?" While it may sound like a bit of an ordeal, for us it is great fun. It gives us a challenge and a chance to experiment, but the best part is that I know we will get to sit down to a delicious (most of the time) meal in complete peace. Neither of us have to worry about feeling sick or having to refuse foods made with ingredients we don't eat, allowing us to bask stress-free in our quality sister time.

I probably shouldn't have been surprised to discover that my sister had arranged with her caterer to have a vegan option available at her wedding, but I definitely did a little dance in my lobby when I ripped open my invitation and saw Vegan printed as a dinner option, right there along with the "normal" choices! Not only did my sister go out of her way to make sure that I would have a great meal on her special day, but she made the choice available to every guest. With both families being "meat and potatoes" people, she didn't expect anybody else to check the vegan box, but while sorting through her RSVP's, she found three others requesting vegan meals!

I am just filled with happiness knowing that I'll be able to able to sit next to my sister, eat everything in front of me, and not for one second have to worry about feeling sick, going hungry, or being an inconvenience to anyone. I am looking forward to meeting the other "vegan-box-checkers", and I am so proud of my sister for wedging a little (if maybe unintended) piece of activism into her wedding day.

Before I can get to all that, I need to get through my last week in Germany. This means wrapping up a couple projects I've been working on, picking out gifts to bring back, and of course, clearing out my kitchen cupboards. I now start each day by staring at the odd assortment of food I have left and wondering what I can possibly come up with to eat. Can I make something using a bag of quinoa, a few sad-looking peaches, and a handful of raisins? Well, it turns out yes!

Since the peaches were a little on the withered side, I thought it might be nice to bring out what flavour they had left by caramelizing them with some coconut oil and maple syrup. Wow, am I sure glad I did! If you have any sub-par peaches hanging around, I strongly suggest giving this method a try.

Cinnamon Raisin Quinoa with Caramelized Peaches

makes 1 large serving

1 large peach, peeled and sliced
1 tsp coconut oil
1 tsp maple syrup
1/4 cup uncooked quinoa, rinsed
1 tbsp chia seeds
1 tsp cinnamon
pinch sea salt
splash vanilla extract
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (I used a rice/soy blend)
2 tbsp raisins
extra non-dairy milk and maple syrup for serving

In a medium-sized saucepan, heat coconut oil over medium heat. Add peach slices and maple syrup; sauté until peaches begin to brown, about 5 minutes.

Add quinoa, chia seeds, cinnamon, salt, vanilla, soy milk and raisins. Stir well until combined. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for 15 minutes. Depending on the juiciness of your peach, you may need to add a couple tablespoons of water near the end of cooking if the mixture seems dry.

Remove from heat, add a splash of milk and a drizzle of maple syrup and serve hot. Feel free to add other toppings; I think pecans would be great.

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