July 2003 Edition
Go with the Grains

Specialty grains are ancient foods that have come back into vogue on trendy restaurant menus as healthy alternatives to processed grains. And it’s no wonder why: In addition to providing energy-boosting carbohydrates as part of a fibre-rich, low-fat diet, specialty grains are as rich in variety of flavour as they are in texture, colour and nutrition.

One of the foremost specialty grains emerging in popularity is quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah), which originated in South America. Quinoa was cultivated for over 5,000 years in and around the Andes Mountains, and is now grown in the U.S. and Canada.

Popular in both vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets, quinoa is nutritionally rich in the essential amino acid lysine and is making appearances on menus nationwide. Most of quinoa’s natural coating, called saponine, is removed during milling, but to ensure that you get the grains full, rich flavour, rinse it thoroughly in cold water prior to cooking. After that, simply prepare quinoa as you would rice; in just 10 to 12 minutes, quinoa is tender, richly flavoured and ready to be included in dozens of exciting and nutritious recipes. For added flavour, toast the grains in the oven for a few minutes before cooking.

Looking to add some tasty, wholesome flair to your lunch or dinner menus? Quinoa is perfect as a grain accompaniment to just about any dish, from fish to chicken to hearty salads. Include quinoa in your signature soups to form a hearty, healthful meal, and layer it into casseroles for a beyond-delicious entree. Quinoa is even making appearances on the morning scene as a hearty breakfast porridge for children and adults alike.

You can make any quinoa recipe your own—feel free to test out signature spices, sauces and garnishes, and take full advantage of this international sensation! ยจ


Chunky Quinoa Chili

Courtesy Of: California Olive Industry

Yield: 24 Servings


Metric Imperial

Sysco Imperial Fresh yellow onions, chopped 1 L 4 cups

Sysco Imperial Fresh green bell peppers, chopped 1 L 4 cups

Sysco Natural Whole peeled garlic, minced 20 mL 1 1/2 Tbsp

Olive oil 125 mL 1/2 cup

Sysco Imperial Diced tomatoes in juice, undrained 2 L 8 cups

Sysco Imperial Tomato sauce 1.25 L 5 cups

Water 1.5 L 6 cups

Quinoa 900 g 1 lb 8 oz

Dry lentils 360 g 12 oz

Chili powder 100-125 mL 1/3-1/2 cup

Ground cumin 20 mL 1 1/2 Tbsp

Kidney or pinto beans, drained 2 L 8 cups

Medium pitted ripe olives, wedged 1.5 L 6 cups

Shredded cheddar cheese 1.5 L 6 cups


  • Cook onions, peppers and garlic in hot oil over medium heat in stockpot until onions are soft, about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in tomatoes, tomato sauce, water, quinoa, lentils and spices. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.
  • Blend in beans and olives. Cook 10 to 15 minutes more, until quinoa is transparent.
  • Portion 2 1/2 cups (625 mL) per bowl; top with 1/4 cup (50 mL).