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Goodness Wrapped Up in Pantry Staples
quinoa in broth with spices 600w

It isn't an exageration to admit that wraps - those beautifully soft, pliable, kid-friendly discs of wheat or gluten-free unleavened carbs - changed my life.  And then along came quinoa, and together with prepared organic chicken broth, the celebrated so-called super-grain changed my life even more. 

Suddenly, I could jam-pack all kinds of delicious and nutritious goodness into fun to eat, easy to make, portable little bundles.  And the best part - I could make the savoury, super delicious, hyper-nutritious main ingredient in bulk, and leave it in the fridge until called into service for school lunches, boating, camping and picnics, and after-school and midnight snacks.

Like most people, I'm busy and I don't have time for complicated.  I find that if I focus on multi-tasking when I'm in the kitchen, I save all kinds of time and money, and feed my family really healthy, delicious food more often.  For example, when I'm making Sunday dinner, I put a cup on rainbow quinoa on the stove to boil, uncovered in two cup plus three-quarters or so of organic chicken broth plus a heaping teaspoon of super fine ethnic spice and a big pinch (three fingers, one thumb) of sea salt. 

As soon as the mixture boils, I turn it down and leave it do its thing for 20 minutes or so. Once the liquid has been absorbed, I turn the gas off and cover the pot with a dish towel and lid. The cloth draws in the last steamy bits, allowing the grains to separate and fluff up. Once cool (not before) I stir in a few generous tablespoons full of polyphenol-packed extra virgin olive oil.

Before dinner's done, I have a week's worth of quinoa base tucked away in the fridge (or freezer, for later use), stored in a microwave/freezer/dishwasher-safe one-lid container, labeled with quick-dissolve tape.  This makes lunch life easy and efficient, because I know that any manner of left-over protein, vegetable, even fruit, can be dressed-up with other pantry basics just enough to create a super tasty gourmet wrap.  In fact, I cook extra dinner almost always because doing so saves me considerable time and money over the week.
quinoa and wraps on board and cut 600w

Left over tuna, halibut or salmon + capers, spare frittata + goat cheese, sliced surplus pork chop + dried currants or chopped dried apricots, day-old cold mashed potato and roasted beets + diced apple, and all manner of pasta - just about anything goes.  Our family favourite is left-over thin crust Margherita pizza, chopped fine and added to quinoa base made with chicken broth and super fine Italian spice blend, finished with a touch of basil or garlic garnishing oil or pretty much any vinaigrette from the squeeze bottles lining the refrigerator door.   You can't imagine how good that tastes. Seriously good!

Culinary sidetrip: 
This past week, we had frittata for Sunday supper.  Ironically, the frittata was made using surplus kale and veggie salad, left from Saturday.  The beauty of lettuce-free vegetable and firm-fruit salads is that they keep well in the fridge for a day or so, provided they aren't drowned in dressing and that there is enough acid in the dressing to keep any apple, pear or such from oxidizing (turning brown).

The frittata (recipe for another day) was little more than two quarts of kale salad, turned into diced onion cooked down in extra virgin olive oil and confit garlic (see recipe), then wilted in the pan in a splash of chicken broth. A dozen organic eggs aerated with more broth were gently folded in, the mixture was cooked to just set in the pan, then dotted with pearls of goat cheese and finished in a 350F/175C oven. The last of 2014's roasted fennel and tomato ketchup (recipe for another day) was just the thing to tart up this rustic dish and elevate the spice enough to merit a nice big red wine.
Fritatta and wrap 600w

There was just enough frittata left over to transform three of today's six quinoa wraps into mini international feasts for the senses.  The other three were protein-boosted with albacore tuna, julienned carrot and diced preserved lemon.  It took mere seconds to wrap it all up before breakfast, and out the door the family went, wraps in hand, looking forward already, to lunch. 

My family loves their super-delicous, uber-nutritious lunch wraps, but not half as much as I do. 

Switching quinoa for brown rice at a ratio of 1:2 with organic chicken or vegetable stock, plus super fine spice and sea salt, is another great way to pack a lot of goodness and flavour into a side dish or base for wraps.

The healthy holy trinity:
Chicken broth has been credited with containing all sorts of actual and mythical beneficial compounds.  The immune-boosting, nutritive, restorative values of bone broth are supported by science in that the broth contains varying degrees of various broken-down vitamins and trace minerals in a form the body can easily absorb - calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, silicon, cysteine, chondroitin sulphates and glucosamine - among them. Benefits vary according to who makes the broth and how it is processed and packaged, but when I can't access homemade chicken (or veggie) broth, I have faith in Canada's organic producers.

Quinoa, one of the latest additions to the super food or super grain category of ingredients, is a mini storehouse of goodness.  According to, quinoa's complex blend of vitamins (B6 in particular) and minerals (iron, copper, thiamin, magnesium, phosphorus, manganese and folate), fats and oils, fatty acids, antioxidants and protein, make it unique among even super foods.  Knowing that makes quinoa a no-brainer lunch ingredient in my book.  I'll take it over Nutella anyday.  Rainbow quinoa, a blend of white, red, brown and baby grains is my default choice simply because it looks happy and all-dressed even on its own. 

According to the Olive Oil Times:  Among plant oils, olive oil is richest in monounsaturated fat, which doesn't oxidize in the body, and its low in polyunsaturated fat, the kind that does oxidize.  Olive oil is rich in vitamin E and contains polyphenols - credited with reducing aging and inflamation, even inflamation related to stroke.  Olive oil lowers the levels of total blood cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol and triglycerides. The phytonutrient in olive oil, oleocanthal, mimics the effect of ibuprofin in reducing inflamation, which can reduce the risk of breast cancer and its recurence.  I aim for 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil per day, per person for my family.

And that, as they say is a wrap!

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