Operation Rice Cooker: Cinnamon Raisin Quinoa with Kale

by Gena on October 8, 2010

One of the main reasons that many people hesitate to explore raw foods is the assumption that eating raw demands an arsenal of kitchen appliances: dehydrators, juicers, VitaMixes, etc. While it would be a lie to say that I don’t have all of those things, it would also be a lie to say that I use them all regularly. I go through phases of virtuously juicing each and every morning before I leave the house. I also go through phases wherein my juicer glares at me in neglect from my kitchen shelf. My dehydrator only gets used once a month, if that. And let’s not even start on some of the other appliances I don’t touch: there’s a waffle iron in my apartment that has been rusting since 2006.

Occasionally I’ll start lusting after a new appliance (is there any way of saying that that doesn’t sound filthy? Nope.) Right now, I want a George Forman Grill, as cheesy as that is, because Caroline always makes such beautiful grilled veggies with hers. I’m also intrigued by the idea of a pressure cooker, and may even get to borrow one this weekend. But before I purchase any new kitchen gadgets, I feel a sense of obligation to dust off the ones I ignore.

Case in point: my rice cooker.

I freakin’ love rice cookers. Cooking perfect rice the old fashioned way, while admirable, comes as naturally to me as forecasting the weather (which is to say, not at all). Leave it in for one moment too long, and it’s stuck to the bottom of your pot; get the water/grain proportions just a little wrong, and it’s mush. Rice cookers aren’t foolproof, and you still have to keep a careful eye on them, but they take so much guesswork out of the process of cooking rice or any other grain. All you have to do is add your grain, water, and turn the machine on until it magically decides to turn itself off. For eaters who are new to veg*nism, rice cookers provide impetus to eat more grains, which are filling, healthy, and cheap. And as an added bonus, most rice cookers double as vegetable steamers.

For someone who’s as gaga about her rice cooker as I am, though, I can’t tell you how often I cook rice, millet, and quinoa in a normal pot. Why? I have no idea. It may very well be my reluctance to drag a stool from my living room into my kitchen and take the darn thing off my shelf, which means that I should probably leave it on the kitchen floor, as I do my dehydrator, salad spinner, mandolin, and sometimes my Vita (Mom, if you’re reading, I’m sorry).

Recently, my girl crush Laura threw together a VegWeb newsletter featuring rice cooker recipes. They all looked amazing: turmeric rice, garlic lentils (OK this would horrify me, but it’s excellent for normal people), mushroom and black bean rice, and seitan sweet buns. This was the kick in the pants I needed to use the ‘ole rice cooker again. The recipe that most inspired me among Laura’s picks was this: super easy quinoa with kale and cranberries. Between the quinoa, the kale, and the cinnamon, the recipe had “Gena food” written all over it. Instantly I got to work on my own version, substituting raisins for cranberries and adding some almond milk for creaminess at the end. Ultimately, it went down like this:

Cinnamon Raisin Quinoa with Kale (inspired by VegWeb; serves 1)

1/3 cup quinoa, rinsed and drained
2/3 cup water
3 tbsp raisins
1 heaping tsp cinnamon
dash salt

1/4 cup almond milk
1 cup finely chopped kale

Place the top five ingredients in a rice cooker and turn it on.

When the machine turns off and goes into heating mode, stir in the almond milk and kale. Allow it to sit and warm up for about 5-10 minutes. The almond milk should absorb just enough to lend creaminess to the dish, and the kale should get tender. Serve!

I had mine along with a salad and my cheesy red pepper hemp dip/dressing (which continues to amaze):

…and all was right with the world.

If you’ve got a rice cooker at home, now’s the time of year to break it out. It makes cozy, warm dinners like this one hopelessly effortless (in fact, I made and ate this meal in the course of 40 minutes, dashing hither and yon), and it will encourage you to eat more tasty and affordable whole grains.

Before I go, I wanted to quickly answer a question that Dianne asked regarding my mushroom soup. She said:

You often post recipes that make several servings. Can you write about what you do with the leftovers? I worry about things going bad in the fridge, especially raw foods, and I’m wondering if you have anything special you do with these kind of leftovers, like freeze them, or if you just happen to use it up in two days. Thanks!

The answer is that raw soups, unlike regular ones, really don’t freeze or keep well. I’ll typically polish them off in about a day. I’ll often eat a double portion of a soup (i.e., the recipe makes five normal servings, but I’ll eat two at once), and I usually bring another cup of whatever I make to work for lunch. I also often use the soup as a salad dressing or a dip — the nice thing about raw soups is that they’re really versatile. Hope that helps!

I’m off to D.C. for a last moment trip tomorrow, but I’ll probably be posting a recipe tomorrow or on Sunday morning, and then the usual travel recaps. Hope you all have good weekend plans!

xo

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{ 32 comments… read them below or add one }

VeggieGirl October 8, 2010 at 3:14 pm

That looks delicious – love the simple pairing of ingredients!

Have fun in D.C.!

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JL Goes Vegan October 8, 2010 at 3:21 pm

I’m having a mad, passionate affair with my rice cooker right now. Can’t get enough of it (millet last night, azuki beans last weekend) Now, obviously, I must try this delicious recipe!

Safe travels this weekend!

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Dorota @ Raw Superwoman October 8, 2010 at 3:26 pm

Rice cooker sounds great. Never used one myself but my favorite way to cook rice is in a steamer. Put the rice in a container, cover with water, add some veggie stock or veggies, turn the timer on and leave it over night. Have it as lunch the next day.

I also find that unless an appliance is on my counter, it never gets used. I just forget about it and don’t want to go though the trouble of getting it out. Whenever I put my juicer away, I stop using it!

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kelli October 8, 2010 at 3:28 pm

I love your red pepper and hemp dip its so addicting on everything.

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Heather (Heather's Dish) October 8, 2010 at 3:29 pm

i don’t have a rice cooker at home, but i’m going to make a point to get one soon! i love the recipe and am always looking for a better way to make quinoa!

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Dianne October 8, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Thanks so much for posting your answer! This looks like an excellent recipe…I love your quinoa-cranberry stuffed acorn squash at Thanksgiving!

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Evan Thomas October 8, 2010 at 3:51 pm

I love my rice cooker. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten more quinoa in my life. I’ve added cinnamon before, but never thought of a cinnamon-raisin spin; that sounds delicious! And I got kale in my CSA box this week. I’ve never been so excited for a veggie :-)

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Diana (Soap & Chocolate) October 8, 2010 at 3:55 pm

Gena, this post borders on creepy in terms of timing. CSN has offered me a gift certificate to their site so that I can buy something and review it on the blog, and I’ve been thinking about a rice cooker but occasionally waffling (no pun intended) towards a toaster oven. Waffle no more! I am now ready to order a rice cooker. And now I even have recipes to play with once it arrives, thanks to you and VegWeb. Here I was thinking I’d only be able to make plain grains! Score.

Have an extra-special time in DC. :)

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Krystina October 8, 2010 at 4:10 pm

That sounds so good. Love the addition of kale.

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Jessica @ How Sweet It Is October 8, 2010 at 4:33 pm

This sounds awesome!!

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Averie (LoveVeggiesAndYoga) October 8, 2010 at 4:39 pm

Omg we are psychic! Ok so I JUST published a post as you were commenting on my post from yetserday, 6 mins later, a new post went up. And in those moments I was on YOUR site looking up your recent cookbook review post b/c I was going to link it in today’s post but realized I already have plenty of info going on so will wait a few days on my latest cookbook. Anyhoo…I was on your site and you on mine, at the same time :)

Glad you saw the chili and liked it! And right before that whole post, I had done 2 previous posts about slow cookers vs. rice vs. pressure cookers. Pressure just isnt practical for me. Rice though. Yes. I want one. Many of my readers who have both a slow and a rice cooker say they actually use their rice cooker more. I am thinking of getting one. I kinda want a Zojirushi which is the Vita of RC’s but if you’re cool rocking the Sanyo, and I could save myself mega$$ I may just go more that route. Everyone says the Zoji’s dont require ANY attendance or stirring, nothing overcooked on bottom etc.

Sorry to ramble! But I totally value your advice b/c like you, I have EVERY gadget imaginable! Vita, Excalibur, Juicer, Spiralizer, tofu press, it goes on and on….haha!

And this recipe looks divine! Anything sorta sweet + savory is awesome..and it’s so you to add kale :)

xoxo

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Christine (The Raw Project) October 8, 2010 at 4:51 pm

Yum, this looks like a fabulous recipe that I can’t wait to try! Have a great trip!

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Kenzie (Healthy Purpose) October 8, 2010 at 5:00 pm

mmm looks delicious! a rice cooker is definitely on my list!

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Ameena October 8, 2010 at 5:01 pm

I love my rice cooker – I bought it 10 years ago for $19.99 and it is still working perfectly. There are so many great variations on this recipe … I have made similar concoctions with rice. I am going to try quinoa instead.

Have a great trip to DC!

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Maryea @ Happy Healthy Mama October 8, 2010 at 5:17 pm

Why don’t I have a rice cooker? I see posts like this and realize I’m crazy for not having one. What could be easier?

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jen October 8, 2010 at 7:37 pm

can you make this recipe in a regular pot? would you cover it? i’m new to quinoa so please explain! thanks so much.

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Molly October 9, 2010 at 1:02 am

Yes, you could. Quinoa takes about 20 minutes to cook in a regular pot, covered. Here are some simple instructions, to go with Gena’s tips:
http://www.savvyvegetarian.com/vegetarian-recipes/basic-quinoa.php
P.S. Rinsing quinoa is critical, unless you buy it in in a box, already rinsed. The saponins make it taste really gross unless you rinse it! Get a fine-mesh strainer like this to rinse it:
http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_18?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=strainer+fine+mesh&sprefix=strainer+fine+mesh

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Gena October 9, 2010 at 12:22 pm

I second all of this!

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jen October 13, 2010 at 9:35 am

so i would place the first 5 ingredients in a pot with the cover on then cook for 20 minutes? then after that add kale and almond milk? would soymilk be ok? thanks again!

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BroccoliHut October 8, 2010 at 8:20 pm

Hmm you have me thinking that I should filch Seth’s rice cooker from his kitchen–he never uses it, so he’d never notice, right?
You def should get a GF–it’s super convenient for us apartment dwellers.

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Laura C October 8, 2010 at 9:09 pm

Gena, something tells me you didn’t “substitute raisins for quinoa” (pp 5) ;) but this looks amazing! I don’t have a rice cooker but I do think I would make grains much more often if I had one. Quinoa in particular I find difficult to cook.

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Lauren October 8, 2010 at 9:41 pm

Looks like I need a rice cooker! :) This looks delicious!

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Julie J October 8, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Wait, what’s in DC?! I’m in DC and have been looking for raw/healthy living events. Is that what it is? If it’s something useful, please share with your DC contingency. Thanks.

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Gena October 9, 2010 at 12:23 pm

Ha — sorry to dissapoint, Julie. It’s a personal trip, to visit a friend. If I hear of any events, though, I’ll holler.

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elise October 9, 2010 at 2:47 am

thank you sooooo much for this post. we got a rice cooker and now i have a million and one more reasons to use it. its quite magical how i can put in brown rice in the afternoon and forget about it and come dinnertime its done – and perfectly at that.

have fun in dc ;)

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Jean@RoastedRootsPumpkinSpice October 9, 2010 at 3:44 am

I have a simple rice cooker too that I’m obsessed with. It’s seriously so versatile and never burns anything. Never tried quinoa with with it though. I must try it!

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melissa October 9, 2010 at 9:32 am

Last minute trip to DC, whatever could be the reason? Have fun! Recipe looks awesome too!

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Laury @thefitnessdish October 9, 2010 at 11:09 am

This looks great….I am seriously thinking of making it today.

Do you think I could use a crock pot on warm?

Probably not, huh? I guess I will use the good ole’ saucepan..I love the idea of using a rice cooker though?!

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Gena October 9, 2010 at 12:22 pm

I’m really not sure! I don’t use a crockpot, but it’s yet another appliance I want.

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MarathonVal October 9, 2010 at 4:11 pm

I’m the same way with cooking rice!!! For some reason I have such a hard time cooking it without drying it out, burning the bottom layer or making it too watery. If only I had room in my kitchen for yet another appliance…

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Quinoa Diet October 11, 2010 at 4:00 pm

This is another great and healthy recipe. I truly love quinoa and I’m so happy that more and more people like it.
Thanks for sharing!

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