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Healthy Passover Recipes: Creative Uses of Matzo and Quinoa

Tradition reigns supreme at the Passover dinner table, but that still leaves plenty of room to get creative with recipes.  While most people associate Passover with eating matzo,  you can add color, a variety of tastes and a little spring in your Passover meals with little twists to dishes and desserts. Fresh and colorful vegetables, fruits and herbs can add new dimensions to Passover meals.

The two recipes below – a quinoa dish and a chocolate dessert – feature creative holiday dishes for Passover.

Quinoa has been around for thousands of years. Natives of the Andes region in Peru and Bolivia are believed to be the first to use the seed of the quinoa plant for food, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations [1]. Many people think quinoa is a grain because it’s most commonly cooked and eaten like rice. But having a seed technically makes quinoa a vegetable, most closely related to spinach and beets.

Quinoa is also a complete protein, which means it contains all the amino acids to meet nutritional needs. Complete proteins are fairly rare in the plant world, making quinoa an excellent food for vegetarians and vegans, or for anyone looking for a healthy protein source. It’s also high in iron and calcium. The recipe on this page infuses quinoa with South Florida flavors to create a protein-rich meal.

And since Passover is a holiday, dessert is usually on the menu. Because wheat flour is not to be used in Passover meals, the flour-less recipe below for a half-brownie, half-chocolate cake meets tradition while cutting calories.

South Florida Quinoa

Ingredients:
• 2 dups quinoa
• 4 cups water
• 3 cups cooked black beans
• 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
• 1 cup red bell pepper, diced
• 2 cups jicama, diced
• ½ cup cilantro leaves, chopped
• 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• 3 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
• 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar
• Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:
1. Start by rinsing the quinoa in a fine mesh strainer with running cold water; this will help remove the bitter-tasting residue that quinoa often has.

2. Place the quinoa in a medium sauce pan, over medium heat; toast until the quinoa becomes slightly fragrant and obtains a light brown color, about 5 minutes.

3. Add the water; bring to a simmer, and reduce the heat until the water has been completely absorbed.

4. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, and let it cool in a large bowl or sheet pan.

5. Once cooled, add the rest of the ingredients; season to taste with salt and pepper, and serve.

Nutritional information: Calories 328; Protein 8g; Fat 7g; Fiber 8g.

Chocolate Beet Coconut Cake With Chocolate Icing

Serves 24

Ingredients:
• 4 egg whites
• pinch salt
• 1½ cups sugar
• 4 egg yolks
• 1 cup apple sauce
• 3 cups natural canned beets, drained, juice reserved, mashed with a potato masher
• 2 cups matzo cake meal
• 1 tablespoon baking powder
• 1 cup juice from the canned beet
• 1 cup cocoa powder
• 1½ cups unsweetened grated coconut, packed

Icing Glaze:
• ½ cup powdered sugar (or substitute Splenda)
• ¼ cup unsweetened cocoa
• 3 tablespoons almond milk
• 2 teaspoons margarine
• 1/8 teaspoon instant espresso granules
• Dash of salt
• 1 ounce bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Preparation:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.

2. For the cake: With a mixer, whip the egg whites and salt at high speed until soft peaks form. Add the sugar gradually, and whip until stiff. Switch to low speed, and mix in the rest of the cake ingredient one at a time, just a few seconds each, until all ingredients are incorporated. Pour the batter into a non-stick, 10-inch round pan or 11-by-14-inch pan. Bake for 1 hour or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.

3. To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar and remaining ingredients in a saucepan over low heat. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Top with remaining layer. Drizzle glaze over top of cake, spreading it out over edges.

Nutritional information: Calories: 231; Fat: 5.3g; Saturated fat: 2.2g; Monounsaturated fat: 2.1g; Polyunsaturated fat: 0.5g; Protein: 4.8g; Carbohydrate: 27.6g; Cholesterol: 27mg; Sodium: 184mg