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Quinoa Queen Mairlyn Smith on her new vegetarian cookbook

Mairlyn Smith talks with the Vancouver Observer about her new quinoa cookbook, her passion for healthy eating and why your colon will thank her.

Mairlyn Smith displays her new cookbook 'The Vegetarians Complete Quinoa Cookbook'.

You may recognize Professional Home Economist (and former Vancouver resident) Mairlyn Smith as the bubbly health food lady from TV guest spots on City Line, Urban Rush or from her line of cookbooks. Recently, Mairlyn sat down with the Vancouver Observer to share her vast knowledge about cooking with quinoa and to talk about her new cook book.


Mairlyn Smith displays cookbook.


Q: Quinoa has become quite a popular buzzword lately, how long have you been cooking with it?


A: I have known about it for about 12-15 years, but you couldn't couldn't find it very often in stores. It hasn't been until the last 7 or 8 years that it has been more widely found that I started to experiment

When I started to see it in larger grocery stores I thought, now is the time.


 Q: What is it about this particular seed that inspired you to write an entire cook book on it?


A: I've been talking about other things like barley and such for years. With quinoa, it only takes fifteen minutes to cook. It's very convenient and the fact that you can cook it quickly is great. It's as fast as cooking white rice and by the way it's good for you too!


Q: What was your philosophy with developing recipes for this cookbook?


A: It wasn't just me developing recipes, 58 other Professional Home Economists also submitted recipes and we worked together on them. My criteria was that quinoa had to be incorporated into the recipe. I wanted recipes from breakfast to dessert. I wanted quinoa to be integral part of the recipe. Also, I wanted all the recipes to be 500 calories or less, using heart healthy fats and as many whole grains as possible. I wanted the book to be a springboard into adding meatless dishes into your meal. It's a great way to introduce the world of vegetarianism to someone without it being too scary. I want to encourage people to substitute meals with more vegetarian like foods. Being a vegetarian isn't just about not eating meat. In the book I wrote about how to be a good vegetarian, and that is by is being educated. Of course, you have to eat more than just quinoa. It's all about heart healthy choices. Quinoa is like a chameleon in dishes, very versatile. After reading the book and and trying the recipes your colon will thank me (laughs).


Q: Where do you recommend people by their quinoa, in bulk bins or is boxed better?


A: It doesn't matter. There are a few places that you can find Canadian grown quinoa, and when you find it go for it! Most quinoa is from from Peru and Bolivia because we don't grow much here. There's a section in the cook book that lists different brands of quinoa. The hardest quinoa is find it black, it has a nuttier flavour.


Q: If you say one thing about quinoa, what would you want people to know?

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