Interview – Carolyn Hemming

Carolyn Hemming and Patricia Green are sisters who share a passion for healthy living. Their commitment to health and wellness led to the publication of their first cookbook, Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood, where they explore the nutritional benefits and versatility of cooking with quinoa. Raised in a household that established healthy eating habits at an early age, Carolyn and Patricia continue to follow the path of ‘food as medicine’ laid out by their mother.

Quinoa (pronounced ‘keen wah’) is considered to be one of the world’s healthiest foods. Yet despite its existence for over 5,000 years this seed is only just starting to gain popularity in North America. It takes less time to cook than rice, and keeps in the refrigerator for up to a week.
This book is full of beautiful photographs and easy to follow recipes that are conveniently rated as gluten-free, kid-approved, or vegetarian. You will find quinoa based dishes for special occasions, weekday dinners, breakfast and lunch, dessert, and even baby food! Included is an interesting history of quinoa along with a breakdown of its nutritional benefits.

For the benefit of our readers, can you tell us in your own words what Quinoa 365: The Everyday Superfood is all about?
Our goal in writing Quinoa 365, is to take people away from their traditional eating habits and show them how to incorporate the versatility and added nutritional benefits of quinoa into their everyday eating patterns. We found that people tend to have a lot of questions about how to use quinoa, how to cook quinoa. Also, our research revealed that the majority of recipes for this seed come in the form of salads. So part of what we are doing with our book is showcasing how quinoa can be used in breakfasts, lunches, dinners, appetizers, soups, salads, casseroles, baby food…even baking!

What are the different types of quinoa that are currently available?
You can buy quinoa in seed form (white, red or black seeds), you can buy it in flakes (red and white flakes), and you can buy it in flour form as well. As far as taste is concerned, there is no real difference between the different colours. The nutritional profile in all of these different forms of quinoa is extraordinary, and can be used in various recipe applications. For example; you can use the flour to make lovely waffles. Or you can take the seeds and make a fantastic soup, using the quinoa as a thickening agent.

Your book is one of just a handful of cookbooks to exclusively feature quinoa. What made you decide to take on this project?
I’d have to say that we were inspired to write this book because of Patricia’s interest in healthy eating, as well as by our vegetarian and gluten-intolerant friends who brought this seed to our attention. Once we became aware of the high nutritional profile of quinoa, we were sold!

In your book you have over 150 recipes all using quinoa as the main ingredient. Can you describe what went into the development of this cookbook? Are you sick of eating quinoa now?!
It’s funny because lots of people ask us that question, and the honest answer is that instead of tiring of quinoa we continue to discover more and more ways of enjoying this amazing superfood. We’ve adapted quinoa into our lives so much that it is just a part of the way we eat.

Wheat and gluten sensitivities are becoming more and more common in western society. Why do you think this is?
I’d say the abundance of processed foods being consumed means that people’s stomachs and bodies are becoming less tolerant of poor eating habits.

Quinoa is an ancient seed that has been around forever! But when people talk about gluten-free diets the first alternatives that come to mind are grains like spelt and rice. Why is quinoa only now starting to become popular within mainstream society?
That’s a good question! I think this 5,000 year-old secret is only just starting to come to people’s attention because of things like the continued increase in vegetarianism, along with a growing number of people suffering from digestive disorders and food allergies. There’s just more awareness now of our eating habits, and through vehicles like the internet we are seeing the popularity of particular food trends (such as a gluten-free or raw lifestyles) spread like wildfire.

What are some of the main health benefits of Quinoa?
The health benefits with quinoa are expediential! But I’d have to say that the biggest thing is that quinoa is a complete protein; you don’t need to eat it with anything else. It’s not a fortified seed so all the nutrition is there – nothing needs to be added. The amino acids and antioxidants are great for disease prevention, high vitamins and minerals like calcium and magnesium are also beneficial, and the low glycemic index makes it a great option for diabetics.

Are there any recipes you tried developing that just didn’t work using quinoa?
Bread is always difficult because of the lack of gluten in quinoa, which doesn’t allow it to rise properly. But we believe it is only a matter of time before someone figures out a successful method of making quinoa breads!

To be honest with you, I enjoy quinoa but have always been too intimidated to cook with it before now. Do you have any tips for people just starting to venture out into the world of quinoa?
It is so easy to make and in fact is easier than rice! It also takes less time to cook than rice which is great for those nights when you need to get dinner on the table in a hurry. The basic measurements are two cups liquid to one cup quinoa. But honestly, I am not the most competent person in the kitchen so if I can cook quinoa than anyone can cook quinoa!

Growing up did your family live gluten/wheat free?
We don’t have any digestive disorders in our family, but growing up our mother was a strong influence in our lives and established healthy eating habits right from the start. We never ate store-bought bread, and our afterschool snack would be seaweed chips or shrimp chips! So we grew up in a household that promoted the whole concept of eat healthy, protect your body.

What was the first cookbook you ever owned?
Growing up we used to get Sesame Street Magazine, and so we would make all the recipes out of this publication. We would fight over who got to read it first!

So when you’re not being super duper uber healthy, what is your guilty indulgence?
Mine would have to be coffee, while Patricia’s favourite is cheesecake.

I am preparing to dive into Quinoa 365 as one of the next reviews for our site. If you could only pick three recipes for me to test, which ones would they be?
That’s a tough question! But if we have to choose just three, I’d say the Bocconcini and Oregano Salad, Moist Chocolate Cake, and Salmon & Red Quinoa on Asparagus.

Carolyn Hemming and Patricia Green are sisters passionate about healthy living. Both love exploring superfoods and new meal ideas. For more information please visit