Tuesday, December 6, 2011

My Quinoa Kick

     For many reasons I have become a quinoa fan.  So much so, that our family has had some sort of quinoa (pronounced "keen-wah") dish in our fridge for the last three weeks. I've been met with some reluctance from my kids but I keep experimenting with it. Here's why:

1. Great source of protein. We don't eat much meat in our house and having kids in athletics requires that they are getting enough protein from other sources.  As a cancer survivor I really don't want my girls getting their protein from soy  (another blog post) so this really works for us.

2. One cup of quinoa equals 30% of daily magnesium (which is why it is great for people with migraines) and 15% of daily iron.

3. Contains no gluten or wheat.

4.  Fits with every season.  Asparagus, garlic, and parmesan in the spring. Mint, tomatoes, and lemon juice in the summer (or roasted corn, black beans, and cilantro - yummo).   And,  recently I roasted some garlic and sweet potatoes, toasted some pecans, and added it to my quinoa base with a large handful of dried cherries.  For lunch I sprinkled some gorgonzola on top, warmed it up and it was fantastic. I've followed a few recipes but I've discovered that quinoa is really easiest because I can take any flavor combination and turn it into a great side dish or even a meal.  My next idea is wilted kale and mushrooms. Can you hear my kids groaning yet?

Not exactly rocket science but here's my base:  It seems to work for any kind of quinoa and I've experimented with both red and white. White is pretty easy to find; Trader Joes carries the red variety.

Quinoa Base.

Rinse the quinoa seed well.  It will have a bitter flavor if you leave this out.

The rule of thumb is 2 cups of water to 1 cup of quinoa.  I use vegetable broth instead of water if I'm serving it with roasted veggies and this gives it great flavor. Worth mentioning, the vegetable broth version tastes a bit weird with mint and fruits.

Cook it about 15 minutes til it becomes translucent and spirals out.  Make sure you stir or it will burn the bottom (been there). Fluff with a fork.

I always add the juice of a half a lemon, 2-3 tablespoons of olive or grapeseed oil, and sea salt to taste.

Not really a recipe but hopefully some ideas to inspire your experiments.  I will admit I bought a package and looked at it for quite a few months before I broke it open.  But the more I make it, the more I like it.....and I really like the health benefits of it.

I think I'll start sneaking it in soups next.

Quinoa with roasted sweet potatoes and garlic, dried cherries, and toasted pecans.

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