Saturday, June 23, 2012

How Many Ways Can you Cook a Quinoa?

Quinoa (pronounced: keen-wah) has been a fun discovery in this household! More of a seed than a grain (a relative of spinach and beets), Quinoa is an ancient vestige of Incan culture (historically regarded as the "mother of all grains"). Before it got big here in the States, my parents came back with reports of this ubiquitous, foreign staple after spending a few weeks in Peru. They said it would be the perfect diet food! The Peruvians put it in everything (especially soups) and MAN, did it fill my parents up!

Quinoa is a fabulous food to begin incorporating into your diet. It's a complete protein (rare in the plant world), and a great source of fiber, iron, phosphorous, magnesium, and calcium, so it can provide a healthy dose of nutrients to your day (especially if you're vegan!). Like other whole grains, this one can also lower your chances of heart disease, certain cancers, diabetes, asthma, migraines, and more. It cooks up faster than rice, brings a yummy nutty taste to your palate, absorbs broths, sauces, and spices well for varied flavor, and is just an extremely versatile food.

To make that last point, I've listed some of the many surprising ways you can incorporate this interesting item into your life!

Quinoa Tabbouleh
Got some recipe hints for this cold salad from an old classmate, Lacy, over at Strawberries & Tea. It looks beautiful and definitely mixes up the tabbouleh scene!

Not mine
Curried Quinoa Salad
Simply cook your quinoa in a broth and/or spices (in this case, curry) for a flavorful salad topping!

Quinoa Pecan Cranberry Pilaf
What Quinoa does for cold salads, like the Tabbouleh above, it can also do for warm ones! This recipe pulls quinoa, roasted pecans, green onions, cranberries, lemon, and honey together for a colorful and tasty side dish. Hard to believe those sweet and savory flavors would go well together? Well they do! I brought this to a home group and the hostess wanted seconds, thirds, and the leftovers!

Not mine
Kidney Quinoa Burgers
This is easily one of my favorite meals! Since the ingredients list on any processed bean burger is way too long and cryptic for me, I much prefer to make my own! Thankfully these are a simple combination of canned beans, cooked quinoa, wheat gluten, and every day condiments and spices you probably already have. Throwing cooked quinoa into these perfect patties adds some texture and protein!

Quinoa Oatmeal
Plain old quinoa leftovers in the fridge? No problem. Steam up some plant milk in a saucepan, stir in a cup of quinoa and heat through. Throw on some diced apples, bananas, cinnamon... whatever you like. :) It's an oatmeal makeover!

Quinoa Chocolate
I love this little goodie (found in Wegmans). Alter Eco chocolate is a little bit of a splurge ($3.50 or so for one bar), but it's one of the only brands of dark chocolate I've found with the least amount of ingredients and nonsense in the nutrition section. It's also totally dairy-free (now that was a quest!). What's neat is that they use toasted quinoa, instead of rice, as the "crackle" in this delicious treat. Brilliant!

Substitute for rice or other grain
Pretty much any stir fry, Indian dish, chili, soup or other meal you're used to pairing with rice can be coupled with quinoa instead!

If you'd like the recipe for any of these meal ideas, ask and it shall be granted! :) What fun uses have you found for your "mother of all grains"?

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