Flavor Seeker ~ Quinoa

Hello, my name is Mary and I am a carb addict. Oh right, we’ve been there, done that. Well, now that you know, you have to understand that there is a delicate balance that must be achieved to allow me to avoid my nemesis without depriving my husband. With just the two of us, I often make a pot of one of his favorite meals, so he can have the things he loves, then I make myself something lighter. For instance, Barry gets 3 cheese mac and chicken & broccoli casserole with pasta, and I eat chicken and veggies.

One day about 2 years ago, we saw this thing called quinoa (yeah, go ahead and try to pronounce that one without looking it up) on a menu in a sandwich shop called Buffalo Zachs in Roscoe, NY (http://www.yelp.com/biz/buffalo-zachs-roscoe). Being curious, as always, about a new food, I asked about it and they were gracious enough to bring me just a taste. I was interested enough to try it again. Only I wanted to find out more about it and find ways to make it more delicious to me. Would you expect anything else?!

As is the habit of our times, I started by Googling “quinoa” to see what I could learn about this new find. While quinoa is often considered a whole grain, I discovered that it is actually a seed.  Here is a good overview, if you are one who likes the skinny on what you are eating: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=142&tname=foodspice. Basically, this new (for me) food is in the spinach, Swiss chard, and beet family. It is nutrient rich and, when properly prepared, delicious.

Here is the nutrition label from the quinoa I am cooking today. I actually picked this one up at Target of all places. The brand is Archer Farms.

So even though it has carbs, the same delicious, nutrient-rich treat also has protein and is far healthier than other carbs which I need to avoid. I also find that the more carbs I eat, the more I crave. Quinoa does not have this affect on me.

Quinoa is a carb, but it has PROTEIN, which tends to satisfy hunger better. And quinoa is nutrient-rich, vegetarian, and gluten-free. It is easy to make and can be eaten warm for a dinner meal or cold in a salad. Quinoa is delightful under a poached egg for breakfast. In a word, Quinoa is an incredibly FLEXIBLE ingredient to work with and enjoy.

Quinoa basics are this: You need 2 cups of liquid for every one cup of raw quinoa. I have tried many liquids: water, water with vinegar, chicken broth, and finally I found Garden Vegetable Broth from College Inn. It is the only thing I make my quinoa with now. (It is currently on sale at my local market so I stocked up. After all, it is the season for so many yummy soups!)

First, add one cup of quinoa and one 16 oz. can of broth or the equivalent of about 2 cups of liquid of choice in a pot. Stir gently.

   

Next, bring this to a boil.

Reduce immediately to a simmer, cover, and allow to simmer for 15 minutes. When the 15 minutes is up, the quinoa will be fluffy and moist. Fluff them with your spoon, or many cooks use a fork.

Taste a little. You won’t need to add anything. It is tasty just like this. There are so many things you can do with this now.

Today for lunch, I added some dried cranberries and slivered almonds.

My daughter, Courtney, is hooked on quinoa now and loves to add cheese when it is warm. This melts the cheese and enhances the flavor! What cheese, you ask? Well, for me, it is fontina. Did you really have to ask? Courtney likes shredded mozzarella. What cheese do you like best? Use that. What else can you do with quinoa? The possibilities are endless.

  • Add nuts
  • Add cheese
  • Add beans
  • Add dried fruits
  • Add cherry tomatoes and feta or goat cheese

Tammy and Boyfriend like to make their quinoa the night before and then, for breakfast, pan-fry little patties. It’s like a potato pancake, but without the heaviness that potatoes can bring to breakfast. How about a poached egg over that quinoa patty? De-lish!

There are so many healthy and wonderful recipes out there:

And don’t forget that any favorite recipe you already make with rice or couscous can be made with quinoa instead. Consider your cold pasta salad recipes, too. In fact, combinations like I made for lunch – dried cranberries and almonds – will chill well and be equally delicious eaten cold.

Give quinoa a try. Make it and taste is all by itself. Add your favorite combinations on top. You will be glad you did and happy to have a nutrient-rich, gluten free, protein enriched, and delicious option to heavier carbs that may, like me, lead you astray.

Let me know how you made out! I will be waiting to hear. I am always looking out for new ways to enjoy this healthy food.

Enjoy!

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One thought on “Flavor Seeker ~ Quinoa

  1. I decided to try out quinoa. I’d never made it before, but I jumped in with both feet and made a recipe with it first thing. I went to allrecipes.com and looked up one that sounded easy and tasty. Although it wasn’t a favorite, everyone ate it and liked it. Even my somewhat picky daughter ate part of hers! The recipe I made was Slow Cooker Chicken Curry with Quinoa (http://allrecipes.com/recipe/slow-cooker-chicken-curry-with-quinoa/detail.aspx).

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