Friday, February 27, 2015

Quinoa Quin-what?

Last week at Strong Is Our Sexy, I shared my thoughts (and favorite recipes) featuring the power protein QUINOA! 
Just like feather hair extensions, YOLO!, or hearing Call Me Maybe on the radio at least seven times a day, the cooking world has plenty of fads that come and go.

Chia seeds, avocados, coconut water, meatless Mondays, juicing EVERYTHING. These are just a couple examples of food-crazes that have become really popular in the last few years.

My feelings towards eating clean are pretty straightforward: if you have a list of veggies, fruits, and healthy grains that you know you like, eat em’ up! BUT if you want to be a bit adventurous, there’s always something new being claimed as the “world’s healthiest food” (did someone say kale?).

This desire to get crazy in the kitchen led me to try another food that is getting rave reviews and popping up in recipes over the place: QUINOA!
What exactly IS quinoa? Keeping things honest, I really didn’t know when I first bought it. I figured it was some sort of grain, or a variety of rice since that’s what it resembled the most and is prepared in a similar fashion. To my surprise though, after some research I discovered it is actually not a cereal at all, but rather a member of the same family as spinach and beets.

Most supermarkets carry quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa, in case you were wondering) in the same aisle you’ll find the rice and dried beans. I buy mine prepackaged at our local Kroger, but you can also find it in bulk bins. If you do purchase it in bulk, keep in mind that quinoa expands during the cooking process (like pasta and rice) several times its original size.

Speaking of the cooking process, I stick to a 1 part quinoa to 2 parts liquid ratio. Mix the liquid and quinoa in a saucepan, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer and cover. One cup of quinoa usually takes around 15 minutes to cook this way, and I like to check on it and give a little mix every once in a while. Once your liquid has disappeared and been absorbed by the quinoa, you’re good to go!

So why does quinoa rock my socks? Well, there are multiple reasons! One of the main qualities of quinoa I love is its overall nutritional richness. In contrast to most grains, quinoa can serve as a complete source of protein, which is perfect for those of us who are trying to cut back on meat or are vegetarian. I also have a couple of friends who are allergic to gluten, and quinoa is a perfect food to include on a gluten-free diet. It not only lacks gluten, but doesn’t even belong to the same plant family as wheat, oats, barley or rye. You can also find quinoa flour and pasta out there!
Now it’s time to get cooking!
I’ve gathered a handful of my favorite quinoa recipes to share with you! Each recipe is linked to the original site, and none of them are that difficult to prepare.



** To make an even quicker stir-fry, I heat up a couple bags of frozen mixed veggies in a wok while the quinoa is cooking. Toss with soy sauce, serve over the quinoa, and you’re done!**


Hopefully this gives you the confidence to expand your taste-bud-horizons, and explore everything cooking with quinoa has to offer!

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