Quinoa-Wildly Nutritious & Oddly Delicious


It took me a while to warm up to the idea of quinoa, much less pronounce it. (KEEN-wah). Let me tell you, I feel like a bit of a fool now, knowing what a nutrition powerhouse it is, how easy it is to cook and that it's widely considered one of the world's healthiest foods. Did I mention that I'm a late bloomer?

My first attempt at ordering quinoa was years ago, in a cold Mediterranean salad at the Nordstrom Café in Seattle, much like this one by Plant-Based on a Budget. It pains me to say that I never tried it again until about 30 years later. At first, it didn't leave the biggest impression on me, which is odd for any food, much less part of a delicious lunch in a fine retail establishment serving cold wine.

It intimidated me. And even seemed to stare back at me a little.

Cautionary tale ahead. My first go at cooking quinoa, I poured what looked like dry white sand into a one cup measure and accidentally knocked it over on my countertop. It was a nightmare to clean up as the tiny micro-seeds scattered and rolled into every crevasse of my kitchen! I’m sure there are still some defectors out there...laughing at me!

Today, as a quinoa-loving convert, I've learned to cook it with ease (and measure it in a larger cup with far more gracefulness) and it's become one of my absolute favorites. Quinoa is naturally gluten-free, high in protein and fiber and is one of the quickest cooking grains you can find. Technically, it’s not a grain at all, but a seed from the amaranth family, that nicely fills the bill as a grain with all of its nutrient-packed versatility. It has a nutty taste, a delightful texture and even comes in multiple colors like confetti! Once cooked, the tiny seeds release a little "streamer" and make for a celebration every time!

Meatless Monday Adventure:

Measure your quinoa (carefully! 😊), dump in a fine (trust me on this one) mesh strainer and rinse under cold running water for a minute or so. For every cup of quinoa, add two cups of water, bring to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook uncovered until the water is absorbed, about 15-minutes.  Put the lid on the pot and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Fluff up with a fork and enjoy it in many delightfully nutty ways!  It freezes beautifully, too! 

Try this easy Southwest Quinoa Salad recipe or really get wild and just mix cooked quinoa with jarred mango salsa, a drained can or two of black beans, frozen corn (and anything else that sounds good to you...toasted coconut?!) and top with scallions and/or cilantro!  Eat warm or cold or on top of salad greens or in a tortilla or wrap.  

Please don't let this fascinating and multifaceted pseudo-grain pass you by or intimidate you, like it did me. I firmly believe, the world is your quinoa!


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