Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Southwestern Quinoa Salad

I used to think, "Whole grains = yuck!" Give me white bread over wheat anytime. Then I grew up and realized not all whole grains are created equal. While I still don't like whole wheat in most of its incarnations, I have found other healthy whole grains I do like. Quinoa is one of those, although technically a seed and not a grain, it is generally classified in the whole grain category. It is pronounced 'Keen-Wa'. The pronunciation may be tricky, as well as the clean up if the pot boils over- use a larger than you think you need pot if you have cooking ADD like I do! But the preparation of it does not require any more skill than cooking rice. A step some people will take is to rinse their quinoa before cooking it to remove a bitter taste. I personally skip that step, but I skip many steps that save me time and don't seem to add serious value. And while on the slightly expensive side, it can be found in most grocery stores and all health food stores.

I find quinoa to be very mild, almost flavorless. Why then should you use it? Its considered a superfood. It is highest in protein of all the whole grains, it contains magnesium, iron and fiber, and it is gluten free and easily digestible. Would the recipe below taste just as good without quinoa? Yes, it would. Would it be as healthy or filling? Absolutely not. I will shush now about the benefits of quinoa and provide you with one of perhaps thousands of ways to use this healthy grain.


1 cup uncooked quinoa
2 cups water
1 15 ounce can black beans
1/4 cup chopped green pepper
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
1 lime
1 cup thawed frozen corn
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground red chile powder
1/2 tsp cumin
2 tsp sea salt

Bring 2 cups of water and one cup quinoa to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20-25 minutes. When the water is gone and the quinoa is "fluffy", it's done. Remove from the heat. Drain the black beans and put them into the quinoa, along with your corn, and peppers. Squeeze the lime juice in. Add your olive oil. Finally, add your spices and seasonings and give it a good mix. This is one I like to eat hot for lunch, and can easily revisit cold for breakfast.

Side note: I usually make a double batch of quinoa and keep half in a container in the refrigerator. For breakfast today I took a scoop of Quinoa, sliced in some fresh strawberries, drizzled some olive oil and peach balsamic vinegar on top, and shook in some feta cheese. There are so many variations you can have fun testing!

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