Friday, January 21, 2011

Something New: Quinoa

When I first began my weight-loss journey, I had this bright idea that I’d share with you the new foods I tried.  Um, yeah, I’ve done it once when I posted about spaghetti squash.  I really did do think it’s a good idea, it’s just that I’m forgetful.  And sometimes not quite so adventurous on the foods.

quinoaI have a new favorite, though:  quinoa (pronounced “keen-wa”).  Quinoa is a high-protein grain from South America that can be simmered in milk for breakfast or cooked with broth to make a tasty side dish or even a cold salad.  A great source of protein, fiber, and iron, quinoa is also gluten-free, which will be appreciated by those with allergies.

Quinoa can be found near the rice in most grocery stores…but you’ll probably have to search.  I found mine at Wal-mart, in a tiny little box, high on the top shelf.  It’s a bit expensive (a little over $4 for a 12 oz. box), but a little goes a long way.

Everything I read about quinoa said that it needed to be rinsed thoroughly so that it wouldn’t have a bitter taste.  Even though the box I bought said “pre-washed” and “no rinsing necessary” I washed it anyway.  Nothing like a bitter taste to leave a bad first impression and ensure that my picky eaters wouldn’t try it again.

Rinsing it was a little tricky.  They're tiny little grains and I didn’t have anything with small enough holes to keep them from going through.  I would up improvising with a paper towel, but I’ll either purchase something like a tea strainer or cheesecloth before next time.  Yes, there will be a next time.  I really enjoyed the recipe I made with the quinoa.

It’s hard to describe the taste.  As a friend commented to me recently, and I agree, that it doesn’t really have much of a taste of it’s own.  You really pick up the flavors of the other ingredients.  The Biggest Loser Simple Swaps book describes it as a “nutty” flavor.  I’d liken it maybe to barley, but it’s not a really strong taste.

I really want to try it for breakfast and I saw a tasty-looking cold salad recipe in the Self issue with Jillian Michaels’ Jump Start Diet.  The recipe I tried first, though, was from The Biggest Loser Simple Swaps, page 107: Quinoa with Spinach and Cheese.

2 tsp. olive oil

1 cup diced onion

1/4 diced celery (I omitted this because I didn’t want to buy an entire stalk of celery for 1/4 cup)

1 tsp. minced garlic

1 c quinoa, rinsed well

2 c fat-free chicken broth

2 c chopped spinach (I used about 1 c. frozen spinach)

1/2 c chopped mushrooms

1/4 grated Parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. ground black pepper

In a saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and celery and cook for about 5 minutes, or until soft and translucent.  Add the garlic and quinoa and cook for about 1 minute longer, stirring occasionally.  Do not brown garlic.  Add the broth and bring to a boil.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 12 minutes; the mixture will be brothy and the quinoa almost done.  Stir in the spinach and mushrooms and simmer for 2 minutes longer, or until the quinoa grains have turned from white to transparent.  Add the cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve hot.

This is delicious with roasted asparagus and pork chops with mushrooms.  Yum!  If you try it, let me know what you think.  Also, if you’ve found a great quinoa recipe, leave me the link.

7 comments:

  1. Quinoa is YUMMY! I'm not crazy about it as a breakfast grain, but I love it as a side or one-dish meal. Trader Joe's sells a great quinoa frozen side with zucchini and sweet potatoes. I add garlic and onion and serve it with salmon. That's what I had for lunch today in fact.

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  2. I have this on my list to try! I think you can find it cheaper online, even with shipping, because you can get it in larger quantities. So once you know you like it, try shopping around. :-)For example, I don't know where you live but if Azure Standard were an option for you - you can get it from anywhere between 33oz for $8.05 up to 25lbs for $57.45 (ranging from $4 per pound to $2.30 a pound).
    https://www.azurestandard.com/shop/product/1086/
    Just a thought. :-) Will try this recipe soon. Oh! And if you don't need an entire bunch of celery - buy a bunch and dive the entire thing. Freeze it in snack size baggies all placed in one large freezer quality bag. Then you have portions ready to pull out and use. Same for onions and bell peppers.
    Kori

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  3. I tried quinoa once and wasn't feeling it (I don't think I cooked it right but I kind of put myself off it for life as it was really crunchy?!)

    I just this week tried buckwheat though and I'm loving it and millet and couscous (wholegrain of corse) and all kinds of beans (instead of just the regular tinned baked variety) in place of the usual pasta/rice/potatoes.

    Love barley too - as does my hubby - he often asks what on earth I'm serving him becuase he and I were both raised in traditional Irish, meat and two veg for dinner families.

    I've loved digging my way through the whole foods sections of our local supermarkets though - and they definitely offer healthier if slightly odder options.

    Hope you'll keep up with sharing your newer recipes. I like the idea of spaghetti squash but I've never heard of it here in the UK - think I'll have to go on a search for it.

    Grainne

    Grainne

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  4. I have some quinoa, and only tried it once, plain...since I had never had it before I will have to try it again like this. THANKS!!

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  5. Yeah, Grainne, I don't think you cooked it right. It's not crunchy. Sort of the consistency of rice or cooked barely, probably. I'm making it again tonight, so I'll have to pay more attention and see if I can put my finger on the taste. All I know is that I really enjoyed it with the spinach and mushrooms.

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  6. Yum! I am going to have to try this. My kids don't really enjoy quinoa (and my daughter eats almost anything), but I still keep fixing it and trying to find new recipes that maybe they'll like because it is so healthy and I absolutely LOVE it! I found it at the bulk food store that I like to go to, and it was much more affordable.

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  7. I tried quinoa once and wasn't feeling it (I don't think I cooked it right but I kind of put myself off it for life as it was really crunchy?!)

    I just this week tried buckwheat though and I'm loving it and millet and couscous (wholegrain of corse) and all kinds of beans (instead of just the regular tinned baked variety) in place of the usual pasta/rice/potatoes.

    Love barley too - as does my hubby - he often asks what on earth I'm serving him becuase he and I were both raised in traditional Irish, meat and two veg for dinner families.

    I've loved digging my way through the whole foods sections of our local supermarkets though - and they definitely offer healthier if slightly odder options.

    Hope you'll keep up with sharing your newer recipes. I like the idea of spaghetti squash but I've never heard of it here in the UK - think I'll have to go on a search for it.

    Grainne

    Grainne

    ReplyDelete

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