Featured Food: Whole Grains
Quinoa is a bit like my mobile phone. I know that somehow or another I managed to survive before it came into my life, but now that it's so much a part of my life I wonder how the heck I did!
Much like the potato is to the Irish, quinoa has become one of my staple foods. As well as being one of the most nutritious foods on the planet, it's quick to cook, easy to digest, versatile(at least to the creative mind) and gluten-free, and it lends itself well to a range of dishes and seasonings, both savory and sweet. It can be ground into a flour to use in baking or for breakfast cereals.
Although an ancient grain, revered by the Incas of South America as a food of the gods, it was fairly recently introduced to the Western diet. The Incas recognized quinoa as a food to give stamina to their warriors, and it has been a staple food for millions of South Americans for centuries.
Quinoa is unique in the vegetable kingdom, as it is one of the few nonanimal foods that contain all the amino acids to make it a complete protein. It's also high in calcium and iron and a good source of vitamin E and some of the B vitamins.
Quinoa takes only 15 minutes to cook so is great for quick and easy meals. It can be served as a side dish like rice or added to casseroles, soups, stews, stir-fries or used in place of bulgur wheat for a gluten-free tabbouleh salad. I also enjoy it cooked in a little fruit juice as a warm breakfast cereal, sprinkled with some ground flaxseed, a drizzle of maple syrup and some fresh blueberries.
To cook quinoa: Rinse thoroughly and drain. Combine one part quinoa with two parts water in a saucepan and add a big pinch of sea salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover pot and simmer on low heat for 15 minutes. Turn off heat and let sit for 10 minutes before removing lid.
To make quinoa tabbouleh: Combine 2 cups cooked quinoa with 1 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered; 4-inch piece cucumber, small diced; 1 cup minced flat-leaf parsley; 2 Tbsp. minced fresh mint; 1/4 cup olive oil; 2 Tbsp. lemon juice; 1/2 tsp. sea salt; freshly ground black pepper and toss well.
Making burgers with millet