Q: Quinoa

Surprised I chose quinoa? Me neither.20150511_125626

Although there are not many foods that start with the delicious letter “Q”, I’m happy to have quinoa in my alphabet because it is SO. FREAKING. GOOD FOR YOU!

It’s versatile and so super delicious. I use it in sweet and savory dishes, hot or cold. In baked goods or breakfast…or lunch…or dinner. It comes in multiple different colours. There are cookbooks solely dedicated to this one seed.

It’s a seed, by the way, not a grain.

How could I not give quinoa the recognition it deserves?

If you’re unfamiliar with quinoa, but you tango with rice, you should try it. It’s not going to freak you out. The only difference is you’ll be a hell of a lot healthier when you lick your plate clean.

Here are a few reasons to eat quinoa:20140911_131110

It’s a great source of non animal protein for meatless Mondays! It is full of antioxidants. FIBRE. It’s chock full of iron, magnesium, calcium and potassium. It’s got folic acid in there too for healthy Mommas. It’s gluten free too for those who care about that sort of thing. PLUS It’s really delicious. Plus you can cook it, pop it, eat it raw, use quinoa flour or flakes, blend it, grind it…basically this is the greatest food ever. Plus it is a COMPLETE protein which means it contains all eight essential amino acids. Your body doesn’t need anything else to start using this powerhouse for good.

The recipe I’m giving you today is ALWAYS a hit. Everyone wants to know how I made it when I bring this to a BBQ. Save yourself some time and print this to hand out because you’re about to get (more) popular.

Here is my favourite quinoa salad recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups red or black quinoa, cooked
  • 1/4 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/4 cup barberries
  • 1/4 cup green onion, finely sliced
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup real maple syrup

I like to cook quinoa like pasta. No measuring required. Bring a big pot of salted water to a boil and add quinoa. Boil until it is no longer crunchy. Drain. In a sieve, not a colander, otherwise you’ll lose some of your quinoa down the drain. It’s a much easier way to do it rather than being worried you’re going to burn it or not have enough water.

Now that your quinoa is draining, chop up your pecans and onions and throw them into a bowl. Add the barberries. You can find these at most bulk food stores or health food stores. These are dried berries with no added sugar or oils. They are sweet but also very tart and make an EXCELLENT addition to this salad. If you can’t find them, you can use dried cranberries, but try to find ones that don’t have added sugar (not easy I know).

Toss your quinoa with the pecans, onions and dried berries. Now make the dressing. Add the oil, vinegar and maple syrup into a bowl and whisk together. Pour over your quinoa mixture and toss. You can eat this right away but this salad is better the longer you leave it. If you can remember, try to make this a day in advance and leave it covered in the fridge overnight. You can try it the next day and if you need to add more dressing, do it! But trust me, you won’t be coming home with any leftovers.

If you’re interested in cooking with quinoa, this is an excellent site (and cookbook) to check out: Patricia & Carolyn20150511_125635