A Quinoa Kick

Recipes for Health: QuinoaWhen I mastered the proper way to cook rice I felt like I was on top of the world. I had tried the many different kinds out there: minute, long grain, jasmine, basmati, pilaf, wild. And I attempted different methods (I recall getting a rice cooker for one birthday in high school). But it wasn’t until I could balance a full meal’s preparation that I really knew how to get good rice.

Enter quinoa. The “super grain” came to me by way of some healthy eaters hosting a dinner party while we lived in Denver. It is packed with protein, incredibly adaptable to any recipe (sweet, savory, salad, dessert or side) and it’s fun to say “keen-wa” right?

After Googling a bit and finding warnings about how tricky it was to cook, I tried it. Not much different than cooking rice … I was made to cook quinoa! The best part: cook more than you need, refrigerate it and use in a new recipe later in the week. It’s a grain that grows, so think of half a cup per serving.

Cooking quinoa: Prepare quinoa by first rinsing the grains in a metal colander until the water runs clear. Add to pot with water or vegetable / chicken broth and cover. Boil until soft, about 15 minutes, when all the liquid is absorbed.

Recent recipes I’ve tried with quinoa:

Waldorf Quinoa Salad – I’ve just made this one up as I go each time. It’s a nice way to bring food over to new moms or a family that’s just lost a loved one because it makes a ton and is easy to eat as a meal (I’ve added chicken), snack or serve as a side. Mix cooked quinoa with celery, apples, dried cranberries, walnuts and red or green onions (the last item I sometimes leave out as the onion taste tends to linger). Then add 1/4 a cup of dressing at a time until you have the desired saturation. I made my own dressing based off Mark Bittman’s Apple Slaw recipe from “The Food Matters Cookbook.” (Read more about  meeting Mark Bittman, there’s even a poorly shot iPhone video!) Or I’ll whisk these together: honey, whole-grain Dijon mustard, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper.

Quinoa Patties with Tzatziki Sauce – Love a homemade tzatziki (also a fun word to say). I made this hoping to thrill my good friend who’s on a pretty strict diet because of health reasons … mission accomplished! She took a doggy bag home! I’ll make it again and be sure to flatten the patties a bit more for some baked-on crunch.

Made with the left-over quinoa:

Cinnamon Quinoa Bake – I added raisins and the next time plan on apricots and walnuts. This time around mine came out kind of soggy and crumbly. Turns out it’s a great (and extremely filling) addition to a bowl of oatmeal in the morning!

Quinoa-Crusted Chicken Breast – Eh. Not as amazing as the Pinterest photo shows. But it was a fun exercise and heck, my husband eats just about anything I serve up (bless him!). The BBQ and Greek yogurt sauce combo was something I’ll do again!

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