Before Quinoa Almond Pilaf made it to our table, quinoa really had a bum rap. But, that is all behind us now and quinoa has a changed reputation in our house!
So, how did we get off to such a rocky start with quinoa? It was all my fault. I didn’t know how to cook it. Years ago, before the GAPS diet, I did a detox diet in an effort to gain relief from my rheumatoid arthritis and this diet included, among other things, quinoa. John and the children, supportive as always, did the diet with me. I have to admit that the diet was very restrictive and offered very few seasonings or condiments so, I boiled the quinoa. And, served it plain. Have you ever tried eating quinoa plain? It does leave a lot to be desired – mainly taste!
Finally, I realized that it would be OK for them to add a bit of butter. But still, the damage was done and even served with butter and salt, the scars were there. During the time on the detox diet, for lack of anything else to talk about, I guess, quinoa became know as “fish eyes”! Don’t ask me why except that the pieces are small and round and fish eyes are small and round – if it is a small fish, of course!
Plain quinoa is not bad. It is just, well, plain. Thankfully, since those days, I have found much more tasty ways to prepare it – like Zesty Quinoa Salad.
So, although we now enjoy quinoa, even the younger children (who were not yet born during the detox diet) call quinoa, “fish eyes” at our table!
Despite its bum rap, quinoa is a nutritional powerhouse – it is more nutritious than rice! Now, when I think of serving rice with a meal, I often fix quinoa instead. Only now, when I am not making a pilaf, instead of simply boiling it, I also add plenty of onions, salt, pepper, butter and whatever other spices I feel like at the time of cooking.
Even though quinoa is a more nutritious choice than rice and lends itself to most dishes containing rice, did you know, quinoa is really not a grain? That’s right, quinoa is not a member of the cereal or grain family at all! It is a seed and member of the chenopod family which also contains spinach, Swiss chard, and beets!
Nutritional Facts About Quinoa
Quinoa, pronounced KEEN-wah:
- is a complete protein source
- is gluten free
- actually has more concentrated levels of two antioxidants than even cranberries and lingonberries
- contains multiple phytonutrients which have anti-inflammatory actions
- is higher in fat content (compared to grains like wheat) and can provide valuable amounts of heart-healthy fats like monounsaturated fat in the form of oleic acid
- can also provide small amounts of the omega-3 fatty acid, alpha-linolenic acid
- is a good source of vitamin E
- contains over twice the amount of calcium compared to grains, ounce per ounce
- nutrient benefits are not affected by cooking
Remember the next time you reach for the rice, try substituting quinoa and get the extra nutritional benefits that go with it! And be sure to try adding some corn, kidney beans and even tomatoes – in fact, you should just try Zesty Quinoa Salad – it is delicious!
Zesty Quinoa Salad
- 4 c. water or chicken broth
- 2 c. quinoa
- 2 cloves garlic,minced
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 can( 15 oz) diced tomatoes (Rotel if you like it spicy)
- 2 c. red kidney beans (may use 1 15 oz can)
- 1 can corn (15 oz)
- 2 tsp cumin
- 2 Tbsp cilantro
- juice from 1 lemon
- salt and pepper to taste
I buy all my real salt and spices from my affiliate partner Starwest Botanicals because of their superior quality. Their herbs & spices are organic, non-irradiated plus, I think they are more aromatic and full flavored than any others.
- Bring water or broth to boil and add quinoa - return to a boil and reduce heat to medium. Simmer until tender - about 15 min.
- Add remaining ingredients and stir well.
- Serve warm or refrigerate for a cool summer salad.