>Here is a mini tribute to my favorite grain: quinoa (pronounced KEEN-WAH). This grain was first cultivated over 7,000 years ago in South America and was a staple in Mayan, Incan and other native diets. Translating to “mother grain” from the Quechua language-its seems to me a no brainer it is an excellent source of nourishment. Quinoa is both easy to cook (& quick!) and available now at most stores (bulk bins at Whole Foods/local coop will be the most economical). Quinoa is a gluten-free grain that can be enjoyed by all and should be based on its nutritional profile. Considered a complete protein as it has all 8 essential amino acids, it is a nutrition powerhouse. One of the amino acids it is high in is lysine- an acid that most other grains are lacking in. Quinoa contains more iron than most other grains, and is also a good source of calcium, phosphorus and B vitamins.
Most common varieties are in red, white, and black. Right now I have a confetti mix of all three but red is my favorite as I find it to have the most flavor (nutty if you will) on its own. Just like rice and many other grains it is prepared in a 2:1 ratio (2 cups water: 1 cup quinoa). There are many ways to enjoy quinoa (consider it an excellent substitute for rice, pasta, oatmeal, millet, etc). Another way to enhance its flavor is toast it for a few minutes in a skillet or at the bottom of your pan before cooked/prepared.
Below is one of my favorite recipes (I use red quinoa). Sometimes I forgo the avocado to allow the flavor of the lemon and lemon zest to steal the show.
Quinoa & Avocado Salad
3 TBS raisins
2 TBS dried apricot
1 cup quinoa
3 TBS olive oil
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp cumin
1/4 tsp sweet paprika
2-3 tbs coarsely chopped/toasted almond
pepper/salt to taste
Soak raisin & apricots for 5 minutes; drain.
Bring 2 cups of water and quinoa to boil. Cover & simmer until absorbed. Fluff & turn onto baking sheet to cool.
Grate zest of the lemon and squeeze 1 TBS of lemon juice in bowl. Whisk juice, zest, oil, coriander, cumin, and paprika together.
Toss with quinoa, diced avocado, scallion, almond, raisins, and apricots.