Monday, March 8, 2010

Quinoa



Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa), is a grain that originated in South America and thankfully, made the journey up here. I've heard of it (though I've been pronouncing it terribly wrong until I was recently corrected by a friend), have seen it in the bulk food section of my grocery store, but I've never purchased it...until NOW!

As I've been thumbing through my Biggest Loser cookbooks, quinoa is all over the place. Why? Because it's loaded with protein, fiber, iron, and magnesium. But it's not loaded with calories. While couscous, a similar looking grain, tends to lose its firmness in the cooking process, quinoa retains a little bite and it has a rich, nutty flavor to it. According to the Biggest Loser Simple Swaps, "one cup of cooked quinoa has half the carbs of white rice and one-third more protein; it also has four times the fiber."

So I snatched me up about 3 cups of it from the bulk foods (for CHEAP!) and tonight I tested the waters. There's a fabulous recipe in the Simple Swaps book but I didn't have all the ingredients, so I made my own.

Ingredients:
1 cup quinoa
Leftover cooked peas from last night
1-2 ribs of celery chopped
1/2 red bell pepper
Olive oil
1/2 tsp butter
2.5 cups of chicken broth
Parmesan cheese

I sauteed the celery and bell pepper in the olive oil and butter until they were soft. I added the quinoa and cooked for a minute. Then I added the broth and brought to a boil. Once boiling, I lowered to a simmer and cooked for 13 minutes. I added the peas and cooked for 3 more minutes until the quinoa was no longer white, but transparent. I added the Parmesan cheese at the end and dished it up.

It was DELICIOUS and a nice change from couscous, brown or white rice. I can't wait to stock up on supplies this weekend and try some more recipes.

Did you know that you can substitute quinoa for oats in your oatmeal? Just simmer it in some milk.

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