Think Fresh: Quinoa

Quinoa Salad

Native to South America, quinoa (KEEN-wah) is a definite superfood! It’s been getting some positive media attention in the last little while, and rightly so! Quinoa looks a lot like rice, that has burst into little curly-ques. It has a wondeful texture, with a little pop and crunch when you eat it.

When I was pregnant with Foodie Baby, I decided to radically alter our diet, in hopes of having a)a natural birth after a dramatic C-Section with Picky Princess and b)the healthiest pregnant body I could possibly have. I read a fabulous book called The Gentle Birth Method by Dr. Gowri Motha. She presented a nutritional plan for having a healthy body and one of the most interesting things I learned is that according to the Standard American Diet(SAD), over 90% of the grain consumed is: wheat. Rice made up almost the entire other 10%. There are SO many amazing, healthy, and delicious grains for us to consume, but many of us just…don’t. Yet we have skyrocketing problems with wheat sensitivity, and she argues, that some of this is simply because we are over exposed to one grain, when we are designed to consume a variety. So I completely eliminated all grain products from my diet, for the duration of the pregnancy, and honestly, it was SHOCKING to me, at how wheat-centered my diet was. Wheat is in everything! Or at least everything convenient! And now I have reintroduced wheat, but try hard not to let it exceed about 25% of the grains in my diet. Quinoa became a new favorite of ours!

Nutritionally, quinoa is second to none! It has a full set of essential amino acids, which makes it a rare vegetarian complete protein. High in fibre, magnesium and iron, quinoa is also gluten-free, making it a great wheat alternative to gluten-sensitive diets.

Quinoa can be used in place of any other grain: pasta, rice, barley. It is great hot or cold, savory or sweet. Picky Princess loves to eat it with almond milk, maple syrup and cinnamon, and Foodie Baby loves it with goat cheese, lemon, garlic, roasted tomatoes and basil.

Tip: Quinoa is coated with something called Saponin. This makes it taste bitter and needs to be rinsed off. So rinse your quinoa well before consuming. The best way to do this is to put it in a large bowl, fill the bowl half way with water and then rub the quinoa between your hands to rub the saponin away. Rinse and repeat until the water becomes mostly clear, which can take several washes.

Here is a super easy and versatile recipe. You can substitute any of the vegetables for others, you can swap cheese and add anything else you like, but it’s a good base. Give it a try!

Quinoa Salad

Prepare quinoa. Bring 4 cups of water to boil and add 2 cups of well rinsed dry quinoa. Simmer until the quinoa curls, approx 15 minutes. Drain any excess water.

In a pan, saute one minced garlic clove with 3 tbs of extra virgin olive oil and sea salt to taste. Saute for a couple of minutes and then pour sauce over the quinoa. Toss to coat. Add the juice of half a lemon.

Stir in two cups of chopped vegetables. This time I used fresh peas, roasted tomatoes and zucchini. Crumble over salad half a cup or so of goat cheese. Serve hot, room temperature, or chilled! This is an easy picnic salad!