It’s Foodie Tuesday!
How are your New Year’s resolutions holding up? Statistics say that most people will have abandoned their pledges by the end of the month, and I’m not surprised since they are often worded so negatively. This year I changed tack; instead of vowing to lose weight, I have promised to spend as much time on my inner health as I do on my outside appearance.
Image: Skinny Ms.
So, I’m taking a little more time to prepare my own meals, using local and organic ingredients whenever possible. In order to do this, I have stocked my pantry with quality ingredients that can be prepared quickly and in many different ways. At the top of my list is quinoa. Pronounced “KEEN-wah,” this little seed has been named International Food of 2013 by the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
Mango Blueberry Quinoa Salad with Lemon Basil Dressing. Image: Veggie Belly
I’m not surprised, since it is low-fat, cholesterol-free, and high in fiber. Its texture and nutty flavour is similar to whole grains like brown rice and barley but it is a complete protein, which makes it perfect for vegetarian meals. And it cooks quickly, in about 15 minutes!
Breakfast Quinoa Cereal. Image: 80 Breakfasts
Like whole grains, it takes some care to make sure it doesn’t turn out mushy. And the seeds need to be rinsed thoroughly before cooking or they will taste bitter. The Kitchn has excellent step-by-step cooking instructions that guarantee perfection. I always try to make a little extra at dinner so that I can use the leftovers to make porridge or a salad the next day.
Dairy Free Quinoa Cocoa Waffles. Image: Kitchen Therapy
Quinoa is also gluten-free and quinoa flour can be used as a 1:1 substitute for all-purpose in baking recipes. While most supermarkets carry it, homemadeadventure shows how quinoa flour can be made at home in a food processor for a fraction of the cost.
Quinoa Sushi Rolls. Image: Wholesome Cook
The seeds come in three colours: white, red, and black. There is no difference in their preparation or nutritional value, though some people swear that the red and black versions are nuttier and more flavourful. I have also seen tri-colour mixes, which I think gives great visual appeal to dishes like Wholesome Cook’s quinoa sushi rolls.
Roasted Shrimp and Quinoa Spring Rolls. Image: Damndelicious
I don’t have a rice cooker and I am really impatient, so I’m excited to try substituting quinoa as a base for my stir-frys and curries. Damndelicious even replaced vermicelli noodles with quinoa in fresh summer rolls. My brain is spinning with the possibilities!
Andean Bean Stew with Winter Squash and Quinoa. Image: New York Times
Because it isn’t as popular as other grains, quinoa can be a little pricey. However, it is still a great option for bulking up soups and stews and stretching your food budget. And because it is an excellent source of protein, you can cut back on the amount of meat you use, or leave it out altogether.
Orange Quinoa Bars. Image: Modern Taste
Most brands of quinoa are certified organic, so I feel even better about making it one of my main pantry staples. Why blow my money on packaged low-fat, chemical-laden snack bars when I can make Modern Taste’s version, filled with fruit and spicy goodness?
Blueberry-Quinoa Tart with Lemon Whipped Cream. Image: Kiss My Spatula
Quinoa has me excited to be back in the kitchen, providing a fresh take on old favourites and inspiring me to create a few new ones. I think this might be one resolution that lasts.