Pronounced keen-wa, this little “grain” packs a powerful punch. It looks like rice, but it’s actually related to the leafy green family, such as spinach and Swiss chard. Ready in 15 minutes, it’s perfect if you’re running out the door (much like I was this morning). Half a cup of quinoa (uncooked) contains almost all of your daily manganese. Are you prone to headaches and migraines? Quinoa contains tons of magnesium; this mineral helps to relax blood vessels, and prevents the constriction and dilation tendencies of migraines (Because it helps to relax blood vessels, it’s also great for cardiovascular health). Quinoa is also a great source of riboflavin – vitamin B2 – which is crucial for energy production in the cells. It also contains loads of iron, protein and fibre, which keeps you feeling full longer. The benefits of this “grain” are endless, which is probably why it was called the “gold of the Incas” – it’s nutrition is that valuable! You can find it anywhere from Loblaws to bulk food stores to health food stores (I know in Loblaws it’s near the baking products).
The beautiful thing about this dish is that you can really just add whatever you like, there are no set rules. Here’s what I put in my quinoa bowl today:
1/2 Cup of quinoa
Herb goat cheese
1/3 Cup mixed beans
3 Cherry tomatoes
1/4 Cup sliced almonds
1. Rinse quinoa in a strainer. Boil 1 cup of water with quinoa (2:1 water to quinoa ratio). Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cover for about 15 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the grains are translucent and the white “tails” have partially detached.
2. Chop up red pepper, avocado, tomatoes and goat cheese.
3. If using canned beans, rinse under a strainer first. Mix beans, pepper, avocado, and tomatoes in with quinoa. Sprinkle goat cheese and almonds on top.
Optional: Pour a simple home made salad dressing over top. The one I made this morning had extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and grainy dijon mustard in it. Stir/shake together and pour over your quinoa, and voila! You’ve avoided the artificial colours, flavours, and ingredients of conventional salad dressing without sacrificing the taste.