February 17, 2012

Quinoa is a Rock Star

So I seem to be on a quinoa kick this week - I have made a few dishes containing this FAB grain lately.  So I thought I'd take a moment to give quinoa the rock star treatment it deserves.  First, let me take you back......over 5,000 years ago.......to a little place called South America......

Quinoa is often called the "ancient" grain because it was used and glorified by the Inca civilization thousands of years ago.  They referred to it as the "Mother Grain."  Nowadays we refer to it as a "Supergrain," but here at Project Kale we like to refer to it as the "Rock Star" grain.  That's just how we roll.

So why was quinoa so important to the Incas thousands of years ago?  And why is it touted as a "supergrain" nowadays?  There are a few reasons it's so rockin':

  • Protein - Unlike other grains, quinoa contains a crap-load of high-quality protein.  The National Academy of Sciences calls quinoa, "one of the best sources of protein in the vegetable kingdom."  High-quality refers to the fact that quinoa is a complete protein, all by its little self!!  Good job quinoa!!  A complete protein is one that provides all of the essential amino acids that we need.  As vegans eating a variety of veggies and whole grains, we typically get all of our amino acids through our varied diet.  But if you eat quinoa - BOOM!  You got all of 'em right there.

    So using our rock star analogy, quinoa is like the lead guitarist/rock star, and brown rice is like the drummer.  Both cool, but we all know who the groupies go after.......

  • Vitamins & Minerals - Besides protein, quinoa contains iron, riboflavin, fiber, magnesium, phosphorus, Vitamin B6, folate, etc.

  • Gluten-Free - For those of us who cannot have gluten, either from an allergy or intolerance, quinoa is a great choice because it contains no wheat or gluten.  Look for quinoa pasta too - typically this pasta is made from quinoa and corn flours and it's pretty tasty!

  • The Fluff Factor - Quinoa is light and fluffy, yet has a unique nutty texture and flavor.  Because it's so light, you don't feel that "heaviness" that can come with eating pastas and more filling grains.  Yet being the complete protein rock star it is, it still fills you up!  It's also easily digested.

  • Versatility - Quinoa takes about as long as rice to make - so it's easy in terms of preparation.  It's so versatile, you can use it anywhere you would use rice - as a side, as an entree, in soups, in salads, as a pilaf, even as a breakfast cereal - your imagination is your limit!  

Never stop rockin' quinoa

I used quinoa as a side last night with the Roasted Root Vegetables - tonight, I chose to use it as part of my main course.  This recipe is one I often make with brown rice, but I thought I'd switch it up last night and make it with the rock star grain.  This recipe is so quick, easy, and contains ingredients you probably have on hand.  Oh and it's delicious.  Very delicious.

Love & Kale,


Mexican "Rock Star" Quinoa
Servings: 4
Print here.

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • 2 cups veggie broth or water
  • 1 - 15oz can kidney or black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup of your favorite salsa
  • 1 tsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp coriander seed OR 1/3 cup cilantro
  • 1/2 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Tortillas, optional
  • Avocado, jalapenos for serving, optional
  1. In a small saucepan, dry toast quinoa for about 3 minutes over medium heat.  Add the broth or water, bring to a boil, stir, reduce heat to low and cover.  Simmer for about 15 min, or until quinoa is tender and liquid is absorbed.
  2. Fluff quinoa with a fork when it's tender.  Add all of the remaining ingredients and let sit over heat for a couple of minutes to warm through.  Adjust seasonings as needed.
Put about 1/3 cup into a warmed tortilla shell with any fixings you like - lettuce, tomato, avocado, jalapenos, etc.  Or, serve it straight-up, next to a fabulous salad!

Cook 1 cup quinoa with 2 cups veggie broth

Drain and rinse beans

When quinoa is done, add all of the remaining ingredients

Finished quinoa filling!

You can add filling to a flour tortilla - which I did for Tory

Mexican Quinoa Burritos

My Mexican Quinoa - served straight-up with a fab avocado

I just had to take a picture of my avocado - seriously isn't is GORGEOUS!?

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