The Nutritional Powerhouse, Quinoa

 Quinoa (pronounced Keen wa) is one of the most popular, healthy foods being grown today. You can pretty much find it everywhere probably because it’s one of the most nutritious plant foods now being sold. It is also one of the few dishes found to be close to a complete protein and to be gluten free as well. Moreover, quinoa is modest in price and flexible in how you achieve delicious flavors. It seems to take on the flavors you cook it with.

Quinoa was originally grown in high altitude regions of Latin America in Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. It is now grown in Colorado and parts of California. It grows naturally in brown, black and red colors . The author Deborah Madison finds the black and red versions take a bit longer to cook— only 30 minutes-- while the beige or brown take half as long. But Ms. Madison tells us that the red and black varieties are found to be more robust in flavor.

Some hearty eaters claim that quinoa is too neutral in taste, like tofu. But of course the texture does not have a curd-like consistency; rather the texture of quinoa is grainy. My own recent cooking experience indicates that this flexibility is in fact one of the advantages of this little beauty.

I had been asked by my family and friends to make my classic holiday BBQ that includes my smoked pulled pork, cinnamon BBQ sauce and my homemade Z’s special cole slaw. All of these dishes are delicious but not what I hoped to do. I felt like I was on a busman’s holiday, trying to relax while driving what was familiar to everyone else. This was not what I hoped to make that day but compromise is important especially with family.

So I did both—the pork BBQ and a beige colored, chilled quinoa dish that I had cooked in water following the directions on the box. Then I added chopped celery and diced red pepper with leeks I had cut, cooked and chilled. Finally I tossed in less than a quarter cup of chopped raisins, dried prunes and cranberries. I seasoned the dish with lemon vinaigrette, a light sprinkling of fresh leaves of marjoram, sage and thyme and some freshly ground black pepper.

It was a big hit and a surprise to many especially when compared to the pulled pork. Light. Highly flavorful. And filling. Personally i enjoyed the pork as well. There was a vegetarian in the house so i can’t speak too loudly. (< :

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