So, you decided to clean up your diet: no more pasta, no more tortillas, and for heaven’s sake, put down that buñuelo! Even though you are getting rid of some of your favorites, there is no reason you have to suffer.
Consider quinoa your new best friend. A complete protein, filling, and now available in convenient, quick cooking or pre-cooked frozen varieties, quinoa is great for vegans and carnivores alike. Tasting a bit like couscous or rice, this neutral side dish is ready for your creative additions.
Although called a “supergrain”, quinoa is not a true cereal grain like wheat or barley. Like amaranth, quinoa is the seed of a plant that is related to spinach, beets, and the herb epazote. The ancient Incas of Peru, who domesticated chenopodium quinoa over 5,000 years ago called quinoa chisaya mama, or “The Mother of All Grains.” In fact, some of the tribes in the mountainous regions of Peru still produce a fermented, quinoa based beverage called chicha, which has been brewed since before the arrival of Columbus in the New World.
Quinoa pairs easily with grilled shrimp or salmon or with a simple side dish of black beans. We love using quinoa as a stuffing for sweet bell peppers or scooped up with a steamed artichoke leaf. Substitute quinoa for bulgur wheat to make a gluten free tabouleh.
The addition of ruby red pomegranate seeds, emerald green pistachios, and vibrant carrots really make this quinoa salad a feast for the eyes as well. Don’t be surprised if your curious cubicle buddy pops by to see what you are having for lunch. Hey, it’s the New Year: we can all use a new best friend.