Quinoa was named one of the Hot Foods for 2011 in a comprehensive survey of 1,500+ chefs conducted by the National Restaurant Association. So if you’re like me and want to learn more about Quinoa, (especially how to pronounce it) and try it at home, not just when you are dining out – here’s help from Elizabeth! She’s been cooking, eating and enjoying Quinoa for a while now at home with her family.
Post By Elizabeth
Be in the Know – Quinoa
How do you pronounce it?
What is Quinoa?
How can you incorporate it into your diet?
Quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah) is technically a seed, although many consider it a grain. Always searching for “healthy” sources of protein, I jumped right on the quinoa bandwagon when I learned it was packed with protein (it’s actually a complete protein, containing all 9 essential amino acids). When I first tried quinoa, I was thrilled to discover that I didn’t have to choke it down – I actually liked it! I substitute quinoa as a nutritious grain for rice and couscous in soups, salads and side dishes. My family successfully made the crossover too!
Although many people have never heard of quinoa, let alone tasted it, the Incas have been relying on this grain (“Mother Grain”/”the gold of the Incas”) for centuries. Quinoa is light and fluffy when cooked up, it reminds me of a more delicate couscous. Versatility is a big quinoa attribute, use it as an airy bed for most anything, stir fry, veggies, chili or a hearty base for soups and salads. This protein powerhouse grain is high in a number of key nutrients, calcium and magnesium to name a few, and it’s a great source of fiber; it’s also gluten free.
I always prepare 2x as much quinoa as I’ll be serving and refrigerate the leftovers for a quick protein boost at lunch or dinner during the week. Be creative and mix in a bit of olive oil, fresh herbs, veggies, and citrus juice – experiment until you find a combination that tickles your taste buds.
Here’s one of my favorite dishes featuring quinoa, it’s quick, easy and a few minutes spent plating the food makes it look like extra special.
Grilled Pork Chops and/or Chicken Breasts w/Quinoa & Julienned Vegetables
- Boneless pork chops or boneless chicken breasts (pictured above is pork to the left and chicken to the right)
- Balsamic Dijon Dressing – we love Canyon Ranch’s Recipe, http://www.partybluprintsblog.com/the-menu/soups-and-salads/the-best-balsamic-dijon-dressing
- Julienned Vegetables (carrots, zucchini, yellow squash, red peppers, green beans lightly sautéed in olive oil and seasoned with coarse sea salt & cracked pepper)
- Marinate boneless pork chops or boneless chicken breasts in Balsamic Dijon Dressing for 1-2 hours. (Tip: Prepare dressing, place meat in large Ziploc bag and pour dressing over meat. Seal bag and lightly massage meat so each piece is thoroughly covered with marinade.) Refrigerate until ready to grill.
- Coat grill pan with olive oil and heat on med-high until pan is thoroughly heated. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350?. To test pan, sprinkle a drop or two of water in paper, it’s ready when it sizzles, be patience and wait until pan is thoroughly heated. Add meat and sear on each side (4-5 minutes), you’ll get a nice caramelized coating in some areas due to the sugar in the dressing. When meat is nicely browned on both sides, transfer from pan to baking dish and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes. Deglaze pan with _ cup low sodium chicken broth and pour over meat while baking.
- Clean vegetables and julienne. Lightly coat with olive oil and season with sea salt and cracked black pepper. Lightly sauté.
How to prepare quinoa:
- Use 2 parts water to 1 part quinoa. To serve 4 people and have leftovers for the week, I use 2 cups water and 1 cup quinoa. Line a sieve/strainer with a paper coffee filter and rinse thoroughly (there’s a soapy coating on the quinoa seeds called saponins). Quinoa is so small that a regular strainer won’t retain much of it. Don’t worry about thoroughly draining quinoa since you’ll be adding it right into the water. Bring water to a boil, add quinoa, stir, cover and reduce to a simmer. Keep covered and simmer for 12-15 minutes.
Instructions for plating:
- Slice each pork chop or chicken breast. Keep slices lined up while cutting. Place 2 large spoonfuls of quinoa down center of each plate. Top with vegetables. Arrange sliced meat on either side, chicken breast/pork chop on each side.
Here are 2 other suggestions from Lisa Fessler, Trainer and Healthy Cooking Lover. Refer back to How to prepare quinoa instructions.
#1: Substitute the water value with coconut water (plus about an additional 1/4 to 1/2 cup of water to add until cooked). When the quinoa is cooked add zest of 1 lime, juice of 1 lime, 1 c of chopped cilantro and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.
#2: Heat 2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil to covered pot. Add 2 cloves of chopped garlic. Add the desired measure of uncooked quinoa and “toast” quinoa for 2-3 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add appropriate amount of water (2 parts water to 1 part quinoa) and cook as usual. Finish quinoa with grilled vegetables and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.