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What is quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wah)?  Why should I care.

The Good, The Bad, The Easy

First, The Good – Quinoa is a grain-like vegetable grown primarily for its edible seeds. When cooked, it’s is similar to a combination of cous-cous, wild rice and oatmeal…kind of, and it comes in different colors.  A cup of quinoa has around 127 calories, 2 grams of fat, 23.4 grams of carbohydrates (2 of those being fiber), and 4.5 grams of protein.

In fact, it has a pretty similar nutritional profile to that of brown rice, except it’s slightly higher in overall protein content.

The Bad – In its natural state quinoa has a coating of saponins, which gives it a bitter taste. Most commercial, organic quinoa grains have been pre-washed to remove the saponin coating before being packed for shipment. Hence, a light rinse of the grains between 5-10 seconds under running water will be sufficient before you cook the grains. AND…no soaking required.

The saponin content in quinoa can be mildly toxic, however, the risks associated with quinoa are minimal provided that it is pre-washed.

There has also been some controversy with regard to the farming sustainability and changes to the economies of the countries that grow most of the quinoa imported to the country, Bolivia and Peru.

The Easy – Thaddeus has been experimenting with a number of different recipes for an incredibly healthy and great tasting quinoa salad.  I think he’s perfected it by making it incredibly easy to make and incredibly tasty and satisfying.  Here’s his recipe.

Thaddeus’ Simply Easy Quinoa Salad
1 cup uncooked Quinoa (I prefer red quinoa because it’s pretty)
15 oz can Black Beans (drained and rinsed)
15 oz can Chickpeas (drained and rinsed)
6.5 oz (dry weight) can sliced black olives (drained)
1 pound container of prepared fresh salsa/pico de gallo
At least ½ cup good olive oil
Kosher Salt
Fresh ground pepper
Juice of 2 limes
Cook and chill 1 cup/ ½ bag of dry quinoa as specified on bag.  In a large bowl, combined cooled quinoa, rinse and drained chickpeas, black beans and drained black olives.  Add one pound container of prepared fresh salsa/pico de gallo (spicy or mild to taste), juice of two limes, ½ cup of good olive oil.
Add salt and pepper to taste.
Options:  Eliminate olives and/or add additional fresh cilantro.
Mix together and chill before serving
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Quinoa Plate

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