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Fierce Foodie: My Super Food


a blogumn by Roya Hamadani

quinoa- max martinQuinoa (KEEN-wah) has been called “the super food of the Incas” but to me, that’s really not a selling point.  I wouldn’t pick up a bottle of mead because it was marked “the choice inebriant of the Vikings” or dig into spelt because it’s “the favorite breakfast food of the Bog People.”  It’s not like these populations had a hell of a lot of choices.  I eat quinoa because it is tasty, easy to make, versatile, yummy hot or cold, and pretty cheap when you buy it from a bulk foods bin.  But mainly I eat quinoa because it assuages my epic food guilt. 

If you don’t know what I am talking about when I talk about food guilt, you have obviously not been locked in a desperate struggle with food since your preteen days.  For those of us with food guilt, everything we put in our mouths is an opportunity for self congratulation or flagellation.  It goes like this: I ate a cherry tomato, yippee for me!  I inhaled three cupcakes, I don’t deserve to live and no one will ever love me. 

That’s where quinoa swoops in to save the day.  Quinoa is one of those rare carbohydrates that contain all the essential amino acids, thereby earning the title “complete food” and making it something people can live off for weeks on Survivor.  It can be eaten as a breakfast food with fruit and honey, or as a savory main or side dish.  Serve it guiltlessly to vegans knowing it is 14% protein.  My favorite preparation uses grape tomatoes, toasted almonds and mild goat cheese.  It’s a healthful food that doesn’t taste like punishment, and that shuts up all the little voices in my head.  Recipe after the jump:

Quinoa with Grape Tomatoes, Goat Cheese, and Almonds

You can use red or plain quinoa for this dish; both have a pleasant nutty flavor. 

2 cups quinoa, rinsed well
4 cups water or chicken broth
1 teaspoon salt
Extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 cup toasted almond slices
1 pint grape tomatoes
10 oz of mild goat cheese
Rinse the quinoa under cool water.  In a large thick-bottomed pot, bring the quinoa, water and salt to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about 20 minutes.  The quinoa will open up like little spirals and become soft to chew.

Warm a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat, then add the chopped onions and garlic.  Sauté until soft, and then add the almonds.  Then add the quinoa to the skillet and stir.

Remove the mixture from the heat and let cool to room temperature, then add the goat cheese crumbled and the grape tomatoes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

Serves 4 – 6.

. photo credit: Max Martin