Thursday, May 15, 2014

Super grain: Quinoa

Quinoa Garden Salad


I have been critical of Dr. Oz for changing his point of view in the past.  I was very disappointed in fact over a couple of issues.  This time, however, I agree with him completely over the use of medical marijuana.  I do not support the use of it as a recreational drug but see it as a powerful herb that can help many people especially with cancer and epilepsy.  Here is a recent clip with Dr. Oz and his comments about this herb.

Super Grain Quinoa

I recently had friends over for lunch and I forgot to pick up dessert.  I sent my husband to pick some up for me.  After our meal, I set out the dessert which included chocolate chip cookies.  There are certain things that trigger weakness in me.  Chocolate being one of them and the second being cookies.  Chocolate chip cookies?  Double whammy!  I usually feel a sense of accomplishment over mastering the art of self control.  I love the discipline of eating healthfully.  I love passing by sugar and junk most others indulge in.  There are times however when I miserably succumb to the temptations around me.  My husband had tossed the packaging to the cookies and the trash was taken out, so we weren't sure if the cookies were gluten free or not.  My wishful thinking took over, my inner "cookie monster" was awakened and the rest is history.  I tasted one and thought, "these are powdery, crumbly cookies.  They must be gluten-free".  So I began downing them one by one.  Self-control?  Out the window!  I had my fill and I so enjoyed it!  Beyond shameful! 

The next day I began to feel a sharp pain in my shoulder and it steadily increased until my arm was useless by my side.  Sure enough, the cookies weren't gluten free.  It has been a rude awakening for me going gluten free.  Gluten has become poison to my body.  I never knew how much I craved gluten foods until I had to give it up for the sake of health.  I have had to continually remind myself of how blessed I am.  I can live with zero symptoms of arthritis by simply removing gluten from my diet and eating mostly alkaline foods- no drugs, no pain and full mobility- I can't ask for more.  I am also exploring baking with gluten free flours- not terrible.

In the past year or so, because of my new sensitivity to gluten, I have become acquainted with some grains that really are healthful.  I eat them on a regular basis and would like to share them with you.  I have mentioned that I make an effort to maintain an alkaline diet which is mostly raw, but I do include cooked foods.  In this post, I would like to discuss super grain quinoa.  I was first introduced to quinoa by my sister's in-laws who are from Peru.  My mom began cooking with it and now, only after the scourge of psoriatic arthritis has made itself very present, I have started using it.
I purchase my quinoa at Costco

The Benefits of Quinoa

Quinoa has been consumed for thousands of years by those who live in and around the Andes of South America.  It has been cultivated at high elevations and benefited those who lived in such a climate.  The Incas revered this grain so much, that they considered the grain as sacred.  It is rich in protein and actually has all 9 essential amino acids.  People fret about eating complete protein on a vegetarian diet.  I believe that the body stores and assembles complete protein as needed.  For those who insist on getting it all in one meal, consider adding quinoa.  Nothing but complete protein with this grain!  Quinoa is also rich in Iron, B vitamins such as B1, B2,B3, B6 and B9.  Quinoa has a high fiber content making it more filling and satisfying.  As for minerals, quinoa contains magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, zinc,copper, selenium and manganese.  This super grain has been shown to help those consuming it to stave off chances of developing diabetes and cholesterol.  It is excellent in helping one achieve optimal weight provided that the rest of one's diet and lifestyle is also healthful. 

Cooking with quinoa

If you know how to cook rice, you know how to cook quinoa.  I take a cup quinoa and two cups water, season it and bring it to a boil.  Once boiling, I reduce heat to low and bring the mixture to a simmer.  I let it cook until all the water is consumed.  This may take 15 to 20 minutes.  Another method is to just toss it into a pot of chili, stew or soup.  I eat quinoa most frequently for breakfast.  I like to season it with cinnamon, nutmeg a dash of salt and coconut palm sugar (to taste).  Once cooked I'll pour coconut milk over it and eat it as a hot cereal.  Below is a recipe for Quinoa Garden Salad.  Hope you enjoy it!

Quinoa Garden Salad

2 cups water
1 cup quinoa
2 to 3 bell peppers (red, orange and yellow)
2 cucumbers
1 bunch chopped green onions
1- 14 1/2  can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp soy sauce
Tabasco sauce- a dash
freshly ground black pepper

(as a side note, I always adjust ingredients until it tastes right to me).

Place the quinoa and water in a pot and bring this to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer, cover with a lid and allow to cook until the water is consumed. This should take about 15 to 20 minutes.  Set aside and allow to cool.  Chop bell peppers, cucumbers, green onions, parsley, mint  - place into a bowl with chick peas.  Mix lemon juice, soy sauce, tabasco, salt a pepper.  Mix quinoa, chopped salad ingredients and dressing.  Adjust seasonings.

Have a great day!