Sunday Dinner: International Year of Quinoa

This morning, while I was doing some last minute research for this post, I found out that in February, the UN declared that 2013 is the International Year of Quinoa. Wow. I’m impressed.

Whenever I have mentioned quinoa (keen-wah) in my conversations with family or friends, I get mostly blank stares or grimaces. Many people have never heard of it, don’t know what it is, and… “You want me to eat that stuff? I don’t think so.”

Quinoa is a South American grain that can be cooked, added to soups, used as cereal, ground into  flour, or made into pasta.  It can also be fermented to make beer. Some people consider this ancient seed a superfood.

I found quinoa when I first learned that I was gluten sensitive. I started out using it as an alternative when I got tired of eating rice. Then I began experimenting with this fabulous gluten free food.

My favorite way to use quinoa is in this side dish recipe that can be turned into a main dish, that can be eaten hot or cold, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It’s healthy, too. I call it:

Rita’s Basic Mexican Quinoa

1/2 cup quinoa 
1 cup water (or use a broth for more flavor)
1 can black beans
1 cup salsa (more or less)
  1. Rinse the quinoa. Put it into a saucepan with the water. Bring it to a boil and then turn it down to a simmer for about 15 minutes.
  2. Stir the salsa into the quinoa.
  3. Drain the black beans and stir them into the mixture.
  4. Eat.

Simple enough, right?

Use it as a side dish for your next meal or…

Make it heartier by melting cheese on it.

Make it crunchier with chopped peppers and onions.

Make it spicier by adding chopped jalapeño peppers.

Make it dinner by adding chunk tuna, browned ground meat, shredded chicken or pork.

Or just eat it as is, cold for a snack or lunch.

Links:

Quinoa: http://www.fao.org/quinoa-2013/en/

The World’s Healthiest Foods: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=142&tname=foodspice

Trader Joe’s Quinoa: http://www.traderjoes.com/fearless-flyer/article.asp?article_id=1093

NY Times: http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/health/series/recipes_for_health/quinoa/

Food Network: http://www.foodnetwork.com/topics/quinoa/index.html

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