Dirt in your skirt blog


Posted on April 25, 2012 by Margaret Schlachter

The Inca’s valued it like gold, today it’s popping up from everything from breakfast to snack bars, and dinner recipes, even in bread! Quinoa. Never heard of it? That’s ok I hadn’t before about two years ago when out at a restaurant. Today it’s a staple of my diet during the competition season.

For part of the year I have literally no control over the food that I eat. This is not due to a lack of control or some other impulse. In fact, I have lived in a dorm for the past 14 out of 15 years as a student, then as a dorm parent working at a boarding school. Much of the year I am at the mercy of the kitchen staff and have to wade through the waters of institutional food. However, the dorm is now closed and I am back fending for myself.

When cooking for one, I find myself turning into a pseudo vegetarian not because of a lack of liking meat but simply cooking meat for one isn’t much fun! So I find myself creating new recipes from thinks like beans, rice, quinoa, eggs, pasta, oatmeal, Myofusion Probiotic Protein Powder, fresh vegetables during the growing season from my CSA or garden. Basically, I make meals that last for more than one day.

I stumbled upon quinoa when out at a restaurant. First, I had no idea how to pronounce it, which deterred me from ordering. See video below. Second, I had no idea what it would taste like, deterring me again. However, a friend did know what it was and ordered it and thus I found the world of quinoa. One of my co-workers lovingly calls it worm larva every time he sees it. The best way I can describe it is grain-like. It is actually an edible seed that is prepared much like rice, same measurements 2 to 1 and basically the same preparation.

Where did it come from?

Quinoa comes from the Andean region and has been around as a grain for literally thousands of years. The Incas held the crop as sacred, when the Spanish conquered these people that deemed quinoa food for the indians and banned it forcing the Incas to grow wheat instead.

Why eat it?

Quinoa has grown in popularity as it contains high level of protein (18%) and also is a complete protein, meaning that it includes all nine essential amino acids. It also is a good source of dietary fiber, and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. It has a nutty flavor and soft fluffy texture when cooked and I substitute it often for rice. A quick google search and you will find that quinoa is supposed to help everything from improve cardiovascular health in postmenopausal women to stemming off type II diabetes. Quinoa  also can be turned into flour which makes it a great “grain” for those who are gluten-free.

Why do I eat it?

I like the taste and I like that quinoa and beans can form a complete meal for me in a pinch. I can make a large quantity and have it last for a couple days. It is a filling and satisfying meal for one! I love having quinoa and black beans for dinner some onions and spices mixed in.

Where can I buy it?

You know that bulk section in the grocery store. The part where all the crunchy granola heads hang out, myself included. Yeah thats where you will find quinoa. Sometimes it will be sold in packaging but I find the freshest and best quinoa is in the bulk bins. Head over get yourself a bag then head home and start cooking.

Have you cooked with quinoa? What’s your favorite recipe?