I'll admit that until recently, I'd never heard of quinoa (pronounced keen-wah). We didn't shop at the health food store when I was growing up, and quinoa isn't on the menu at many of the restaurants in my neighborhood. But this sweet little protein source is making its way through the food celebrity circuit, with appearances on the shelves of gourmet supermarkets, salad bars, and mainstream restaurant menus.
Quinoa, commonly understood as a grain, is also a relative of the leafy green family. And it contains all nine amino acids, making it a complete protein. Research suggests that it can be helpful in preventing headaches, as it is both a source of magnesium, which aids in relaxing blood vessels, and riboflavin, which helps the brain cells utilize energy.
Quinoa was first cultivated more than 5,000 years ago, and was a mainstay of the Andean diet. It was considered a sacred food to the ancient Incans. Most of the quinoa sold in the U.S. is still imported from South America.
Quinoa is also gluten-free, and makes a great staple for anyone allergic to wheat.
Here's a recipe for a quick quinoa salad:
Buy a package of quinoa, and cook according to the directions on the label. When cooked, let it cool for 20-30 minutes
For each 1 cup of quinoa you make, mix the following:
1 tablespoon olive oil
3/4 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1 small clove garlic, minced or put through a garlic press
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup chopped onions and vegetables to your liking, including scallions, red or green peppers, mushrooms, radishes, sautéed spinach
Mix dressing and vegetables in with cooled quinoa. Taste and adjust seasonings if necessary. Serve immediately.
And remember to clean up with dish washing products from Seventh Generation.