Nutrition Quinoa

Published on January 9th, 2014 | by Healthy Gay Lifestyles

Quinoa: A Love Story

by John Steven Hellman,

by John Steven Hellman

Quinoa has become a very common staple when I cook dinner, and, I need to confess, I am OBSESSED with it. Here’s a dinner I ate a few weeks ago:

  • Center cut pork chop rubbed with cumin, paprika, and other spices
  • Roasted brussel sprouts
  • Chili spiced quinoa

I feel like after making it time and time again, I really understand how to make a center cut pork chop juicy and flavorful so this tasted pretty good (psst… the secret is cumin, it’s always cumin). I’m one of those people who love brussel sprouts, and the America’s Test Kitchen recipe for roasting them is the best I’ve ever used (reference below). The quinoa was great, as always. I usually use a combination of paprika, cumin, and coriander. I find that quinoa can hold up these spices really well, so I stick with this combination usually. As a cook’s note: Every package of quinoa you buy says that the cooking ratio should be 1 cup of dried quinoa to 2 cups of water or stock. After many mushy (but good) portions of quinoa, JH suggested cutting down the amount of liquid, and it fixed the problem completely! I only use 1.5 cups of water or stock, and you should too.

Reflections:

I Heart Quinoa

I remember the first time I ate this stuff. After I graduated from BostonCollege in 2007, my parents gave my sister and I a trip to Peru as a present. We spent four days and three nights in the Andes, hiking up and down and sleeping in tents. Our tour guides would prepare all of our meals, and the very first meal was seafood, veggies, potatoes, and some weird looking grain that was trying to pretend it was rice: quinoa. We ate quinoa during every meal while we were hiking, and it never got old. It was delicious, I felt energized during the entire trip, I was BM’ing like a rockstar, and did I mention it was delicious.

Unfortunately I didn’t really eat it again until early last year, when I started thinking about changing my diet and eating better. Since then, quinoa has become the most frequent food that I eat on a daily basis. It is so incredibly easy to make, and it holds up to so many flavor profile combinations (try it with soy, ginger, and garlic… so good!). I can honestly say that part of my 60 pound weight loss can be attributed to the amount of quinoa I’ve consumed in the last year. I really love this stuff, and I think it helped me open my mind a lot more to healthier eating. I figured if this superfood can be supertasty, what else can I cook and season into supertastiness? Turns out…lots of things.

Quinoa comes from South America, but it’s not really common in Latino cooking. The behemoth that is rice still rules Latino diets, and, working at a Latino organization, I can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone eating some form of rice. Although rice isn’t terrible for you, I feel like its part of a culture that over-salts and over-fries everything, and I’ve tried to encourage everyone I work with to give quinoa a shot as a much healthier, nutrient packed alternative. The Latino organization I work at is also a health organization, and I see statistics about the Latino community all the time. Unfortunately, Latinos rank really high on both diabetes and obesity, and as a Latino, it motivates me to be a leader and educate folks on proper nutrition and healthy eating. Just like for me, quinoa has been a great introduction and intervention into understanding food culture and healthy eating, so I am grateful to it not only for improving my health, but for serving as a tool to encourage others to adopting healthy eating as well.

References:

Here is the roasted brussel sprouts recipe:

http://www.americastestkitchen.com/recipes/6831-roasted-brussels-sprouts

Here’s a good resource for the health benefits of quinoa:

http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?dbid=142&tname=foodspice

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John Steven Hellman is Hells, and his blog is dedicated to his adventures and relationships with cooking food. Cooking is both a culinary and emotional process, and he wants to share his experiences and feelings with you all.

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