So here we go, experiment #1: Quinoa. Pronounced keen-wah. I've known of it's existence, but I've never tried it. Sounds like some kind of fruit, if you ask me.
First of all I should lay a little brick on this subject. Quinoa (as typically bought in the grocery store) is basically a seed. In more detailed terms it's actually a relative of leafy greens like swiss chard or spinach, but you'd never know it. Imagine tiny little brown seeds in a box. Not that appetizing, I know. But get over it. It's incredibly nutritious, with 1/4 cup containing 6 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and only 172 calories. 1/4 cup dry makes about 1/2 cup cooked (maybe even a little more). It's gluten free, and considering it's low number of calories in relation to nutrients like magnesium, iron, and phosphorus, it's an incredibly nutrient-dense food.
I know, I know, I get it. Besides the obvious nutrient content, why do you care? Let me put it this way: it makes you full, quick. It's an adequate protein source for vegans, and the amount of magnesium it contains has been shown to help things like migraine headaches and diabetes (specifically, insulin regulation).
Now I can spout off all this nutritional information 'till the cows come home, but the fact remains that if it tastes like dried up marshmallows shoved in an effin' cigarette box no one is going to eat it. So I tried it tonight, with some adjustments.
First I made it just how the box said, I just cut the amount in half (as I would be the only one eating it). The box says to boil 1/2 cup quinoa with 1 1/4 cup water, reduce to a simmer until it absorbs the water (about 15 minutes).
The verdict? Tasted like shi*t. I'll admit it, the texture was pretty good though. Fluffy, but with a bite. Definitely unique, but the taste was so bland I actually felt insulted for a moment. That's right, insulted by a seed.
So for the second time, I made it with chicken stock instead of water. Muuuuuuch better. "That's not too bad at all," said my boyfriend, with a surprised look on his face after eating the fork full I shoved in front of him. "I'd eat that." Alriiiight, now we're talkin'. Score one for the crazy hippy in the kitchen.
After the veggies were done roasting and the quinoa was done cooking, I combined everything together, and added a bit of lemon juice (to taste), some grated parmesan, and some chopped basil. The end result? Not too bad at all, if I do say so myself. Actually, the more I ate it the more proud of myself I became. By the third bite, I was in pure quinoa heaven. This stuff is fantastic!
Another great thing is you can add pretty much whatever you prefer. Want more of a "chicken soup" feel? Add some baked chicken cut into bite size pieces, and some roasted carrots and celery. Finish with some fresh thyme and parsley. Maybe go Greek, and add some artichoke hearts, olives, sundried tomatoes and feta cheese, lemon juice and salt and pepper. I even found a recipe with dried cranberries and cashews. I'm going to try that tomorrow night. Frankly, I'm looking forward to it. Why they heck have I never tried this stuff before? I'm absolutely a new fan of quinoa!
So for tonight's recipe:
1/2 cup quinoa
1 cup chicken stock (or broth, always the lowest sodium you can find)
1 medium zucchini (cut into cubes/slices)
1 small yellow zucchini squash (cut into cubes/slices)
1 cup cherry tomatoes
2 Tbsp olive oil (for roasting, not all will be added to quinoa)
2 Tbsp chopped basil
2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese
1 Tbsp lemon juice