Crazy for Quinoa

On Tuesday, I ran to the grocery store to pick up around two week’s worth of groceries. I actually try to go to Kroger on Tuesdays as often as possible to take full advantage of my Dad’s sweet senior discount. SAVINGS! Anyway, in an effort to rid my pantry of some of my usual junk, I decided to splurge and purchase some of my healthier faves. I revisited by love of the Dark Chocolate Mocha Almond Kashi bars and did myself a solid by picking up vegan Parmesan cheese to kick start my Mammal Free Mondays. While browsing the soup aisle in the organic section of the store, I came across a new Earth Balance peanut butter that had coconut oil in it. Although beyond tempted to grab a jar, I couldn’t decide if it would be amazing or gross. (If anyone has tried this, please let me know!) After navigating away from that, I saw a box of quinoa, which was on my list of healthy swaps to make. I threw it in my cart and headed out.

prod-butter-coconut-creamy

When I got home, I decided to whip up a batch of it for my lunch. Having leftover quesadilla veggies, I decided to mix the two for a filling (and warm) lunch. Yesterday I heated it up and shoveled that stuff in faster than I ever have before! It was beyond good. It reminded me a lot of couscous, but with a softer texture. I was thoroughly impressed. After lunch, I decided to do a little research. What I found impressed me even more.

According to Livestrong.com, quinoa is a complete protein, meaning it contains all the amino acids necessary for our nutritional needs. It is also a seed, rather than a grain. It’s naturally gluten free and is high in iron and calcium, making it perfect for gluten intolerance, vegans and vegetarians. Finally, it takes 10 to 15 minutes to cook. How easy is that?!

Still, where the heck did this stuff come from?

Over 5,000 years ago, high in the Andes mountains, the Incas began to cultivate quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) as one of their staple crops, believing that it gave power and stamina to their warriors. Quinoa was also used in their ceremonial rituals. When Spanish conquistadors arrived in South America in the sixteenth century, they burned and destroyed the quinoa fields as part of the effort to annihilate Inca culture. But quinoa survived by growing wild in the mountains or by being cultivated in secret in small quantities. In the 1980s, two North Americans stumbled upon this ancient, super-nutritious food and began cultivating it near Boulder, Colorado. Since then, quinoa’s popularity has exploded worldwide.

I guess now I can fulfill my lifelong dream of becoming a warrior.

I laugh every time I see that episode.

Anyway, if you haven’t already, I highly suggest you try quinoa. Not only is it a great substitute for rice, but it can also be used to replace your morning oatmeal. That is definitely going to be my next adventure with it.

My Healthy Tip of the Day: Not sure if a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle is right for you? Join me for my Mammal Free Monday challenge. Remember, it’s a heck of a lot easier to stick with foods you know contain absolutely no animal product, so stick with your basic fruits and veggies before you start venturing into the processed food aisle.

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