Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Southwestern Quinoa

This post is going to be a bit short, but I spent most of last week sick and take boards tomorrow (the giant test over ALL of nursing, no biggie!), which adds up to a decided lack of cooking on my end this last week. So I thought I'd follow up my last post with another quinoa recipe- this time, with a Southwestern twist to it. Over the last few years that I've been using quinoa, this has tended to be the recipe I use most, since it requires a little less cooking time and I've run into fewer people who dislike these flavors than the Greek flavor or eggplant texture (crazy, I know, but they're out there!). If you want to add a little extra protein, a grilled chicken breast that was marinated in a chili-lime sauce was a welcome addition for the carnivore in my life.
The one thing that made a very big difference in this recipe was adding fresh cilantro. It's not something I always have on hand, so it's often forgotten by the time I get this made. I came across a Gourmet Garden tube of cilantro when I was in the grocery store getting ingredients and decided to give it a shot- absolutely worth the money. Fresh spices always make a huge difference in how a dish tastes, and the tube varieties make it much easier to store them without the risk of wilting before you get it all used.

Southwestern Quinoa
Serves 4-6

2 cups quinoa, rinsed
1 can black beans, rinsed
1 can corn, rinsed (can also use fresh or frozen)
1/2 red onion, chopped
1 red pepper, diced
1 green pepper, diced
4 tomatoes, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
Cilantro, salt, pepper, & paprika, to taste
1 Tbs each, lemon and lime juice
1 avocado, diced
Non-fat Greek yogurt and shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish

1. Rinse and add quinoa to 4 cups boiling water. Stir, cover and simmer on med-high until liquid is absorbed. Set aside to cool.
2. In a large mixing bowl, combing the black beans, corn, vegetables and garlic.
3. Add lemon and lime juice, season the mixture to taste.
4. Spoon quinoa into a bowl or onto a plate and cover with vegetable mixture.
5. Top with diced avocado, Greek yogurt and cheese, if desired, and enjoy!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Greek-style Quinoa

As I mentioned a few posts back, I succumbed to peer pressure sometime in July and decided to start training for my first half-marathon. I ran cross country way back in high school (starting to quickly realize how long ago that really was!), so I've put in a few long runs in my lifetime, but can safely say that I haven't run 8+ miles since those workouts 10 years ago! Luckily, the bulk of my training is taking place during boards studying and the month afterwards, when I really don't have many responsibilities (responsibilities... or excuses?) to get in the way of my training plan. Thankfully, as much as I dislike that winter follows fall, Iowa took a decided turn into fall temperatures this weekend, which makes long runs outside much easier to deal with.

What this means on the foodie side of things is paying better attention to what I eat - this sort of training requires quality food. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wa) is one of my favorite ingredients- similar to rice, it's easy to cook while prepping veggies and provides a blank canvas as far as taste goes. Quinoa is also a complete protein, which is hard to come by for us vegetarians. To date, I've only used quinoa for savory lunch/dinner dishes, but I'm eager to throw some cinnamon-sugar, raisons and almonds in it and try it for breakfast as the temperatures start dropping. Quinoa can be used in place of pretty much any grain - rice, pasta, etc, to add protein and fiber (quinoa has double the protein and fiber of rice!) to your meals without being as high in carbs as the other options.