Friday, July 22, 2011

Quinoa Salad

We started eating quinoa (FYI-pronounced KEEN-wah) a few years ago after I heard that it was a nutritious substitute for rice. Quinoa is a small grain, actually a seed, that contains all eight amino acids so its a great source of protein. It is also high in fiber and contains B vitamins and iron.

Until now, we had only used it as a substitute for rice. We had eaten it in place of rice with stir fry or just as a side dish. I knew that there were many things you could do with it, but I had never tried any of those recipes. Then, I needed to prepare a gluten-free meal for a friend who just had a baby and to simplify things, we would eat the same meal at our house. Since quinoa is gluten-free, I decided to try making a quinoa salad. There are a lot of recipes out there, but I settled on a simple one from Kraft Foods.
You begin by preparing the quinoa as usual, using chicken broth as your liquid. Once it's cooked, you allow it to cool and then throw in your veggies: black beans, corn, diced green pepper, and green onions, and top with Zesty Italian dressing. The recipe actually calls for chopped ham, but I left that out since it was going to be a side dish. Also, I was supposed to use a red pepper, which would have added nice color, but I used a green pepper since that's what I had on hand. Then you chill it until you're ready to serve it.

The salad turned out to be really good and was very easy to put together. We ate it as a side with grilled chicken breast, but it could be a meal on its own since it is a source of protein. I can imagine that you could add different combinations of veggies and dressings to change things up. You can also make “sweet” varieties by cooking the quinoa in juice and adding fruit and nuts. This will definitely be a recipe we make again since the whole family liked it.

On a side note, I told about Levi cheering when we had breakfast for supper. When we had this meal, he cheered for his supper again. It went like this “Hurray! (Threw fists in the air) Hurray! (Fists in the air) We eat right now! We eat right now!” I don't know that he was excited so much by what we were eating or just the fact that we were eating. This boy likes his food. Either way, it made me smile, both as a former cheerleader and as a mom.

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