Today for Food Friday I wanted to share one of my favorite ingredients: quinoa. (Pronounced: keen-wah) I’d never really gotten into it until my personal trainer and dietitian, Mary Dimmick, really encouraged me to try it. Many people consider it a whole grain but it’s really a seed. It has a mild nutty flavor, is very filling, high in riboflavin, protein and fiber. Unlike white rice, it won’t spike your blood sugar after eating. You can substitute quinoa for rice in recipes and not really notice much of a difference in flavor but save yourself calories.
My local grocery store carries three varieties in the bulk food section: white, curry and red. White is the most mild in flavor and easiest to find.
Curry quinoa is white quinoa that has been roasted and has a curry powder blend combined with it. I do not salt this variety of quinoa because I find it already has great flavor as is. Red quinoa has a stronger nutty flavor and takes slightly longer to cook. There is a black variety of quinoa but I have yet to get my hands on it…when I do, I’ll let you know how it is!Quinoa can be cooked in a rice cooker or on the stove. It is essential to rinse the quinoa before cooking. (I don’t rinse the curry quinoa or anything else that says it has already been rinsed and washed….those varieties tend to be a little bit more expensive because the work is already done for you.) If you do not rinse your quinoa, you’ll end up with a very bitter tasting dish. Quinoa is cooked in the same ratio as rice. 1 c. quinoa to 2 c. water or chicken broth.Today’s recipe, Wilted Spinach Salad, is one that actually comes from Mary! It is one of my very favorite recipes, is really easy to make and can be made in 20 minutes!
Cook quinoa in water or chicken stock. While quinoa is cooking, combine all dressing ingredients in a small bowl. In a large bowl combine spinach, cranberries and cooked quinoa. Chop one granny smith apple. Remove garlic clove from dressing and add apple. Pour dressing over salad and toss. Enjoy!
Whole Grain Wilted Spinach Salad
2 c. water or chicken stock (I always use low sodium chicken stock either homemade or the Kitchen Basics brand)
1 c. quinoa, any variety
1 bag fresh baby spinach
1/2 c. dried cranberries (I buy the Ocean Spray Reduced Sugar)
1 granny smith apple, chopped
1/2 c. chopped pecans or almonds (optional)
3 T. olive oil
1 T. orange juice concentrate (or 3 T. orange juice and omit water)
2 T. water
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. maple syrup
1 garlic clove, smashed
1/2 t. salt
1/8 t. pepper
1/8 c. onion, green onion or shallot, chopped
In a small saucepan bring water or stock to a boil. Add quinoa. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes or until water is absorbed. Remove from heat; fluff with a fork. While quinoa is cooking make dressing. For dressing, in a small bowl, whisk all ingredients.
In a large bowl, combine the warm quinoa, spinach and cranberries. Remove garlic clove from dressing. Right before pouring dressing over quinoa add apples; toss to coat. Sprinkle with pecans or almonds.
I love to add roasted chicken to this salad. This salad stores very well in the fridge and Craig and I usually eat a batch over a couple of days.
If you’re in the Logan area and want to learn more about how you can improve your nutrition and exercise, I recommend you give Mary a call! She’s at the Sports Academy and you can learn more about her nutrition services here and training services here. A consultation is free and she can help create a custom health and fitness plan for you.